Big 12: Torrance Marshall
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.
- 1. Vince Young's game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl: Anyone who was there or saw it will never forget Young's 8-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left that led Texas to a 41-38 triumph over USC and the 2005 national championship.
- 2. Michael Crabtree's last-second grab stuns Texas: Crabtree's game-winning 28-yard catch with one second left did more than merely wrap up the biggest victory in Texas Tech history, a 39-33 win over Texas. It heralded a national coming-out party for Crabtree and the rest of the Tech program, setting the stage for the wild three-way South Division tie in 2008.
- 3. Superman's leap: Roy Williams' dramatic blitz forced Chris Simms to throw an interception to Teddy Lehman, who returned it for the game-winning touchdown in Oklahoma's 14-3 triumph over Texas in 2001.
- 4. Torrance Marshall's theft saves the season: Texas A&M was driving, but Marshall's 41-yard fourth-quarter interception return provided a game-winning touchdown and a 35-31 triumph over the Aggies at Kyle Field. The big play preserved Oklahoma's victory in the Sooners' toughest challenge en route to the 2000 national championship.
- 5. Eric Crouch's catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma: Crouch's 63-yard TD reception on a throwback pass from freshman receiver Mike Stuntz was Crouch's signature moment on his path to the 2001 Heisman Trophy and sparked a 20-10 triumph over Oklahoma.
- 6. Darren Sproles sparks Kansas State's stunning 2003 Big 12 title game upset: Darren Sproles rushed for 235 yards -- the most gained against an Oklahoma defense ever to that point -- and Ell Roberson added four touchdown passes to help Kansas State claim its first Big 12 title in a 35-7 upset over No. 1 Oklahoma.
- 7. Hunter Lawrence's kick pushes Texas into national title game: Despite a sputtering performance by Colt McCoy that included nine sacks and three interceptions, Texas held on for a 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the 2009 title game on a 46-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence on the final play of the game. Lawrence's game-winning kick came only after McCoy nearly squandered the opportunity by throwing the ball out of bounds on the previous play as the clock originally appeared to have expired. Officials put time back on the clock, setting the stage for Lawrence's heroics.
- 8. Chris Brown gashes the Cornhuskers: Colorado running back Chris Brown ripped Nebraska for 198 yards and six touchdowns, boosting the Buffaloes to a wild 62-36 victory over Nebraska that snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Cornhuskers. Brown's big game sent the Buffaloes to the 2001 Big 12 title game, which they won the following week against Texas.
- 9. Postgame clash of the titans: Oklahoma State's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech in 2007 produced one of the most memorable games in Big 12 history. The teams compiled 94 points, 62 first downs and 1,328 yards. But all of the action on the field was upstaged in a wild postgame battle of soundbites when Mike Leach questioned the toughness of his defense and Mike Gundy berated an Oklahoma City columnist who he felt had unfairly portrayed quarterback Bobby Reid.
- 10. Kyle Field's nod to patriotism: Texas A&M's 21-7 victory over Oklahoma State wasn't what was so memorable. It was that the Aggies fans decked out Kyle Field in red, white and blue in the first game after the 9/11 attacks on the country in 2001. Thousands of fans transformed the old stadium into a patriotic rainbow in a memory that endures to this day.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Is there an exact moment that can be pinpointed as the turning point of a national championship season?
My colleagues Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach have done a great job of looking at a special moment that helped turn the season for every national championship team since 1984.
The Big 12 was well represented. No moment was bigger than Oklahoma linebacker Torrance Marshall's key interception at Texas A&M that rescued that game for the Sooners en route to their 2000 national championship.
The Sooners were the country's only unbeaten team when they traveled to Texas A&M with an 8-0 record. After Oklahoma fell behind 31-21, tailback Quentin Griffin scored on a 2-yard run to make it 31-28 with 7 minutes, 43 seconds to play. Twenty-five seconds later, Sooners linebacker Torrance Marshall stepped in front of Mark Farris' pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown and a 35-31 victory. Marshall's first career interception helped the Sooners win in College Station for the first time since 1903.
I still remember covering that game. I don't think I've ever heard Kyle Field as quiet, with the exception of the small collection of Oklahoma fans who were tucked into a corner of that mammoth facility on that day.
Other key Big 12 moments that were included were Matt Davison's kicked pass reception that helped save Nebraska's season at Missouri in 1997 and Vince Young's late TD pass to Limas Sweed that propelled Texas' key comeback victory at Ohio State in 2005.
Big 12 schools are also represented for their championships claimed before the conference was formed in 1996. Troy Aikman's broken leg that forced Oklahoma back into the wishbone helped turn the Sooners' season in 1985, Colorado's fifth-down victory at Missouri in 1990, Nebraska's Orange Bowl redemption en route to the 1994 title and Tommie Frazier's remarkable 75-yard TD run against Florida the following season are highlighted.
It's great series that has a lot of neat multimedia tricks. Check it out for some good memories about Big 12 championship teams.
And are there any other plays or moments that might help define those Big 12 championship seasons?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma's dynasty under Bob Stoops wasn't built on fancy offensive attacks that rolled up yards and produced point-a-minute scoring totals.
At its very peak when the Sooners claimed the 2000 national title, Oklahoma had a solid offensive attack. But the Sooners' major claim to fame was a bruising defense that was seldom dented by opposing teams.
Players such as Rocky Calmus, Roy Williams, Torrance Marshall and Derrick Strait dotted the Sooners' roster back then. In those days, Oklahoma's means of stopping opponents was about as subtle as a roundhouse punch.
Those days appear to be long gone as the Sooners are struggling through the worst statistical defensive season of Stoops' 10-season coaching tenure. The Sooners have already allowed 298 points, more than in any season since 1997. And their 249.7 yards per game allowed through the air would be the worst mark in the school's records, which date to 1937.
Those figures have intensified scrutiny on a defense that has allowed at least 28 points in six of its last seven games heading into Saturday's championship game against Missouri.
The Tigers' chances will likely depend on getting into a shootout with the Sooners' explosive offense. Quarterback Chase Daniel keys an explosive attack that ranks fourth nationally in scoring and passing and sixth in total offense, which might give Missouri a chance to upset the Sooners.
And considering that third-string linebacker Mike Balogun will be making his first career start after playing only 20 snaps earlier this season, the Sooners' defense could have a weak link in the middle.
Such talk has caught the attention of the Sooners as they prepare for Saturday's game.