Believe it or not, college football starts just two weeks from today when Sam Houston State faces off against Eastern Washington.
With that in mind, it’s time for me to continue my 7 Plays That Will Get You Ready for College Football Series. This week’s edition will feature tackle breaking TDs… with a few ankle-breaking moves.
7 – Shake and Bake … That Just Happened (Alabama at Ole Miss, 2011)
I apologize for the Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby reference, but how else would you describe this run?
Immediately after the snap, it looked like this play was going to be a disaster. After all, Ole Miss should have had Alabama’s Trent Richardson stopped in the backfield for a four-yard loss. Instead, Richardson made the first man miss, broke two more tackles, and outran the Rebel defense to the sideline. To add insult to injury, Richardson completely faked out a Mississippi defensive back at the end of the run, galloping into end zone for a 76-yard TD, giving Alabama an insurmountable 31-7 lead.
Not a bad play for a team that allegedly plays “boring, old man football,” right?
6 – Reggie’s Run (Michigan at Notre Dame, 1992)
There’s extra effort, and then there’s what Reggie Brooks did on this run.
Let’s be honest: this play should have been a three-yard loss. After Brooks caught the option pitch from Rick Mirer, three Michigan defenders had a chance to make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage. But, they didn’t. Brooks kept his legs moving, breaking a total of six tackles en route to a 20-yard TD.
More impressively, he held on to the ball after a hit at the goal line knocked him unconscious.
Brooks’ extra effort seemingly ignited the Irish sideline, which would score again later to tie the game at 17. Notre Dame actually had a chance to win the game in the final minute, but legendary coach Lou Holtz puzzlingly ran running plays on first and second down with just 1:05 left on the clock.
5 – Seneca’s Scramble (Texas Tech at Iowa State, 2002)
Sometimes, it’s easy to describe what transpires on the gridiron. Other times, not so much.
Seneca Wallace’s epic scramble definitely fits the latter category.
Dropping back to pass on 2nd and 11, Wallace got flushed out the pocket, and was chased back all the way to the 32 before he eluded three Texas Tech defenders. Instead of stepping out bounds for a short loss, Wallace reversed his field, literally running from sideline-to-sideline. Thanks to a nice block from Michael Wagner, he scampered into the end zone untouched for a 10-3 Iowa State lead.
Wallace and the Cyclones went on to win the game over (then-quarterback) Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech, and would briefly move in to the top 10.
No. 4 Crouch Keeper – (Nebraska at Missouri, 2001)
As exciting as Wallace’s TD was, it isn’t the best QB scramble on this list. That distinction belongs to Cornhusker triggerman Eric Crouch, who took a broken play and turned it into a 95-yard TD.
Coaches say all the time that a passer needs to be able to “feel the rush.” While many people wouldn’t expect an option QB to have this ability, Crouch did a great job of that here, pulling the ball down just in time avoid the Mizzou defender as well as a safety.
Once he broke through the line of scrimmage, there was no stopping Crouch. As one of the game’s most elusive runners in his day, he had no trouble making Tiger defenders look like the Keystone Cops, faking out several of them on the way to the end zone.
Crouch would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead the Huskers to a berth in the BCS National Championship Game, the 2002 Rose Bowl against Miami.
3 – Jahvid is the Best (Cal at UCLA, 2009)
People ask me all the time, “Who is the most explosive back in college football history?” Even though I mention that person further down on this list, I still think Jahvid Best belongs in the conversation.
Just look at this run. On 2nd and 11, Best ran the ball right into the teeth of the UCLA defense, but he then busted through several arm tackles and made a few other defenders miss. After that impressive display, he turned on the jets, outrunning multiple Bruin defenders to the end zone.
This electrifying run changed the entire complexion of the contest. Instead of giving the ball back to UCLA with great field position, Cal took a 14-point lead, giving it all the padding it would need the rest of the way.
2. Terhune’s TD (Kent State at Ohio, 2013)
What list of “Tackle Breaking TDs” would be complete without a defensive lineman taking the ball to the house?
That’s exactly what happened here. After seizing a 24-13 lead early in the third quarter, Kent State faced a 4th and 3 from its own 39. Rather than punt the ball away and play defense, coach Paul Haynes opted to run a fake. The direct snap went to defensive tackle Nate Terhune, who broke through the line of scrimmage for an easy first down.
The best was yet to come though. Just when it looked like Ohio would make the tackle, Terhune hurdled the Ohio defender and lumbered into the end zone for a TD. The score put the Golden Flashes up 31-13, and ended any hopes of a Bobcat comeback.
This result has a chance to set a positive tone for Kent State’s 2014 season. With the win, Kent finished the 2013 season on a two-game win streak, giving it a lot of much-needed momentum heading into the fall. The Golden Flashes’ opponent for the opener? You guessed it, the Ohio Bobcats.
1 – Barry Sanders (1988 Holiday Bowl, Wyoming vs. Oklahoma State)
Make no mistake about it, folks: Barry Sanders was the greatest running back of all-time. He was a threat to cross the goal line every time the ball was in his hands.
While there are a number of runs that rightly deserve to be on this list, this one is my favorite because it showcases all of Sanders’ skills on one play. He took the handoff deep in the backfield, read the block, and was easily able to sidestep a handful of would-be tacklers. After that, he made an excellent cut that would send him off to the races, putting the final nail in the coffin of Wyoming, which had cut Oklahoma State’s lead to 24-14 on the previous drive.
Sanders finished the game with 222 yards rushing and a bowl-record 5 TDs.