College football season is getting closer. Fall practices are heating up, position battles are sorting themselves out, and most preseason countdowns — including ours — are nearing completion.
Unfortunately, live game action in the Football Bowl Subdivision is still a few weeks away. Here’s another list of seven plays to whet your appetite until the 2015-’16 season starts.
7. Georgia Tech’s Fake Field Goal (2009, Clemson at Georgia Tech)
This was a great call by Paul Johnson.
Up 14-0 early against Clemson, it looked as though Johnson was going to leave his offense on the field on 4th and 13. After breaking the huddle, the Tech field goal unit trotted on the field for a 51-yard try.
However, this attempt would never take place. As Jacket players were shuffling on and off the field, the Tigers didn’t notice that wide receiver Demaryius Thomas never made it to the sideline. Tech kicker Scott Blair took the snap from center and fired it to a wide open Thomas for the surprise six, giving the Yellow Jackets a 21-0 lead.
These extra points would come in handy later in the contest. Clemson eventually rallied to take a 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter before Blair kicked the game-winner with just 57 seconds to play. Final score: Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 27.
6. Another Statue of Liberty (2014 Fiesta Bowl, Arizona versus Boise State)
It won’t go down as the most famous “Statue of Liberty” call in college football history, but it was every bit as effective.
Boise did a great job of setting this play up. By sending a back in motion, the Broncos caused Arizona to look for a screen pass to the wide side of the field. However, instead of throwing the ball, Grant Hedrick pulled it down and handed it to running back Jay Ajayi, behind a wall of Bronco blockers. After breaking a tackle and throwing a solid stiff arm, Ajayi crossed the goal line to give Boise a 21-0 lead.
5. Crabtree’s clutch catch (2008, Texas at Texas Tech)
Michael Crabtree was one of the greatest receivers in college football history. Whenever Texas Tech needed him to make a play, he always delivered.
None was bigger than this one. Trailing No. 1 Texas, 33-32, with just eight seconds remaining, Crabtree caught Graham Harrell’s pass at the Longhorn 6-yard line. Rather than step out of bounds to stop the clock, he kept moving towards the end zone, fighting off a desperation strip attempt by a UT defender before crossing the goal line for the game-winning score.
This clutch catch gave the Red Raiders the win and ultimately a share of the Big 12 South championship.
4. Flynn to Byrd for the Win (2007, Auburn at LSU)
While this game didn’t register an earthquake as the 1988 edition did, it certainly sent shockwaves throughout the college football world.
After losing in triple overtime to Kentucky the previous week, LSU had the ball on the Auburn 22, trailing 24-23. With the clock running, the Bayou Bengals needed to come up with a big play, or they would be eliminated from the national championship picture.
Rather than play it safe and kick a field goal, Les Miles decided to go for it all. Matt Flynn dropped back to pass and fired a fade route into the end zone for Demetrius Byrd, who came up with the game-winning catch.
This touchdown gave LSU a much-needed victory and kept its BCS championship hopes alive. Despite losing to Arkansas in the season finale, the Tigers would go on to win the national championship.
3. Jahvid’s 93-yard Jaunt (2009, Cal at UCLA)
Jahvid Best was a great college running back who had a knack for turning a short gain into a big play.
That’s precisely what happened here. Best took the toss from the quarterback and looked like he was going to be stopped for a minimal gain.
However, he wasn’t going down on this play. Best made a nifty series of cuts, causing several UCLA defenders to miss. Then, he turned on the jets, outrunning every Bruin defender to the end zone for a 93-yard TD.
This ankle-breaking run turned the tide in the contest. Instead of UCLA getting the ball back in good field position with a chance to tie the game, the Bears had a 14-point cushion.
2. Sasser Seals It (2013, Missouri at Georgia)
Let’s be honest: it looked as though Georgia was going to win this game. After all, the Dawgs had cut Missouri’s lead to 28-26, and Tiger star quarterback James Franklin had just left the contest with a shoulder injury. With all of those factors working in their favor, a Dawg victory seemed almost certain.
Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel made sure that wouldn’t happen. On 2nd and 1 from the UGA 40, he reached into his bag of tricks. Maty Mauk threw a swing pass to Bud Sasser. However, instead of running for a first down, Sasser pulled the ball down, and fired it to L’Damian Washington, who managed to come up with the catch despite excellent coverage by the Georgia defender.
This trick TD ended any hopes of a Georgia comeback, and vaulted the Tigers into first place in the East. Missouri would eventually capture the division crown and play for the SEC championship.
1. Appalachian State’s Blocked Kick (2007, Appalachian State at Michigan)
As I watched this game, I kept thinking that the clock was going to strike midnight for Cinderella. While the Mountaineers looked like the better team that afternoon, the fifth-ranked Wolverines were in position to win the game. After a 46-yard pass to Mario Manningham gave UM the ball at the Appalachian State 20, it looked as though the Wolverines would win this game 35-34.
It didn’t happen.
Corey Lynch burst through the line of scrimmage to block the game-winning kick. He then picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Michigan 6-yard line as time expired, giving the Mountaineers the win.
This contest is considered by many to be the greatest upset in college football history. If that doesn’t fire you up, or make you optimistic about your team’s chances for 2015-’16, nothing will.