I love seeing fear in the eyes of an opposing team's players and fans.
Fear, and how a team can collectively deal with it, can truly determine the mental toughness and fortitude of a college football program. Some programs perpetually choke in the face of danger. Others are able to stand above the panic of a busted play and move forward to victory.
This list attempts to compile plays that completely horrify, demoralize, and devastate a team's players, coaches, and respective fan bases.
Florida State vs. N.C. State - It seems like every season, Florida State is built up by fans and the media as a national championship contender until some other team comes along and pops that balloon. This season, it was Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon who led his team down the field against the vaunted Seminoles' defense, throwing a 2-yard strike to Bryan Underwood on fourth-and-goal with less than a minute left in the game to crush Florida State's national title hopes.
BYU vs. Hawaii - No team on either side of the ball enjoys watching a football player get seriously injured during a game. So it must have been extremely chilling for the Hawaii Warriors' fan base to see both defensive tackles -- Geordon Hanohano and Siasau Matagiese -- go down and get carted off the field, both as a result of helmet-to-helmet hits in the first quarter. Thankfully, according to ESPN.com, team officials said that both players had movement in their limbs and that X-rays were negative.
Texas vs. Oklahoma - The Red River Rivalry is always an exciting game, full of wild plays and controversial play calling. The best example this in 2012 was the special teams score by Texas' Quandre Diggs. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones and running back Blake Bell led the team down the field for the first score of the game, sending Sooner fans into a frenzy. However, OU kicker Michael Hunnicutt's extra-point attempt was blocked. Diggs picked up the live ball and returned it for the 2-point score. Rather than breaking under the pressure of the shifting momentum, the Sooners stepped up and didn't allow Texas to score another point in the first half. OU would go on to win the game.
Baylor vs. West Virginia - West Virginia's first game in the Big 12 was against Baylor. By the end of the game, both teams had scored a combined 133 total points. However, the Mountaineers had their fans pretty scared seconds before the end of the first half when Baylor quarterback Nick Florence took advantage of WVU's poor defense, throwing a 67-yard strike to Lanear Sampson to tie the game 35-35. West Virginia ended up pulling away for the victory 70-63.
USC vs. Stanford - Any team that plays the Cardinal should be deathly afraid of running back Stepfan Taylor, especially a USC Trojans team with national title aspirations. Despite crowding the line of scrimmage several times throughout the game, Taylor ran for 153 yards, which included a 59-yard touchdown run where Taylor juked and danced through several poor USC tackles for the score. The play left both USC players and fans horrified. From there, the Trojans were too shell-shocked to come back and win the game.
Information and stats for this article were taken from ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Aaron David Harris is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He also covered sports in Michigan for four years at The Battle Creek Enquirer (in Battle Creek, MI). Visit him at www.aarondavidharris.com.
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