Does any other play deserve to be ahead of this one?
With the 2014 BCS Championship Game just days away, it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane.
There have been 15 BCS Championship Games to date. Seven of those games were decided by 11 points or fewer.
Dynasties were made and broken. Underdogs rose from obscurity to the forefront of the college football landscape.
A lot of times, these moments came to fruition on just a single play.
Join B/R as we countdown the top 10 plays in BCS Championship Game history.
Game Result: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14; Jan. 7, 2013
The Irish may have entered the game as the higher seed, but let’s be honest: There was no one who really believed that Notre Dame would slow down the Tide.
From the opening kickoff, Alabama took charge. At halftime, the Tide were up comfortably, 28-0.
But while the main focus entering the game was on the Notre Dame defense, it was the Alabama defense that flexed its muscle.
That was put on display early in the third quarter.
With the Irish into Tide territory, quarterback Everett Golson lofted a pass deep near the end zone. The ball was tipped up by one Alabama defender, and Ha’Sean (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix followed that up by making a spectacular diving snag all while keeping his feet in bounds.
It was the type of play that showcased why the Tide—not Notre Dame—possessed the best defense in all of college football.
Game Result: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14; Jan. 8, 2009
In the first half of the 2009 BCS title match, the Sooners were clearly in charge.
However, somehow, the score remained tied 7-7 with seconds left in the second quarter.
On 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line with 10 seconds remaining, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford dropped back to throw. His throw bounced off his intended wide receiver, then batted up in the air by a Gators defender. The ball took several more bounces before finally landing safely in the hands of Florida’s defense.
That gave the team two stops of the mighty Sooners offense inside the red zone in the first half alone.
Without the stifling play of the defense in the first half, there’s a good chance the Gators do not win this game.
Game Result: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2; Jan. 3, 2001
The 2001 BCS title game pitted the Sooners and Seminoles in what became a fierce defensive battle.
With under nine minutes remaining in the game, Oklahoma led just 6-0. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Weinke and the Florida State offense had the ball deep in its territory on 3rd-and-6.
As Weinke dropped back to pass, he instead chose to scramble for the first down. Originally, it looked like he would successfully move the chains. However, a Sooners defender tackled him from behind and jarred the ball free.
Oklahoma recovered, and a few plays later, running back Quentin Griffin ran into the end zone to clinch the game and the national title.
None of that would have been possible without the great play on defense.
Game Result: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29; Jan. 4, 2000
Although the final score might not suggest it, the 2000 BCS title game was one for the ages.
After roaring out to an early lead, the Seminoles watched it all evaporate at the hands of a furious rally from Michael Vick and the Hokies. In fact, Virginia Tech led 29-28 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
But that’s when Florida State woke up, scoring the game’s final 18 points.
And none were as impressive as the six that wide receiver Peter Warrick delivered with this sensational grab.
With 7:42 remaining, Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke launched a deep ball in Warrick’s direction. The wide receiver fought through a defensive pass-interference call, tipped the ball up in the air and somehow managed to pull in the ball for a remarkable 43-yard touchdown grab.
The score all but sealed the deal for Florida State’s impressive run to the BCS title.
Game Result: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14; Jan. 4, 2004
In what turned out to be a sloppy game, the Tigers defense had kept the Sooners’ high-powered offense at bay for the most part. However, at the beginning of the third quarter, Oklahoma was only down a touchdown, 14-7, and looking to put together a game-tying drive.
That’s when LSU’s Marcus Spears had other ideas.
As Oklahoma’s Jason White dropped to pass, Spears jumped a slant route and rumbled 20 yards with the interception for the touchdown.
All of this was one play after Spears had sacked White.
You call it a “fat-man touchdown," I call it a BCS title-clinching play.
Game Result: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (OT); Jan. 3, 2003
To this day, there are many who believe this is one of the greatest college football games ever played.
It’s hard to argue against that. The game featured the defending national champion against one of the fiercest running backs college football had seen in quite some time.
That running back, Maurice Clarett, also happened to make a huge play in the game…as an offensive player-turned-defender.
With the Buckeyes leading 14-7 in the third quarter, quarterback Craig Krenzel made a poor decision and threw a ball into the end zone that was picked off by the Hurricane’s Sean Taylor. With open field ahead of him, Taylor looked poise for a long return, maybe even a touchdown.
All he needed to do was get by Clarett.
But that’s when the Ohio State back came from out of nowhere to jar the ball lose and help Ohio State recover the fumble. The Buckeyes would go on to kick a field goal.
It was a potential 10-point swing that had a drastic impact on the game’s outcome.
Game Result: Texas 41, USC 38; Jan. 4, 2006
A year after dominating Big-12 opponent Oklahoma in the BCS title game, the Trojans were presented with another Big 12 opponent in the Longhorns. Not many people gave Texas a chance.
But a lot of those people were underestimating the abilities of Longhorn quarterback Vince Young.
With USC up 38-26 with about six minutes remaining, victory was all but certain for Pete Carroll and his Trojans.
But Young had other ideas. He quickly marched Texas down the field and into USC territory. Then on 2nd-and-4, Young rolled to the left before reversing the field—almost juking a Trojans defender out of his shoes—pump-faked a pass and led a swarm of USC defenders into the end zone for the score.
Although it still left the Longhorns with an uphill battle, it successfully set up one of the more memorable plays in BCS title game history, which we will get too in a bit.
Game Result: Alabama 37, Texas 21; Jan. 7, 2010
When Longhorns starting quarterback Colt McCoy exited the game in the first quarter, Texas’ chances of victory were slim. In fact, the Tide took a 24-6 lead into the break.
However, backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert led the Longhorns back in a style that was reminiscent of Vince Young four years earlier.
The then-freshman connected with Jordan Shipley on two long touchdowns to bring Texas within three points at 24-21 late in the fourth quarter.
After forcing the Tide to punt, the Longhorns got the ball back with 3:14 remaining. However, on the very first play, Gilbert was sacked by Eryk Anders and coughed up the football.
Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw recovered the ball at the Texas 3-yard line and the rest is history.
Game Result: Auburn 22, Oregon 19; Jan. 10, 2011
There are many that consider the 2013 Tigers a team of destiny. However, the 2010 Auburn squad held that honor first.
In a back-and-forth game, the Tigers and Ducks were knotted at 19 with just a little more than two minutes remaining.
That’s when Auburn running back Michael Dyer took the handoff from his own 39 and looked to gain about six or seven yards. But as the play appeared to be dead, Dyer eventually realized that his knee had never touched the ground. He resumed running and took the ball all the way down to the Oregon 23.
The play ultimately resulted in a game-winning field goal for the Tigers as time expired.
It only serves as a reminder that you should always play to until the whistle.
Game Result: Texas, USC 38; Jan. 4, 2006
Sensing that the Longhorns were gaining momentum after Vince Young’s heroics on the previous drive, the Trojans went for the kill shot on the ensuing drive with a little over two minutes remaining.
The plan backfired, as running back LenDale White came up short on 4th-and-2 at the Texas 45. That handed the ball back to Young and the Longhorns offense with 2:13 remaining.
Texas continued to move the play down the field like clockwork. Next thing you know, it’s 4th-and-5 from the USC 8-yard line with 26 seconds remaining.
After avoiding the initial rush, Young found space and rushed into the end zone just barely avoiding the outstretched arms of a Trojan defender.
The score gave the Longhorns the lead for good and secured the third national title in school history. Young finished with 267 yards through the air on 30-of-40 passing while adding another 200 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
To this day, many observers and fans consider this the best BCS title game ever.