Only 17 days separate us from the 2014 college football season and we’re looking to fill the void by reminding our readers of the best times from the 2013 season.
We don’t promise it’ll completely quench your thirst for the brand new season, but these top 10 plays in the SEC from 2013 is the perfect reminder of just how exciting the best conference in college football can be.
10) A ‘War Eagle’ Moment in the BCS Championship
It was – what many thought – the game-winning touchdown in the BCS Championship. Auburn’s Tre Mason pulled off a clutch 39-yard touchdown run, complete with a shifty juke in the backfield and a few broken tackles along the way.
Mason exploded in the BCS Championship with 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His 39-yard TD run gave Auburn a late four-point lead with just over a minute left, but the defense was unable to hold off Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles as they captured their first National Championship since 1999.
9) 95 yards for Johnny Football and Mike Evans
In desperate need of a touchdown to try and come back against the Crimson Tide, the hopes of Texas A&M rested on the shoulders of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans. They didn’t disappoint.
Manziel delivers a beauty of a deep ball to his No. 1 target and Evans makes the normally stingy Alabama defense look silly with a stiff-arm and sprint into the end zone.
8) A One-Handed Catch by Marquez North
A 23-21 upset of No. 11 ranked South Carolina was the bright spot for the Tennessee Volunteers in 2013, who finished with a 5-7 overall record and 2-6 conference record.
The best play from that game?
A 39-yard dime dropped by quarterback Justin Worley in a crowd of three South Carolina defenders, topped off by a spectacular one-handed snag from wide receiver Marquez North.
7) Kevin Norwood Stretches Out
Even though the game was in-hand for the Alabama Crimson Tide, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little flashy. Senior wide receiver Kevin Norwood provided a highlight-worthy play with a ridiculous backward diving catch against a helpless Tennessee defensive back.
Give credit to A.J. McCarron for throwing a ball that only his receiver could get to, but Norwood’s ability to turn on a dime and keep his concentration while stretching out for the ball is what makes this play one of the best from 2013.
6) Beckham Toes the Line
This gem by LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will bring back good memories for Tiger fans. He actually was covered pretty well for most of the play, but Beckham had enough and imposed his will on the Iowa defensive back.
The outstretched, one-handed catch as he keeps his feet inbounds further showcased the incredible talent Beckham Jr. possesses. It was highlight-real catches like this one that further convinced NFL teams to think so highly of Beckham Jr., as he was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft just a few months later.
5) Manziel Demolishes Duke
Amassing more than 450 yards, Johnny Football proved to be too much to handle for the Duke Blue Devils in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Manziel, who has become accustomed to dazzling the country with incredible plays seemingly every week, was able to create one of his best on a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter of the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl
Of course, this is old hat for SEC fans, but it never gets old to watch.
4) Chris Conley for Six
Perfectly executing a goal line fade is no easy task since there is little margin for error. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray delivers a delicious dime to wide receiver Chris Conley against the Vols in this top play.
Not only does Murray put it where only Conley can catch it, but the Dallas, Ga. native pulls off an incredible jump and turn with a one-handed snag to complete the catch. This play leaves no doubt that “the Force is strong with this one.”
3) Johnny Football Makes Alabama Look Silly…Again
If ever a play defined Johnny Manziel, it would be this one against Alabama. An eight-second scramble that takes him backwards about 20 yards with a heave that has his momentum going the opposite direction that is completed for a first down.
Yeah, that sounds about right. It might have been a lucky outcome more than anything, but as CBS’ Gary Danielson aptly put it, “That was a shocking play!”
2) Auburn’s Hail Mary Bites the Bulldogs
I’m sure if you told somebody that this Auburn hail mary would be the second-best play of the year not only in the SEC, but for Auburn, they probably would have thought you were crazy.
4th and 18 with one timeout left on their own 27-yard line meant one thing…Auburn needed a miracle. And that’s exactly what they got, thanks to Georgia safety Tray Matthews and a fortunate bounce of the football to Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis, who caught it perfectly in stride on his way to the end zone.
But the best is yet to come for Auburn.
1) Iron Bowl Madness
One second made all the difference.
The ironic aspect of this entire sequence is that Alabama head coach Nick Saban brought this upon himself by challenging the previous play, which resulted in putting one additional second on the clock at the end of regulation.
Instead of attempting a hail mary to the end zone, Saban opts to kick a field goal, which in hindsight may now be considered the biggest mistake of his coaching career.
What followed was the unthinkable and arguably one of the most memorable plays in the history of college football.