Note: What defines spectacular? A play that gives you goosebumps and sends chills down your spine as you watch it on ESPN Classic three years later. A play that still makes fans of the opposing team sick to their stomach. A play so absurd and improbable – there is no way it could ever be repeated. These ten plays.
10. “Hook and Lateral” – Boise State v Oklahoma, 2007 Fiesta Bowl:
The list begins with one (of many) of the unbelievable plays from this unbelievable game. With just seconds left in the game, 4th and 18, down by 7, the Broncos had to dig deep in the playbook for this one. After this ridiculous 50 yard touchdown, the Broncos forced overtime against heavily favored Oklahoma.
9. “The Run (Seneca Wallace)” – Iowa State v Texas Tech, 2002:
As the best thing ever to happen to Iowa State, Seneca Wallace succeeded in always making something out of nothing. No other play exemplified this ability more than this one – an amazingly athletic 12 yard touchdown where he retreated back over 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, zig-zagged across the field, and picked up one jaw-dropping pancake block to send him home.
8. “Jump Pass (Tim Tebow)” – Florida v LSU, 2006:
How do you even describe this play? Urban Meyer cooks up one of the strangest touchdown passes you will ever see. Tebow, the freshman sensation fullback/quarterback, comes into the game for a crucial goal-line situation. Everyone in the stadium was expecting an off-tackle run – which he appeared to do, except that he stopped at the line, jumped into the air, double clutched, and forced a disgustingly ugly jump shot into the wide open arms of Gator TE Tate Casey.
7. “Laterals” – Michigan v Nebraska, 2005 Alamo Bowl:
Don’t remember this play? Just watch it. Down by 4 with virtually no time on the clock, Chad Henne completes a modest pass, which is then lateralled 7 times before winding up in the arms of Tyler Ecker. Players and fans come onto the field before the tight end is forced out of bounds at the 15. If he turns around and gives the ball to Steve Breaston, the fastest player on the field, this play rivals Cal-Stanford. However, Ecker is an idiot, and Michigan finishes 7-5, a fitting end to a disastrous season.
6. “Devin Hester punt return” – Miami v Duke, 2005:
How many tackles can one man break? I’m not sure if this play is an example of Devin Hester’s ridiculous ability or Duke’s ridiculous futility, but it sure is amazing to watch. Just when you think he’s going to be tackled, he escapes (six times) – en route to a 81 yard touchdown.
5. “Vince Young can’t be stopped” – USC v Texas, 2006 Rose Bowl:
Perhaps the only reason this play isn’t higher on my list (considering the significance), is because we all knew it was going to happen. Deep down, we knew USC couldn’t stop VY. We knew nobody was going to tackle him when he got down inside the five. We knew nobody was going to catch him in a footrace to the pylon. We knew all these things, and yet we were still awe-struck.
4. “Hail Mary I” – Iowa v LSU, 2005 Capital One Bowl:
With only seconds left in this back and forth game, Iowa’s Drew Tate needed a miracle. That miracle came when an LSU blown coverage left little used receiver Warren Holloway wide open. Tate heaved the ball as time expired, completing a 56-yard pass to seal the Tigers’ fate in Nick Saban’s last game coaching the Bayou Bengals.
3. “Hail Mary II” – LSU v Kentucky, 2002:
Another LSU hail mary, except this time the tables were turned. From a pure improbability standpoint, this has got to be the most amazing such play in recorded history. Only the sheer meaninglessness of this game kept it from moving into the top two. A ridiculous 75 yard heave that miraculously caromed into the streaking Devery Henderson, who waltzed into the endzone for the touchdown. Perhaps the best part of this play is the Kentucky fans storming the field, only to realize that they had lost the game. That’s why you’re Kentucky. Stick to basketball.
2. “The Audible” – USC v Notre Dame, 2005:
While surely not the most unbelievable play, this Leinart to Jarrett pass ranks so high because of its significance. In the waning seconds of the game, the undefeated Trojans had to convert a 4th and 9 to keep their dream season alive. In the frenzied mania that was Notre Dame Stadium that day, Leinart audibles to a fade route to go big or go home. Leinart makes the throw, Jarrett makes the catch, and history is completed several plays later with the “Bush Push.”
1. “Statue of Liberty” – Boise State v Oklahoma, 2007 Fiesta Bowl:
While this list was difficult to compile and rank, Number 1 was a no-brainer. During one of the most spectacular games in recent memory, Boise State found themselves in overtime against Oklahoma. After a quick Adrian Peterson touchdown, coach Chris Petersen knew he had to put the game away quickly. When the Broncos scored, there was no question he was going for the win. When Zabransky faked the throw and handed it to Johnson, there was no question he was going to score. Nobody saw it coming. A perfect play with perfect execution. To top it off, Johnson ran off the field and proposed to his longtime cheerleader girlfriend….and she said yes. You can’t write this stuff. Just watch.