2012 was a special season for Golden Gopher Football and head coach Jerry Kill. Not only did Minnesota begin the season 4-0, but the Gophers doubled their win totals from the 2010 and 2011 seasons to gain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. To celebrate, GopherSports.com is counting down the Top Ten Plays of 2012, presented by Medica.
Check every day for a new entry in the countdown -- and when we're done, we'll give fans the chance to determine their own Top Ten, along with a chance to win some great prizes!
Top Ten Plays:
#1 Gophers Hit the Road to Become Bowl Eligible The Gophers' main goal for 2012 was to make a bowl game, and on Nov. 10 at Illinois they made that goal a reality. A key goalline stand and two touchdowns from Donnell Kirkwood gave Minnesota a 17-10 win and put them over the 6-win threshold for eligibility.
#2 Nelson Wows in Home Debut against Purdue Three touchdown passes, 246 yards passing and a Big Ten blowout -- not bad for your first home start at QB as a true freshman! Philip Nelson's banner day vs. Purdue during the Gophers' 44-28 win at TCF Bank Stadium Oct. 27 is #2 on our countdown.
#3 Carter's Incredible Series vs. the Boilermakers Michael Carter had a defensive series for the history books against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium. With multiple pass breakups, the senior cornerback capped off a remarkable performance with an interception return for the touchdown.
#4 Gray's 75-yard Touchdown Scramble This MarQueis Gray 75-yard scramble against New Hampshire on Sept. 8, 2012 at TCF Bank Stadium was one of the Gophers' longest plays from scrimmage in 2012.
#5 Hill's Pick-Six against Michigan State Linebacker Aaron Hill delivered one of the Gophers' many defensive gems of 2012 when he returned this Spartan pass 33 yards for a touchdown on Nov. 24, giving Minnesota a 7-3 lead at the time.
#7 Rabe Delivers Twice in Vegas Senior tight end John Rabe emerged as an offensive threat for Minnesota in 2012, and his two touchdown catches in overtime during the Gophers' season-opening 30-27 win over UNLV on Aug. 30 were a sign of things to come!
#8 Gray Powers Through Northwestern MarQueis Gray was once again Minnesota's top offensive player in 2012 -- and his hard-nosed 25-yard rushing touchdown vs. Northwestern on Oct. 13 is a testament to that tremendous athletic ability.
#9 Wettstein's Game Winner at UNLV In the season opener on the road in Las Vegas, Jordan Wettstein nailed a 32-yard field goal in triple overtime to give the Gophers a 30-27 win over the Rebels. Wettstein's game-winner and third field goal of the game was set up by Derrick Wells' second interception of the contest.
#10 Kirkwood's Decal Smash Kirkwood was the Gophers' top running threat in 2012, and his hard nosed style was on display during this bone-crushing hit with Northwestern's Ibraheim Campbell on Oct. 13 at TCF Bank Stadium -- it knocked off the decal on Kirkwood's helmet!