The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 5

With the holidays upon us, is counting down the top plays of the season, with the No. 1 play to finish out the year. So who is next on the list? We're down to our top-5, so it had to be a moment of brilliance to make this part of the list. And this play was arguably the most dramatic one of the 2012 season, and it came during a game in serious need of excitement.

Up 7-0, the Washington Huskies came out of halftime riding a small wave of momentum against the woeful Colorado Buffaloes, having scored right before intermission. The Huskies were supposed to take the second half kickoff and roll downfield, score and then hold the Buffs to a three-and-out - which would then propel UW toward the expected blowout result.

That didn't happen. Instead the Huskies flamed out again after three plays and once again the game started to take the shape of another slugfest - except UW was allowing Colorado to hang around for no reason whatsoever. The Buffs had been cannon fodder for the Pac-12 despite an extraordinary comeback at Washington State; their defense would eventually surrender an average of 48 points per game.

And then, mired amidst the mediocrity and monotony of two teams playing horrific football, a sheer moment of genius. Travis Coons punted the ball toward the open end of Folsom Field. Colorado defender Nelson Spruce, who was in front of the CU return man, went toward the Buffaloes' side of the field to block the UW gunner on that side of the field - Kevin Smith.

But instead of blocking Smith, the ball bounced off Spruce's shoulder pads and jumped straight at the CU sideline. Instead of letting the ball continue out of bounds, Smith hustled toward it. Using his basketball background Smith jumped in the air while still in-bounds, grabbed the football and threw it back into play.

The gunner on the field side, Will Shamburger, had looped around to cover the return man and now was in a prime position to grab the jump ball. With a group of CU and UW players fighting for the ball, it bounced off a Colorado players perfectly into the waiting arms of Shamburger, who was able to hold onto it once everyone realized he had it.

While his teammates were scrambling for the football, Smith's momentum had completely taken him off the field and into the Folsom Field stands, where he stood triumphantly as the officials ruled the play a turnover recovered by the Huskies.

Three plays later, Keith Price found Kasen Williams in the end zone from 17 yards out to push UW's advantage to 14-0. The play from Smith and Shamburger lit a fire under the Huskies. Josh Shirley sacked CU's Jordan Webb, causing a fumble recovered by Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Price then found Kendyl Taylor for a 23-yard touchdown and the rout was on. Washington would eventually win the game 38-3, but who knows what the score would have been without the special teams heroics of Smith and Shamburger.

It's been a rough year for Smith, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound receiver from Compton, Calif. - who basically spent the entire season recovering from a knee injury sustained during practices for the 2011 Alamo Bowl. He finished with only six catches for 68 yards this season, but no play was more incredible or more game-changing for the Huskies than his special teams masterpiece in Boulder.

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