College Football Instant Classic: UCLA d. Tennessee in Overtime at the Rose Bowl

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2008

Welcome back fans, college football is finally back and what a way to start back up.

The first week of college football was full of everything that normally happens in this sport and its why we come back all the time to watch more.

Traditions, tailgating BBQ, fight songs, cheerleaders, Saturday afternoons, Friday pep rallies, high-octane offenses, brick wall defenses, national championship debates, BCS bashing, cupcake games, major upsets, and instant classics.

Now I could easily do an article on each of these topics, but the one I'm focusing on is the last one, the instant classic.

For any of those fortunate enough to have stayed awake last night for the entire Tennessee-UCLA game, you were not disappointed.  Unless of course you sing Rocky Top and wear bright orange.

At the half, #18 Tennessee lead the hometown Bruins 14-7, with both teams scoring defensive touchdowns.

The Vols having the lead and momentum after two quarters, also had the only offensive score, a nine play 80 yard touchdown drive.

For the Bruins things looked very bleak, quarterback Kevin Craft threw for only 66 yards and 4 INTs in the first half.  But instead of bringing in another quarterback, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel stuck with his man.

During halftime Neuheisel told the youngster that in his first game as a UCLA quarterback he threw 4 INTs as well.

That seemed to be exactly what the kid needed to hear because in the second half he was a new man.

ESPN TV commentator Mike Patrick made the comment, "...that in the first half Craft was just about as bad of a quarterback as you can be, but here in the second half he is about as good of a quarterback as you can be."

In the fourth quarter, down 14-10 with 11:24 left in the game, Craft lead his team on a drive of ten plays for 80 yards.  Capped by a three-yard rushing touchdown by Raymond Carter.  On the series Craft was throwing passes as crisp as a Peyton or Favre does on Sunday afternoons.

Down four, with under seven minutes to play, Phillip Fulmer's Vols responded.  Lead by quarterback Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee drove 67 yards in twelve plays and ran the clock down to 1:54.

Bruins turn.  Needing at least a FG and having a head coach with the reputation of the two-minute offense being a strength, Craft took the ball again.

This time without having the luxury of a lot of time, Craft still responded with a nine play, 70 yard drive, ending with a touchdown pass to back-up tight end Ryan Moya.

UCLA leads 24-21 and only 27 seconds left, game over.

Yeah right, not in college football.  After a squibb kick from the Bruins, Tennssee had the ball at their own 43.  In five plays, Crompton drove his team down to the UCLA 30 with five seconds remaining.

Tennessee kicker Daniel Lincoln had the chance to tie the game and send it into overtime with the 47-yard field goal attempt.  Lincoln had already missed field goals of 51 and 52 yards.  This time, no problem, Lincoln kick the ball right down the middle, with plenty of yardage to go.


UCLA got the ball first and the offense could not get themselves out of neutral, gaining 0 yards and having to attempt a 42-yard field goal.  Already perfect on all of his kicks, the second team All-Freshman kicker from 2007, nailed this one as well, 27-24.

In Tennessee's offensive possession they too were only able to drive the ball a couple yards and give Lincoln another shot to tie the game.  This time, however, he hook it too far left.

The Bruins defeated the Vols 27-24, in overtime, at the Rose Bowl, in a game where a kicker misses both field goal attempts and then makes his next to go into overtime, and a game where a quarterback can throw 4 INTs in one half and be the hero in the next.

College football is back, and you have got to love this game.