Over the past decade of Big Ten play, thousands of plays will never be remembered.
A select few, though, stand the test of time. They are plays so monumental, memorable or just plain unusual that they become the stuff of legend.
We’re looking back this week to the 25 most iconic plays to involve a Big Ten team from 2006 through 2015. Monday, we unveiled No. 21 to No. 25.
Today, it’s Nos. 16 through 20:
No. 16: Miracle heave from Ron Kellogg III beats Northwestern, Nov. 2, 2013
The first game-winning Hail Mary in Nebraska history was worth the wait. And the participants were nearly as unlikely as the play itself. The senior Kellogg, a former walk-on playing in place of injured quarterback Taylor Martinez and interception-prone Tommy Armstrong Jr., unloaded the ball across midfield as time expired. It failed to reach the end zone until a pair of Northwestern defenders tipped it to freshman wideout Jordan Westerkamp, who dove forward to snag the ball for his first career touchdown. Nebraska won 27-24, and Memorial Stadium spun into a frenzy after the 49-yard connection. Just listen to the excitement on the radio call (linked to the play above) of color commentator Matt Davison, who made a miraculous, game-saving grab himself 16 years prior as a freshman.
No. 17: Jadeveon Clowney lights up Michigan’s Vincent Smith, Jan. 1, 2013
What really needs to be said about this? It’s all in the video. Clowney, the South Carolina sophomore, lined up on the right edge and sliced through Michigan’s line. He arrived untouched as Devin Gardner handed off to Smith, whose helmet flew several yards into the backfield. The hit -- and Clowney's subsequent recovery of Smith’s fourth-quarter fumble in the Gamecocks’ 33-28 Outback Bowl win -- illustrated Clowney’s rare combination of speed and power and secured his spot on the map as a transcendent pro prospect. He was rewarded 16 months later as the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick of the Houston Texans.
No. 18: Unlikely hero Kyler Elsworth stops Stanford on fourth down to secure Rose Bowl victory, Jan. 1, 2014
Michigan State completed a 13-1 season with its first Rose Bowl win since 1988 in the 100th edition of the game as middle linebacker Elsworth soared high over the line to hit Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt on fourth-and-inches from the Cardinal’s 34-yard line with 1:46 to play. The Spartans won the game 24-20, and Elsworth, a senior and former walk-on, was named defensive MVP for his work in replacing suspended star Max Bullough. Hewitt moved on to the NFL, and Elsworth graduated to the CFL. But on that New Year’s Day, no one rose to the moment like Elsworth.
No. 19: Melvin Gordon hurdles the Cornhuskers en route to 408 rushing yards, Nov. 15, 2014
Nebraska led 17-3 early in the second quarter when Gordon got loose around the right end. Almost 30 yards downfield, the Wisconsin running back jumped over safety Corey Cooper on the way to the end zone for a 62-yard score. It was an effort, offensively and defensively, indicative of the Badgers’ 59-24 win over 16th-ranked Nebraska as Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson’s 15-year-old FBS single-game rushing record. Nebraska was 8-1 before the game. Including that loss in Madison, Wisconsin, it is 7-10 since. And the Cornhuskers endured the firing of Bo Pelini two weeks after Gordon’s huge game. The timing was not coincidental.
No. 20: Austin Starr’s late kick for Indiana beats Purdue to honor late coach, Nov. 17, 2007
The Hoosiers capped an emotional season, played in the aftermath of coach Terry Hoeppner’s June 2007 death from brain cancer, with their second win in 11 seasons over rival Purdue. Indiana also punched its ticket to a bowl game for the first time in 14 years as Starr nailed a 49-yard field goal with 35 seconds to play to win 27-24. Hoeppner had three years before predicted this return to the postseason. And in the postgame celebration in Bloomington, Indiana, Hoeppner’s wife, Jane, hugged Starr on the field.