Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The 30 most significant Big 12 moments of 2008
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I've always liked those montages at the end of the year where videographers come up with a bunch of snapshots or highlights that encapsulate an event with a number of images.
It made me think if I could do something similar for the Big 12 this season - boiling down the conference's 2008 campaign into the 30 most significant moments of the football season.
Here are my choices. Let me know if you think I've forgotten any.
They aren't ranked in any immediate order, although some assuredly are more important than others.
- Michael Crabtree's catch -- Catapulted Texas Tech into a share of the South Division title for the first time in school history with his game-winning 28-yard TD grab with one second left over Texas. It also ended Texas' national title hopes only a second away from four victories over top-12 teams in succession.
- Blake Gideon's dropped interception -- Without this drop against Texas Tech, we might not have had Crabtree's heroics on the following play.
- Sam Bradford's soaring, spinning leap -- Although he didn't score a touchdown on this play against Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma quarterback showed Heisman voters his toughness and moxie that helped set him apart in a crowded field of contenders and eventually won him the award.
- Jordan Shipley's kickoff return -- Texas looked lost against Oklahoma until this 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown pushed them back into the game and an eventual 45-35 comeback victory.
- Ryan Reynolds' injury -- Oklahoma's defense wasn't the same after the middle linebacker went down with a season-ending knee injury early in the second half - particularly on Chris Ogbonnaya's 62-yard run that led to Texas' clinching score later in the game.
- Oklahoma's blizzard of points against Texas Tech -- It would be hard to boil down the Sooners' domination to a single play, but Travis Lewis' late 47-yard interception return that set up the last of the Sooners' five second-quarter touchdowns was pretty big in a 65-21 drubbing of the Red Raiders.
- Alex Henery's record-setting kick -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini had faith that Henery could deliver and his school-record 57-yarder provided the game-winning margin against Colorado and propelled the Cornhuskers to a New Year's Day bowl berth.
- Orakpo schools Loadholt -- On a succession of plays in the second half, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo simply manhandled massive 6-foot-9 Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, turning around momentum in Texas' victory.
- DeMarco Murray's hamstring injury on the first play of the Big 12 title game -- The Sooners didn't miss him in their easy Big 12 title game romp over Missouri, thanks to big efforts by backups Chris Brown and Mossis Madu. The national championship game against Florida might be a different story, however.
- Colt McCoy's touchdown run against Rice -- His 8-yard TD charge plowing over a hapless Owl defender for Texas' first score indicated the new power that McCoy was going to exhibit. He didn't stop until he eventual became the leading rusher on his team.
- Pinkel doesn't go for it -- After marching 83 yards on Missouri's first possession to the Oklahoma State 1-yard line, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel inexplicably fails to go for a fourth-and-goal on the Tigers' first drive. The Tigers get a field goal, but the Cowboys are emboldened by the defensive stop and use that momentum for a 28-23 upset victory.
- Robert Griffin's athleticism -- The hope for Baylor's future belongs in this montage somewhere, like maybe his 58-yard TD run against Washington State that capped a memorable 11-carry, 217-yard effort against the Cougars.
- Missouri crushes Nebraska in Lincoln for the first time since 1978 -- Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel hooked up with Jeremy Maclin on a 58-yard touchdown pass on the third play from scrimmage, sparking the Tigers' 52-17 victory at Nebraska. The victory helped push Missouri to the Big 12 title game in back-to-back seasons.
- Aric Goodman's game-winning kick against West Virginia -- It earned the Colorado walk-on kicker a scholarship after a 17-14 overtime victory, but it was followed by slump of eight straight missed field goals over the next seven-plus games.
- Gene Chizik's "I love Ames" rant -- Chizik affirmed his commitment to Iowa State on Nov. 17, saying "Anyone that knows myself, my wife, my family, they know that we are firmly entrenched here in Ames. We love this university. We love who we work for. We love this football team. We love this community." Twenty-six days later, he would bolt for the head coaching job at Auburn.
- Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe's catch against Texas -- The best reception I saw in a college game this season.
- The collapse of Kansas State's defense against Louisville -- I'd had loved to have an image of the Wildcats running at home in the middle of the night under orders from former coach Ron Prince - an event from which the beleaguered Wildcats never seemed to overcome.
- Chase Coffman hurdling over a tackler -- When healthy, the senior Missouri tight end might be the most productive tight end in the conference's history.
- Bo Pelini's sideline penalty against Virginia Tech -- Helped show the kind of fiery leader he would be, but also cost his team an early game at stealing a game against the eventual ACC champions.
- Dez Bryant's four-TD game against Houston -- Nine receptions, 236 yards, three TD grabs and a punt return for another score against Houston helped show Bryant's versatility in Oklahoma State's explosive offense.
- An end-zone interception by Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek -- The conference's most underrated player always seems to have a knack of being around the ball, leading the conference in tackles and tying for the lead in interceptions.
- Von Miller's horse-collar tackle on Rodney Stewart -- Not only did the Texas A&M linebacker's tackle break Stewart's leg and cost Colorado its chance to win the Nov. 1 game against the Aggies, but likely kept them out of a bowl game after the season-ending injury, too.
- Chris Brown's late TD run against Oklahoma State -- His 28-yard TD run with 25 seconds left pushed the Sooners to their eventual 61-41 margin of victory over the Cowboys. There's no telling
how much that late score meant to their BCS rankings - and perhaps to their eventual charge to the Big 12 title game over Texas and Texas Tech.
- Graham Harrell's gutsiness -- His second-half performance with nine separate breaks in his non-throwing hand - without an injured Michael Crabtree, to boot - helped lead Texas Tech to a 35-28 comeback victory over Baylor and tied the school record with 11 wins in a season.
- Jamar Wall's interception against Nebraska -- The game-saving pick enabled by Wall enabled the the Red Raiders to escape with a 37-31 overtime victory.
- Jake Sharp's TD grab against Iowa State -- The Jayhawks were in a 20-0 halftime hole and listless offensively before Jake Sharp was inserted into the lineup late in the first half against the Cyclones. He snagged a 67-yard TD grab early in the second half and accounted for 177 second-half yards to spark the Jayhawks to a 35-33 victory over the Cyclones. It was Kansas' biggest comeback of the season and pushed him into a role as Kansas' featured back.
- Reesing-to-Meier again and again -- Two late TD passes from Todd Reesing to Kerry Meier in the final 4:26 sparked Kansas' 40-37 victory over Missouri in the latest game between the two bitter traditional rivals.
- Darcel McBath's three interceptions in a quarter -- Texas Tech's senior safety picked off Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing three times in a span of four passes to spark the Red Raiders' 63-21 beatdown.
- The coach's son comes through -- Cody Hawkins rifles four second-half touchdown passes to spark Colorado's 28-24 victory over Iowa State. The game was settled when Colorado's D.J. Dykes and Jimmy Smith turned Alexander Robinson a yard away from the end zone on the game's final play. It was quite simply the best game in college football this season that nobody ever heard about.
- Texas A&M's struggles against Arkansas State -- Two missed field goals of 32 yards or less by Richie Bean set up the comeback, but Stephen McGee's interception by Ben Owens on the next-to-last play of the game enabled the unheralded Red Wolves to escape with a season-opening 18-14 upset. The Aggies finished the season 4-8, failing to beat any other Big 12 South Division opponents for the first time in school history in a lackluster first season for Mike Sherman.