Top 10 College Football Hail Marys
10. Kustok to Simmons (2000)
This play pretty much summed up the Glen Mason era in Minneapolis. Tied at 35 with three seconds left against Northwestern, Wildcat QB Zak Kustok heaved a ball from midfield into a mass of players. The ball was tipped in the air and fell to a wide open Sam Simmons, who tip-toed in the end zone for the score. The Wildcats went on to share the Big Ten title that season.
9. “Big Ben” (2001)
Ben Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and one of the most recognizable athletes in the nation. And yet, you’ve probably never seen this play of Big Ben defeating Akron in 2001 with a bomb from inside his own 30-yard line that popped into the air and was then bobbled by Eddie Tillitz before being caught for a 30-27 win. Along with his massive 6-foot-5 frame, it sparked his “Big Ben” nickname.
8. Pitz to Woods (1983)
Yes, we know you’ve never heard of this play. But according to the NCAA record book, it’s the longest game-ending pass play since 1971. At their own 15-yard line at the end of a game between Pacific and San Jose State, Pacific QB Mike Pitz launched a Hail Mary to midfield, which was caught by WR Ron Woods. Woods then took it the second half of the way for a 30-26 victory over San Jose State with no time left. Fortunately for Spartan fans, there’s no footage online of the horrific 85-yard Hail Mary.
7. Favre to Tillman (1989)
Just when you thought you’d gotten away from Brett Favre, he shows up on this list. Southern Miss was tied with Louisville at 10 apiece in 1989 with 11 seconds left when Favre scrambled around and chucked a ball from his own 11-yard line. It bounced off a player’s helmet and into the hands of Darryl Tillman at around the 25. He broke a tackle and went to the house for the win.
6. “Hail Sparty” (2011)
Just when it looked like Michigan State was going to pull, well, a Michigan State by choking away a late lead, Kirk Cousins lofted a ball that bounced around like a Plinko chip and into the hands of former QB Keith Nichol, who surged forward to break the plane of the goal line for a 37-31 win. The instant replay review curbed the pandemonium, but a nationally televised game that knocked Wisconsin out of the national title hunt was certainly a huge stage for Hail Sparty.
5. Tate to Holloway (2005)
With Iowa running the most inefficient two-minute drill possible in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, Drew Tate launched a Hail Mary from his own 37-yard line with the final seconds ticking off the clock. Inexplicably, Warren Holloway was completely uncovered an, after catching the ball at the 15 yard-line, broke a tackle and scampered into the end zone for a 30-25 win over LSU. Just how they drew it up.
4. “Bluegrass Miracle” (2002)
For Nick Saban haters, this just serves as proof the man has a deal with the devil. With just seconds left and the Tigers at their own 26-yard line, UK head coach Guy Morris had already been hit with a Gatorade bath when Marcus Randall’s pass was popped up in the air by UK defenders and landed in the arms of Devery Henderson, who absurdly got behind almost the entire UK secondary and sprinted to score a TD for the 33-30 win.
3. “Miracle Bowl” (1980)
Down by 20 points with four minutes left in the game, BYU rallied behind Jim McMahon and knocked off SMU and the “Pony Express” with a last-second Hail Mary to tight end Clay Brown, who caught the ball between two Mustang defenders for a 46-45 win. Once ranked by ESPN as the fourth greatest bowl game ever, this heave is the main reason why.
2. “Miracle at Michigan” (1994)
Michigan fans, turn away. Leading by 12 with just over two minutes left, the Wolverines gagged away a game between two top 10 teams when Kordell Stewart connected with Michael Westbrook on a pass that was heaved almost 75 yards and was majestically caught by Westbrook off the carom for a 27-26 win.
1. “Hail Flutie” (1984)
It’s not even a question. Generally considered the second-greatest play in college football history behind just the Cal-Stanford “Band on the Field” play, Doug Flutie’s 1984 Hail Mary to Gerard Phelan to defeat Miami (FL) in the Orange Bowl for a 47-45 win over the big, bad Hurricanes won Flutie the was the highlight of Flutie’s Heisman Trophy season and is an iconic moment in the sport’s history.