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Ranking the top 10 plays from Northwestern’s season

We’ve got some combos in here, too.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Big Ten Championship Game
Brandon Joseph snags an interception with one hand in the Big Ten Championship game.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following a 3-9 year, the Wildcats flipped the script in 2020 with a trip to the Big Ten Championship game and made highlight plays on both offense and defense.

Picking 10 plays from a memorable campaign wasn’t easy, and you’ll surely have other plays you’d want to include. Let us know in the comments!

Now, let’s count down the 10 best plays from the last nine weeks.

10. Drake Anderson busts a TD run vs Nebraska

The Wildcats didn’t waste much time getting on the board, as Anderson took an inside handout and found room running to his right. He then bounced the run to the outside and used his speed to dust Cornhusker defenders en route to the end zone for a 41-yard score.

9. Riley Lees spins for an insurance score

Up one point in the fourth quarter, Lees set NU up with great field position after a 36-yard punt return. Six plays later, Peyton Ramsey found Lees over the middle for what looked like a modest gain. Instead of going down, the senior stopped on a dime and spun to evade two defenders, then leapt over the goal line for his only touchdown of the season.

8. RCB’s big night in West Lafayette

This one includes three catches! Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman cemented himself as the Wildcats’ leading receiver, hauling in three touchdowns in a career night at Purdue. The second score of his hat trick was a great throw from Ramsey into the end zone to take the lead.

7. Cam Porter puts Illinois away

The freshman running back entered the HAT contest with just six carries for seven yards. Porter shined in the wildcat formation, out of which he scored both of his touchdowns. The Cincy native finished with 24 carries for 142 yards in addition to the pair of scores.

6. Evan Hull’s 50-yard rush against the Illini

In what will likely be remembered as the Evan Hull & Cam Porter breakout game, Hull shined with a 30-yard score on fourth down, as well as with this 50-yard run towards the end of the game. Hull broke through multiple tackles on this run that capped off his 149-yard game.

5. Ramsey keeps, Porter finishes against the Buckeyes

Technically, these are two plays sliding in at the fifth spot, but they occurred back to back, and thus you can’t have one without the success of the other. On third-and-2 inside Buckeye territory, Ramsey found a hole and burst loose for a 34-yard gain. The next play, Porter took the direct snap out of the wildcat formation and ran in the 9-yard score to take a shocking early lead in Indianapolis.

4. Anderson reverses field vs Maryland

The fourth ranked play on this list comes from the season opener versus Maryland. With the ‘Cats up 17-3, Drake found the hole on a jump cut and then ran almost horizontally the length of the field. He followed his blockers from the right side all the way back to the left and eventually into the end zone for the 37-yard scamper to pile on the romp of the Terps.

3. Brandon Joseph picks off Justin Fields

Brandon Joseph made the best play most pleasing play of his young career at the perfect time, with the Buckeyes threatening to take the lead at the end of the first half. As Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields looked for Garrett Wilson in the end zone, the redshirt first-year made phenomenal one-handed grab, keeping OSU touchdown-less in the first half for the first time in two years. The pick was Joseph’s nation-leading sixth interception of the year.

2. Riley Lees’ double reverse pass

Mike Bajakian’s offense brought many trick plays to a previously bland unit. While reverses and end arounds failed against Ohio State, this successful play finds itself second on the ranking. It’s hard to ask a wide receiver to make a better throw than Lees did, but a slightly more inside ball would’ve been an easy touchdown. Isaiah Bowser’s goal-line fumble on the next play meant the Wildcats got no points on the possession, but this play comes in second regardless.

1. Ramsey’s dime TD toss to RCB

As great as Lees’ trick play pass earlier in this game was, it doesn’t beat this perfectly thrown pass from Ramsey. With just over a minute to go in the half and the score tied at seven, Ramsey placed the ball where only his receiver could get it. RCB made sure to get both feet in bounds for the 25-yard touchdown and gave Northwestern the lead over No. 10 Wisconsin that it would not relinquish.

Agree with these rankings? Disagree? Let us know below.