Where in the world is LTP?
Hopefully you didn’t notice my recent off-the-grid status, but I’m back – kind of. I had my second back surgery in two years (the first being the day before the Michigan game LAST year). I had my second one the day before the 2012 home opener. However, I had a pretty major incident on Halloween night walking the kiddies around town and my wife thankfully dragged me in to the hospital. I’ve been in extreme pain and have been admitted to the hospital indefinitely as they try to figure out what they think may be an infection. My room doesn’t have internet access, so I’ve invited myself to take over some doctor/nurse work space and you’ll likely be seeing some out there commentary as I’m on a cocktail mix of every conceivable pain medication under the sun. I’m going to be just fine, but thought you should know as I’m sure to have terrible typos and grammar mistakes. Back to the show…
So what if Sparty choked down the stretch in their loss to Nebraska? Sure, our chances of making it to Indy took a giant nose dive as the Huskers would have to lose two of their final three AND we’d have to win out for a slot in the coveted B1G championship game. With a noon et kickoff on ESPN’s mothership, we have a ton to play for. It’s another program perception game and we are in the hunt for tying for the Legends Division co-title should we win out against Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois. Let’s dive in shall we?
Northwestern vs Michigan Alltime Series Capsule:
Alltime Series: Michigan 53-15-2
Since 1995: Michigan leads 9-4
Trends: NU has won more than one-third (4) of its entire career wins (15) against Michigan since 1995.
Pat Fitzgerald: 1-3 vs Michigan
Brady Hoke: 1-0 vs Northwestern
Favorite All-time Wolverine: Tim Biakabutuka – the guy sent us to the Rose Bowl with his play earning permanent holiday card list status.
Least Favorite All-time Wolverine: Elvis Grbac
The Magic Moments In “Recent” Historical Context
There aren’t many, but man are they good:
1995 NU 19 #7 Michigan 13
The second real exclamation point of the 1995 season came on October 14 of that year in our Big Ten road opener at the Big House. The ‘Cats had not won in Ann Arbor in half a century and found themselves ranked at #25 entering a nationally televised ESPN match-up in front of the largest crowd we would play against all year. It was a defensive slugfest. A few memorable moments stick out including back-up Chris Hamdorf getting called in to action when starter Steve Schnur got hurt and Hamdorf delivering big time. Eric Collier’s crucial pick of Brian Griese. D’Wayne Bates’ pass to Darren Drexler in the 4th. The most indellible moment however was FB Matt Hartl’s game-winning TD in the endzone as the ball floated in the air on a Schnur play action when he reversed field and Hartl dove to get under the rock to put NU up 16-13. Relive it over here at www.NUHighlights.com .
1996 The Gator Win – #22 NU 17 #6 Michigan 16
You talk about Ryan Field packed with purple, well the 1996 game at Dyche Stadium was exactly that. The place was buzzing from the get-go as the ‘Cats improbable Big Ten winning streak was at nine with Michigan again in the top ten trying to seek revenge. For three quarters it was all Michigan as the ‘Cats found themselves down 16-0 and then, as the 4th quarter got underway the magic kicked in. Most will remember that crucial bit of trickeration by Gary Barnett who used the gimmick “Gator” formation to pave the way for a critical first down and set up money play after money play. Remember the two-point conversion? No? Well, I know you remember Brian Gowins booming 47-yard game-winning FG that split the uprights and the ref blowing the play dead, inexplicably. Gowins set up to do it again and we all thought of the old NU, but Gowins delivered and bedlam ensued in Evanston.
2000 – “The Game” #21 Northwestern 54 #12 Michigan 51
Simply put, the most fun game I’ve ever attended at any sport at any level. Zak Kustok and Damien Anderson put on a show as the Wolverines had no answer for Damien. What seemed like a bittersweet day to Anderson’s record-setting rushing day against a Michigan team ended, or so we thought, with DA2 dropping a wide open TD pass from Zak Kustok on 4th down as Damien lost it in the lights. I’ll never forget the sportsmanship of Michigan as the players all came over and tapped DA as if to say “you were awesome, no worries”. Then, the Cardiac ‘Cat potion kicked in and Sean Wieber became immortal for somehow getting his mitt on the A-Train’s hand in what seemed like a game-clinching TD romp. NU recovers, converts and then holds on for dear life. This game is a turning point in CFB history as it is widely known as the game that helped supercharge the use of the spread offense.
2008 Northwestern 21 Michigan 14
A very rare game in which neither team was ranked. It was a miserable downpour at about 35-degrees in Ann Arbor and the play was a slopfest. After finding ourselves down 14-7 thanks to a blocked punt that was brought to the house for a TD, CJ Bacher took over in the third quarter connecting with Ross Lane for a TD and then the 53-yard bomb to Eric Peterman for what would be the game-winner as our “D” clamped down bigtime in the second half. It also moved my in-person record to 2-0 for Northwestern games in the Big House.
This was the single worst weather game I’ve ever attended and those of you who were there know what I’m talking about.
The Last Time We Met
Brady Hoke made his first trip to Evanston with a 12th-ranked Michigan squad under the”lights” at Ryan Field. Despite Michigan jumping out to a 7-0 lead, Northwestern dominated the first half. Kain Colter oohed and ahhhed the crowd with a 15-yard ankle turning TD run and Ibraheim Campbell had his breakout game with two of NU’s three first half interceptions. Whatever Michigan did, we responded and when Brian Peters picked off Denard it set up a FG to put NU up 24-14 at the half in a game that felt like 35-14. However, the second half continued a very disturbing trend that we had sufferred just a week before against Illinois as our secondary fell apart and Michigan put up 28 unanswered points to run away with a 42-24 win.
‘Cats Make BCS Rankings
Keep an eye on this as a win over Michigan would give us quite the jump and start propelling us for an alltime high BCS ranking. Here it is below: