The Best Plays of 2009: Choosing the field of 16

I wrote in the Rocky Top Tennessee 2010 preseason magazine/book/annual that the 2009 season was a bit like throwing up after your favorite meal; whatever goodness it held going down, the ending soured the whole thing. Even a faint whiff of the formerly appealing makes you want to hurl again.

That's a real shame, though, because there were actually some great football moments in 2009. Because the positive memories of 2009 are vulnerable to extinction in light of how the season ended (and because it's summer), we decided to go ahead with a Best Plays of 2009 Bracket even if it sometimes conjures up bad memories along with the good.

Every season, I compile a list of highlights -- plays that are scores, runs over 10 yards, receptions over 20 yards, big hits, etc. For the 2009 bracket, I've already pared that list of 264 plays down to the following thirty-six, and now it's up to the RTT community at large to select the field of 16.

The candidates:

 

WKU_8 (2nd and 0) Bryce Brown rush for 2 yards to the WKU0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 13:41.
WKU_21 (1st and 10) M. Hardesty rush for 43 yards to the WKU0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:28.
UCLA_14 (3rd and 9) Prince, Kevin sacked for loss of 2 yards to the UCLA0 (Rogan, D.), Rogan, D. safety, clock 01:41.
Florida_6 (2nd and 16) [shotgun/1 back], Tebow, T. left flat pass intercepted by Eric Berry at the UF20, Eric Berry return 0 yards to the UF20.
Florida_12 (2nd and 6) [shotgun/2 backs], Tebow, T. rush over right end for 11 yards to the UT2, fumble forced by Montori Hughes, fumble by Tebow, T. recovered by UT Dennis Rogan at UT2, Dennis Rogan for 35 yards to the UT
Florida_18 (3rd and 4) [shotgun/0 backs], Tebow, T. crossing pass incomplete to James, B. (Janzen Jackson). BIG HIT.
Ohio_11 (3rd and 29) Scott, T. pass intercepted by Chris Walker at the OHIO7, Chris Walker return 7 yards to the OHIO0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:23.
Auburn_1 (1st and 10) Richardson, N. rush for 41 yards to the AU24, 1ST DOWN UT (Thorpe, N.).
Auburn_13 (2nd and 7) Crompton, J. pass complete to Hardesty, M. for 31 yards to the AU0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 11:36.
Georgia_4 (3rd and 3) Cox, J. pass intercepted by Chris Walker at the UT44, Chris Walker return 0 yards to the UT44 (Gerald Williams), QB hurry by Dan Williams.
Georgia_6 (2nd and 0) J. Crompton pass complete to Gerald Jones for 6 yards to the GA0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 13:10.
Georgia_8 (1st and 10) J. Crompton pass complete to Denarius Moore for 33 yards to the GA0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 11:29.
Georgia_14 (1st and 10) M. Hardesty rush for 39 yards to the GA0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 04:06.
Georgia_16 (1st and 10) J. Crompton pass complete to Gerald Jones for 51 yards to the GA0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:59.
Georgia_19 (4th and 1) Cox, J. pass complete to Moore, M. for 7 yards to the UT40, fumble forced by Art Evans, fumble by Moore, M. recovered by UT Eric Berry at UT40, Eric Berry for 46 yards to the GA14 (Glenn, C.). BIG HIT.
Alabama_1 (3rd and 5) Greg McElroy RF pass incomplete, QB hurry by Berry, E.. BIG HIT.
Alabama_12 (1st and 10) Mark Ingram rush over left tackle for 5 yards to the UA43, fumble forced by Berry, E., fumble by Mark Ingram recovered by UT Rogan, D. at UA43.
Alabama_13 (3rd and 5) Crompton, J. crossing pass complete to Jones, G. for 11 yards to the UA0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 01:19.
Alabama_14 (1st and 0) Lincoln, D. kickoff 11 yards to the UT41, on-side kick, recovered by UT on UT41.
Alabama_15 (2nd and 15) Crompton, J. deep pass complete to Stocker, L. for 23 yards to the UA27, 1ST DOWN UT (Robby Green).
South Carolina_1 (3rd and 8) Garcia, S. pass complete to Cunningham, J. for 14 yards to the SC43, fumble forced by Jackson, J., fumble by Cunningham, J. recovered by UT Williams, D. at SC43.
South Carolina_4 (1st and 10) Hardesty, M. rush for 14 yards to the SC0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 11:00.
South Carolina_6 (2nd and 10) Garcia, S. rush for 7 yards to the SC29, fumble forced by McCoy, R., fumble by Garcia, S. recovered by UT Rogan, D. at SC29, Rogan, D. for 7 yards to the SC22, out-of-bounds.
Memphis_1 Oku 69-yard kickoff return
Memphis_6 (2nd and 0) J. Crompton pass complete to Gerald Jones for 17 yards to the MEM0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 09:32.
Memphis_11 (1st and 10) J. Crompton pass complete to Luke Stocker for 23 yards to the MEM0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 11:11.
Memphis_16 (3rd and 3) Hudgens, W. pass intercepted by Eric Berry at the UT6, Eric Berry return 7 yards to the UT13 (Rucker, M.;Singleton, C.) (Dennis Rogan).
Memphis_24 (1st and 10) J. Crompton pass complete to Denarius Moore for 16 yards to the MEM0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 12:38.
Vanderbilt_10 (3rd and 6) Crompton, J. pass complete to Moore, D. for 11 yards to the VU0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 03:16.
Vanderbilt_11 (2nd and 4) Crompton, J. pass complete to Stocker, L. for 16 yards to the VU0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:05.
Vanderbilt_17 (3rd and 2) Adams, M. pass intercepted by Brown, W. at the VU25, Brown, W. return 25 yards to the VU0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:03, QB hurry by Walker, C..
Kentucky_7 (1st and 10) M. Hardesty rush for 13 yards to the UK0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 03:54.
Kentucky_20 (3rd and 5) M. Hardesty rush for 20 yards to the UK0, 1ST DOWN UT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 15:00.
Virginia Tech_6 (2nd and 0) M. Hardesty rush for 4 yards to the VATECH0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 06:43.
Virginia Tech_10 (3rd and 19) Taylor, T pass intercepted by Janzen Jackson at the TENN23, Janzen Jackson return 29 yards to the VATECH48 (Wang, E).
Virginia Tech_11 (1st and 10) J. Crompton pass complete to M. Hardesty for 47 yards to the VATECH1, 1ST DOWN TENN (Chancellor, K).

 

Everybody has different criteria for what constitutes a good play. Some judge exclusively on individual effort, some on team effort. Some account for context and the importance of the play to the outcome of the game. Some mix and match and go primarily on gut.

That's all part of the fun, I think, and so I won't impose any particular criteria for selection. So leave your top 16 in the comments below. At the very least, note the handful you really believe should be included. If you're having problems remembering any of these, ask away.

And just for posterity's sake, here are the winners from the last several years: 2008, 2007, 2006.

 

So . . . who should make the field of 16 in 2009?

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