The 10 Most Memorable Moments of College Football in 2009
Toward the end of 2008, I wrote a similar article on the same topic in which I provided links to videos in order to make the article more interactive, because the focus of that article was the top images of college football in 2008.
This year I decided to do something different. I'm going to provide a top 10 list of the most memorable moments of the 2009 college football regular season. Though I usually like to focus on the games that produced great moments, this season forced me to spotlight a few moments outside of the games themselves.
In the picture you see the 2009 Heisman winner, Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Did he do anything memorable enough in 2009 to make the top 10? Begin the slideshow; find out if he does.
10. Washington upsets No. 3 USC with late FG
This moment is significant for more reasons than the headline would indicate.
Sure, on the surface Washington upsetting USC was the nation's first piece of evidence that the mighty Trojans could be beaten this season, even though just one week earlier they went into Columbus and escaped with a 18-15 win over No. 8 Ohio State.
Washington provided the initial spark that end the Trojans' bid for eight consecutive conference championships.
USC would close the season with a blowout loss at Oregon on Halloween, a horrific loss at home to Stanford, and an uneventful loss to Arizona in the regular season finale. The Trojans had lost only seven conference games in the past seven seasons prior to this season, when they lost four.
The Trojans would end up in the Emerald Bowl against Boston College, a far cry from the lofty expectations they have entered with each season.
Also significant from this moment was the coaching battle. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, in his first year with the program, beat his former boss, USC head coach Pete Carroll. Sarkisian had been the offensive coordinator under Carroll for the past two seasons after two stints at USC as quarterbacks coach.
I can't imagine the thrill of Sarkisian upending his former boss, especially because the Trojans were the seven-time defending conference champion, while Washington was winless in 2008.
9. Sam Bradford leaves game with shoulder injury; Oklahoma loses opener to BYU
Let's not forget how huge of a moment this was and how much of an impact it had on the rest of the season.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, led No. 3 Oklahoma into Cowboys stadium against No. 20 BYU in the season opener. The Sooners, the reigning BCS runner-up, had a legitimate shot to reach the BCS title game again.
Bradford suffered a sprained AC joint after being slammed to the turf by a BYU defender. He was sidelined until the Baylor game. A week later, Bradford aggravated the injury against Texas and was forced to miss the rest of the season.
Oklahoma went 6-5 in games Bradford didn't finish. The Sooners were soon forgotten in the national rankings. And Bradford had no chance to defend his Heisman campaign from the season before.
The irony here? Bradford passed up possibly being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft in order to return to Oklahoma and compete for the national championship. All of that was wiped away in less than one half of football.
Rival Texas emerged as the Big 12 favorite, went on to win the conference title, and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship.
8. Stafon Johnson severely injures neck in weight-lifting accident
You know this was an eventful college football season when one of the scariest and most unthinkable accidents is buried at No. 8 on this list.
USC running back Stafon Johnson was severely injured after a bench-press bar fell on his neck.
After the injury, he underwent seven hours of surgery. Johnson needed a tracheotomy just to allow him to breathe and had his larynx realigned.
Johnson's muscles in his neck miraculously saved his life. If not for his extensive lifting and training for football, Johnson may not have survived the accident, doctors said.
He is expected to make a full recovery and play football again.
The senior was forced to sit out the rest of the season to recover. Johnson was the leading Trojan running back after four games before the accident. He had rushed for five touchdowns, already halfway to his career high, including two against No. 8 Ohio State, with the latter shown in the picture above.
7. Texas kicks its way into the national championship with win over Nebraska in Big 12 title game
This season the Texas Longhorns were the beneficiaries of one second.
A year ago versus Texas Tech, the undefeated Longhorns had their perfect season ended when Michael Crabtree scored the go-ahead touchdown with :01 left. You know the story. Texas was left out of the Big 12 Championship without an opportunity to play for the national championship.
This season the Longhorns earned a berth in the Big 12 title game, and this time, one second was one their side.
An incomplete pass by Colt McCoy on 3rd-and-13 appeared to have expired the fourth quarter clock with Texas still trailing 12-10. Officials determined that replay showed that the ball had landed with one second left, and so Texas was afforded another chance.
On fourth down, kicker Hunter Lawrence converted a 46-yard field goal to give Texas a 13-12 win over Nebraska and an apparent berth in the national championship.
6. Alabama dominates Florida in SEC title game, earns berth in national championship
In a rematch of last season's SEC title game, this year's version brought us a different outcome.
This time Alabama prevailed, as the Tide manhandled the Gators, ending Florida's perfect season and 22-game win streak.
Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns and caught a pair of passes for 76 yards in the 32-13 win.
A week later, in the closest race in history, Ingram became the third consecutive sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.
Alabama will face Texas in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7.
In the final moments of the game, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was shown crying on-camera, as the two-time national champion and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner fell short of making a third appearance in the national title game.
5. LeGarrette Blount punches Boise State player; suspended for season
As if the head coaching debut for Oregon's Chip Kelly needed to be any worse. After a disappointing 19-8 loss at Boise State on the opening night in college football for 2009, starting Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout.
The punched was provoked after Hout tapped Blount on his shoulder pads and said something. Blount turned and landed the punch on Hout's jaw, knocking him to the ground.
Later, apparently heading toward the locker room, Blount was aggravated by Boise State fans and then fought restraint in an attempt to confront the fans.
Kelly suspended Blount for the remainder of the season. Blount returned to action in the Civil War against Oregon State, scoring a touchdown in the 37-33 win.
Kelly made clear that Blount would be eligible for reinstatement after his suspension should Blount meet a strict set of conditions.
Oregon rebounded terrifically from the loss to Boise State and won the Pac-10 championship, earning a Rose Bowl berth.
4. Urban Meyer resigns; then takes leave of absence after reconsidering
Relatively new to the college football scene in 2009, the hype surrounding Urban Meyer and his leave of absence has yet to truly make its mark.
The future of football at the University of Florida is unclear with its head man uncertain about his future.
Meyer announced Sunday he was resigning due to health concerns. The next day, however, Meyer said he reconsidered his decision and instead would take a leave of absence.
The two-time national champion was admitted to the hospital hours after the SEC Championship. He admits to suffering from headaches throughout the season. Also, he suffers from a heart muscle defect.
Though his leave of absence is indefinite, Meyer is confident he'll return as head coach for the 2010 season.
Meyer will coach Florida in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.
3. Connecticut celebrates first win after the death of Jasper Howard
In the hours after its homecoming game win over Louisville, the University of Connecticut could no longer celebrate.
Starting cornerback Jasper Howard, 20, was stabbed to death outside of a school dance after the fire alarm was pulled.
Howard, a Miami native, was an expectant father and the first person in his family to attend college.
As if the grief the University and the football team experienced from his death didn't hurt enough, their attempts to honor him with a win hurt additionally, as the team lost its next three games by a combined margin of 10 points.
No team deserved a win more than the Connecticut Huskies, and finally, over a month after Howard's death, Connecticut beat Notre Dame 33-30 in overtime.
His teammates honored Howard by carrying his helmet and jersey onto the field for all of their games. The team plans to do the same in 2010.
2. Charlie Weis fired; Brian Kelly bolts unbeaten Cincinnati to coach Notre Dame
Everybody saw it coming.
After Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced that Charlie Weis was to return to South Bend after the game against Stanford in the regular season finale, giving the uncertainty around Weis' future as head coach, most assumed Weis was coaching his last game for Notre Dame.
Sure enough, Weis was fired after five seasons.
His career record at Notre Dame was 35-27. Weis received a 10-year contract extension during his first season. A buyout is expected to be reached between him and the university.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly was the leading candidate for the Notre Dame heading coaching position in final weeks of Weis' tenure while he was on the hot seat.
Kelly told his team that he wouldn't leave amid Cincinnati's undefeated season. Even after the team beat Pittsburgh to secure both its undefeated season and Big East championship, Kelly interviewed for and landed the vacant head coaching job at Notre Dame.
Cincinnati players and supporters were upset about his departure for two reasons. First, they believed he would usher Cincinnati into a new era in big-time college football, and, second, they thought they had his word that he would remain at Cincinnati.
Cincinnati will play Florida in the Sugar Bowl and has named Butch Jones as Kelly's replacement.
1. Bobby Bowden announces retirement
So much for letting him retire on his own terms.
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden essentially was forced out as coach after a season-long episode with the chair of the board of trustees, unhappy boosters, and other disgruntled fans.
Florida State opened the season 2-3 and 0-2 in the ACC. After the slow start in early October, grumblings about the program's decline began. Bowden remained as head coach until the end of the season, leading the Seminoles to a 6-6 record and 4-4 in conference.
On Dec. 1, Bowden announced that he would retire after the season.
Bowden spent the last 34 of his 44 years in coaching at Florida State, where he won two national championships and enjoyed one of the most dominant stretches in college football history.
Florida State won over 86 percent of its games during the 14-season span that ended in 2000 in which Bowden led the Seminoles to at least 10 wins and a top-five ranking.
Bowden will retire as the second-most winningest coach in Division I college football history.
Bowden will coach the Seminoles against his former school, West Virginia, in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
--Oregon survives in Civil War; earns berth in Rose Bowl versus Ohio State
--Field goal in overtime sends Ohio State to Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997
--Cincinnati overcomes 21-point deficit amid snow in Pittsburgh to secure Big East title
--Tim Tebow suffers concussion in convincing win at Kentucky
--Alabama blocks potential game-winning FG by Tennessee to remain unbeaten
--Oregon dismantles No. 5 USC on Halloween to end Trojans’ Pac-10 title hopes
--Iowa scores TD as time expires at Michigan State to stay perfect
--No. 4 Iowa has its perfect season ended after failing to overcome deficit in fifth consecutive game
--Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley leads USC comeback at Ohio State
--West Virginia ends No. 9 Pitt’s bid for outright Big East title in Backyard Brawl
--Colt McCoy makes Heisman statement on Thanksgiving at Texas A&M to keep Texas unbeaten
--Iowa upsets No. 5 Penn State for second consecutive season with dominating fourth quarter
--Miami upsets host Florida State in ACC opener; vaults into top 25 after Instant Classic
--Oregon survives Arizona in double overtime classic; maintains lead in Pac-10 entering final week
--No. 8 LSU upset by Mississippi after poor time management in final minute
--Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier upsets Notre Dame on touchdown with :11 left
--Iowa survives Northern Iowa with two blocked field goals in last seven seconds