Big 12: Chrissy Popadics

Big 12 games of the decade

January, 20, 2010
Every football fan has a different definition of what makes a game great. Some fans might prefer defensive struggles. Other enjoy torrents of points.

The Big 12 has provided a few of latter -- and more -- over the last decade with some of the most entertaining games in recent college football history.

Here are my favorite 10 games of the past decade. There are 10 to 15 other games that legitimately could have been included on this list.

1. Texas 41, USC 38 (Jan. 1, 2006): The Longhorns claimed the 2005 national title with a dramatic comeback capped by Vince Young’s game-winning 8-yard TD run with 19 seconds left. Michael Huff’s critical fourth-down stop of LenDale White set the stage on the preceding drive. And many observers still think that Pete Carroll could have gone for a game-tying field goal attempt on the final play of the game if he hadn't squandered a timeout before a two-point try after Young's TD run.

2. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33 (Nov. 1, 2008): Michael Crabtree’s 28-yard touchdown reception from Graham Harrell with one second remaining capped the wildest victory in Tech history -- made even more improbable after Blake Gideon dropped an interception on the play before Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown.

3. Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (Jan. 1, 2007): The Broncos won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl by fooling Bob Stoops’ team with three gadget plays: a game-tying hook and ladder play in regulation, an option pass from wide receiver Vinny Perretta to Derek Schouman in overtime to pull within one point and a game-winning two-point conversion by Ian Johnson on a Statue of Liberty play. Johnson proposed to his girlfriend, Chrissy Popadics, on the field after the play. After all the excitement, of course, she accepted.

4. Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45 (Sept. 22, 2007): This classic offensive battle produced 62 first downs and 1,328 yards and wasn’t settled until Michael Crabtree dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone in the final minute of play. And we all still remember it more for the fireworks in the press conferences with Mike Leach and Mike Gundy than for what happened on the field, don’t we?

5. Oklahoma 35, Texas A&M 31 (Nov. 11, 2000): Torrance Marshall’s game-winning 41-yard interception return with 7:42 left enabled the Sooners to continue their charge to the 2000 national championship. Oklahoma overcame an 11-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and a 10-point hole with less than 9 minutes remaining. Marshall’s heroics gave the Sooners the lead and the Oklahoma defense did the rest, turning away the Aggies twice deep in Oklahoma territory late in the game.

6. Kansas 40, Missouri 37 (Nov. 29, 2008): Four lead changes in the final 6:52 made this game memorable, even though Missouri had already clinched the North title coming into the game. Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier hooked up five times on the game-winning drive, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left. Missouri had one last hope, but Jeff Wolfert’s 54-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game was partially blocked by Phillip Strozier.

7. Texas 13, Nebraska 12 (Dec. 5, 2009) : In a conference that made its national reputation with wild offensive battles, it was refreshing to see a defensive struggle in the 2009 Big 12 title game. Nebraska, keyed by a ferocious defense that forced three interceptions and sacked Colt McCoy nine times, appeared to have taken control on a 42-yard field goal by Alex Henery with 1:44 left. Ndamukong Suh sacked McCoy a championship-game record 4.5 times. But McCoy withstood the rush and drove the Longhorns for the game-winning field goal after a controversial officiating decision put extra time back on the clock after it appeared the Longhorns had squandered their chance to win. Hunter Lawrence’s 46-yard field goal as time expired gave Texas the victory.

8. Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35 (Nov. 6, 2004): The Longhorns were in a 35-7 hole late in the second quarter before Vince Young hooked up on a 4-yard TD pass to Bo Scaife shortly before halftime. That opened the floodgates, as the Longhorns scored touchdowns on six straight drives. Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and five touchdowns and Vince Young rushed for 123 yards and completed 12 straight passes at one point en route to a then career-high 278 passing yards. The Longhorns piled up 600 yards of total offense in the wild comeback, outgaining the Cowboys 266-to-minus-5 in the third quarter of the comeback.

9. Nebraska 40, Colorado 31 (Nov. 28, 2008): Alex Henery’s school-record 57-yard field goal with 1:43 left gave the Cornhuskers the lead for good in this classic that Colorado needed to win to qualify for a bowl game. And Ndamukong Suh foreshadowed his monster season to come by icing the victory with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown with 55 seconds left.

10. Baylor 35, Texas A&M 34 (Oct. 30, 2004): The Bears had been waiting for a long time for a chance to beat Texas A&M -- particularly after losing 73-10 to the Aggies in College Station the previous season. So it was understandable that Guy Morriss didn’t hesitate to go for the win after pulling within one point in overtime on Shawn Bell’s pass to Dominique Ziegler. Bell and Ziegler then hooked up again for the two-point conversion, snapping an 18-game winless streak to the Aggies.

Boise State's trickery bewitches OU in No. 5 Big 12 memory

July, 7, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin 

Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise's gadget plays doom Oklahoma

Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Place: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Score: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42

Few observers gave Boise State much hope against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Even with those daunting odds, the Broncos had a trick play -- or three -- up their collective sleeves to stun the Sooners in one of the wildest games in modern college football history.

The Broncos blew an 18-point lead late in the third quarter and twice came back from touchdown deficits -- once late in regulation and again in overtime -- to notch one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

The Sooners appeared to have the game salted away after cornerback Marcus Walker intercepted Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put Oklahoma ahead 35-28 with 1:02 left.

But the Broncos had a little trickery left. Facing fourth-and-18 in the final seconds of regulation, Zabransky hooked up with Drisan James on a crossing pattern at the Oklahoma 35. As Oklahoma tacklers converged, James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone with 7 seconds left to tie the game after the conversion.

That stunning ending only set the stage for overtime.

The Sooners got the ball first and scored on Adrian Peterson's 25-yard run on the first play of overtime.

Boise State answered with another gadget play. Wide receiver Vinny Perretta's fourth-down 5-yard touchdown strike to tight end Derek Schouman -- on a play where Zabransky went into motion and the direct snap from center went to Perretta -- pulled the Broncos within 42-41.

Boise State coach Chris Peterson then decided to go for the victory by going for a two-point conversion. On the play, Zabransky looked at three wide receivers to his right before handing the ball behind his back to tailback Ian Johnson, who ran untouched for the game-winning points.

To punctuate the victory moments after the game, Johnson asked his girlfriend, Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, to marry him.

Early in the game, Boise State proved it wasn't intimidated by the heavily favored Sooners. The Broncos struck first on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Zabransky to James.

And on the next series, defensive end Mike T. Williams sacked Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson who fumbled, one of his four turnovers in the game. Williams recovered at the Oklahoma 9-yard line.

Two plays later, Johnson rumbled in from 2 yards to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.

The Sooners charged back to 14-10 before Boise State scored again shortly before the half to extend the lead to 21-10 on a 32-yard pass from Zabransky to James.

Marty Tadman's 27-yard interception return extended the Boise State lead to 28-10 with 8:05 left in the third quarter.

But Thompson, who struggled with a career-high three interceptions, was determined to lead the Sooners back into the game. Oklahoma erupted for 25 unanswered points, going ahead on Walker's interception.

Included in Oklahoma's binge was another touchdown run by Peterson, who finished with 77 rushing yards in his final collegiate game. It was Peterson's first game back after missing more than two months due to a broken left collarbone.

But Boise State wasn't done, digging deep into its playbook to produce one of the most memorable bowl games in history.

They said it, part I: "Yeah, another day at the office, huh?" Boise State coach Chris Petersen after the Broncos' victory.

They said it, part II: "It would have been easy to give up on us with a minute left, but we still had a lot of magic left," Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky, after the Broncos' wild comeback.

They said it, part III: "I want to give them credit because I thought they executed it in a really good way. It's just the circumstances, the way it happened. They hit it perfect." Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, on Boise State's series of gadget plays.

They said it, part IV: "There was no better time," Boise State tailback Ian Johnson, telling the Associated Press about why he decided to make his postgame proposal to Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics on the field.

They said it, part V: "It might go down in college football as the best game -- ever." Zabransky on Boise State's late dramatics.

Factoids: Zabransky finished by passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Included were a pair of touchdown passes to James, who finished with 96 yards on three receptions ... Adrian Peterson finished his career with a touchdown on his final carry as a collegian ... Thompson completing 19 of 32 passes for 233 yards and two scores along with his three interceptions ... Ian Johnson rushed for 101 yards to lead Boise State ... The Sooners and Broncos combined for 22 points in the final 86 seconds of regulation ... Zabransky told reporters after the game that the Broncos worked on the hook-and-ladder play almost every day in practice, but it rarely worked against the Boise State defense because of their familiarity with the call ... Tadman produced two interceptions. 

The upshot: The victory capped off a 13-0 season for Boise State, finishing as the nation's only unbeaten team. The Broncos finished the season ranked fifth in the final Associated Press poll, far behind national titlist Florida (13-1).

Boise State was the fifth team since the BCS began in 1998 to go unbeaten and not win the National Championship. The others were Tulane (12-0, 1998), Marshall (13-0, 1999), Auburn (13-0, 2004) and Utah (12-0, 2004). Utah (13-0, 2008) became the sixth team.

Oklahoma's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak in 2006 for the Sooners, continuing their run of recent struggles in BCS bowl games. It was the Sooners' third-straight loss in a BCS game during an eventual streak that has reached five-straight BCS bowl-game losses.

The Sooners finished the season 11-3 and 11th in the final Associated Press poll.

The countdown:

6. Yes Sirr. Parker's heroics lead A&M to 1998 championship
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun t op-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. UT's Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.