When you think of the spread offense over the last decade (2000-2009), there have been some specific games and moments that have helped solidify this offensive style as the most dynamic and exciting offense over the past 10 years. In addition, on the defensive side of the ball there have been a few important stops against spread offenses that have helped define the need for a new style of defense.
Lets take a look of some of these moments and games over the past decade:
1) Appalachian State University vs the University of Michigan -September 2007
The 2007 Appalachian State vs Michigan game was held on September 1, 2007 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
It pitted the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines against the two-time defending champions of the Division I FCS (1-AA), the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
In what was hailed as one of the biggest upsets in all of sports, the Mountaineers shocked the Wolverines 34–32. It was the first win by a team in Division I FCS team over a ranked team in Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) since the NCAA split the divisions in 1978. The game has been referred to by one sports writer as the 'Miracle in Michigan'.
Appalachian State ran a potent spread offense, lead by sophomore quarterback Armanti Edwards. Many college football experts credited the spread offense system that ASU ran as the ultimate equalizer and the reason for the win.
The game made the front page of The New York Times, which called the game "one of the biggest upsets in college football history" and drew a comparison to David and Goliath.
2) University of Pittsburgh vs West Virginia University - November 2005, December 2007
November 2005 - The 98th version of the Backyard Brawl saw WVU dominate a much slower PITT team 45-13, as admitted by head coach Dave Wannstedt: "They're just faster then us out there, we need to get faster in order to compete".
Pat White rushed for a record 220 yards and two scores, while Steve Slaton rushed for 179 yards and two scores in the game for the potent WVU spread offense.
December 2007 - The 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl had national implications, with West Virginia ranked #2 in the BCS, all they needed was a win over there rival PITT to get into the BCS Championship game vs Ohio State. The Mountaineers were a 4 touchdown favorite in the game.
With the Mountaineers dominating the two previous match-ups in 2005 and 2006, Dave Wannstedt and his defensive staff engineered a great game plan, boxing in the high powered spread option offense of West Virginia, not allowing any big plays as in previous years.
After the 13-9 upset victory, Wannstedt reflected back on the comments he made after the 2005 game, "I guess we finally got faster".
3) University of Oregon vs University of Michigan - September 2007
This game was Michigan's worst defeat since 1968, a 39-7 loss in Ann Arbor. Dennis Dixon threw for 368 yards and a career high 4 touchdowns passes, he also rushed for 76 yards and one touchdown.
The Ducks led 31-7 at halftime, and faced little opposition in the second half. According to Oregon coach Mike Bellotti the game was a "good win because I think there were some questions about how Michigan was going to bounce back, and whether we would be competitive. I think our players took that to heart." This game caused Michigan to open the season with two home losses, both to spread offense teams featuring dual threat quarterbacks.
4) West Virginia University vs University of Georgia - Sugar Bowl, January 2006The 2006 Sugar Bowl featured the Big East champions, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the SEC champions, the Georgia Bulldogs. The game is thought to have raised the Big East's profile in the wake of losing 3 members to the ACC, and being called by some in the media as 'The Big Least'.
The game was played in Atlanta as the Louisiana Superdome was still unfit to host a game in the months after Hurricane Katrina. Georgia was favored by 2 touchdowns, and had a home field advantage playing in Atlanta.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese proclaimed the win the most significant football victory in conference history because it gave credibility back to the revamped league.
True freshman Steve Slaton, now with the Houston Texans in the NFL rushed for 204 yards and three TDs in a 38-35 win for WVU.
5) University of Florida vs University of Oklahoma - BCS Championship, January 2009
Tim Tebow's two touchdown passes and Percy Harvin's two-yard run led the Florida Gators to their second BCS National Championship in three years. The Gators defeated the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-14, in front of a record crowd of 78,468 in Miami.
Urban Meyer became the first coach to win two BCS championship games, and one of only five coaches in NCAA history to win two titles in his first four years at a college.
Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford, two high profiled spread offense quarterbacks combined for four interceptions in the game despite throwing for just eight combined over the course of the regular season.
6) New England Patriots vs New York Giants - December, 2007
In their final regular season game, the 15-0 Patriots traveled to Giants Stadium, trying to win a record 16th game of the season. With the game scheduled to air on NFL Network, not available on some cable providers, the NFL arranged a three-way simulcast of the game with CBS and NBC, the first time an NFL game was broadcast on three networks, and the first national simulcast of any NFL game since Super Bowl I.
The high powered pro spread offense of New England lead by Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker won a hard fought 38-35 game. In this game, Randy Moss set the record for most touchdown receptions in a season with 23, and Tom Brady set one for touchdown passes with 50.
These teams met again in Super Bowl XLII a month later, with the Giants upsetting the Patriots 17-14.
7) Texas Tech University vs University of Texas - November 2008
Number 5 ranked Texas Tech led the Texas Longhorns for most of the game, and by as much as nineteen points at one point. Texas rallied to take a one-point lead with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game.
Graham Harrell's last pass of the game was to wide receiver Michael Crabtree who caught the ball near the right sideline and somehow broke away from two Longhorn defenders to scamper in for the winning score with second left to play. The extra point gave Texas Tech a 39–33 lead with one second remaining.
8) University of Texas vs University of Southern California - BCS Championship, January 2006
The University of Southern California (USC) entered the game with a 34 game winning streak, the longest active streak in Division I-A, having won the 2004 BCS National Championship.
Texas brought the second longest active winning streak into the game, having won 19 straight, and also entered as Rose Bowl defending champion, having defeated Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl. Their combined 53 game win streak was an NCAA record for teams playing each other.
Vince Young, possibly the most dynamic dual threat quarterback in NCAA history accounted for 467 total yards (passing and running) in the championship game, which is the best performance ever in a BCS Championship game.
Facing 4th and 5 from the 9 yard line on the games final drive, Young received the shotgun snap and found his receivers covered. He then scampered towards the right sideline and received a critical block from WR Justin Blalock as he won the footrace to the end zone. The score, Young's third rushing touchdown of the game, gave the Longhorns a one point lead with 19 seconds left in the game. Young successfully reached the end zone again on the following two point conversion, giving the Longhorns a 41–38 victory.