In any given game, on any given field, there is always one player who can stand head and shoulders above anyone on the field.
These are the gamebreakers that drive coaches crazy, and can take over at any time. Everyone in the stadium knows that once these players get the ball or line up on defense, the game is over.
Here are 11 of the best:
11. Charles Woodson vs. Ohio State—1997
On a cold, grey November day, Charles Woodson of Michigan returned a punt for a touchdown and snuffed out an Ohio State touchdown threat with an end zone interception.
He also caught a long pass on offense, giving the Wolverines the field position to punch in their only offensive touchdown on the day.
The nationally televised performance would lock up the Heisman Trophy for Woodson, the only defensive player to win the award.
10. Edgerrin James vs. UCLA—1998
On a day filled with wild offensive numbers by both teams, Edgerrin James totalled 39 carries, 299 yards, and three touchdowns. His game winner with less than a minute to go buried any hope of a UCLA national championship, and effectively announced Miami's resurrection from the depths of probation.
9. Steve Sarkisian vs. Texas A&M—1996
The Wrecking Crew defense of Texas A&M simply got demolished by the passing of Steve Sarkisian, giving up 536 yards through the air and six touchdowns, including the game winner with just over a minute to go.
Sarkisian's passing showed how little preseason rankings matter, as he helped upset the No. 13 Aggies in the first game of 1996.
8. Bo Jackson vs.Alabama—1983
The Iron Bowl set the stage for Bo Jackson to run wild over the Crimson Tide. His 256 yards on 20 carries were was just enough to knock off Alabama, and gave Auburn its first back-to-back wins over Alabama since 1970.
7. LaDanian Tomlinson vs. UTEP—1999
LT piled up 406 yards on 43 carries, to go along with six touchdowns in a romp over UTEP. The scary thing to consider is how many yards would he have had if TCU hadn't turned the ball over three times.
6. Barry Sanders vs. Wyoming—1988
The Heisman Trophy winner went for 222 yards and five touchdowns in the 1988 Holiday Bowl. His performance capped off the greatest individual season in NCAA history, as Barry Sanders ran wild in his final appearance in a Cowboys uniform.
5. Reggie Brooks vs. USC—1992
On a night when Notre Dame couldn't pass their way out of a paper bag, the one who rose up and played like a champion was running back Reggie Brooks. Despite fighting the flu and taking IV's when he wasn't gashing the USC defense, Reggie Brooks went for 227 yards and three touchdowns on only 19 carries. He single-handedly extended the Irish win streak over USC to 10 games.
4. Wilber Marshall vs. USC—1982
Just three years removed from an 0-10-1 season, Wilber Marshall and the Florida Gators refused to lay down for the Men of Troy. Highly touted and led by Sean Salisbury, the Trojans were upset by the Gators, who benefited by a huge game from Marshall: 14 tackles and four sacks.
After the game, when the Gators took a victory lap; the only one absent was Marshall, who was in the locker room completely exhausted and couldn't move to join his teammates.
USC coach John Robinson told Marshall 'You’re the greatest,' 'You’re the best linebacker I’ve ever seen.'
3. Marshall Faulk vs. BYU—1992
On an ESPN Thursday night game, (back when they were a novelty), Marshall Faulk and the Aztecs of San Diego State upended the BYU Cougars in a shootout that had made the WAC famous.
Faulk ran for 299 yards, 211 of which came in the second half, to go along with three touchdowns; the best of which was a beautiful 65-yard run that displayed the breakaway speed that would make Faulk a household name.
2. Reggie Bush vs. Fresno State - 2005
In a game most of the country missed due to the west coast start time, people missed the Heisman Trophy winner go for 294 yards and two touchdowns—part of the 513 all-purpose yards Bush gained on his way to saving the Trojans from Fresno State's upset bid.
1. Vince Young vs. USC—2006
Arguably the best bowl game performance of all time, no one did it better on the big stage than Vince Young. USC couldn't stop him; they couldn't even contain him.
With 467 yards of total offense, three rushing touchdowns, and a crucial two—point conversion to put the Longhorns ahead for good, Young put the entire weight of Texas on his shoulders and knocked off the defending national champions.
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