NCF Nation: Comeback Kid

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

The following is a list of 10 of the non-BCS' top clutch performers. This list is in no way comprehensive. There are too many players who have made too many clutch plays to create a comprehensive list. But these players were responsible for some of the most clutch performances in college football.

Joe Montana, QB, Notre Dame -- Notre Dame's comeback kid produced six major come-from-behind victories, including the infamous Chicken Soup Game where he slurped chicken broth during an ice Cotton Bowl to stave off hypothermia and the flu.

Roger Staubach, QB, Navy -- Was dubbed "Captain Comeback" in the pros with the Dallas Cowboys, but the legend started at Navy in 1962 when Staubach led Navy to two wins over Army and won the Heisman in 1963.

Jared Zabransky, QB, Boise State -- Led the Broncos to a perfect 13-0 season in 2006, including throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime win against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

George Gipp, TB/QB, Notre Dame -- One of the Irish's best athletes to ever play. Battling injury and illness, Gipp scores the game-winning touchdown to stave off an Indiana upset bid in 1920.

Jeff Ballard, QB, TCU -- Led TCU to an 18-point comeback to beat BYU 51-50 for the Mountain West championship in 2005. Ballard had thrown just one pass in his career prior to the game but went 8 of 12 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Ballard was 19-2 as a starter.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU -- Tomlinson put TCU back on the map helping it end a 41-year bowl drought in 1998. If a play needed to be made, Tomlinson was the one to get the ball.

Robbie Bosco, QB, BYU -- Led the Cougars to a 24-17 fourth-quarter comeback victory over Michigan in the Holiday Bowl to give BYU its first national championship in 1984.

Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State -- The other half of the dynamic duo that led Boise State to a win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006. He rushed for 101 yards, a touchdown and scored the game-winning two-point conversion.

Jim McMahon, QB, BYU -- Led BYU back from a 20-point deficit with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter against SMU in the Holiday Bowl. The game would later be called the "Miracle Bowl."

Davey O'Brien, QB, TCU -- One of the most decorated athletes in TCU history. In 1939, he threw a touchdown pass and kicked a field goal to beat Carnegie Tech 15-7 in the Sugar Bowl and earn TCU a national championship.

Notre Dame defines clutch

August, 1, 2008
8/01/08
12:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

There are few football teams in the country that dredge up as much emotion as Notre Dame because there are few teams that have been as historically clutch when the game is on the line.

For decades, the Irish have kept fans and non-fans glued to their radios and televisions for late-game heroics against insurmountable odds. It makes Notre Dame one of the most beloved and hated teams in all of sports; everyone wanted the luck of the Irish:

The Game of the Century.

Win One For the Gipper.

The Chicken Soup Game.

Time and time again Notre Dame has been down only to shock out a win in the final seconds. There are so many clutch moments in Notre Dame history that books and movies have been produced. Sports bars around the country pay tribute to them. And fans reminisce about the games that formed the Notre Dame legend.

Notre Dame created the Comeback Kid, Joe Montana, after the 22-point fourth-quarter deficit he overcame against Houston in the 1979 Cotton Bowl.

Notre Dame invented the Hail Mary pass on a last-second play to beat Ohio State.

Notre Dame inspired George Gipp to play through the injury and illness that would ultimately lead to his death.

If you want to talk historically clutch, Notre Dame might not be at the beginning of the conversation, but there's little doubt that it will be at the end of it.

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