With 2015 approaching it’s only fitting that we take in a nice dose of nostalgia and reflect back on the greatest college sports moments of 2014. There was no shortage of last second victories, incredible championship runs, upsets, and even heartwarming stories.
Mercer upsets Duke
It was just two years ago when No. 2 seeded Duke lost to 15 seed Lehigh in an embarrassment that rival fans will never let the Dukies live down. There was no way a double-digit seed could upset them in their first game of the tournament again, right? Wrong.
The 14th seeded Mercer Bears from the Atlantic Sun conference took it to the Blue Devils in a 78-71 upset. The Bears shot an impressive 55 percent from the field to secure the win and the hearts of America and all Duke haters.
ASU defeats USC on a last second Hail Mary TD
With only seconds left in the game and trailing by two points, Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici launched a 46-yard Hail Mary that receiver Jaelen Strong somehow came down with to beat the USC Trojans 38-34. The look on USC fan’s faces was priceless.
Union College wins first hockey national championship
Union College, a small program with no athletic scholarships and with an enrollment of 2,241, defeated perennial powerhouse Minnesota to capture their first national championship. The highlight of the title game was when The Dutchmen scored three times in a span of 1:54 during the opening period.
Their amazing feat is beyond comprehension, but does chalk up another one for the ‘little guys’ in sports.
Melvin Gordon breaking LT’s rushing record
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon made Nebraska’s defense look like they were from a Peewee football league. Gordon scored 4 touchdowns and rushed for 408 yards while breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s (TCU) FBS record for most rushing yards in a single game. The record has stood since 1999.
The most impressive aspect is HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY IN THE FOURTH QUARTER!
Vanderbilt walks off into College World Series final
With the bases-loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning and the game tied at 3-3, season long backup Tyler Campbell stepped to the plate. Campbell had only 21 at-bats that season but he seized the moment with an infield single that gave the Commodores a 4-3 win over Texas and sent them to the finals of CSW. Vanderbilt would go on to defeat Virginia for the championship.
UConn’s Cinderella run to the championship
In 2011, Kemba Walker put the Huskies on his back all the way to the national championship. In 2014, Shabazz Napier took the role as the leading man in the sequel where UConn would go on to one of the most historic Cinderella runs of all time as a seventh seed.
The Huskies needed overtime in the first round just to get past St. Joe’s which lead to wins over Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, and Florida to lead them to the title game against a freshmen lead Kentucky squad. Napier would pour in 22 points to lead the Huskies to their fourth national title.
Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison clutch streak of game winners
The 8th seeded Kentucky Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament with an unimpressive 24-10 record, and with starting five freshmen, there was little hope that they would turn it around. But something clicked.
After knocking off undefeated Wichita State in the second round, the young Kentucky squad went on a streak of closing out teams with game winners in the closing seconds.
In the Sweet 16, trailing archrival Louisville by 1, freshman Aaron Harrison hit a three in the corner with 39 seconds to go which ended up being the game winner. Two days later, tied at 72 with Michigan, Harrison would become Mr. Clutch again, when he hit a long three pointer with 2 seconds to go to send Kentucky to the Final Four.
But Harrison saved the best for last. Just one week later, trailing by two, Aaron Harrison hit a three from beyond NBA range, with 5 seconds remaining that would send Kentucky to the national championship.
Wichita State vs. Kentucky
The showdown between 35-0 Wichita State and the freshmen lead Kentucky team, who was pre-season No.1, was easily the best game of the NCAA tournament.
Like a heavyweight championship fight, both teams were delivering their best shot, but neither would go down. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field. However, it was the Shockers who would go down in defeat after Fred VanVleet’s three hit the side of the rim, giving Kentucky the 78-76 win.
Sometimes there are moments in sports which transcend personal accolades or what the scoreboard reads. One of those moments occurred this season with Lauren Hill, a freshman from Division III Mount St. Joseph’s.
Hill was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Doctors said she might not even make it to Christmas. But never underestimate perseverance through such tragic challenges. Hill wanted to live her dream of being a college basketball player so badly that she was able to muster up the strength to not only enter a game, but score 4 points against Hiram College.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn
The BCS era went out on top when these two juggernauts gave us one of the most exciting and climactic finishes in championship history.
No.1 ranked Florida State was taking on No.2 ranked Auburn and had hoped to end the SEC’s streak of seven straight national championships. Despite falling behind 21-3, Florida State, behind the arm of Heisman winner Jameis Winston, would make it a ball game.
There would be three touchdowns in the final 4:42 minutes of the game. The end was straight out of a Hollywood film.
Trailing by four and a little over a minute on the clock, Florida State would march down the field and score the game-winning touchdown on a pass from Winston to Kelvin Benjamin with only 13 seconds to go. The Seminoles finished the season unbeaten.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports, a surfing enthusiast, an unhealthy sports fanatic, and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like”CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
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