25 Moments That Changed College Football Forever

Alex CallosCorrespondent IApril 14, 2013

25 Moments That Changed College Football Forever

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    College football has been around for almost 150 years, and during that time there have been some moments that have changed the college football landscape.

    Whether it be a century-defining play, a game that will never be forgotten or something off the field, these 25 moments have helped shape college football into what it is today.

    While some moments have certainly had more of an impact than others, every moment on the list has turned out to have a lasting impact.

    Here are the 25 moments that changed college football forever.

Honorable Mentions

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    Here are five moments that were close to making the list.

    Tim Tebow Wins the Heisman: In 2007, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore in college football history to win the Heisman trophy, paving the way for younger players in the future.

    Colorado Gets Five Downs: Even though this game did not have much of an impact in following years, the fact that Colorado was granted five downs near the goal-line against Missouri is honorable mention-worthy.

    Vince Young Wins National Championship: Even though USC was the heavy favorite in the 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas quarterback Vince Young had something else to say about it. 

    Bush Push: Notre Dame fans will never forget the 'Bush Push' that helped USC knock off the Fighting Irish in the 2005 annual rivalry game.

    Leftwich Gets Carried: A broken shin did not stop Byron Leftwich from being carried down the field by his offensive linemen on multiple occasions, displaying his toughness even at the collegiate level.

No. 25 Appalachian State Beats Michigan

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    In what was one of the biggest upsets in college football history, little Appalachian State stunned the mighty Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 1, 2007.

    A blocked field goal sealed the deal in a 34-32 Appalachian State victory.

    While the Mountaineers are certainly no pushover, at the time they were a I-AA program and very over-matched playing in the Big House.

    This victory helped pave the way for the little guys and starts off the list at No. 25.

No. 24: First Ever Overtime Game

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    In 1995, Toledo and Nevada met in what turned out to be the first overtime game in the history of college football.

    The overtime rule went into effect beginning with the 1995 bowl season, and this was consequently the first overtime game.

    Toledo came out with a 40-37 victory to cap an undefeated season.

    Ironically, the Rockets did finish with one tie in the regular season.

    Just think how many games since then would have ended up in a tie had this one not taken place. Thank goodness overtime was instituted, even though it took some time.

No. 23 2003 Fiesta Bowl

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    The 2003 Fiesta Bowl was the national championship game between Miami and Ohio State. 

    Coming into the game, the Hurricanes were a heavy favorite, and it appeared the Hurricanes were victorious as a pass by Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel fell incomplete on 4th-and-3.

    Miami fans and players began to rush the field, but then a flag came out and a late pass interference call was made.

    In what turned out to be one of the most controversial calls in college football history, the Buckeyes were granted a second chance and went on to win the game 31-24 in double overtime.

    The Buckeyes claimed the national championship in the process, capping off an undefeated 13-0 season.

No. 22 1926 Rose Bowl

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    This could be more significant to fans in the South as the 1926 Rose Bowl was the first chance for the SEC to show just how football is played there.

    The Alabama Crimson Tide were chosen to take on the mighty Washington Huskies in what was considered by many to be a monumental mismatch.

    Other teams such as Dartmouth, had declined invitations, leaving Alabama as the only choice.

    In what turned out to be one of the best Rose Bowls in the history of the game, the Crimson Tide came out on top 20-19, upsetting a Washington team that had outscored its opponents 461-39.

    Nobody is bad-mouthing football in the South nearly 100 years later.

    The 1926 Rose Bowl was truly a huge victory for the South.

No. 21 Desmond Howard Pose

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    The Desmond Howard Heisman pose took place in 1991 during a Michigan-Ohio State game.

    Howard was capping off one of the most complete seasons the college football world has ever seen and showed everyone where he thought he would be a few weeks down the line.

    He went on to win the Heisman with 85 percent of the first place vote.

    The pose is one of the lasting and iconic images in college football.

No. 20 Johnny Manziel Wins the Heisman

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    Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel beat out Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein to win the 2012 Heisman trophy.

    That is not what is significant. What makes this No. 20 on the list is the fact that Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy.

    He has opened the doors for other players, and if he had come along a little sooner, names like Adrian Petersen and Maurice Clarett might have had a better shot to win the illustrious trophy.

    Time will tell just how much of an impact Manziel will have on the college football world.

No. 19 David Stuns Goliath

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    While there have been other mid-major schools to qualify for BCS games, no team has had the impact that Boise State has.

    Coming into the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, the Broncos were a major underdog against Oklahoma, and it appeared the Sooners were on their way to a victory.

    A few trick plays later and the Broncos pulled off a 43-42 upset in what was one of the most exciting bowl games in college football history.

    A two-point conversion in overtime was the difference as the Broncos stunned the college football world.

No. 18 Doug Flutie Hail Mary

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    Known as the "Miracle in Miami," Doug Flutie pulled off one of the most memorable plays in college football history during his Heisman season in 1984.

    With his Boston College Eagles trailing 45-41 and only six seconds remaining, Flutie dropped back to pass and tossed up a Hail Mary that will live in infamy. 

    Wide receiver Gerald Phelan got behind the defense and caught the pass that ensured the Heisman trophy for Flutie.

    It also gave the Eagles an improbable 47-45 victory over the Hurricanes in the process.

No. 17 Archie Griffin Wins Second Heisman

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    Most people did not think it was possible for a player to win the Heisman trophy twice, but Ohio State running back Archie Griffin proved everybody wrong as he won the award in both 1974 and 1975.

    Even though the honor has not been duplicated, this was still a monumental accomplishment for Griffin.

    He was one of the most complete running backs in college football history and averaged 5.5 yards or more per carry in each of his four seasons.

    There was some controversy surrounding the 1975 award as some other players might have been more deserving that year.

No. 16 SMU Death Penalty

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    The death penalty SMU suffered in 1986 proved that nobody is invincible as the NCAA came down hard on the Mustangs. 

    They were forced to cancel the 1987 season and had penalties so harsh that they only put together one winning season over the next 20 years.

    The penalty severely crippled the program and the Mustangs have not fully recovered until recently.

    This remains the only time the NCAA has canceled an entire season for a college football team.

No. 15 Woody Hayes Punches Player

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    Not many college football coaches had more success on the field than former Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes. But Hayes is not going to be remembered for his win-loss record, but instead for the punch he threw at a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

    That was the final game Hayes coached, and even though he finished his career with a 238-72-10 record, including four Rose Bowl victories in eight appearances, he will always be remembered for the punch he threw in 1978.

    One has to wonder what might have been if Hayes had not thrown that sucker punch.

No. 14 Instant Replay Begins

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    While it seems like nearly everything is reviewed right now in college football, instant replay was officially brought to life during a game between Army and Navy on Dec. 7, 1963.

    It has certainly evolved over the past 50 years, but it had to start somewhere.

    The game-winning touchdown was the play that was reviewed, and it was the start of something that has turned into a staple in the college football world.

No. 13 Conference Realignment

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    While some conference realignment began in 2005 with Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech moving from the Big East to the ACC, it all really began with Nebraska in 2010.

    The Cornhuskers jumped ship from the Big 12 to the Big Ten, and from that point on, the dominoes have continued to fall.

    It appears very likely that four or maybe five 16-team conferences will emerge, and most realize that realignment is far from over. 

    Needless to say, it has completely changed the college football landscape today.

No. 12 Game of the Century

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    It is hard to imagine the game of the century could end in a 10-10 tie, but that was the case when Michigan State and Notre Dame did battle in 1966.

    The game took place on Nov. 19 toward the end of the season and pitted the top two teams in the country.

    Instead of going for the win with less than two minutes to go and the score tied at 10, Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian decided to run out the clock and take the tie, preserving the No. 1 national ranking.

    Known as "The Game of the Century," this matchup was certainly one for the ages and further proved college football needs to find a way to get rid of ties.

No. 11 Penn State Scandal

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    The Penn State scandal rocked the college football world in November 2011 and is something that will certainly never be forgotten.

    The sex-abuse scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky rocked the college football world.

    Penn State avoided the death penalty, but the Nittany Lions were still hit with a four-year bowl ban as well as probation and a loss of scholarships.

    This story will continue to be talked about for years to come.

No. 10 We Are Marshall

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    On Nov. 14, 1970 the plane carrying the Marshall football team wrecked on the way home from a game against East Carolina.

    The wreck killed all 75 passengers, including 37 players, and is considered to be the greatest tragedy in American sports history.

    While suspending the football program was discussed, Marshall decided to play football the following season and the first victory of the year came in the home opener.

    The Thundering Herd posted a 15-13 win over Xavier as the fans chanted "We Are Marshall." The win also inspired a movie and was one of the most spine-tingling moments in college football history.

No. 9 First Televised College Football Game

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    Television has played a large part in the evolution of college football, and the first-ever televised college football game took place on Sept. 30, 1939 between Fordham and Waynesburg.

    While these two teams may not be relevant right now, at the time this game was a huge deal.

    NBC broadcasted the game, which was played at Triborough Stadium on Randall Island in New York City. The only announcer was Bill Stern, and there was only one camera. An estimated 1,000 people watched the game.

    The Rams dominated the contest, winning 34-7.

No. 8 First Radio Broadcast

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    Nearly two decades before the first television broadcast came the first college football game on radio.

    On Oct. 8, 1921, West Virginia and Pittsburgh squared off in what was the 17th meeting of the "Backyard Brawl."

    It was broadcast live by KDKA Radio and was played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

    The Panthers came out on top, 21-13, in what was a monumental game that would have an immense impact on the future of college football.

No. 7 Formation of the BCS

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    Prior to 1998, college football did not have an exact science when it came to crowning a national champion.

    The top two teams in the country did not necessarily meet in a bowl game and something had to be done.

    That all changed with the inception of the BCS. This would guarantee that the top two teams in the country would meet for the national championship every season, in a format rotating among four different bowl sites. 

    While this certainly did not eliminate all controversy, it was definitely a step in the right direction.

    The playoff that will be instituted in 2014 will likely make the list within a few years.

No. 6 Ernie Davis Wins the Heisman

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    Many people thought Jim Brown deserved a Heisman trophy just a few years earlier, but in 1961, Ernie Davis became the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy.

    The former Syracuse running back was an absolute stud and was the inspiration for the movie The Express.

    Davis became the first overall selection in the 1962 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins before being traded to the Cleveland Browns.

    Tragically Davis was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia and passed away in May 1963 at the age of 23.

    Davis was the trendsetter for many future Heisman trophy winners.

No. 5 Four Horsemen

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    The Four Horsemen from Notre Dame was a quartet of backs that led the 1924 Notre Dame football team to a 10-0 record, including a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. 

    The foursome of quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, right halfback Don Miller, left halfback Jim Crowley and fullback Elmer Layden was a force on the offensive side of the ball when head coach Knute Rockne was running the show.

    There has not been a more popular nickname to come through the college football landscape in the 90 years since the Four Horsemen ran wild for the Fighting Irish.

    Over the three-year span where this group was in the backfield, Notre Dame only lost two games, both on the road against Nebraska.

No. 4 First Forward Pass

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    While the first forward pass was thrown in 1906, it was perfected by head coach Knute Rockne and Notre Dame during the 1913 season, culminating on Nov. 1, 1913.

    The Fighting Irish perfected the pass to beat a very talented Army squad as Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais practiced the pass over the summer and brought it out against Army.

    Everyone is aware just how much the forward pass has evolved over the years, and we might have Rockne to thank for that.

No. 3 Invention of the Facemask

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    In 1905 Harvard and Yale squared off in what was a growing college football rivalry. 

    During that time, facemasks had not been invented, and during a 6-0 Yale victory over Harvard, there was a little bit of controversy as Harvard's Francis Burr was hit in the face by Jack Quill.

    This was the culmination of a college football season that featured three deaths and prompted US President Theordore Roosevelt to come up with a solution.

    That solution was facemasks, and it forever changed how college football is played.

No. 2 The Play

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    Without question, the most well-known play in college football history involved Stanford and California on Nov. 20, 1982.

    Stanford went ahead 20-19 with only four seconds remaining.

    The game was all but in the bag until that unforgettable kickoff.

    With the band on the field, California used a plethora of laterals, some more illegal than others and went on to win 25-20 in the wildest finish in college football history.

    The video tells the full story.

No. 1 First College Football Game

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    College football dates all the way back to 1869. The first-ever game was played on Nov. 6, 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers.

    At that time, Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey and Rutgers was Rutgers College.

    This was the first documented game of intercollegiate football between two American schools, and even though it was played a little differently, there is no question that it is the moment that changed college football forever.

    Rutgers won the game, 6-4, in a contest that certainly did not look like football does today.