Nov. 18, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Wildcats' game against Michigan State was the Big Ten home opener with a big time opponent in No. 23 Michigan State. Wildcat fans started the afternoon festivities by welcoming Coach Fitz and the team to the stadium by lining up with the cheerleaders, band and Willie on Walker Way 2.5 hours before the game for Walk With Us.
Once the team arrived, fans headed to Wildcat Alley to enjoy interactive games, face painting, the AthletiCo Skill Zone, phone engraving by U.S. Cellular, photos with some of the Wildcats' Big Ten Championship trophies, Wildcat giveaways, chances to win prizes like Krakus Ham and popcorn compliments of U.S. Cellular, the Goose Island Beer Garden, Hecky's BBQ and much more. Wildcat Alley also featured special appearances by the Wildcat Wrestling and Softball teams, Willie the Wildcat, the cheerleaders and the marching band. Some special guests that day included boy and girl scouts as part of Scout Day at Ryan Field. The Wrestling and Softball team members ran the scout day activities in Wildcat Alley before the game, which included playing games and learning how to play their sports. They also passed out the Scout Day Activity Book that the scouts filled out throughout the game to earn the official 2008 Wildcat Scout Patch.
Other children's activities inside Wildcat Alley included young Wildcat fans in the AthletiCo Skill Zone: 40-Yard Dash -- Devin Boehm, Jackson Bell, Cooper Rourke and Ryan Blackburn; Shuttle Run -- Andrew Kirby, Charlie Yale and Ryan Blackburn; and the Vertical Jump -- Mike Adams, Ryan Doney and Shawn Kenney. Plus, fans over 21 entered the Goose Island Pub Trivia contest with David Edler winning the Goose Island prize pack.
As Wildcat Alley was winding down, the gameday fun was still in full swing. As fans entered the stadium they received purple foam noodles to create a sea of purple inside Ryan Field compliments of American Airlines. Plus, the first 10,000 fans into the game received the Wildcat Winning Offers Card, which gives fans a chance to win prizes throughout every game this season. The prizes include an official 2008 Football Team photo, $5 off the Willie the Wildcat Create-A-Cat stuffed animal, a game ball autographed by Coach Fitzgerald and a dollar off concessions at Ryan Field. Fans also can enter the season-long contest to win the Wildcat MVP Contest presented by U.S. Cellular. One lucky fan will be named the Wildcat MVP and will sit in the luxurious stadium club with three guests for U.S. Cellular Day against Illinois on November 22. The winner will have a VIP tour before the game, will be named the honorary captain, will receive Wildcat gear and more!
U.S Cellular will also be giving away a free cell phone at every home game by selecting a lucky seat every game. Last Saturday the lucky seat number was Section 108, Row 10, Seat 28. Another lucky seat promotion is the ESPN Zone Best Seat in the House where two fans are randomly selected to upgrade to the ESPN Zone Dream Seats recliners located in the Wildcat Den. Those winners also take home ESPN Zone prize packs worth more than $150. The lucky fans last Saturday were Donna and John Shrewsbury who enjoyed a great view of the game in one of the best seats in the house.
Once the fans were in their seats, loyal Wildcat Football season ticket holder, Diana Jordan, sang the National anthem while former Wildcat great and current Kansas City Chief, Napoleon Harris, walked out with C.J. Bachér, Brendan Smith, Eric ePeterman and Prince Kwateng as the honorary captain for the coin toss to start the game.
A lucky Wildcat fan took the field during the game as the Wildcat Kids' Club Kickoff Kid. Lillian Masson was selected from all of the Wildcat Kids' Club members to run on the field to retrieve the Wildcats' tee on Saturday.
Fans didn't sit for long with the exciting game to stand up and cheer, as well as making noise for the free stuff the Wildcats were throwing out that day. The members of the Wildcat Wrestling and Softball teams were the guest t-shirt slingers for the Wildcat T-Shirt Toss sponsored by Bluestone in Evanston. In the second half, the Ladycats tossed t- shirts for the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hail Mary promotion. Inside every Vienna Beef shirt was a coupon for free Vienna Beef hot dogs. That wasn't the only food being given away that day. Willie the Wildcat delivered Lou Malnati's pizza boxes to screaming fans with each box containing a t-shirt with one lucky box containing a $25 gift card for Lou Malanti's.
The crowd stayed on its feet for the Krakus Ham Cam, which featured the wildest fans on the video board during select timeouts. During halftime the Wrestling and Softball coaches competed against fans in the Chipotle Challenge on Walker Terrace. Any fan who beat the coaches in a round of bags won a free Chipotle burrito coupon. Members of the men's basketball team were also at the game giving away free food. At every home game they roam the stadium talking with fans and randomly selecting people to receive free food from the concession stands.
Former student-athletes were also at the game talking with fans. After serving as the honorary captain, Harris, spent halftime signing autographs and taking pictures with fans and the 2000 Big Ten Championship trophy on Walker Terrace. Plus 22 members of the 1949 Rose Bowl Team were honored during halftime as part of the 60th Anniversary of their incredible season.
For more information on Wildcat Football gamedays, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets start as low as $25 for the Wildcats' final home game against Illinois on November 22nd. Be sure to wear purple to the games!