Michigan Week Is Here & So Is The History Brush-Up

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:


  • Next Cat

    Get well soon, LTP!

    • cece

      watch that back infection. those bad followups are problematic. feel better!

    • Wildcats99

      I second that. Get well soon!

    • PBR Cat

      Take good care of yourself! You are providing a great service to the Wildcat Nation! Hope that you will be able to see the Illini game.

  • WCAS 1990

    LTP! The 1995 Michigan Game was Oct. 7, I should know as my wedding began 10 minutes after the game began and my boilermaker bride’s bridesmaids wore purple. Oct 14, 1995 I had to find a bar in Grand Cayman with the NU at MN game on.

  • zeek

    #24 in the BCS, #21 in the Coaches Poll.

    Going into a huge game @Michigan on ESPN.

    I’m going to be holding on to the edge of my seat the whole game.

    The main thing to me is to get a split in Michigan (@Michigan/@Michigan State).

  • SteveR

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, LTP!

  • JimB

    get well soon. I was at all these games. You nailed the thought process for the Brian Gowins kick. Had a Michigan man next to us that game, you could just see the crushing of his hopes, twice. Definitely the got “the game” right as best game I’ve been to. The most miserable is unmistakeable. We still joke about that game’s weather. We had rain, then sleet, then snow, then more rain, then hail, before, during and after the game. We were asking “what’s next, frogs?” Great wins all of them though. The Program has come a LONG way since then. Expectations were not as high and every win was still appreciated for what it was.

  • ill be in ann arbor with my colter jersey, GO CATS

    • Wildcats99

      I’ll be there too!

      • Mark

        I’m going too. Traffic issues because Stadium Blvd. is closed just east of the stadium so give yourself more time to get to the game. Forecast now is high 50’s with mostly cloudy skies.

  • Watching and (Mostly) Waiting

    Interesting. I was not at the game in Ann Arbor but the worst-weather game I ever attended was a Michigan game as well, an evening game. We lost, so not particularly memorable there, but I remember the sod coming out in hunks and the new, supposedly improved drainage turning into “a day at the beach”, with the players covered in sand. Also remember water running down the stairways in the lower rows like a waterfall. I chickened out for the Southern Illinois game a few years ago and watched from home, but this Michigan game (maybe late 90’s) is easily the worst I can recall, particularly for playing field conditions. Anybody else remember it, and perhaps the year?

    • UVA Cat

      Pretty sure that was the slop-fest in Ann Arbor in October of 1998. We lost in a low scoring affair, 6-12. I remember catching parts of that game while visiting a friend in Cambridge, MA that weekend. The weather looked absolutely terrible on TV.

      • Watching and (Mostly) Waiting

        The game in question was a home game (sorry wasn’t clear in my original post). Looks like you might have the year right, however–1998–because I had a recollection that Justin Fargas was the M RB that night, and I looked him up. ’98 was his only year in the Michigan backfield before transferring to USC, so good recall! But I can vouch that ’98 game was definitely in Evanston, and the Ryan Field aisles were waterfalls. Was anybody at both that game and the ’08 game in Ann Arbor (because 1998 was certainly the low “ebb” for me)?

        • I was at both games, and trust me — the weather in 2008 in Ann Arbor was MUCH worse. The Homecoming night game vs. Michigan in 1998 (yep, it was homecoming) was played in a torrential downpour, and at one point the crowd cheered louder because it started raining harder, but overall it still wasn’t miserable since the temperature was generally not too bad outside (and Northwestern played well, even in defeat, meaning the fans were into the game more).

          The 2008 game in Ann Arbor was the worst weather I’ve ever experienced for a football game: rain, sleet, snow, ice, driving wind, bone-chilling temperatures. My entire front side was frozen solid with ice/wet frozen clothes. There was simply no way to be comfortable or enjoy that game at all, even though Northwestern won.

          • Mark

            Totally agree. The ’08 game in Ann Arbor was the coldest I’ve ever been anywhere.

          • TB

            The 2006 game in Ann Arbor was no picnic, either.

        • PBR Cat

          I attended both games. My 2008 visit to Ann Arbor was worse because: A) My seats in Evanston are under the roof, so I was dry in 1998 while others were soaked; and B) the kindly Michigan fans completed my day by vandalizing my car by spreading taco salad over my windshield and and doors in a display of true sportsmanship. Took two car washes to clean up the mess.
          It was awful in both 1998 and 2008, but it was raining and freezing in Ann Arbor. My memory of the 1998 game was that all of the scoring was done via kicks. Am I correct?

        • Nate
          • Watching and (Mostly) Waiting

            Nope, the scoring was not all by kicks. See the video above posted by Nate (good find!). Tom Brady to Tai Streets for a TD just before halftime, with a perfectly positioned Harold Blackmon falling down in the mud. Game’s only TD. BTW, I defer to the 2008 attendees for worst game ever, since in 1998, it was actually warm and muggy, which takes a back seat to the sleet and snow described in ’08. But for horrible conditions on the field for the players, I’m sticking with this 1998 mud-fest.

    • That was homecoming in ’98 I believe. It was warm though while the ’08 big house game was much worsevb/c of the near freezing temps

  • MB1982

    I wish BTN would find the 1996 game and show it as a Big Ten Classic. They show the 95 and 2000 games over and over and as good as they were, I don’t need to see them again. I remember the 96 game as one of the most exciting in our post-Rose Bowl history.

    • PBRCat

      Totally agree! I was hoarse from shouting afterwards in 1996 and, best of all, the Michigan bus pulled up in front of my parking space in the West Lot and I had the rare privilege of watching the Wolverines board their bus in a single file line after the game. Brian Musso and Brian Gowins were two stars that day.
      2001: A game for the ages (sadly followed by an trap game loss to Iowa that cost NU a return to Pasadena).
      I was in Michigan Stadium in 2008 and it was awful. Rain and snow flurries, but I could not leave since Northwestern was winning! One of the worst games that I have ever suffered through. “The Big House” was far less impressive and fan friendly in person. Yes, it seats thousands, but the only toilets available were portable potties that day.

    • WildCat98

      Agree, as well. The 1996 game really brings back special memories, as the game was sold out (thinking my streak of home games as a student was about to come to an end), and somehow I was able to get a ticket from my TA who couldn’t go. I remember after the game, finding my friend and rushing the field. I should have sent my TA life-long X-mas cards for allowing me to see the second best game ever.
      For the 2000 game, I drove from Minnesota with my best friend, and ex-coworker, who is a Michigan alum, and boy was that worth the drive, as that would rank as the best game I’ve ever seen. That might have been one of the last times I remember Ryan Field really rocking. Needless to say the drive back to Minnesota for my coworker wasn’t as fun as it was for my friend and me!
      Each time I see a replay of the 2000 game, it cracks me up each time I hear Brent Musberger go nearly hysterical on A-train’s fumble. Anyway, you’re right, I’ve seen replays of the 1995 & 2000 games over and over, but have yet to see a replay of the 1996 game. Since the game is on ESPN, they may hopefully show a replay of the ’96 game on ESPNU.

      • Fanaticat

        I also drove back to Minnesota after that 2000 game, I remember it was the middle of the night getting in but a fun drive since we were so amped up after the win.

  • Hungry Jack

    I watched the 1996 game from the south end zone. That 4th quarter might have been the best 15 minutes of Wildcat football ever.

  • Mark

    Heal fast LTP! Thanks for everything.

  • Nate

    Michigan week, one of my favorites on the calendar. I feel oddly confident that the ‘Cats can get it done without a blood pressure-raising 4th Q. It will be a close game throughout, and I have zero reason to back this belief up, but I think NU will take a two-score lead in the final frame without fumbling it away, preventing us from going into shock again. Get better LTP!

  • Hudie

    Yes, I was at that worst weather game too.
    So miserable. If it was just 5 degrees colder, all would’ve been good.

  • Wildcat2014

    I keep waiting for your shout out to the soccer team for their share of the B1G regular season title! A great boost for our program.

    • You’re right. Miss on my part but the hospital I’m at has no BTN and I can barely get a cell signal.

  • JoJo

    Don’t forget the real historic reason Northwestern hates Michigan: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19710825&id=qsEdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iSgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2141,2684754

  • Big Purple

    1958-worst defeat in Michigan history. Still is. Northwestern 55-Michigan 24.Half time N.U. 43 Michigan 0. Ara Parsigian coach.