1. VINCE'S VICTORY
TEXAS QUARTERBACK VINCE Young played the perfect game on the biggest stage, romping over U.S.C. in the Rose Bowl to lead the Longhorns to their first national championship in 35 years. He ran for 200 yds., passed for 267 more and scored three touchdowns, including a fourth-down scoring scramble with 19 sec. left. Said U.S.C. coach Pete Carroll: "That's an extraordinary football player."
2. STEELERS STEAL ONE
IT TURNS OUT THAT QUARTERbacks can play defense too. With a little over a minute left in an AFC playoff game, Indianapolis Colts defensive back Nick Harper, his team down three points, picked up a fumble by the Pittsburgh Steelers near the Colts' 1-yd. line and ran for what should have been a touchdown. But Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hustled to trip Harper, saving the game for the Steelers, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
3. BY GEORGE, THEY DID IT
THIS REGIONAL FINAL OF THE NCAA men's basketball tournament looked like a classic mismatch. The University of Connecticut featured four future NBA first-round draft picks. And George Mason--a suburban commuter school in Fairfax, Va.--looked like nothing much until its torrid shooting and scrappy defense gave it an 86-84 overtime upset of the Huskies, sending a school from a nonmajor conference to the Final Four for the first time in 27 years.
4. A WIN FOR EARL
TIGER WOODS, GOLF'S ICY assasin, finally lost it. After sinking his winning putt at last summer's British Open for his first tournament title since the death in May of his father Earl, Woods clung to his caddie, Steve Williams, and cried uncontrollably. Said Woods: "I just wish he could have seen it one more time."
5. KOBE'S 81
REVERSE LAYUPS WHILE WEDGED between defenders. Fadeaway jumpers in traffic. Three-pointers shot from Catalina. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant hit them all one Hollywood night in January, scoring 81 points, the second highest total in NBA history (Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 in 1962), in the Lakers' 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors. In the second half alone, Bryant outscored the entire Toronto team, 55-41.
6. THE GOLD TOMATO
AFTER BOTCHING A LANDING IN his first qualifying run at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Shaun White, a shaggy-haired, usually mellow snowboarder, nicknamed the "Flying Tomato" for his red mane, looked lost. "I got all Olympicky," he said of his nerves. He eased his mind with a few practice runs and nailed two 1080s--a 1080 is three complete rotations in the air--in the finals to earn gold.
7. L.A. STORY
EVEN LOS ANGELES DODGERS fans, famous for leaving games early to beat traffic, made U-turns to catch one of the most dramatic comebacks in baseball history. Trailing the San Diego Padres 9-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Dodgers Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson belted four home runs on just seven pitches to tie the game. A two-run blast in the 10th from Nomar Garciaparra finished the job. Game over.
8. WORLD CUP CLASSIC