Now that the 2010 football season is done let's have a little fun listing some of the good things to remember. Here’s my list of ten memorable events. Obviously, you can disagree* about the order or the content—that’s part of the fun.
* All the points you find objectionable were actually suggested by Poseur.
10. 85, but no score. Patrick Peterson had an 85 yard interception return in which he didn’t score. That’s hard to do. It was in the ULaMo game, which wasn’t competitive or memorable, but you still have to kneel before Zod.
9. TTT (The third T is for three). Terrence Toliver was a beast in the Cotton Bowl. For a single moment, take your pick of two 40 yard pass plays from Jefferson. I’ll pick his third TD, which made the game 35 -17 in the third quarter and left us in command. Toliver had 5 catches for 112 yards and 3 scores in his final game and earned Offensive MVP honors.
8. Zod as Heisman. Peterson brought another punt back to the end zone. This time it was vs. West Virginia. Then he got flagged for making the Heisman pose in the end zone. Then the ref apologized for penalizing him. Kneel before Zod.
7. Lightning strikes. The second quarter of the UNC game was surreal. It seemed like we scored every play. Actually, it was 23 points in 6 minutes, as Shepard scored on a 50 yard run, Nevis intimidated UNC’s center into a safety, Zod scored on a punt return, and Randle caught a bomb from Jefferson for another TD. Then the team left at halftime and UNC made a game of it late.
6. Flypaper for turnovers. Tyrann Mathieu had several “Wow!” moments during the season. He has an amazing knack for big plays. The one that’s most prominent in my mind wasn’t a game changer because we already had a commanding lead in the Cotton Bowl (see #9). Instead of tackling the Aggie receiver right as he caught the ball, Mathieu stripped him of the ball in a ridiculous move. His return for a TD was called back because of a penalty. If you weren’t impressed with this play, you can substitute Mathieu’s diving interception on the previous defensive play.
5. No. Again. I hesitate to put this on the list because it didn’t occur in a game. But the 2010 season will be remembered for Les Miles saying no to Michigan a second time. They can say all the face-saving things they want about not formally offering him the job (nod, wink), but we can read between the lines. As I consider all the comments about this over the last few days the theme that sticks out is loyalty. It’s loyalty to the school and the players, which leads to players having faith in the coach. If Miles called a team meeting and asked for a volunteer to kick in the nuts, the players would rochambeau each other to see who would get the honor.
4. Great clock management. Defense was optional in the second half of the Ole Miss game. So, when we trailed by 1 and had the ball with 5 minutes remaining, our team worked the clock to perfection. We methodically ran right over the Ole Miss defense, with Ridley scoring the game winning TD with 44 seconds remaining. OK, near perfection--Ridley kept his balance and scored a bit early. Write this down—Les Miles’s team had great clock management against Ole Miss.
3. Ridley after time expired. It’s a minor miracle that this isn’t the most memorable thing about the season. I nearly missed it because I was so pissed off about losing to Tennessee. I had already turned off my TV in disgust, but then I put it back on, and there was the ref, explaining that UT had 13 players on the field. Lost in the confusion is the great play by Ridley to score the game-winning TD on the untimed down. A linebacker squared up and met him at the goal line. Ridley ran right at him and won. We won. Lots of other people missed it because they didn't turn their TVs on again.
2. The Return of Lesticles. What is more memorable than that mayhem? How about a bounce pass fake field goal in which Josh Jasper escapes defenders behind the line of scrimmage and gets the first down. Then, with no time outs and under thirty seconds, Jarrett Lee finds Terrence Toliver twice, including the game-winning score with a few seconds remaining. The message boards during this sequence of events were an emotional roller coaster. Miles burns his last time out and sends out his kicker for a 50 yarder—he’s a moron who pissed the game away. The crazy fake works despite near disaster—but there isn’t enough time for LSU to score, right? Oh! Damn, that coach has a horseshoe up his ass. All hail Lesticles, who spits into the wind while tugging Superman’s cape. We had been missing moments like that.
1. The grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best. Believe it or not, there is something more memorable that the endings of the Tennessee and Florida games. It’s all because of Nick Saban. If it weren’t for Saban, beating Alabama wouldn’t mean as much. But with the game on the line, Lesticles rolled the dice, called a tricky play on 4th down. The tight end, Deangelo Peterson, took the pitch, got a block from the QB, and got a first & goal. Ridley (naturally) punched it in three plays later for the go-ahead points. Just to make it more memorable, cameras caught Les Miles reaching down to his feet, plucking a few blades of grass, and putting them in his mouth. If you only remember one thing from this season, it will be this—a trick play from Lesticles that leads to victory over Saban’s Alabama, and coach ate grass (WtF!). He later explained that it’s a routine that humbles him and makes him part of the game, but no one had ever seen it before. I think he just said that to mess with people’s heads, but I don’t know. I am pretty sure of this—the grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best.