This past Saturday, college football had one of those days that make us all remember why we love sports. A great Michigan victory over Penn State on a touchdown pass with no time left on the clock was actually over shadowed by the epic USC-Notre Dame instant classic. The two games were played as the entire country switched back and forth between them with their remote controls, their emotions running high on every single play. It was a day to remember.USC-Notre Dame, Penn State-Michigan — Two games for the ages.
Penn State had come into the game at Ann Arbour last Saturday surprising many folks, as head coach Joe Paterno had led his Nittany Lions to a 6-O record and a No. 8 national ranking.
The game went down to the last play with the Wolverines scoring and taking a 27-25 victory away from Penn State. A game that was played on high adrenalin was not decided until that final pass play, which began with one second left.
Fortunately for Penn State the loss did not hurt them in the rankings, as the team held on to a No. 8 national ranking.
The Fighting Irish had their home crowd to give them that extra something for the daunting task of taking on the defending champion USC Trojans. The same Trojans that had a 27-game winning streak coming into the game. (They were not ranked number one in the nation because of their quarterback’s smile.)
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss kept the game closer than anyone expected, as his team held a lead throughout much of the game. Even with USC running back Reggie Bush doing his usual dominating, the Irish had USC on the ropes.
The game came down to USC having to convert a fourth and nine from their own 26 yard line. Matt Leinart called an audible at the line and barely completed a pass to Dwayne Jarret, who was able to get behind the secondary and turn it into a 61-yard gain.
The crowd at South Bend was still catching their breath when, later in the drive, Leinart was hit and fumbled the ball out of bounds at the one-yard line while scrambling towards the end zone. The clock showed 0:00, but the officials ruled that seven seconds remained after the fumble.
After the field was cleared of the people prematurely celebrating, a quarterback sneak proved to be the game’s final and winning play. Unbelievably, USC head coach Pete Carroll now raised his hands in victory only moments after Weiss made the same gesture on the opposite sideline. What seemed like a Notre Dame victory turned into a 34-31 defeat.
Obviously USC kept their No. 1 ranking in the Top 25. Notre Dame is ranked ninth. One could only guess where the two teams would be if the Notre Dame goal line defense could have kept Leinart out of the end zone on that keeper.
Days with sports events like these do not come around often. That’s why they are special and are remembered for so long. Great coaches, top ranked teams, clutch plays made by clutch players. One can only hope that next week’s games can make us forget the unforgettable.