<
>

The 25 most iconic Big Ten plays of the past 10 years: Nos. 21-25

There are usually well over 100 plays in any given football game. A few big plays always stand out.

Of those, only a tiny fraction stand the test of time as truly iconic. Plays so monumental, memorable or just plain unusual that they become the stuff of legend.

All this week, we'll be looking back and ranking the 25 most iconic plays involving a Big Ten team in the past decade. That includes everything from the beginning of the 2006 season until the end of the 2015 postseason. We'll count down five per day until we reach No. 1.

Today, we go from No. 21 to No. 25:

No. 21: Nortman’s fake punt foils Hawkeyes, Oct. 23, 2010

Never put anything past Bret Bielema. We learned that lesson again in 2010, when the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers trailed the No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes on the road in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin lined up to punt on fourth-and-4 from its own 26, a spot on the field where no one thought Bielema would be bold enough to try a fake. But he sure did, and Brad Nortman ran 17 yards up the field for a crucial first down. The Badgers went on to score the go-ahead touchdown, won 31-30 and went on to the Rose Bowl. Bielema had the last laugh against his alma mater.

No. 22: Dennis Dixon fakes the Statue of Liberty in the Big House, Sept. 8, 2007

A week after Michigan lost to Appalachian State at home in a stunning upset, the Wolverines suffered another humbling loss at the hands of Oregon. The Ducks won big and did it in style, especially in the second quarter. Quarterback Dennis Dixon pulled off the Statue of Liberty play, handing off to Jonathan Stewart for a 15-yard gain. Oregon followed that up with the rarely seen fake Statue of Liberty, as Dixon kept the ball himself and ran for a touchdown. Michigan got undressed, and the dawn of the Chip Kelly era had been revealed.

No. 23: Tyler Sash's pinball interception, Nov. 4, 2009

Iowa's undefeated season looked to be on the rocks against Indiana. The Hoosiers had a 14-point lead and were threatening to grow that margin after advancing to the Hawkeyes' 2-yard line. Instead, safety Tyler Sash made a crazy, unforgettable, game-changing play.

They call it the pinball interception, because Sash caught the ball after an Indiana pass attempt bounced off at least four players (view it at the 1:39 mark of this video). Sash knew what to do with it when he got it, racing 86 yards the other way for a touchdown that ignited a comeback victory. Sash, who died last year at age 27, also ignited another iconic interception return with his pick and lateral to Micah Hyde against Michigan State in 2010.

No. 24: Abdullah's mad dash saves Huskers, Sept. 7, 2014

If you thought the BYU loss this past season was bad, imagine the embarrassment Nebraska would have endured had it lost at home to FCS McNeese State.

That looked like a very real possibility in 2014. Until, that is, Ameer Abdullah put on his Superman cape. The Nebraska star running back caught a third-down pass short of the sticks and looked to be stuffed as two, then three more would-be tacklers encircled him. Somehow, though, he emerged from those piles still churning his legs, and Abdullah ended up going 58 yards for the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left. He saved the Huskers that day and let the rest of America know what a special player he was.

No. 25: BYU's Hail Mary against Nebraska, Sept. 5, 2015

No. 25 on our list is something very recent and probably still a little painful for Cornhuskers fans. In the 2015 season opener -- the Nebraska debut of Mike Riley -- Nebraska seemed headed for victory at home, as it had done in Week 1 for 29 straight years. But BYU had a miracle up its sleeve.

Backup quarterback Tanner Mangum, who had replaced the injured Taysom Hill in the fourth quarter, uncorked a 42-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Mathews on the game's final play for a 33-28 Cougars upset. Mangum went from virtually unknown to a hero overnight, and Nebraska's strange year of baffling finishes had begun.