Admittedly, college football in 2008 did not have the peril at the top of the rankings like the season before. However, this season did provide many lasting images and memorable moments.
Prevalent themes for this season included the searches for the Cinderella mid-major to crash the BCS party and the team that could separate from the rest of the national title contenders.
Along the way, some teams, some players, and some coaches manifested greatness beyond expectations in moments that captivated the college football nation.
Finally, here are the top 25 moments and images of college football in 2008 (in three parts), accompanied by a headline and description about what made it so special.
5. Nick Saban resurrects Alabama, which steamrolled conference foes for SEC West title
Following a lackluster 7-6 season, Alabama wasn’t expected to do much this season. But head coach Nick Saban quickly changed the culture in Tuscaloosa—so much so that Alabama ascended rapidly in the rankings, reaching No. 1 in the BCS standings in Week 10.
Alabama used devastating power and sufficient speed to steamroll through the SEC. Following its undefeated season, Alabama earned a berth in the conference championship against Florida. The Tide lost to the Gators in a tremendous ball game, but clearly they enjoyed their return to the prominence that Tide fans are accustomed to.
4. Texas beats Oklahoma, who beats Texas Tech, who beats Texas; BCS controversy follows
The most memorable moment of college football in 2008 that didn’t occur in a game was the controversy that ensued concerning the circus atop the Big 12 North. Texas beat Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 11. Then on the first of November, Texas’ bid for four straight wins over top 12 teams ended against Texas Tech.
After beating Oklahoma State, the Red Raiders were destroyed by Oklahoma, giving Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma one conference loss each. The tiebreaker to determine the Big 12 North representative became the BCS standings after other determinants expired.
Ultimately, Oklahoma was awarded the trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 Championship. The Sooners routed Missouri, 62-21, becoming the first team in college football history to score 60+ points in five consecutive games. The win evidently gave voters no excuse not to make the Sooners the No. 1 team in the country, which put Oklahoma in the national title game.
3. Florida dropped by gutsy Ole Miss at home; Tebow makes stirring postgame promises
The Florida Gators were one of many teams projected to win the national championship this season. They started strong but lost to Ole Miss at home in an un-Gator-like performance. Following the game, quarterback Tim Tebow essentially vowed not to let Florida lose the remainder of the season.
The promise proved to be true, as the Gators dominated their opponents the rest of the way. Tebow played so well that he finished third in the Heisman Trophy standings. He led the Gators to nine straight wins, including a win over Alabama in the SEC Championship.
To see Tebow’s stirring postgame speech, click here. The promise starts at 2:14.
2. Game-winning field goal by Iowa hands first loss to surprise Penn State
Penn State entered the 3:30 p.m. EST primetime game on ABC unbeaten in the 2008 regular season. Perhaps the result of a hangover from playing Ohio State the week before, the Nittany Lions lost to Iowa on the road on a last-second field goal.
Penn State was ranked No. 3 at the time with an outstanding shot at playing for the national title. The Nittany Lion offense fizzled somewhat in the game, and it allowed Iowa to rally from a 23-14 deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter. As consolation, Penn State earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, which far exceeded expectations of the team anyways.
1. Harrell-to-Crabtree touchdown connection in final seconds hands Texas first loss
What a game. What a finish. In the “Game of the Year” to date, the No. 1 Texas Longhorns found themselves trailing 22-6 at halftime and 29-19 entering the fourth quarter. Then, with 1:29 left in the game, Texas finally took the lead, 33-32.
The problem was that Texas left too much time on the clock. Texas Tech used a six-play, 64-yard drive to produce the game-winning touchdown.
On 2nd-and-10 with :08 left, quarterback Graham Harrell flung a tremendous pass from the Texas 36-yard line to the six. There, receiver Michael Crabtree caught the ball, broke the tackle of cornerback Curtis Brown near potential help from the safety, tiptoed the sideline, and scored with :01 left.
Following the touchdown, Texas Tech fans stormed the field twice, once immediately after the score, and twice when the review confirmed the touchdown. The fan interference caused a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, but Texas was unable to post a touchdown on the kick return even with the aid of the penalty.
No. 7 Texas Tech won the game, 39-33, and moved to 9-0 and first place in the Big 12 North. Texas, meanwhile, suffered its first loss and moved to a tie for second place in the Big 12 North, diminishing their chance to play in the national championship.
Click here to see the touchdown and chaos that ensued.
NOTE: To nominate your own moment or image, leave a comment below. If your moment or image is worthy and your argument to support it is sufficient, I will edit the article to include others from college football in 2008.