Best of 2012: Top 8 Moments in College Sports
For many, college sports provides an escape from the everyday responsibilities: cleaning your dorm room, starting that research paper you’ve been putting off for weeks, or beginning the never-ending reading assignments for class (you know who you are!) The dedication, passion and tradition of college sports captivates its audience week in and week out, from the most disappointing defeats to the most rewarding victories.
As we look forward to a new year of buzzer-beaters, walk-off homers, and inspiring moments of courage and determination, we remember the year that was in college athletics. Here is our roundupof the best moments in college sports for 2012. Find out if your team made the list below!
8. Messiah Goes for 8
On December 1st Messiah College dominated Ohio Northern University 5-1 to win the Division III Men’s Soccer Championship in San Antonio. The win marked Messiah’s eighth national championship in just eleven seasons. The Falcon’s historic weekend was highlighted by the incredible play of Sophomore Mike Kovach, who scored Messiah’s game-winning goals in both its national semifinal and championship victories. As if that wasn’t enough for the Maryland native, Kovach earned the Most Valuable Player Award for the weekend.
7. Every Dog Has its Day
2012 was an unforgettable year for the Ferris State University Men’s Hockey team. The Bulldogs finished the season with 26 victories – the second most in school history – and they went on to the win the CCHA regular-season championship. They had a strong late-season surge in which they won 19 of their final 23 games headed into the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs made it all the way to the Frozen Four – the first time for Ferris State in the program’s history, and the first time any Bulldog team reached a national championship game.
6. Happy Valley Revitalized
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the death of the great Joe Paterno, draconian NCAA sanctions, and the loss of some of their best players to other prominent football programs, Penn State appeared to be a lost cause. Under the new leadership of Coach of the Year Bill O’Brien, the Penn State football program overcame adversity and a dismal 0-2 start to finish out the year 8-4. The Nittany Lions finished off the year with an emotional senior day victory against NCAA touchdown king Montee Ball and the Wisconsin Badgers.
5. Salberg’s Leap & Snag
It was May 25th, the first round of the NWAACC Baseball Championships between Lower Columbia College and Everett Community College. LCC was leading 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, with one man on base and two away, as Keone Kela of Everett stepped up to the plate and crushed a hanging pitch deep to left field. LCC outfielder Derrick Salberg ran back to the warning track, and what happened next was unbelievable: he launched himself over the fence and caught the ball in mid-air, winning the game.
4. Jack Taylor Makes History
On November 20th, Grinnell College basketball fans packed Darby Gymnasium in hopes of a victory over Faith Baptist. Little did they know they would witness history in the making. That night, Grinnell shooting guard Jack Taylor put up an astounding 138 points (seriously!) Taylor’s incredible shooting display shattered a 58-year-old NCAA record, and within hours of his record-setting performance, Taylor made national headlines, was trending on Twitter, and received high praise from NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
3. Shootout in Morgantown
It was September 29th, West Virginia’s first game as a member of the Big XII Conference, and everyone in Morgantown was at Milan Puskar Stadium (well, everyone except for the West Virginia and Baylor defenses!) The two teams accounted for 133 total points, over 1,500 yards of offense and several school and conference records. But, no star shined brighter than West Virginia Quarterback Geno Smith, who put up a school-record 807 yards of offense and threw 8 touchdowns, putting him on many early-season Heisman watch lists.
2. Final Border War Showdowns
2012 marked the final season of the Border War, a rivalry between the Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks dating back to the American Civil War (talk about bad blood!) In their first match-up of the season on February 4th, the Tigers overcame a late 8-point deficit with less than 3 minutes left in the game, beating Kansas 74-71. On February 25th, the Jayhawks welcomed the Tigers into historic Allen Fieldhouse with revenge on their minds. As the Tigers built up a 19-point lead in the second half, a Jayhawk victory appeared out of reach – but, they clawed their way back enough to force overtime, ultimately winning 87-86.
1. Johnny Heisman
The winner of our number 1 spot is (drum roll please…) none other than Johnny Manziel’s performance against then top-ranked Alabama. The Tide was widely expected to win, no contest. Manziel (a freshman!) accounted for 253 passing yards and two touchdowns in addition to 92 rushing yards. He embodied patience, confidence, trust and incredible athletic ability. His performance on that cool night in Tuscaloosa shocked the college football world and earned him the 2012 Heisman Memorial Trophy. He was the first freshman to ever win the award, and ultimately cemented his spot in college football history.
These moments in college sports were so incredible and inspiring, they would probably even impress Olympic Gold Medalist McKayla Maroney, and we all know that’s no easy feat!