These Plays Changed the 2023 College Football Season

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In the whirlwind of the 2023 College Football Season, a handful of players etched themselves into the sport’s lore. As forty names, games, and teams resonate within college football’s arena, it’s a season where triumphs, heartbreaks, and the unexpected have reshaped the landscape.

Here are four events that made an impact on the 2023 season.

Bond’s Last-Gasp Catch Keeps Alabama Alive

In a historic moment, the Iron Bowl Friday witnessed an improbable fourth-and-31 play. Facing a dire situation trailing by four, Crimson Tide’s Jalen Milroe defied the odds with an electric pass. Auburn Tigers’ defensive blunder allowed ample time, as only two rushed Milroe while a misguided defender hesitated.

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Despite deep coverage, Isaiah Bond found himself single-covered and caught Milroe’s missile in the end zone, securing Alabama’s dramatic survival in the College Football Playoff chase.

Critical Defensive Gaps

In a moment reminiscent of Auburn’s puzzling defensive setup, Notre Dame faced a similar scenario against Ohio State earlier in the season. With a depleted defense, the Fighting Irish went essentially 10-on-11 on crucial plays. The defensive void allowed Chip Trayanum to secure a last-second winning touchdown, altering the season’s narrative.

Had Notre Dame been at full strength, their potential victory could’ve shaped a 10-2 season, impacting Ohio State’s playoff hopes. Despite the setback, Ohio State’s 11-1 record keeps playoff aspirations alive, owed to that decisive last-second triumph.

Dan Lanning’s Fourth-Down Dilemma

In Seattle, the pivotal Oregon-Washington game on October 7 became a focal point. The outcome, despite a narrow loss for Ducks coach Dan Lanning, might not have been as critical considering the impending rematch with playoff implications. However, it’s worth noting that if Lanning hadn’t risked three unsuccessful fourth downs in the previous game, the Ducks might have held an undefeated record today.

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This decision could have significantly impacted their position, especially if the Huskies emerge victorious and remain undefeated, potentially altering the playoff landscape.

The Flag That Altered Iowa’s Destiny

In a low-scoring game against Minnesota, Iowa’s Cooper DeJean appeared to secure a game-winning moment with a dazzling 54-yard punt return, igniting hope with a late 16-12 lead. However, officials deemed an invalid fair catch signal by DeJean before his play, nullifying the return and quashing Iowa’s victory opportunity.

The controversial call, although within rule book bounds, drew immediate criticism. Subsequently, Iowa’s faltering offense faced a sack, an incompletion, and an interception, sealing their defeat. Had DeJean’s return stood, Iowa would boast an 11-1 record, ranking among the elite few with minimal losses.