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A memorable non-BCS season in 2008

1/14/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
It's time to start putting the 2008 season to bed, but I wanted to look back on some of the defining moments that made the 2008 non-BCS season memorable. These are from my point of view. I know there are tons of things to remember about this season, but these are a few things that that stick out in my mind about my first season covering this beat (in no particular order):

•The Sugar Bowl: It started with Bob Bedont, the voice of the Utah Marching Band, pumping up the modest Utah crowd and it ended with one of the most surprising and unbelievable performances I've seen all season. Anyone who watched the game knew they were seeing something very special.

•Notre Dame at North Carolina: I was standing on the field for the final plays of the game, dodging oranges that were being hurled toward Notre Dame players from UNC fans in the student section. It was one of the biggest meltdowns of the season, but only a forecast of things to come.

•The band cart: I saw this play on TV, but it's hard to get the image of Houston wide receiver Patrick Edwards running full speed into a band cart just off the end line at Marshall that snapped his leg and ended his season out of my head. The play sparked all sorts of controversy about safety in C-USA.

•BYU pummels UCLA: At the time, this was one of the most ridiculous outcomes of the season. BYU made UCLA look like a junior varsity team and got a ton of national notoriety because of it. That was the best game Max Hall played all season.

•The Hail Mary: There were a couple Hail Mary plays this season, but two stick out in my mind -- Middle Tennessee quarterback Joe Craddock's pass to Malcolm Beyah to beat Florida Atlantic as time expired and Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy's pass to Naaman Roosevelt to beat Temple.

•Watching history: I was standing in the middle of Buffalo's celebration of the MAC title at Ford Field and looking back toward the stands and watching Willie Evans, a member of the 1958 team, take in the scene from the sideline with a mixture of happiness, sadness and pride.

•The blackout: With the exception of the Sugar Bowl, Utah's game against TCU in Salt Lake City might have been the loudest game I went to all season. Most of the crowd wore black and when Utah quarterback Brian Johnson led the Utes on the game-winning drive, the fans were so excited that it shook the press box.

•Notre Dame's loss to Syracuse: It's hard to top this game in terms of disappointing outcomes. Syracuse came into Notre Dame Stadium with two wins, rallied from a 23-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 24-23. It was an unbelievable scene and one that put Charlie Weis on the hot seat with fans and boosters.

•Boise State at Oregon: The Broncos came into the game without a true road win over a BCS team during the regular season. Led by freshman quarterback Kellen Moore, Boise State rolled through the Ducks as the Oregon struggled to find a quarterback.

•East Carolina at Virginia Tech: I was standing on the sidelines when T.J. Lee blocked a punt and ran it back 27 yards for the game-winning score with 1:52 left in a 27-22 upset win over the 17th-ranked Hokies. It was the beginning of a special run for the Pirates and really an early display of the level of play the non-BCS as a whole would show against their BCS brethren.