The motorcyclist had collided with the car in Utah and was trapped beneath the burning, twisted wreckage.
Disregarding their own safety, the maths students rushed to the street and lined up with more than half a dozen others on one side of the car. Within moments, they managed to lift the 4,000lb car just high enough for one of them to pull Brandon Wright to safety.
"The danger? I didn't think about it for a minute," said James Odei, 35, a doctoral candidate from Ghana who is studying statistics. "All I wanted to do was grab that car and raise it."
The rescuers are being called "heroes" and "angels" after their few minutes of heroism were captured on video that has gone viral on the internet. The man they saved - the 21-year-old Utah State University student - is grateful. "I'm just very thankful for everyone that helped me out," Mr Wright said by telephone from his hospital bed. "They saved my life."
Had none of the rescuers acted, "you can only speculate what the outcome would have been", Assistant Logan Police Chief Jeff Curtis said. "Every one of those people put their lives in danger."
Abbass Sharif, 28, another doctoral candidate, from Lebanon, said: "I don't consider myself a hero. It's just our humanity ... Everyone is going to help."
At a hospital news conference, Mr Wright's uncle Tyler Riggs recounted what Wright told his family about Monday's accident. The crash happened near Utah State University in Logan, about 90 miles north of Salt Lake City. Mr Wright was on his way to study at a computer lab, Mr Riggs said, as a BMW was pulling out of a car park.
Tyre and skid marks on the road showed that Mr Wright laid the bike down and slid along the road before colliding with the car, Mr Curtis said. Mr Riggs said Mr Wright had tried to protect himself by laying his bike down.
The bike hit the car's bonnet and bounced to the ground, while Mr Wright, who was not wearing a helmet, slid under the car and then both vehicles burst into flames, Mr Curtis said.