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The top non-AQ games of the decade

1/20/2010

It’s fun to look back on some of the more memorable games of the past decade and see what certain wins did for certain teams.

For Boise State, its win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl made it nationally known. Navy’s win over Notre Dame in 2007 was one of the greatest in program history. And the Holy War between BYU and Utah has provided many fantastic finishes. It’s hard to pick just 10 classic games from the non-AQ teams, but here are the ones I felt deserving of recognition:

1.The 2006 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State came from behind to defeat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. The game was won on a Statue of Liberty play that was used on the two-point conversion. The game is considered one of the greatest in college football history.

2.The Bush push: On one of the most famous plays ever, USC running back Reggie Bush pushed quarterback Matt Leinart into the end zone with seconds remaining to beat Notre Dame 34-31 in 2005. It was part of eight consecutive USC wins over the Irish.

3.The 2008 Sugar Bowl: The Utes jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter against Alabama and never looked back, beating the SEC runner-up 31-17 and giving the non-AQ teams some much needed credibility.

4.Carrying the team: Against Akron is 2002, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich suffered a broken shin and had to be carried by linemen to the line of scrimmage after long passes. Leftwich rallied his team to a 17-point comeback, but the Thundering Herd still fell short.

5. Smooth sailing: In 2007, Navy defeated Notre Dame 48-45 in triple overtime to notch its first win over the Irish since 1963. The Midshipmen won at Notre Dame again in 2009.

6.BCS bowl bound: In 2007, with a BCS bowl berth on the line, Hawaii trailed Washington 28-7 in the second quarter and rallied with 28 consecutive points to win 35-28 and earn Hawaii’s first-ever BCS bowl berth.

7.Miracle in Murfreesboro: Troy trailed 20-7 with less than 3 minutes to play and rallied to win 21-20. The win cost Middle Tennessee the Sun Belt title and gave Troy the first of what would be four consecutive Sun Belt crowns.

8.Handling the situation: Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski broke his throwing hand in the first half of the MAC championship game against Miami in 2004, and came back to throw three second-half touchdown passes to lead the Rockets to a 35-27 win.

9.The Holy War: John Beck threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jonny Harline with no time remaining to give BYU a 33-31 win over rival Utah in 2006. The Cougars won on similar late-game heroics in 2007. Both games gave BYU the Mountain West title.

10.Troy’s first upset: Offensive lineman Junior Louissaint scored on a 63-yard fumble recovery to help Troy to a 24-14 win over No. 25 Missouri in 2004. Troy, then a fourth-year FBS program, declared it the biggest win in program history.