As we round the corner on our countdown we come to #5 on the list, Isaiah Pead's almost run against Oklahoma last September. Surprisingly, this is Pead's first appearance alone on this countdown. He was the primary ball-carrier during the final drive against Louisville (this is good) but that moment was really a team effort from the blocking of the offensive lineman and wide receivers that really ate up much of the clock and sealed Cincinnati's victory. And in many ways a lot of the praise that goes to a running back should be spread to the hognollies in front of him. But for Pead, he can make almost anything out of nothing. We've seen it time and time again where Pead would be in the sights of one or more defenders, put on a little move to get out of trouble, and burst up the field leaving most of the other team in his dust. He's the total package for a running back and fits Cincinnati's spread offense perfectly. He has the vision to see holes in the offensive line as a play develops and the quickness to hit those gaps. Pead is also thickly built to run through defenders and is fast enough to run by them if they aren't close enough to hit. Did I mention he's a great pass catcher? He's caught over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns while wearing red and black. Not bad for a running back working in a spread offense where the ball is generally designed to go to the wide receivers.
I could go on and on about Isaiah Pead's accolades but let's get to the run against Oklahoma that, unfortunately, never happened:
Isaiah Pead: The Best Run That Never Was (via mopper309)
Up until this run Cincinnati was doing a whole lot of nothing on offense as Oklahoma's speed and size was really getting the best of the Bearcats' potent offense. They need a spark, something to make them realize that they were still the offensive juggernaut that baffled defenses in 2008 and 2009. Well Isaiah Pead was the fuse to supply that spark.
The play showed every aspect of Pead that makes him such a special football player. It opened up with a read-option run where Zach Collaros read the blitz and ended up giving up the ball to Pead. Defenders were on him almost upon the hand off but he used his quickness and vision to make one step and burst between them using his front end speed. Then with his incredible balance Pead managed to bounce upright and continue running down field. Before he ultimately broke it open he used all 200 lbs on his frame to plow through an Oklahoma defensive back. Finally his 2nd gear kicked on and allowd him to separate himself from the rest of the defense and crash into the end zone.
BUT.. it was called back. Pead's entire forearm touched the turf at the 33 yard line.
While he ended up being down you could still package this one highlight and it would showcase everything that Cincinnati Bearcats fans love about him. After this run the 56,000+ at Paul Brown Stadium got on their feet and stayed there until the final horn blew an hour or so later. You could also see a change of demeanor on the sidelines after they watched one of their leaders pick up the team on his back and will them to claw their way back into the ballgame. I can't wait to see rushes like this out of him in 2011.