In any given college football season, there are three constants:
First, the national champion will not be universally accepted.
Second, someone, somewhere is getting fired.
Third, between August and January, hundreds and hundreds of amazing games, soundbites and spectacles are going to occur.
This year has provided the college football community with no small supply of jaw-dropping moments.
Which will make the top 50? How many non-athletes will take a spot? What sort of record-breaking performances will take the cake? Will Cam Newton run roughshod over the rankings?
Let’s find out.
What feel-good story doesn’t include a boy and his shoes?
Michigan started the 2010 season 5-0 in no small part to Denard “Shoelace” Robinson’s feet.
The Wolverine’s quarterback coach, Rod Smith, told Ann Arbor.com, “We went down to recruit Denard and we’re calling him Denard, and his coach yells, ‘Hey, Shoelace,’" Smith said.
"‘Who’s Shoelace?' 'Well, that’s Denard.' 'Why do you call him Shoelace, coach?' 'Well, he’s never tied his shoes since like the eighth grade. He always walks around with his shoelaces untied.'”
Thanks to the wonder of Velcro, Denard helped the college football season flash by in a shock of maize and blue.
Apparently Folger’s isn’t the best part of waking up in Eugene, Oregon.
A university of Oregon student seized the gigantic, and now somewhat iconic, Lee Corso head from the set of ESPN’s College Football Game Day.
The Oregon Ducks would later defeat the Beavers 37-20 in their annual Civil War meeting.
Maybe the Ducks’ blindingly fast offense is an even better way to jolt the cranium kidnappers awake instead of Corso's enormous mug.
Since CBS Sideline Reporter Tracy Wolfson had nothing better to do during the final minutes of Auburn’s 56-17 SEC Championship victory, she had herself a drink.
Auburn quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy Winner Cam Newton talked her into taking a few swigs of his “Cammy-Cam Juice” out of a Gatorade bottle.
Wolfson stated that the mysterious substance was “too sweet” for her tastes.
All the while, Newton was bouncing up and down on the sideline like a toddler hopped up on Mountain Dew with real cane sugar.
Wait a minute...
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez showed that he had a sensitive side during the Wolverines’ team banquet.
Rodriguez delivered an impassioned speech to the attendees backed by the powerful and courageous…”You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban.
Groban responded via twitter, “Coach Rodriguez, I’m very flattered but crying to You Raise Me Up is SO five years ago.”
Why must you be so cold, Josh?
Some carry a rabbit’s foot for luck. Others throw some salt over their shoulder.
Les Miles is a trendsetter. He eats grass.
“I see him do it every day. That's Coach Miles. He eats that grass. I guess he says it has a lot of protein," LSU receiver Russell Shepard said about his coach’s unique eating habits.
The old cliché always rings true, after all.
Run the ball, stop the run, eat some grass, win the game.
You’re the University of Houston’s star quarterback.
You’re a Heisman contender gunning for mid-major glory and a chance to blow the roof off the BCS.
Then you try to make a tackle on a pick-six twice in two weeks and end up on the shelf with a concussion and a torn ACL.
This is not your year.
The Washington Huskies were down 13-10 to Cal as the final moments of the game started to tick off the clock.
On 4th-and-goal, Washington kicker Erik Folk could’ve easily hit a chip-shot field goal to send his Huskies to overtime.
His teammate, running back Chris Polk, busted into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown to put away the Bears 16-13, instead.
The Wisconsin Badgers wouldn’t be representing the Big Ten as Co-Champion in the Rose Bowl if they didn’t know how to simply finds ways to win.
In September, the Badgers almost saw their perfect season crumble on a PAT attempt following ASU’s Cameron Marshall’s touchdown run.
The kick was blocked and Wisky remained undefeated.
Defense may not win Kentucky’s football program many championships, but it’ll do against a team like SEC Championship participant South Carolina.
After besting the No. 1 team in the country, South Carolina was held scoreless in the second half.
This allowed Kentucky to rally from an 18-point deficit and upset the No. 10 team in the country.
If you can’t stop ‘em, go to the ground and pretend they stomped all over you.
During Oregon’s thrilling 15-13 victory over the California Golden Bears, Cal players were dropping like Randy Shannon’s stock at Miami.
The Oregonian received an anonymous tip stating that the Bears were instructed to take a few dives to stall the Ducks’ potent offense.
Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box.
If Jacory Harris’ interception with five seconds left in regulation didn’t effectively end his head coach’s career, then South Florida running back Demetris Murray’s one-yard touchdown run officially did.
The loss dropped Miami (FL) to 7-5 and Randy Shannon was given the boot by Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt.
Under the category of, “Why We Love This Game."
East Carolina and Tulsa opened the college football season with a “Bring Your Own Defense” battle complete with an amazing finish.
Quarterback Dominique Davis lobbed a 33-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to defeat Tulsa 51-49 in his first start as a Pirate.
Andrew Luck is a man of many talents. Who knew that he could defy physics?
During an eventual 58-yard run, Luck quite literally absorbed an attempted tackle by Cal's Sean Cattouse.
Sometimes you just have to take one for the team, then keep on’ truckin'.
Then you develop a habit.
When USC defender Shareece Wright got up the morning of his team’s game versus Stanford, the last thing he worried about was getting trucked by Heisman candidate Andrew Luck.
Later that evening, both reality and Luck hit him equally hard.
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich managed to survive the biggest fight of his life against cancer.
He then promptly got back onto the football field.
Herzlich was diagnosed with was Ewing's sarcoma, but he took it out like an opposing quarterback and returned to the game he loved.
The lyric “Take me out to the ballgame” had a new twist during the 2010 college football season.
The Army Black Knights faced off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Yankee Stadium.
The contest marked the first time a college football game was played at the venue.
One of college football’s most iconic rivalries provides perhaps some of the game’s most sobering and exciting spectacles.
Before the game, Medal of Honor recipients were introduced, the secretary of the Army and Navy were on hand and an Apache helicopter flyover put an exclamation point on the festivities.
Whether or not you recognize the No. 18 ranking of the Trojans, the significance of Washington’s 32-31 victory over Southern Cal is just as great.
Huskies quarterback Jake Locker had been struggling to live up to preseason hype all year.
With Washington down 31-29, USC kicker Joe Houston’s field goal attempt bounced off the upright.
Locker then drove his offense 32 yards, setting up Erik Folk’s winning field goal as time expired.
You can’t win if you can’t score.
Colorado, Wyoming and BYU learned this lesson the hard way versus the Horned Frogs.
TCU held the former two schools scoreless in 27-0 and 45-0 victories, respectively.
BYU put on a slightly more respectable performance, tacking a field goal onto the scoreboard in the third quarter in its 31-3 loss to the Horned Frogs.
Wisconsin needed to vent a little frustration after narrowly escaping Sun Devil Stadium with a 20-19 victory.
Unfortunately, for Austin Peay, the whistle was barely heard before a metaphoric freight train hit.
Wisconsin scored 35 points in the second quarter before defeating Austin Peay 70-3.
Later in the season, Wisconsin would out-do themselves, besting Big Ten brethren Indiana and Northwestern by scores of 83-20 and 73-21, respectively.
Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin wasn’t about to walk out of West Lafayette, Indiana with a loss.
Dantin ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more in a 31-20 win over the Purdue Boilermakers.
The win marked the first time Toledo defeated Purdue since 1992.
Randy Edsall knew he had a solid team, but one has to wonder if even he knew they were “BCS Bowl-good.”
The Huskies, led by running back Jordan Todman, went 8-4 and went on a five-game winning streak to stamp their ticket to the Fiesta Bowl to face Oklahoma.
America’s alleged greatest pastime may have met its eventual successor in 2010.
Illinois defeated Northwestern 41-27 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
It was the first time a football game had been played there since 1970.
The aforementioned Army-Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium marked another unique experience for college football fans.
There may be no bigger fan of the football-baseball infusion than Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure.
He put up 330 yards and two touchdowns versus Northwestern in a 41-27 victory.
In an interesting twist, offensive plays ran only toward the west end zone near third base.
The title of Big East Champion was eventually UConn’s to claim, but they seemingly scooped it up like a fumble.
Pittsburgh, West Virginia and UConn all finished 5-2 in conference with the Huskies winning the title via tiebreaker.
Aside from the Mountaineers and Huskies, no other team managed to top a 7-5 record with two teams, Cincinnati and Rutgers, going 4-8.
As if sacrificing running backs to the football gods wasn’t enough of a strain on the Iowa football program, Kirk Ferentz had to deal with some pretty sketchy dealings in 2010.
Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was arrested on charges that include possession of cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs.
Running back Jewel Hampton left the program.
After that, running back Adam Robinson was suspended for the bowl game for what Ferentz called, "failing to live up to team expectations and policies."
It was not a good year to be a Hawkeye.
Minnesota fans didn’t have much to cheer about in 2010, so they needed to jam in as much as they could get.
Following the 27-24 victory over No. 24 Iowa, the crowd rushed the field to celebrate.
Unfortunately, the win wasn’t quite official. The Hawkeyes had called timeout with 35 seconds to play.
The crowd didn’t mind and eventually returned to continue the celebration.
If there’s one thing that Sparty knows, it’s comebacks.
Michigan State was down 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter against Northwestern.
It wasn't a problem for the Spartans, as Michigan State proceeded to score 21 points in the fourth quarter alone on two Kirk Cousins passes and a 25-yard Edwin Baker run.
Jeremiah Masoli might have been re-thinking his transfer decision following a 49-48 double overtime loss to Jacksonville State.
Masoli came to Ole Miss via Oregon looking to lead the Rebels to glory. Masoli's new team was ahead 31-10 at halftime.
JSU would outscore Ole Miss 21-3 in the final quarter to force overtime.
Somehow, JSU's Coty Middleton came down with a two-point conversion reception in the second overtime period that made headlines across the nation.
Clearly, Iowa safety Tyler Sash was taught how to share in Kindergarten.
After picking off Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, Sash tossed a lateral to corner back Micah Hyde, who returned the turnover for an Iowa touchdown.
Remember kids: Sharing is caring.
It looks like the same song, different verse for Notre Dame.
Brian Kelly’s inaugural season as head coach definitely wasn’t the return to prominence that the Fighting Irish were hoping for with yet another vaunted head coach.
Tulsa wasn’t about to roll out the welcome mat, either.
The Golden Hurricane bested the Irish 28-27 after Tulsa kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick provided the only fourth quarter points on a field goal.
Tulsa’s John Flanders intercepted the game’s final pass to put another "L" on the Irish's schedule.
If there’s one thing that everyone knows about Nebraska, it’s that they know how to run the football.
It’s been that way for decades.
Perhaps that knowledge will help you appreciate the idea that Roy Helu, Jr. broke Nebraska’s single-game rushing record with 307 yards against the Missouri Tigers.
Two touchdown runs of 73 and 56 yards aided in compiling that astronomical number.
Helu, Jr. had an average of 11 yards per carry.
It takes a special running back to help the Oregon offense crisply.
Luckily, the Ducks have LaMichael James.
Against Tennessee, the Quack Attack’s Heisman Trophy candidate avoided two tackles at the line of scrimmage before reversing direction and heading up field.
He then outran six Volunteer defenders, and a seventh was blocked out of his way. James shed another tackle and finally was taken down by his shoelaces.
It’s a shame for Tennessee that the ball had already crossed the goal line.
When Michigan and Notre Dame get together, it’s usually a treat.
Denard Robinson made sure that tradition would continue racking up 502 yards of total offense, a school record for a quarterback.
“Shoelace” directed the game-winning drive scoring from two yards out to cap the Wolverines’ 28-24 win over the Irish.
The nation was aching to see Stanford test Oregon’s mettle.
Stanford jumped out to a 21-0 lead and it looked like the Ducks had no way to stop the bleeding.
Much like the Incredible Hulk, you don’t want to make the Oregon offense angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry.
The Ducks outscored Stanford 52-10 from that point on. Oregon also held the Cardinal scoreless in the second half.
Little did Michigan and Illinois know that on November 6, 2010 they would play Pac-10 football in the Big Ten.
Ironically enough, an excellent defensive play would end the highest-scoring game in Michigan football history.
Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase threw up a pass for a two-point conversion that, due to a Michigan blitz, fell woefully incomplete.
Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree also had the most receiving yards by any Wolverine in a single game with 246.
Since 1996, the Big 12 Conference has been a puzzle crammed together with some pieces that didn’t quite fit.
The conference that joined the Big Eight and former Southwestern Conference together just couldn’t seem to get along and in the end, didn’t.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers entered talks with the Big Ten and eventually announced their move, marking 2010 as their final season as a member of the Big 12.
The Cornhuskers’ season was wracked with controversy, but it’s off to greener pastures for the Huskers along with Colorado, who chose to bolt for the soon-to-be Pac-12.
John Brantley made his first career start as a Florida Gator versus Miami (OH), and much hilarity ensued.
Bad snaps, fumbles and general poor fundamentals required key turnovers and big-time plays to avoid the upset.
Florida was hoping to roll along after the Tebow Era.
No such luck as the Gators dropped games to Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and rival Florida State.
While Florida had a tough go in 2010, the college football world wasn’t watching a complete disaster in Gainesville.
It was more of a correction after several dominant years.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Texas...
In one of the worst seasons in recent memory, and easily the worst in Texas head coach Mack Brown’s career, the Longhorns looked befuddled.
Even in victory, the Longhorns stumbled and bumbled.
Opening the season 3-2 with a 34-12 loss at home to UCLA and a 28-20 loss to Oklahoma was bad enough.
Defeating Nebraska helped to slow the bleeding, but only temporarily.
Texas would then lose four straight games before taking out frustration on Florida Atlantic.
Rival Texas A&M would then deny them bowl eligibility.
Austin reached critical status as coaches either moved on to greener pastures or outright resigned.
The college football world can’t help but wonder what’s next for Mack Brown and company.
By the time the Heisman Trophy ceremony came around, it was almost a given.
Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy (gasp!) and did so in stunning fashion.
Newton garnered 2,263 points.
The runner-up, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, amassed a mere 1,079 points.
With Newton’s 2,589 passing yards, 28-6 TD-INT ratio, 1,409 yards on the ground and 20 rushing touchdowns, no collegiate football athlete could best Newton’s resume.
While shocking news, some saw it coming. The news wasn't likely expected so soon.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2010, Urban Meyer stepped down as head coach of the Florida Gators due to health concerns.
"At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged on how you are as a husband and as a father and not on how many bowl games we won," Meyer stated during a campus news conference.
In a game that many said would make or break Boise State’s national championship’s hopes, the Broncos staked their claim in stunning fashion.
Boise was down 30-26 following a Hokie field goal.
With 1:09 left on the clock, Austin Pettis hauled in a 13-yard pass from Kellen Moore to stun Virginia Tech and half the crowd at FedEx Field.
The chant “We’re number one!” never sounded like such a jinx until midseason.
First, No. 1 Alabama fell to South Carolina. The next week, Ohio State took over the top spot and was knocked off by Wisconsin.
Finally, Oklahoma took the No. 1 banner into Columbia, Missouri, where the Tigers toppled the Sooners.
The goalposts came down in Columbia that night.
The king is dead. Long live the king!
“Lucky” Les Miles didn’t earn his nickname after a friendly card game.
The LSU Tigers were driving to score the game-winning touchdown. On the final play, the Tigers botched the potential score and the No. 12 team had fallen.
Until a yellow hankie was seen on the field, that is.
Tennessee had 12 defenders on the field, allowing LSU a second chance for glory.
The Tigers didn’t mess up on their second chance as Stevan Ridley barreled into the end zone to crush the Volunteers' hopes.
Never count Sparty out.
Michigan State’s Dan Conroy lined up to kick a game-tying field goal against Notre Dame in overtime.
He would have nothing to do with the play, though.
The Irish wanted to attempt blocking a kick, not try to chase down Spartan tight end Charlie Gantt, who had hauled in a catch from holder Aaron Bates.
"We knew Notre Dame wasn't going to be expecting that," Bates told ESPN. "That's the last thing anybody was expecting.”
The Iron Bowl was conceivably the last true road block that could derail the Auburn Tigers’ momentum heading into the SEC Championship Game.
The Alabama Crimson Tide looked like they would answer the call of those firmly against Cam Newton and his Tigers following potential investigation against the eventual Heisman Trophy winner.
The Tide went up 21-0 after the first quarter, but Newton would have none of that.
Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran in another score while the Auburn defense held Alabama to two field goals, allowing the Tigers to post a 28-27 victory.
Virginia Tech was nursing its wounds over their primetime loss to the Boise State Broncos.
Surely a cupcake feast in Blacksburg would cure what ailed them. Right?
James Madison didn’t get the memo.
The Dukes held Virginia Tech to fewer and fewer points as the game went on, scoring single touchdowns in every stanza except the first, allowing them the phenomenal 21-16 upset.
"I don't know what's going on," tailback Ryan Williams told ESPN after the game. "I really don't."
The annual Oklahoma-Oklahoma State tilt always provides amazing highlights.
This year’s Bedlam game gave us the play of the year.
Oklahoma’s Landry Jones attempted to throw away a pass after being flushed out of the pocket.
Cowboy defensive back Broderick Brown went airborne, volleying the ball back into play where it was promptly picked off.
With Boise State up 24-7 at the half, it appeared that Nevada, likely the toughest test left for the Broncos, was going down.
Then the Wolfpack woke up.
Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick led a second half rebound that provided a 17-point fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime.
Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman could’ve sealed a victory with a field goal in the game’s final seconds, but he missed.
Brotzman would line up a second time to put the Broncos ahead in overtime, but the ball sailed again.
This allowed Nevada to boot a 34-yarder that destroyed Boise’s BCS hopes and snapped its 24-game winning streak.
The 2010 college football season will be remembered for many things, but Cam Newton will be prominently featured for one reason or another.
John Bond, a former Mississippi State football player, accused a man representing Newton of soliciting the commitment of Newton for $180,000.
"During the 2009 football season, I was contacted by a former football teammate, who represented to me that he was speaking for the Newton camp," Bond said in an AP statement.
"He told me that Cam Newton wanted to play at Mississippi State, but that a specified payment would have to be made."
The FBI eventually spoke with Bond regarding the claims.
The NCAA promptly allowed Newton to play in the SEC Championship game after citing that it was his father and "an owner of a scouting service" (former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers) that were at fault.
Still, the college football world at large still speculates over just how much Cam Newton himself knew in the first place.
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