The most popular topic of conversation at the Johnson family Fourth of July picnic was college football. As soon as the hot dogs went on the grill, we got into a spirited discussion about who was going to win the College Football Playoff and which teams were going to win their respective conferences.
After having this debate, the first thought that popped into my mind was, “I really can’t wait for the 2015 season to get started!”
With that in mind, here are seven more plays that will get you fired up for college football.
7 — Dri Drives Defense Crazy (2012, Kent State at Bowling Green)
Surprisingly, a lot of college football fans haven’t seen this run before.
With the game knotted at 17 and a berth in the MAC Championship Game on the line, Kent took over at its own 26-yard line. Looking to get something started, the Golden Flashes ran what appeared to be a normal read option play.
Then, Dri Archer made it magical. Running through a huge hole on the left side, Archer made the first tackler miss. He proceeded up the sideline to the Kent 45, where he was surrounded by three Bowling Green defenders. However, he eluded these would-be tacklers, cut to the other side of the field, and outran everyone else to the end zone, putting the Flashes ahead, 24-17.
Archer finished the day with 241 yards on 17 carries, helping Kent win the East Division championship.
6 — Fumblerooskie (1984 Orange Bowl)
Nothing will ignite a crowd faster than a “big boy” touchdown.
This play is perhaps the most famous TD by an offensive lineman. Down 17-0 to Miami, Husker coach Tom Osborne decided to shake things up with some trickeration. With everyone in the stadium expecting Nebraska to run the triple option on third and five, quarterback Turner Gill intentionally fumbled the snap. Offensive guard Dean Steinkuhler – who won the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Trophy, and the UPI Offensive Lineman of the Year Award that season – picked up the pigskin and lumbered into the end zone.
Steinkuhler’s timely touchdown put the Cornhuskers on the scoreboard and got them back into the contest. Nebraska would fight back to tie the game at 17 in the third quarter and had a chance to win the game late with a two-point conversion. Unfortunately for Husker fans, Gill’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
5 — Please Put Your Hands Together For Mr. Randy Moss
Randy Moss was one of the most explosive receivers in college football history. A dynamic playmaker, Moss was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball.
Just look at what happened on this play against Army. Rather than risk a sack on third and six, Marshall threw a quick screen to Moss, merely hoping that he’d pick up the first down.
The Thundering Herd would get a lot more than a new set of downs. Catching the ball behind the line of scrimmage, it looked like Moss was going to be stopped short of the sticks. However, he made the first two defenders miss, hurdled another, and then stiff-armed a fourth would-be tackler before outrunning the rest of the Black Knight defense to the end zone.
This highlight reel play was a sign of things to come for Moss. He would win the Biletnikoff Award that season and play in the NFL for 14 years.
4 — Kenny Wheaton’s Pick Six (1994, Washington at Oregon)
What a difference one single play can make.
Let’s be honest: it looked like the Ducks were going to lose this contest. Sure, Oregon led 24-20, but No. 9 Washington had the ball deep in UO territory with 1:05 to play. All the Huskies needed were a couple of completions to escape Autzen Stadium with a “W.”
That didn’t happen. Cornerback Kenny Wheaton played the route perfectly, cutting in front the of the UW receiver for an easy interception before sprinting 97 yards for the back-breaking score.
This pick six was the turning point for Oregon’s season. With the victory, the Ducks moved into the driver’s seat in the Pac-10 race. UO would eventually win the conference and play in its first Rose Bowl since 1958.
3 — Reggie’s Run (1992, Michigan at Notre Dame)
Reggie Brooks gets an A+ for his efforts on this run.
Make no mistake about it: Michigan had this play defensed perfectly. The Wolverines forced Rick Mirer to get rid of the ball quickly and had three defenders with a chance to tackle Brooks behind the line of scrimmage.
But, Brooks wasn’t going down until he crossed the goal line. After catching the pitch from Mirer, he broke a total of six tackles on his way to a 20-yard touchdown.
More impressively, he managed to reach the end zone even though one of the Michigan defenders knocked him unconscious.
It’s hard to think of a tougher run than that.
2 — Manziel’s Magic (2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
Although the jury is still out on what he will accomplish at the professional level, there’s no disputing that Johnny Manziel was an excellent college quarterback. No matter what the situation was, Johnny Football always managed to come up with a big play.
The final game of his collegiate career proved this point perfectly. Down three touchdowns in the third quarter, Texas A&M faced a second and seven from the Duke 19-yard line. The Devils forced Manziel out of the pocket. After leaping over a defender, Duke had a chance to stop him for a loss.
It didn’t work out that way. As he’d done many times before, Manziel managed to elude the pass rush and keep the play going. He threw the ball to a wide-open Travis Labhart for an easy touchdown.
This score fired up the A&M sideline and changed the complexion of the contest. The Aggies rallied to win this game, 52-48.
1 — Boise’s Hook and Ladder (2007 Fiesta Bowl)
I’ll close this week’s installment with the greatest trick play in college football history.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Boise needed a miracle to pull out a win in this game. After all, the Broncos faced a 4th and 18 from midfield with just 18 seconds to play. Even if – and it was a very big if – it were to pick up the first down, it didn’t look like there was enough time on the clock to reach the end zone.
As impossible as the situation seemed, you never say never when talking about BSU football. Quarterback Jared Zabransky fired the ball to Drisan James well short of the sticks. Just before the Oklahoma defense could bring him down, James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone for the game-tying TD.
The Broncos would go on to win this game in overtime, establishing themselves as college football’s giant killer.