Top NCAA Football Plays All-Time


Where did Vince Young and the Longhorns land in our Top 5?

Football is almost back.  Since we’re having trouble waiting until the 2013 NCAA Football kickoff later this week, we decided to reminisce and look back at some our favorite college football plays ever. Because we know others are also struggling to pass the time until Thursday, we compiled videos of the best for your viewing pleasure. Let us know if you agree with our rankings.

Honorable Mention: The Bush Push
USC vs. Notre Dame, October 15, 2005
With USC on a 27 game win streak and Notre Dame also ranked in the top ten, their 2005 matchup was one of the most hyped in the rivalry’s long history. After Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn scored a late touchdown to put the Irish ahead, the Trojans stormed down the field and scored a controversial game-winning touchdown after running back Reggie Bush help push quarterback Matt Leinert into the end zone. The “Bush Push” may have ranked higher on our list if the Trojans’ win was not vacated after Bush was declared retroactively ineligible for NCAA violations.

Honorable Mention: The Trinity Miracle
Trinity vs. Millsaps, October 27, 2007
The Trinity Tigers and Millsap Majors are not the college football powerhouses that dominate this list, but the final play of their 2007 Division III, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup was one of the unbelievable in recent memory. Down by two and out of field goal range with just two seconds left in the game, Trinity needed a touchdown to win. In what may be the longest NCAA play of all time, the Tigers managed to reach the end zone after fifteen laterals between seven different players.

See the Top 5 after the jump.

5. Prothro’s Crimson Catch
Southern Mississippi vs. Alabama, September 10, 2005
Alabama’s 2005 season, like USC’s, was vacated due to NCAA violations. However, the highlight of the Crimson Tide season was Tyrone Prothro’s amazing catch against Southern Mississippi. On a fourth-and-twelve play at the end of the first half, quarterback Brody Croyle threw a 46-yard prayer that Prothro somehow reeled in on the back of a Southern Miss defender. Prothro broke his leg the next month and never recovered, leaving “The Catch” as his enduring legacy.

4. Hail Flutie
Boston College vs. Miami, November 23, 1984
Doug Flutie’s miraculous hail mary to defeat the defending NCAA Champion Miami Hurricanes is one of the most memorable plays in college football history. With just seconds to play, Flutie evaded the pass rush and launched the famous pass from his own 37-yard line against 30 mph wind. The ball was tipped in the end zone and caught by receiver Gerard Phelan for the Boston College win. The iconic play also propelled Flutie to the 1984 Heisman Trophy.

3. InVINCEable: 2006 Rose Bowl
Texas vs. USC, January 4, 2006
In a fight for the BCS Championship, the 2006 Rose Bowl pitted undefeated, 2-time defending champion USC and undefeated Texas. The hometown Trojans were the heavy favorites behind Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush (later vacated), but Longhorn Vince Young stole the show. In possibly the best championship performance of all time, Young finished with 267 yards passing, 200 yards rushing, and three touchdowns. The final touchdown came on a fourth-and-five play with 19-seconds left and Young’s subsequent two-point conversion sealed the Longhorns’ 41-38 win and BCS Championship.

2. The Play
Stanford vs. California, November 20, 1982
In the storied history of the “Big Game” between Stanford and Cal,  which began in 1892, the 1982 game was by far the most memorable. After John Elway led Stanford on a field goal drive to put the Cardinal ahead by two, Cal received the ensuing kickoff with four seconds left in the game. The Bears returned the kickoff for a game-winning touchdown with the help of questionable officiating and a series of laterals to avoid Stanford tacklers and the Stanford band, which was prematurely celebrating on the field. The game was the last in Elway’s collegiate career and Stanford still refuses to acknowledge the final touchdown in their official record book.

1. Statue of Liberty: 2007 Fiesta Bowl
Boise State vs. Oklahoma, January 1, 2007
The 2007 Fiesta Bowl was the ultimate David and Goliath matchup between the “BCS Buster” Boise State and perennial powerhouse Oklahoma. After the heavily favored Sooners went ahead on in interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the Broncos tied the game on a well-designed, but still improbable hook-and-ladder play with just seconds remaining. Boise State matched Oklahoma’s first overtime touchdown and followed with a two-point conversion attempt. Quaterback Jared Zebransky faked a pass and handed the ball off behind his back to running back Ian Johnson, who took it to the end zone for the game-winning score. To top off the theatrics, Johnson proposed to his girlfriend, a Broncos cheerleader, only moments later on national television.

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