Trick plays have been a big part of college football throughout its history.
There are several trick plays that football teams have attempted to run over the years such as the fumblerooski, flea-flicker, Statue of Liberty, hook and ladder, and fake field goal. However, my favorite trick play is the fake punt because there are so many options available to pull this play off.
Here are the top five fake punts since 2010:
1. North Dakota St. vs. Sam Houston St. (FCS Championship Game, Jan. 7, 2012)
The North Dakota State Bison, thanks in large part to a perfectly executed fake punt, earned their first ever FCS national title by defeating Sam Houston State 17-6. Trailing 6-3 with 13:27 left in the third quarter and facing a fourth-and-4 on its own 34-yard line, North Dakota St. punter Matt Voigtlander walked on the field. Voigtlander, who called for a fake punt after seeing an opening on the left side of the defense, scampered 27-yards for a first down (click to view video here).
On the very next play, North Dakota State would go ahead for good when running back D.J. McNorton turned a screen pass into a 39-yard touchdown reception.
2. South Carolina at Georgia (Sept. 10, 2011)
South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram scored his first two touchdowns in his career to help the 12th-ranked Gamecocks avoid an early-season upset (45-42). Ingram, who finished his collegiate career with three touchdowns, scored his first touchdown on a fake punt (click to watch video here).
Trailing 13-7 with 2:20 left in the second quarter and South Carolina facing a fourth-and-7 on its own 32-yard line, the Gamecocks lined up in punt formation. South Carolina's long snapper hiked the ball to Ingram, who rambled 68 yards for a touchdown that gave South Carolina a 14-13 lead. Ingram was lined up as an up-back in the formation.
Ingram returned a fumble five yards later in the game to pad the Gamecocks' lead to 10 points (45-35).
3. Michigan St. at Northwestern (October 23, 2010)
Down 24-14 and facing a fourth-and-11 on Northwestern's 36-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Michigan State head coach Mike Dantonio decided that in order for the Spartans to remain in contention for a Big Ten title his team needed to do something immediately. So he called fake punt that punter Aaron Bates executed perfectly. Bates, who took a couple of steps like he was going to punt the ball, hit wide receiver Bennie Fowler for a 21-yard completion to take the ball to the Wildcats' 16-yard line (click to watch video here).
Michigan St. would close the deficit and pull within three points with a touchdown later in the drive. The Spartans would add two more touchdowns in the quarter to claim a 35-27 victory.
4. Vanderbilt at Georgia, (Oct. 15, 2011)
In one of the best designed trick plays in recent memory, Vanderbilt perfectly executed a fake punt against Georgia.
Trailing 10-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Commodores lined up in punt formation. Vanderbilt put its fake punt into play when it shifted the right side of its offensive line to the left side, leaving long snapper Andrew East on the end of the line. After snapping the ball to backup punter Ryan Fowler, East got off the line cleanly and Fowler lofted the ball over the defense for a 35-yard completion (click to view video here).
The Commodores would score a touchdown on the possession to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 10-7. However, Georgia would score twice more in the quarter and take a 20-7 lead at halftime.
5. Washington at USC (Nov. 12, 2011)
USC punter Kyle Negette came up with the biggest play in the game by effectively carrying out a fake punt. Leading 7-3 midway through the second quarter and facing a fourth-and-9 from their own 45-yard line, USC head coach Lane Kifflin called for a fake punt.
Negette, standing on his 32-yard line, took the snap from the center and then showed the ball like he was going to punt before taking off through a huge hole that his offensive linemen opened up. Negette would plow over a Washington defensive back before being brought down at the Huskies' 22-yard line. Negette's 35-yard run was the Trojans' longest run of the game at that point (click to view video here).
USC went up 14-3 five plays later on a 1-yard plunge by running back Mark Tyler.
Daniel Benjamin has followed the Michigan Wolverines since 1991.
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