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Roundtable: Best moment of Northwestern’s 2020 football season

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Big Ten Championship Game - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Seven wins in nine games. A second Big Ten West title. A functional offense. One of the nation’s top defenses. A Citrus Bowl victory. The return of the Cardiac ‘Cats. This Northwestern season made many memories. See what we chose as our favorite moments from the 2020 campaign, and then give yours in the comments.

Eli Karp: Fitz’s postgame interview with Molly McGrath

It was at this moment in the season that Northwestern had arrived. All of the eyes on what turned out to be the Big Ten semifinals shifted to Evanston for the mid-afternoon kick to see No. 19 NU stifle No. 10 Wisconsin for the program’s first top-10 win in 11 years. The Wildcat world was joyous as the path to Indianapolis cleared and NU briefly had sights on the College Football Playoff. Fitz then let it all out in a raw postgame interview, praising Mike Hankwitz in what became one of the first public signs Hank was retiring and calling out “the fighting Rece Davises” making it clear he heard Joey Galloway’s comments in what became an unforgettable bit for half a week.

Lia Assimakopoulos: January 1, 2021

There were a lot of special moments from Northwestern’s football season but that beautiful, sunny, 82-degree day in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl and everything that happened during that near flawless game stood for what this season meant and what this team accomplished. From earning Hank’s 400th win to dominating an SEC powerhouse to finally putting together a complete game showed how much this team, which won just three games in 2019, has achieved in a season where it, and every other team in the nation, was set up to fail with endless hurdles ahead. It was magical and a day Northwestern fans will never forget.

Daniel Olinger: Brandon Joseph’s one-handed interception against Ohio State

The ascension of “B-Joe”, while celebrated en masse by NU fans, has not been played up as much as it should have been. Many were understandably worried about the safety position following the opt-out of Travis Whillock, and Northwestern just happened to replace him with a player who may go down as a program great. Joseph’s Odell Beckham Jr-style catch on the biggest stage only further confirmed the ‘Cats’ arrival as one of college football’s best teams in the 2020-21 season.

Colin Kruse: Comeback against Iowa

Maybe I’m a little biased because I watched this game in person, but Northwestern’s comeback set the tone for the rest of the season. After a disastrous first quarter, the game could have slipped away from the ‘Cats, but they kept fighting and clawed their way back into the ballgame. After escaping Iowa City with a textbook ‘Cardiac Cats win, all of the sudden NU seemed to be back.

Mac Stone: Coach Hank’s Citrus Bowl Gatorade bath

After a stellar final outing from Northwestern’s defense shut down Bo Nix and Auburn’s offense, a couple of Wildcats decided to give the celebratory gatorade bath to Mike Hankwitz instead of Fitz. Coach Hank even welcomed the celebration, motioning for it to commence. It was the perfect way to cap off Hank’s career as well as one of Northwestern’s better football seasons in recent memory.

Jacob Brown: Blake Gallagher intercepts Spencer Petras

Not only was this play exhilarating, but it was huge in setting up Northwestern’s season. Northwestern was up one point with a minute left. If Gallagher doesn’t make that play, who knows what the season would’ve been.

Meredith Revsine: Joey Galloway makes the Rece Davis comment

The 4-0 ‘Cats were turning heads, but ESPN’s Joey Galloway was not impressed, as he dubbed the team “A bunch of Rece Davises.” Pat Fitzgerald and Co. embraced what was intended to be a jab at the team, garnering attention for adopting the criticism in such a creative way. The “Fighting Rece Davis’” blue-collar mentality paid off, as they proved the likes of Galloway wrong by dominating Wisconsin that weekend.

Josh Miller: The fourth down blitz call against Wisconsin

Pure elation. There’s no other way to describe what Northwestern fans everywhere were feeling when Mike Hankwitz’s unit executed a well-designed, seven-man rush on 4th-and-6, up by a touchdown with 13:31 to go in the fourth quarter. It was this play that shifted momentum back to the Northwestern sideline en route to what I believe was the most impressive win of the season.

Ben Chasen: Brandon Joseph’s one-handed interception against Ohio State

Was anyone else whole-heartedly convinced the ‘Cats were going to win the Big Ten Championship Game when Joseph picked off Justin Fields to stop what seemed likely to become a half-ending touchdown drive to give the Buckeyes the lead? It might not have panned out that way, but the combined ridiculousness of the play and magnitude of when it happened makes it my easy choice for moment of the year.

Claire Kuwana: Mike Hankwitz

Yes, the Citrus Bowl and his 400th win, but also just him as an individual and coach. This team would not have reached this level of success that they did in 2020 without him.

Liam Warin: The Domination of Maryland

I know it was not the peak of the season, but the ‘Cats throttling of Maryland set the tone for what ended up being an amazing year. Every facet of the team played well, and Northwestern football put the world on notice with their utter destruction of the Terrapins.