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January 6, 2014

Say goodbye to the BCS with 8 memorable moments from its history

With college football introducing a four-team playoff next year, the Bowl Championship Series, introduced in 1998, comes to a close tonight when Florida State takes on Auburn for the national championship. Here's a look back at some memorable moments from the BCS era.

2006: Young's run

With 26 seconds left in the 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas quarterback Vince Young outsprinted the USC defense on a fourth-and-5 play and reached the end zone to give the Longhorns their first national championship since 1970. The game-winning run -- which assured an end to USC's 34-game winning streak -- later was ranked fifth on a list of college football's all-time top plays compiled by ESPN.

2007: Boise State's Statue of Liberty

The 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will forever be remembered for two plays that helped launch Boise State from Cinderella BCS crashers to a place among college football's most recognized programs. The first, coming just seconds after Oklahoma returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown to take its first lead of the game, was a "hook-and-lateral" play on fourth down that tied the game 35-35 with eight seconds left in regulation. The second, which came in overtime after the Broncos had answered a Sooners touchdown with one of their own, was a little-used "Statue of Liberty" play, with running back Ian Johnson running untouched into the end zone for the two-point conversion and the win. Johnson punctuated his game-winning play by dropping to one knee and proposing to his girlfriend, Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, live on national television.

2003: Pass interference?

One of the more controversial moments in the BCS era happened in the first overtime of the national championship game between Miami and underdog Ohio State. After Miami had scored to take a 24-17 lead, Buckeyes quarterback Craig Krenzel threw into the end zone for wide receiver Chris Gamble. The pass bounced away, incomplete, and Miami players and fans began to rush the field, believing the game to be over. But a flag was thrown late, and pass interference was called on Hurricanes defensive back Glenn Sharpe. Given another opportunity, Krenzel rushed for a one-yard touchdown to send the game into a second overtime. OSU scored first, then held Miami out of the end zone on another fourth-down play to preserve its first national title since 1970.

1999: Tennessee's 'Peerless' reception

Throughout the 1990s, the Volunteers and coach Phillip Fulmer maintained one of the country's top programs. Quarterback Peyton Manning started for four seasons and led them to a 40-8 record, but that span also included a string of four losses to rival Florida. In 1998, the season after Manning was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, lightly regarded quarterback Tee Martin led the Vols to a 13-0 record and a berth in the national championship game against Florida State. In the fourth quarter, Martin found wide receiver Peerless Price with a perfectly thrown pass down the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown that essentially wrapped up the Vols' sixth national title.

2011: Game-winning kick

Many observers expected a high-scoring shootout when the powerful offenses of Auburn and Oregon met in the 2011 BCS championship game. Instead, the game was decided on the final play, when senior kicker Wes Byrum knocked home a 19-yard field goal to give the Tigers their second national crown.

2005: Utah's hook-and-ladder

The Utes, the first team from a non-BCS conference to appear in a BCS bowl game, showed they belonged among the nation's best in their Fiesta Bowl matchup with Big East champion Pitt. Near the end of the third quarter, quarterback Alex Smith hit wideout Steve Savoy with a short screen pass, which Savoy immediately lateraled to Paris Warren. Warren sprinted 20 yards for Utah's final touchdown in a 35-7 rout.

2011: TCU over Wisconsin

The Mountain West Conference champion Horned Frogs needed a stop on a two-point conversion attempt by the Badgers to pull off a stunning upset and preserve an undefeated season in one of the biggest upsets of the BCS era.

2006: West Virginia's fake punt

The 2006 Sugar Bowl was played in Atlanta due to storm damage in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. The Mountaineers, a double-digit underdog to the SEC champion Bulldogs, led 38-35 and faced fourth-and-6 at Georgia's 48-yard line with 1:45 to play. In what surely will be remembered as one of the most daring play calls of the BCS era, West Virginia punter Phil Brady took the snap and ran 10 yards for a first down, allowing West Virginia to run out the clock.

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