Most posts take a significant amount of time. One thing that is crushing is the ROI on said posts. If I spend an hour writing an in-depth post and it gets three comments and BOOM a new post pops up, displacing it, it is pretty deflating as a writer. Considering NU has a hoops game tonight, that sets up at least a late night recap post and I realized by finishing the Top Ten Random Word Associations: Sparty Edition post, it would be way too much work with way too little readership for the few hours it was featured. Sooooo, to placate my ego, I’m hedging and going to simply use ONE game from the series, desperately in need of a concise “Random Word Association”. This is where you come in. Also, I invite you to add your Random Word Association, and as I said on Twitter, don’t go William Gholston (euphemism for dirty!) on me – keep it clean.
2001 ‘Cats Odyssey
Yes, this series of moments needs to be crystalized in to a word association, or multiple for that matter, and it is the 2001 Northwestern-Michigan State game. In my opinion, it is the most UNDERrated Northwestern game this entire generation. It is also personal to me, as it was the very first game I took my now wife of ten years (then girlfriend) to and played a huge role in converting the Tufts grad to Mrs. LTP.
The 2001 season could also be coined “the lost season” as we started 3-0 (which we rarely ever did at that point) before the bottom dropped out and we ended 4-7. The Michigan State game was only the second post 9/11 game and that entire season seemed to be borderline surreal/irrelevant as a result. What may be harder to believe is Zak Kustok was out there being, well, Zak. Most forget about the ’01 season in relation to Zak as we have such fond memories of 2000.
The Cardiac ‘Cats surely had earned the title LAST decade, but this one is right up there in the improbability category. It currently holds the #16 slot on the LTP NU Alltime Best list. Let’s break down the final 5 minutes as it will potentially help at least mentally balance out the pain of the Michigan Hail Mary knowing we’ve had our fair share of improbable wins in our history.
All you need to know in this ESPN Instant Classic against Michigan State at Ryan Field is the Cats were up 17-14 with 4:48 left and then, the most thrilling :29 seconds on that side of our Outback Bowl game happened:
4:42 Left: The Spartans’ Charles Rogers returns NU punt 64 yards for TD, but Sparty misses PAT – MSU 20 – NU 17
:29 Left: ‘Cats QB, Zak Kustok mounted an epically-long clock chewing drive (Just under 4 minutes) that resulted in a Kunle Patrick 10-yd TD with :29 left to make the score NU 24-MSU 20
:18 Left: Michigan State’s Herb Haygood returns ensuing kick-off 84-yards for the apparent game-winner. Napoleon Harris blocks another PAT. MSU 26-NU 24
:16 Left: In the stuff of NU legend, or football clichés, Kustok allegedly entered the huddle and told the ‘Cats “You know we’re going to get this” to which Jeff Roehl replied “I know, but it’s going to be interesting to see how”. The answer – the Victory Right formation they used one year earlier in the Hail Mary win over Minnesota. This time Jon Schweighardt played the role of Sam Simmons and caught a tipped pass from Kunle Patrick at the Sparty 33 with eight ticks left.
:05 Left – David Wasielewski, who had missed two earlier FG drilled a 47-yarder as time expired. Final Score – NU 27- MSU 26. Remember, those two missed PATs in the final 4:42? Really statistically incredible, if not one in a million. This is also the most underrated FG I can remember in NU lore as most wouldn’t be able to even remember Wasielewski.
The ‘Cats overcome some Sun Bowl-esque special teams guffaws to pull out a miracle. Watching Kustok go to the Victory Right on his own 5-yard line to have the chance to SET UP the game-winning FG is just simply something you’ve got to see again to believe it happened. Fortunately you can, thanks to our pal, Northwestern Highlights. Please enjoy below.
OK, now it’s your turn. Do we use 2001 ‘Cats Odyssey as the word association. Victory Right II? Wasielewski? Do they get multiple entrants. Help a diehard out? Let’s hear ya!