The college football season officially opened Saturday with Montana’s 38-35 upset of four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State.
Unfortunately, FBS play doesn’t start for a couple more days. With that in mind, here’s this season’s final installment of 7 Random Plays to Fire You Up For College Football.
7. The Play (2001 Red River Shootout)
Let’s kick things off with an unusual pick six.
With 2:06 left to play, Texas had the ball on its own 3-yard line, needing a TD to beat its archrival. As Longhorn QB Chris Simms dropped back to pass, he was hit by Oklahoma‘s Roy Williams, who literally jumped over a UT blocker. Williams’ hit knocked the ball up in the air and into the hands of Teddy Lehman, who walked into the end zone for the back-breaking score.
Here’s how it went down. Up 24-13, Kent reached into its bag of tricks and ran a fake punt. This decision caught Ohio completely by surprise, as Terhune ran 20 yards before anyone was in position to make the tackle.
Then, the unexpected happened. Rather than lower his shoulder and pick up a few extra yards, Terhune hurdled the would-be tackler, lumbering into the end zone for a TD. This surprise six ended any hopes of an Ohio comeback.
5. Nick Marshall completes a pass to… Nick Marshall (Mississippi State at Auburn, 2013)
Nick Marshall had a knack for making plays. No matter what situation he found himself in during the 2013 season, he managed to deliver.
Just look at what happened in this clip. Down 20-14 early in the third quarter, Marshall rolled left and fired a pass to an open receiver. However, the Dawg defender leaped up into the air and deflected the ball back towards the line of scrimmage. Rather than knock the ball down, Marshall snatched it out of the air and ran 37 yards to the Mississippi State 33.
Thanks to this big gain, Auburn cut the MSU lead to 20-17 a few plays later. The Tigers would go on to win the game on a Marshall TD pass to C.J. Uzomah with just 10 seconds remaining.
4. Tyrod Taylor’s TD Toss (2009, Nebraska at Virginia Tech)
This was an outstanding effort by Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor, who had already made a fantastic play to get his team into the red zone.
On third and goal from the 11, the Hokies called a rollout pass to the left side of the field. However, no one was open, and Taylor was forced back to the middle of the gridiron. As the Nebraska pass rush was zeroing in on him, Taylor managed to keep his eyes downfield, firing a strike to Dyrell Roberts in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
3. Troy Smith Goes Deep (2006, Penn State at Ohio State)
Throughout the offseason, people kept asking me who the starting quarterback would be for the defending national champions this fall.
My response was usually, “it doesn’t matter.” After all, Ohio State always manages to come up with outstanding play at that position.
Enter Buckeye QB Troy Smith into evidence as exhibit A. Much like Braxton Miller’s famous pass to beat Wisconsin during his freshman season, Smith came up with a huge play against Penn State. Leading just 7-3 in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lion pass rush forced Smith out of the pocket. He reversed his field, set his feet, and fired the ball over the heads of two PSU defenders and into the capable mitts of Brian Robiskie for a TD.
This score opened the flood gates for the Buckeye offense, which scored 21 points in the final stanza.
2. Bercovici to Strong For the Win (2014, Arizona State at USC)
One of the things which makes college football great is that it creates opportunities for players to shine.
That’s what Mike Bercovici did here. Making his second career start, he still had one chance to lead the Sun Devils to victory. As time expired, he threw a perfect pass away from the USC defenders where only receiver Jaelen Strong could catch it. Strong came down with the ball in the end zone, giving Arizona State its first win in the L.A. Coliseum since 1999.
1. Miracle in Michigan (1994, Colorado at Michigan)
I’ve thought about putting this play on several different editions of 7 Random Plays, but decided to save it for the final installment of this year’s series.
Here’s how it unfolded. Colorado had the ball down 26-21 with just six seconds remaining. Needing a miracle, Buffalo head coach Bill McCartney called “Jets Formation, Rocket Left,” asking Kordell Stewart to throw it into the end zone.
What happened next will be cemented in college football fans’ heads forever. Blake Anderson – the intended receiver on the play – and Rae Carruth each got their hands on the ball, knocking it the air. Michael Westbrook then snatched the loose pigskin out of the air, giving Colorado one of the most-thrilling walk-off victories in college football history.
If an emotional finish like this doesn’t have you ready for the 2015-’16 campaign to start, nothing will.