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Illinois-Northwestern Rivalry Reaches New Heights, As In, It Just Started

Northwestern is arguably the most difficult Big Ten bottom-dweller to hate. Wildcats fans are smart and friendly -- perhaps a bit entitled -- and Evanston is essentially Chicago, which probably houses more conference grads per capita than any other city.

New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman would very much like to change public attitudes toward the Big Ten's nerdy little buddy, however. He has started using Woody Hayes' old "that team up north" pejorative when talking about his in-state rivals, and has even installed anti-Wildcat signs in the locker room as if they were "no smoking" reminders.

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Picture via @WernerConnectFM.

Is the vitriol a little weird? Yeah, but let's not undermine what a momentous occasion this is for Northwestern fans. As the SB Nation blog Sippin On Purple points out:

But now, perhaps for the first time ever, an opposing Big Ten school cares more about beating Northwestern than vice versa. Congratulations, Tim Beckman, you've given Northwestern football our first little brother.