Big 12: Jared Zabransky

Yards to Glory: Sooners' Fiesta shocker

August, 3, 2011
Monday we began a week-long project looking at the most famous touchdowns from 100+ yards down to one yard, and we'll be taking a look at each of the Big 12 entrants on the blog throughout the week.

You can see the full project here.

Oklahoma came up short in one of the greatest games in college football history, but the Broncos' famed hook-and-lateral takes home the title of the greatest 50-yard score ever. The Sooners will see the man who made this play call often. Bryan Harsin was a first-year offensive coordinator in this game, and now calls plays for none other than the Texas Longhorns.

Forde, by the way, drops a glorious Little Giants reference for all to enjoy.

Jan. 1, 2007: Boise State's sandlot scoring spree to win the Fiesta Bowl 43-42 against Oklahoma ended with a Statue of Liberty play and included a halfback pass. But the play it began with was the most amazing of all -- a hook-and-lateral from midfield with seven seconds left, forcing overtime. Facing a fourth-and-18 and trailing by a touchdown, the undefeated, underdog Broncos appeared beaten until Jared Zabransky fired a 15-yard pass to Jerard Rabb, who then lateraled to Drisan James, who streaked 35 yards down the sideline untouched. Best play call this side of the Annexation of Puerto Rico.

-- Pat Forde

Mack talks Boise-OU, coach-in-waiting

March, 8, 2011
The New York Times' Pete Thamel spoke to Texas coach Mack Brown for a wide-ranging Q&A about the state of his program as spring practice heats up in Austin, and I'd encourage you to head over and check it out.

The two most noteworthy nuggets from the Q&A?
  • Brown admits he handled the coach-in-waiting situation with former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp the wrong way.
  • He went to bed before his new offensive coordinator called three of the most famous plays in college football history and didn't see them until later.

Muschamp left to become Florida's head coach after the season, likely one of only a handful of jobs that could have pulled him away from Texas. But what Brown hoped would add some stability to his program ended up becoming a liability.
"Will and I, when we got into the coach-in-waiting thing, we did it for the right reasons. I did it with [athletic director] DeLoss [Dodds] and Bill Powers because I thought it was a corporate move that kept people in place. It worked for us for two of the three years, we were second in the country and third in the country," he said. "In retrospect, there really has to be a one-year limit. Will is too good of a coach to stay here, and there’s some question marks that pop up: ‘How long am I going to stay?’ It got to, ‘Mack’s tired. Mack’s old. When is he going to quit?’ I don’t think it works well unless it’s one year, two years max and there’s a set plan in place. We didn’t have a plan. I think that’s another thing that made it very difficult last year. It set up questions on the outside for the kids to have to answer last year."

That's no big surprise, and he's right. It was a good idea in theory, but the murmurs of Brown retiring got louder last season, and if the coach-in-waiting deal hadn't been in place, I doubt that would have been the case. With a plan, it can work, but the open-ended situation at Texas clearly caused more problems than it fixed. Additionally, though Muschamp left on good terms, he did it with terrible timing for the Longhorns. You can't blame him for leaving, of course, but doing so on a big recruiting weekend and during an offseason in which Texas already needed to replace three coaches at the time -- eventually five -- was not what the Longhorns needed.

As for new coordinator Bryan Harsin, you can't blame Brown. Even I thought the game was over when Marcus Walker intercepted Jared Zabransky to complete a comeback that featured 25 consecutive Sooner points, putting Oklahoma ahead 35-28 with just over a minute to play.

Brown, however, elected to go to bed.
"My son called me and said, ‘What about that play?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘You can’t believe Boise. Unbelievable.’ I said, ‘Chris, what are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I went to bed.’ He said, ‘Get up, you have to see this," Brown said.

Boise State tied the game with a hook-and-ladder play that scored from 35 yards out with seven seconds to play. After Oklahoma scored in overtime, the Broncos scored on a halfback pass and won the game with a famous Statue of Liberty play that ended with Ian Johnson celebrating in the end zone, chucking the ball into the stands and eventually proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend on national television after the 43-42 win.
"That’s what I mean, who makes that call? He was 29 years old," Brown said. "Most people kick the extra point. They went for 2. They had guts and that’s what I want. Greg Davis did a great job here, he did a great job for us at North Carolina. That’s 15 years of some of the best offenses in the country. We’ve been averaging the same number of points as Boise. After he resigned, I decided that I just love what they do and I can’t wait to see it at Texas."

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.