The final day of 2021 will see both College Football Playoff semifinals kickoff as we march towards the national championship game.
As a whole, the year was a wild one as watched teams try to find a way into the four-team playoff. Teams that were expected to contend for the CFP faltered right out of the gate. Heisman front runners fell off the map and we saw one of the wildest coaching carousels in recent memory.
From sissy blue shirts to wild upsets, there are plenty of moments to reflect back on from the football season in 2021. Here is our list of 10 very memorable moments of the year.
The wild coaching carousel
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After the first game of the season, it felt like Ed Orgeron wasn’t going to last at LSU. By mid-October, he would sign a separation agreement for the end of the year. Right off the bat, we knew USC and LSU jobs would be open but no one saw Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oregon, Miami, Washington, Washington State, TCU, and Texas Tech all coming open. In all 28 new hires were made. Not sure we will see another wild carousel like this for some time.
Notable Coaching Changes:
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame to LSU
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma to USC
Mario Cristobal, Oregon to Miami
Billy Napier, ULL to Florida
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What makes the game of college football so great is the upsets that you didn’t see coming. After Florida State took Notre Dame right down to the wire, who knew that an upset was brewing with Jacksonville State? The Seminoles led 17-7 in the fourth quarterback but a touchdown as time expired gave the Gamecocks the win.
Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17
Kansas 57, Texas 56
Purdue 27, No. 2 Iowa 7
Purdue 40, No. 3 Michigan State 29
Illinois 20, No. 7 Penn State 18
Heisman Front Runners Stumble
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Heading into the season all the talk surrounded two quarterbacks for the Heisman Trophy race with Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. Neither lived up to the expectation and Rattler was benched and then transferred to South Carolina. As we see every year, the finalists come out of nowhere for the most part. No one had Kenny Pickett as a finalist before the season but he made it to New York, but Bryce Young walked away with the award.
Fake recruit gets into the Texas A&M locker room
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A huge upset that didn’t do much in the grand scheme of things was the Texas A&M shocker over the Alabama Crimson Tide. To this point, Alabama’s only loss of the year but didn’t prevent them from reaching the playoff or winning yet another SEC championship. The Aggies celebrated this one heavily as Jimbo Fisher kept his word about beating his former boss. However, the game itself wasn’t the most memorable moment of the night.
How a 22-Year-Old UTSA Student Faked His Way Into Texas A&M’s Post-Alabama Locker Room
RJ Johnson of Sports Illustrated broke down how a student found his way into the locker room after the huge win. Even better that he wasn’t even a student at Texas A&M.
“I didn’t buy tickets to the game at all,” Sunderland says. “I had no plans to go to the game. This VIP pass that I found, it’s not even to get into the game, it was an event for a local radio station in College Station. I should not have gotten into everywhere I got into.”
The return of Bob Stoops
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One of the more shocking moments came when Bob Stoops stepped back onto the football field to take over for the Sooners. Following the departure of Lincoln Riley and several assistants, it left a void at the top of the Oklahoma football program. Not only did he step away from the analyst desk at Fox Sports, but he led the Sooners to a win over Oregon in the Orange Bowl.
Tyrion Davis-Price sets new school record against Florida
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It was a wild high-scoring affair when the Florida Gators came to Baton Rouge looking for redemption from the fog game of 2020. That game was headlined by a thrown shoe and a kick from Cade York. In 2021 it was the Ty Davis-Price game as he rushed into the record books. His 287 yards set an LSU record and were the most rushing yards allowed by Florida since Herschel Walker.
What was even more impressive was the fact that LSU struggled in the run game all year up until this point. They ran the same play over and over and the Gators just couldn’t stop it. It was one of the reasons both Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham lost their jobs.
Jonathan Garibay kicks Texas Tech into bowl eligibility with a record field goal
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It was a tie-ball game between Texas Tech and Iowa State when the interim head coach sent his kicker Jonathan Garibay onto the field. The team was one win away from bowl eligibility and time was winding down in the fourth quarter. Rather than trying a desperation hail mary, Sonny Cumbie called for the 62-yard field goal attempt. Turned out to be the longest game-winning field goal in FBS history.
Here's what Jonathan Garibay's incredible field goal looked like from our vantage point. pic.twitter.com/sYMIhSR2iS
— Red Raider Nation (@RedRaiderNation) November 14, 2021
Cade York sets a Tiger Stadium record twice in one night
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He is one of the best kickers in LSU history so it should come as no surprise to see Cade York converting record kicks for the Tigers. He set a career-long with his game-winner over Florida in 2020. In 2021 he set and broke his own records in Tiger Stadium history. Against McNeese, York nailed a 55-yard field goal to set the stadium record. In the fourth quarter, he broke his own record when York nailed a 56-yard attempt.
Jim Harbaugh gets the monkey off his back
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It finally happened. Jim Harbaugh finally faced his demons and defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in ‘The Game’. After last season many thought it might be time to replace Harbaugh after a very lackluster season. He took a pay cut and bet on himself for 2021. Despite yet another loss to their in-state rivals, Michigan State, the Wolverines made it all the way to the College Football Playoffs. They rode the momentum after beating the Buckeyes 42-27 in Ann Arbor.
Deion Sanders proved he can compete with the Power Five
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Deion Sanders got into the college ranks as the head coach at Jackson State and brought the Tigers to the brink of a championship. However, the biggest thing Coach Prime did in 2021 was take away the No. 1 recruit in the country from his alma mater. Travis Henry was ranked as the No. 1 prospect of the class and was committed to Florida State. In the early signing period, Sanders got Henry to sign with Jackson State in one of the biggest signing day flips ever.