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The 10 best Northwestern single-game performances since 2010

What would sportswriting be without arbitrary lists?

NCAA Football: Music Bowl-Kentucky vs Northwestern Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern has had plenty of memorable performances in the last 18 years. Every athlete will have a “monster game” at some point in their lives. Some people are like me and have those games in elementary school pickup soccer. Others have them while play for the Northwestern Wildcats. However, it’s hard to remember them all. In the great chain of time, it’s easy to forget what happened over a single game.

Thus, I decided to find the 10 best single-game performances since 2000 sorry I meant 2010 here, but it’s led to some good discussion, so let’s go with it. As with every power ranking I’ve created at Inside NU, I don’t have any qualifications to do this and it’s entirely subjective. Without further ado and in chronological order, here are the 10 best Northwestern single-game performances since 2010. My criteria are:

  • It has to be completed in one day.
  • It has to be an individual.
  • Winning the game helps.
  • “Dominance” is another factor.

Honorable Mentions I don’t need to explain: Clayton Thorson torches Michigan State in 2016 (27/35 for 281 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 5 rushes for 12 yards and a TD), Scottie Lindsey scores 32 with 9 threes against Iowa this year, Bryant McIntosh scoring 28 in a home win over Wisconsin in 2016, any number of Justin Jackson, B-Mac or Austin Carr games, the Tre Demps Game vs. Michigan (for sheer pressure alone), Maggie Lyon vs. Minnesota (almost put Rachel Banham scoring 50 on this list).

Honorable mentions I need to explain: Mike Kafka’s 2010 Outback Bowl performance

Okay, so while doing research for this, I considered putting Mike Kafka’s ridiculous stat line from the 2010 Outback Bowl vs. the Auburn team that would win the title the next year. Kafka had 532 yards and accounted for 5 touchdowns. That would be enough in most regards, but he also threw 5 interceptions and completed these stats on 78 passes. That’ You’re close Mike! I really wanted to put you in, but it just wasn’t quite there.

  1. John Shurna scores 37 vs. LSU in 2011-2012.

Ah, an oldie but a goodie. John Shurna was the real deal. The guy was completely unconscious in his senior season. In 2011-2012 he averaged 20 points per game, shot 44 percent from three and somehow managed good assist and block numbers as well. His finest hour, however, came against LSU in the second game of the season. That LSU team was not bad! It made the NIT and was a top-100 KenPom team. Didn’t matter. Shurna put up 37 points on them. It was the most points scored by a player in the Carmody era. He also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and had the assist to Dave Sobolewski for the game-winning three.

2. Trevor Siemian goes for 413 yards and 4 TDs against Illinois

Before Touchdown Trevor became a Super Bowl Champion, he was busy breaking our hearts every weekend at Ryan Field. At the end of the extremely bad 2013 season, in which Northwestern landed College Gameday, heartbreakingly lost to Ohio State, and then lost six straight games, Siemian went to play an even worse Illinois team in Champaign. Northwestern, searching for its first conference win, got a performance for the ages from Siemian. He finished the game 31-for-44 with 413 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also led Northwestern down the field twice in the fourth quarter to give Northwestern the win. Honestly, I’m not sure this would be on the list if it weren’t Illinois, but here we are.

3. Jordan Wilimovsky wins the 10 km open water at the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan

This is likely the most impressive accomplishment on this list when you consider that, for one day, Jordan Wilimovsky was the best open water 10km swimmer in the entire world. The stakes could not have been higher: the winner earned a spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. It was the World Championships, so the field was stacked. Wilimovsky won the race by 12 seconds anyway. Enough said.

4. Anthony Walker vs. Stanford

There are many who would point to Walker’s 19-tackle performance against Duke as the best game of his career, but for me, Walker’s performance against No. 21 Stanford will always stand out to me. For one, the competition was much better. Remember, Walker was going against Christian McCaffrey in this game. Stanford later played in the Rose Bowl and beat Iowa 45-16.

But Northwestern held Stanford to 6 points, with much of the credit going to Walker. Walker had 10 tackles (5 solo), 3 tackles for loss, a half sack, a fumble recovery and 3 pass breakups. As Zach Pereles wrote after the game:

“This was one of the most impressive linebacking displays I’ve seen at the college level in a while. Walker was everywhere, showed outstanding speed and play recognition, and was generally everything you could have possibly wanted in a middle linebacker.”

5. The Dererk Pardon Game vs. Nebraska in 2015-2016

I don’t want to diminish this. Dererk Pardon, in the second game of his career, single-handedly won a Big Ten game. Pardon didn’t even start this game. After an injury to Alex Olah, Collins decided to burn Pardon’s redshirt and bring him in off the bench. It was supposed to help out Joey van Zegeren (shoutout to that guy, by the way) and increase Northwestern’s depth. Game one against Loyola Maryland went well. Pardon had 23 minutes and 6 points.

On the road against Nebraska, Pardon scored 28 points and picked up 12 boards (7 offensive, 5 defensive) in 29 minutes. Nebraska just had no answer for him. Recently, some younger Inside NU staffers have been trying to crown recent games as “the Dererk Pardon Game” in conversation to me. No, this is the Dererk Pardon game, the one where we realized he was the best two-way true center Northwestern has ever had.

6. Selena Lasota scores 8 goals No. 19 OSU in 2016

For those who haven’t watched much of the last few years of Northwestern lacrosse, you’re missing out. Selena Lasota is the closest thing I’ve seen to a lacrosse version of peak Thierry Henry at Arsenal. When she’s on, she’s the purest goalscorer you’ll ever see.

After a season-ending injury in 2017, she’s back for her senior year in 2018. You should watch. But that’s all context. In the final game of the 2016 season, Northwestern traveled to face a ranked Ohio State team in Columbus. Sounds like a hard task, right? Well, Northwestern won 22-13 and Lasota fired in 8 goals. 8 goals! There are games where entire teams don’t even score 8 goals. Lasota also won 6 draw controls and had an assist.

7. Hannah Kim shoots a 64 at the 2016 Hurricane Invitational

I mean, what do I have to say? She shot a 64! Shouldn’t that put you on this list by default? It’s the best 18-hole score in team history. Over the three-day tournament, she shot 67-68-64 and finished 14-under, five shots ahead of her nearest competitor.

8. Justin Jackson 224 yards, 3 TDs in the Pinstripe Bowl

I’m just going to leave this here...

Get this man an NFL job.

9. Nia Coffey destroys Iowa with 34 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists

Having attended this game in person, there was no one in the building who could stop Nia Coffey from attacking the basket in this one. Iowa played really well and had future Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson inside defending her. It didn’t matter. Coffey absolutely torched Iowa and Northwestern advanced in the Big Ten Tournament.

10. Lauren Clem makes 12 saves on 28 shots vs. UCLA in 2017 NCAA Tournament

While there were plenty of highlights from this year, no individual performance stands out to me as much as Lauren Clem’s superhuman effort against No. 2 UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. Under ridiculous pressure from the Bruins, Clem made every save she could in regulation. Northwestern put UCLA under almost no pressure on the other end, meaning that Clem absorbed pressure for the entire 90 minutes. In the end, UCLA prevailed 1-0 on a golden goal in overtime, but it was still a heroic final game from Northwestern’s goalkeeper.