College Football 2011: The 25 Most Exciting Plays of the Season
In a season jam-packed with drama, tragedy, scandal and BCS woes, it’s easy to forget amid all the distractions that 2011 has been a campaign stacked with great plays.
Yes…look, that’s a football field, people are playing on it and, holy Toledo, aren’t they amazing?
The following slideshow attempts the almost impossible by selecting the Top 25 most exciting plays of the 2011 season (through 13 weeks) and then presents them for your viewing pleasure in thrilling video format.
The task of pinpointing these “wow factor” moments is almost as difficult as explaining and justifying the BCS—but boy, is it more fun!
This humble presentation serves as a tribute to the great athletes that have dedicated themselves to a game we all adore. Their contributions have been somewhat overlooked in a season overshadowed with a historic deluge of calamity.
Thank you college football players!
25. The Goal Line Helicopter
In the game-winning play in the Week 6 battle between ranked FCS teams James Madison and Maine, Black Bear Chris Treister finds the end zone on a thrilling spinning play that results in a two-point conversion and a 25-24 Maine win.
24. The Old Double Bobble Tip Catch
One of the more miraculous catches in 2011, BYU’s Cody Hoffman manages to come down with the ball in the Cougars 38-28 Week 8 win over Oregon State.
23. Luck Gets Lucky
Despite the huge floods of “man love” bestowed on Stanford’s Andrew Luck, it’s hard not to appreciate the superstar QB's one-handed sideline grab in the Cardinal’s 45-19 stomping of UCLA.
22. The Squirt Play
Unlike the roach motel where “roaches check in but they don’t check out,” Kentucky’s Josh Clemons checked into the Chippewa Inn in Week 2. Not only did he find his way to the check out desk but he managed to score a stunning 87-yard touchdown on his way out the door.
The Wildcats went on to beat Central Michigan 27-13.
21. 10 Yards Lost Becomes Six Points Scored
In what looked like a blown play that would have cost Missouri at least 10 yards, Tiger QB James Franklin made something out of nothing by evading Aggie defenders and scoring an implausible first quarter TD early in Mizzou’s 38-31 OT win over Texas A&M in Week 9.
20. Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
If you like YAC (yards after the catch) then get ready to enjoy watching Clemson’s freshman sensation WR Sammy Watkins impersonate a bullet coming out of a gun in the Tigers historic 38-24 win over Auburn in Week 3.
19. Totally Denied
Mississippi State’s QB Chris Relf is shut out of the end zone in the closing seconds of the Bulldogs Week 2 showdown with Auburn.
The Tigers win 41-34 and the tale of two seasons kicked off with a heavy dose of foreshadowing.
18. Two Points the Hard Way
Behind 20-27 in the fourth quarter, San Jose State blocked a Hawaii extra point and Spartan Duke Ihenacho returned the ball the length of the field for two points. Ihenacho apparently injures something during the thrilling run but grits his teeth, evades would-be defenders and scores anyway.
SJSU went on to win the game 28-27.
17. Catch Me If You Can
If you want to experience jaw dropping speed then check out Florida’s Jeff Demps playing the part of a rocket in this 84-yard magnum opus for a TD in the Gators 48-10 Week 4 beat-down of Kentucky.
16. Sack and Score
This is one of two touchdowns scored by South Carolina’s DE Mark Ingram in the Cocks Week 2, 45-42 win over Georgia. Things get started when DE Jadeveon Clowney whaps Bulldog QB Aaron Murray and finishes fruitfully when Ingram ladles up the ball and takes it to the house.
15. Look Mom! One Hand!
In yet another outstanding show of athletic ability, Auburn’s Philip Lutzenkirchen makes a thrilling one-handed grab and then switches the ball to his other hand to extend it over the goal line for a “holy crap” touchdown.
The play came in the Tigers Week 9 beat down of Ole Miss.
14. The Naked Ref Imposter Bench Emptying Brawl
Paying tribute to the fact that real life is better than fiction, here’s the one where a fight breaks out after a fake ref comes off the sidelines, calls a play dead, then takes off all his clothes and streaks down the field.
In a season filled with bizarre off-season issues, here’s an on-field fiasco to complement a wacky 2011.
You simply can’t make up something this good.
Oh yeah, Arizona went on to win the game 48-12.
13. Wam! Bam! Touchdown M'am!
In Syracuse’s Week 5, 19-16 double-overtime loss to Rutgers, Orange LB Dyshawn Davis whacks the Scarlett Knight back, Ri’Shard Anderson scoops up the fumble and reels off a 66 yard run to score.
Don’t miss the great block towards the very end of the play.
12. D-II Magic
First things first, this clip has all the top-ten plays from Week 9. Even though it’s a fabulous reel of highlights, we’re just concerning ourselves with No. 10 which is up first.
The runner is Dennis Carter from Minnesota State who runs three different directions and 53 yards for his second TD of the first quarter of the Mavericks 27-26 win over Augustana.
Carter’s work of art is hard to beat, regardless of how many “I’s” come after your “D”.
11. Catch of the Year
Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill makes perhaps the best catch of the season in the Yellow Jackets' Week 4 35-28 win over North Carolina.
This grab has been officially rated “sick” by the college football catch association of America.
10. I Won’t Go Down
Though the final play of the 2011 edition of Virginia Tech vs. Miami FL was stirring enough to be on the list, this little gem from the Hokies’ David Wilson is hard to beat.
Wilson absolutely refuses to go down not once but twice in perhaps the best 12-yard run of the season.
Virginia Tech ultimately won the game 38-35.
9. “The Play” circa 2011
A game-ending Marcus Bratton punt return, complete with lateral, lifted NAIA UVA Wise to a 33-30 win over Division III in one of the most thrilling plays of the season at any level.
8. From Zero to 92 Yards in 12 Seconds
LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu’s electrifying 92-yard punt return in the Tigers Week 13’s clash with Arkansas is completely explosive.
The TD evened the score betwixt the Razorbacks and Tigers. The momentum ultimately carried LSU to a 41-17 win and a perfect season.
7. Rumbling, Stumbling But No Bumbling
Oh, the irony, when the school leading the nation in passing comes up with one of the best rushing plays of the season.
Houston’s Michael Hayes' 38-yard bashing masterpiece helped lift the Cougars to a monumental 38-34 win over UCLA in Week 1.
6. Drop, Cross and Score
Arkansas’s Joe Adams could easily be mentioned in the top 25 most exciting plays at least twice but his Week 2 punt return vs. Missouri State is flat-out sick.
Adams initially muffs the punt and then evades virtually the entire Bears coverage squad to score a scintillating 78-yard touchdown.
5. The Immaculate Deflection
Proving that talented people can get lucky too, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III connects with Kendall Wright on an 84-yard touchdown with the help of perhaps the greatest (and longest) deflection in college football history.
The third quarter play tied the Bears and Sooners at 24 apiece. It ultimately led to Baylor’s titillating 45-38 Week 12 (and first ever) win over Oklahoma.
4. Umm…David Wilson…Holy Crap!
When a guy runs over 125 yards for a 19-yard gain you have to see it to believe it.
After watching this highlight, David Wilson will make believers of us all by defying logic in his tour-de-force rushing performance in Virginia Tech’s Week 5 triumph over Clemson.
Yes, David Wilson deserves to be on our list at least twice.
3. Hail Ohio State
Proving once and for all that lightening can indeed strike twice, Ohio State’s freshman QB Braxton Miller scrambles and throws a 40-yard Hail Mary pass to ice Wisconsin in their Week 9 clash in Columbus.
Thrilling and heartbreaking all in the same breath.
2. Wolves Shock Clovers
Capping off perhaps the best two minutes of football in recent history, Michigan QB Denard Robinson’s 16-yard TD pass to WR Roy Roundtree with two ticks left on the clock sealed an unreal 35-21 Week 2 Wolverine win over Notre Dame.
1. Hail Michigan State
A worthy candidate for both the best single play and most fantastic finish of 2011, the Spartans thrilling deflection-ridden Hail Mary play to ice Wisconsin in the final seconds of their Week 8 clash is beyond belief and tops our list.