Greatest Games in Northwestern History

Dave WalkerCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2009

So since the Outback Bowl, the only thing I can think of is next season. But, since next season is still months away, I would like to reflect on the best games in Northwestern football history, and of course, they are all Wildcat wins...

No. 10) Oct. 18, 1997, 19-17 win vs Michigan State

I put this game in the top 10, because this Northwestern team was mediocre at best. The Spartans came in ranked 11th, and were looking like the Big Ten front runner. That was until Adrian Autry spurted for 175 yards on the ground, and Anwawn Jones blocked a last second field goal.

A nice win for a team that was trying to replace so many parts from back to back Big Ten Championship seasons.

No. 9) Nov. 11, 1995, 21-10 win vs Penn State

This was the game that made the Cats legit. They had already beaten Michigan, and ran through Wisconsin. Now they had to beat Penn St for the first time ever. I remember this being one of the first times that Northwestern had been given the coveted 2:30 kickoff on ABC.

Darnell Autry opened up the scoring with a two-yard TD and Wally Richardson, yes, Wally Richardson, was not able to match the effort of the Cats D as the Wildcats won, and the fans stormed the field for the first time in my lifetime.

No. 8) Oct. 8, 2005, 51-48 win vs Wisconsin

This was a game that I was supposed to attend, but drank too much the night before. I regret every beer to this day. No. 14 Wisconsin was coming in with all their beer drinking fans, and no one was giving Northwestern a chance.

Tyrell Sutton ran for over 200 yards, including the game winner, a 62-yard scamper as the Cats won 51-48. I especially loved this one because I was living in Madison at the time, therefore, I wore my Darnell Autry jersey to the bar that night:)

No. 7) Oct. 5, 1996, 17-16 win vs Michigan

Oh what a win. Michigan was supposed to come in, get their revenge, and beat us to a bloody pulp.

But, as Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend." I remember watching the stat lines on this new thing called the Internet, since the game was not broadcast in my area.

The Cats fell behind 16-0 going into the fourth quarter. But, behind a Lavelle Brown touchdown and three Brian Gowins field goals, the Cats were able to take a 17-16 lead with 8 seconds left and ultimately beat Michigan for the second year in a row.

No. 6) Oct. 19, 1996 34-30 win at Wisconsin

This was the Dayne game, and not the one where he ran wild, even though he did run for 139 yards. Let's just cut to the last two minutes. Northwestern was down. They had just turned it over on downs.

All Wisconsin had to do was run out the clock. Head coach Barry Alvarez elected to hand it to future Heisman winner Ron Dayne and he coughed it up like a fart kid eating broccoli. Quarterback Steve Schnur would hit D'Wayne Bates with a 20-yard TD to win the game.

No. 5) Oct. 28, 2000 41-35 win at Minnesota

Victory right. Enough said. Minnesota had controlled the game with a 35-14 lead late in the third quarter. But no so fast my friend. Zac Kustok went off, running for two TD's and throwing for two more. This included the famous hail mary touchdown to Sam Simmons.

The play was victory right, a volleyball tip play that had been practiced for situations like this. Final play of the game. Kustok takes the snap, rolls out to his right, fires deep. A crowd of players tip the ball, right into the hands of Sam Simmons. Victory Wildcats.

I heard this one on the radio while I was on a trip to a high school football game. Still to this day, my friend and I say this is the best game we ever heard.

No. 4) Oct. 7, 1995 19-13 win at Michigan

This was as big an upset as the Notre Dame game was that same year. This was not the prettiest game, but with the '95 team it was all about defense and running the ball. seventh ranked Michigan was poised to make a run at a National Championship.

Northwestern was supposed to be a middle of the pack team. Autry went for 100 yards, but it was a two-yard pass from Schnur to Matt Hartl that would tie the game in the fourth quarter, and a Sam Valenzisi field goal would win the game and help send Northwestern to their first Rose Bowl since 1949.

No. 3) Oct. 2, 2004, 33-27 win vs Ohio State

This was a game that the Cats controlled, but being the team the Buckeyes were, they found a way to make it close. The Cats were up by ten late, when the Buckeyes came back to tie it.

Noah Herron would have a walk off touchdown in the first overtime as the Cats would beat the Ohio State University for the first time in 33 years. Brett Basanez threw for over 200 yards and Herron ran for over 100 yards.

No. 2) Sept. 2, 17-15 win at Notre Dame

This was the one that changed it all. No one ever thought Northwestern would beat Notre Dame. In years past the 10-year veteran Ron Powlus had picked the Cats apart. This year it was different.

A solid running game, stellar defense, and a big heart helped Northwestern beat the Irish in South Bend. Steve Schnur threw two touchdown passes, and the defense was able to make Mr. Powlus fall down on an all critical two-point conversion, sealing the Cats first win over the Irish since 1962.

No. 1) Nov. 4, 2000, 54-51 win vs Michigan

If you are a Northwestern fan, you had to see this one coming. This was the best college game I have ever seen to date. This one had it all. Over 1000 yards of total offense. Over 100 points scored. Late game drama.

Northwestern's spread offense had confused teams all year. Their defense, however, confused nobody. This game was Michigan's to win. Late in the game the Cats were moving down the field, down 51-46, with the ball, in the red zone.

After a touchdown was called back, head coach Randy Walker called a timeout to set up what should have been the last offensive play. It was a flair pass to a wide open Damien Anderson, which he dropped.

Michigan was primed to run out the clock. Give it to the A-train, and walk out a winner. Oh wait, there was a phantom fumble, recovered by Raheem Covington.

Several plays later it was Kustok to Simmons...Wildcats win! Best game ever! This one had offense, drama, and even more offense.

Now, there were several other honorable mention games, including the 2001 win over Michigan State, the 2005 win over Iowa, and the 1996 win at Illinois.


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