Greatest Plays in NU History?
The Votes Are In!
In a format similar to the page listing NU's
greatest games, HailToPurple.com presents a list of the
Wildcats' greatest plays.
These plays do not necessarily come from great games, nor even
from games NU won. However, unlike the greatest games list, which
into account games from all eras, the greatest play list focuses only
on recent Wildcat history (from the 1980s to the present).
And, unlike the
greatest games list, the greatest play list came directly from reader
suggestions. During the 2003 pre-season dozens of readers
sent in their lists of eye-popping plays. I compiled the lists,
the plays based on your rankings and the number of respondents
mentioning them, and synthesized the lists into one final countdown.
everyone who contributed to the list.
So, here are some of the
greatest moments on the gridiron during the last 20
or so years, starting with...
#1. NU at
Minnesota, 2000: "Victory Right"-- One
of the few moments in NU history that has its own name (actually the
of the playbook play that the Wildcats used), this particular play was
mentioned by nearly every respondent, and chosen by half of them as
their favorite play
from the last three decades.
Having erased a 21-point deficit and tying the Gophers at
35, NU got the
ball back after the Gophers executed some of the worst clock management
in history. Within
his own ten yard line, with just seconds to go in regulation, Glen
could have called a couple of running plays and leveled the playing
in overtime. Instead, he called for a pass, which was incomplete,
the clock, and -- after Randy Walker called his last timeout -- forced
Gophers to punt.
NU got the ball in its
own territory and then ran two short ground plays, appearing to be
content with heading to overtime. This left the 'Cats with third
down, eight seconds left, a running clock, and no time outs.
However, overtime was not the goal. Kustok spiked the ball.
With three seconds left on the clock and kicker Tim Long facing a
63 yard field goal, the Wildcats instead lined up for a last offensive
play, "Victory Right." Kustok took the snap and, before being
decked to the turf, heaved a shocking bomb to the end zone. In
the Victory Right play, three of NU's
receivers streak to the endzone, with two of them in position where the
should be made. However, there was to be no catch; instead, Kunle
jumped over the defenders and tipped the ball, volleyball-style, to Sam
who was relatively unguarded. Simmons made the catch, staggered
ensure that he had possession while in the endzone, and raced off the
spiking the ball in triumph.
#2. Michigan at NU, 1996: Gowins kicks
the game winning field goal... twice--
A fairly close second was Brian Gowins' having to kick a game-winning
goal twice to give NU the shocking win over Michigan, 17 to 16 with
seconds left. Gowins split the uprights and the crowd erupted
celebration as NU seemed to overcome a 16-0 fourth quarter hole.
the refs blew the play dead, claiming that they were not ready to
play when the ball had been snapped. Deafening booing toward the
gave way to nervous silence as Gowins kicked again, repeating
#3. Michigan at NU,
2000: A-Train Derails-- 'Cats get a jaw-dropping second chance at a
win with 51 seconds to go, when Raheem Covington recovers Anthony
#4. NU at Wisconsin,
1996: Schnur to Bates-- After Dayne's fumble (see play #9),
Schnur's bomb to Bates wins the game.
#5. NU at Notre Dame,
1995: The Cryin' Irish-- Matt Rice and the Wildcat D-line stuff
Randy Kinder on fourth and two with 3:57 to go.
#6. Michigan at NU,
With NU down by two, out of field goal range, on fourth down and long,
with seconds to go, Brian Musso hauls in a Schnur throw with a circus
catch, setting up the Gowins kick (see play #2).
#7. Iowa at NU, 1995:
Return to Sender-- Hudhaifa Ismaeli returns a Hawkeye fumble,
sprinting for the TD.
#8. Michigan St. at
NU, 2001: Victory Right II--
Kustok's 40+ yard missile tipped by Patrick and caught by Jon
setting up Wasielewski's 49-yard game-winning field goal.
#9. NU at Wisconsin,
1996: Take a knee? Naaah.-- Casey Dailey causes Ron Dayne to
fumble while running out the clock.
#10. Michigan St. at
NU, 1997: The Block--
Down by two and within easy scoring range with seconds to go, MSU's
Paul Edinger has his kick blocked by Anwan Jones.
#11. NU at Illinois,
1992: Locked in a Zone-- Len Williams fires a perfect TD strike to
Lee Gissendaner, erasing what was left of a 20-point deficit and giving
the 'Cats the win.
#12. NU at Wisconsin,
Concluding double overtime, Damien Anderson takes the ball into the
untouched-- from 12 yards out, stunning 76,000 Badger fans.
#13. NU at Michigan,
1995: The Trick Play--
Barnett had dozens of them, but none so satisfying as Schnur tossing a
to Bates, and Bates rifling a flanker-option pass to Drexler to set up
Matt Hartl's score (#16).
#14. Michigan at NU,
Getting the ball back after Thomas' fumble (see play #3), the 'Cats
take long to score the winning points, as Zak fired a bullet to Sam
who raced into the endzone.
#15. NU at Wisconsin,
2000: The Long Fieldgoal--
Tim Long had had problems kicking the ball all day. On the last
in regulation time, however, Long booted a 47-yarder to keep the 'Cats
#16. NU at Michigan,
1995: Hartl Scores--
It was Schnur to fullback Matt Hartl for the winning points.
#17. Michigan at NU,
1996: The Turning Point-- Pat Fitzgerald recovers Chris Howard's fumble in the
backfield in the fourth quarter.
#18. Indiana at NU,
1995: The Punt--
Paul Burton's booming punt takes a huge NU roll, totals 90 yards.
#19. NU at Notre
Dame, 1995: Autry Explodes-- Darnell Autry runs up the left side for the decisive
#20. Wisconsin at NU,
1995: The Scrubs Preserve the Shutout--
On the last play of the game, with the Badgers deep in the Wildcat
NU has its second-stringers playing defense. Reserve cornerback
Rooney stops Wisconsin for a two-yard loss.
2002 vs. TCU: Jason Wright's 100 yard opening kickoff return for TD;
vs. Michigan St.: Sandy Schwab catches a TD pass after a lateral, to
the win; 1995 vs. Purdue: Chris Martin's long interception runback for
2001 vs. Purdue: Kevin Bentley picks off Drew Brees' bubble
for a TD; 2002 vs. Ohio State: Dominique Price's monster hit on Maurice
causes his third fumble and sends him crying to the sidelines; 1995 vs.
Autry's fourth down TD; 1995 vs. Notre Dame: Ron Powlus goes down
the two-point conversion attempt.