March 17, 2021
Top 10 Luckiest Plays in College Football
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, The College Football Hall of Fame shares a list of the top 10 luckiest plays of all time, proving there is a little “luck o’ the Irish” for everyone. Whether it's a Hail Mary pass, a near impossible deflection or a blocked punt, college football fans know that crazy luck is often the only hope you have. For those on the losing end (we’ve all been there), you can’t dwell on what might have been, but rather, embrace that luck, because you never know when you might need it. Here’s a nod to the lucky (or superiorly skilled as some may claim), may your team find that four leaf clover on the field again some day.
10.) Ole Miss. vs. Alabama, 2015 –Trying to make it two in a row against Alabama the tide turned in the Rebels’ favor during a freak play in the 3rd quarter. Starting with a high snap that Ole Miss QB, Chad Kelly, was able to reel in, his pass ricocheted off intended receiver Laquon Treadwell, then bounced off the Alabama defensive backs covering him finally descending into the waiting hands of another Rebel receiver, Quincy Adeboyejo for the unlikely completion. Ole Miss went on to beat Alabama 43-37 in Tuscaloosa.
9.) Tennessee vs Arkansas, 2011 – Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2011 season came when Arkansas wide-receiver Joe Adams fielded a punt at his own 40-yard line, retreated 11 yards, shook off seven tackle attempts and weaved through the Volunteers’ coverage unit on his way to an incredible 60-yard touchdown return. Arkansas beat Tennessee in a lopsided victory, 49-7.
8.) Miami vs. Duke, 2015 – Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk led the Blue Devils to a late drive against Miami, which resulted in a 1-yard rushing touchdown. With six seconds remaining Miami came back with one of the luckiest kickoffs in college football history, on a play that lasted an impressive 49 seconds, Miami lateraled eight times, going back to their own 3-yard line before reversing the field, down the sideline to score. The play was immediately put under review, and after the Canes rushed the field from the benches the officials called a block in the back on Miami that would have resulted in a 10-yard penalty and wiping out the touchdown. They also reviewed whether a Miami player was down during the play. Ultimately the officials determined no Miami player was down and the Miami player had a legal block, this gave the Canes the 30-27 victory at Wallace Wade Stadium.
7.) Georgia Tech vs. Florida State, 2015 – The unranked Yellow Jackets managed to keep pace with the undefeated Seminoles, who entered the game ranked 9th in the country, the entire game and with just six seconds to go, Georgia Tech blocked Florida State’s potential game winning field goal and returned it 76 yards for the upset.
6.) Boston College vs. Miami, 1984 – More than 30 years later, Doug Flutie's Hail Mary still ranks as not only the greatest play in Boston College football history, but as one of the top plays in all of college football history. The 2007 Hall of Fame inductee’s 48-yard pass to Gerard Phelan on the game's final play capped an epic performance in the Orange Bowl, dubbed the "Miracle in Miami." Check it out here.
5.) University of Alabama vs. University of Georgia, 2018 – Jalen Hurts led Alabama to the title game the previous year but fell short to Georgia. The next season he led them back to the championship. However, he struggled the first half, causing head coach Nick Saban to use his bench and bring in the freshman Tua Tagovailoa. In the second half he led a comeback, sending the game to overtime. After a costly sack, Tagovailoa threw an arching down the left sideline to future Heisman Trophy winner, Devonta Smith, who darted in the endzone giving the Tide a 26-23 victory.
4.) Appalachian State vs. Michigan, 2007 – Appalachian State stunned the football world, beating then-ranked No. 5 Michigan 34-32 at "The Big House." Many consider this to be the greatest upset in college football history and is the first thing that comes to mind for most fans when you talk about the Mountaineers. Of course, none of that would have been possible if it wasn’t for a blocked kick with six seconds to go that allowed App State to hold on to the lead.
3.) Boise State vs. Oklahoma, 2007 – In the biggest game in Boise State’s history, the underdog Broncos held their own against college football giant Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. With 18 seconds to go, the Broncos executed a perfect “hook-and-ladder” for a touchdown and with the extra point tied the game at 35-35. The Broncos went on to win in overtime, beating Oklahoma 43-42.
2.) Alabama vs. Auburn, 2013 – The Iron Bowl in 2013 had National Championship implications written all over it. In a play that must be seen to believed, Chris Davis of Auburn returned a short field goal attempt by Alabama for a 109-yard touchdown run.
1.) University of California vs. Stanford, 1982 –What is simply known as “The Play” included an improbable game-winning kick return. Stanford had the lead with four seconds to go, when the Bears completed five lateral passes around the Cardinal marching band prematurely celebrating on the field. Cal beat Stanford 25-20, in this 1982 classic.