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Power Ranking the 10 Best Bowl Games of the BCS Era

Carl StineCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2013

Power Ranking the 10 Best Bowl Games of the BCS Era

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    The BCS system has been with us for almost a decade and a half, providing plenty of controversy, and also some of the best football played over that span.

    The games on this list are the best of those.

    The 10 best BCS games, including Vince Young's transcendent Rose Bowl performance against USC, are included in this list, along with five others that just missed the cut.

    Here's hoping that the final slate of BCS games coming up at the end of this season come close to meeting the high standard set by those on this list.

Honorable Mention

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    '12 Rose Bowl—Russell Wilson and Wisconsin fell just short against Oregon, 45-38.

    '11 Sugar Bowl—Arkansas' furious fourth-quarter comeback doesn't quite bump the Buckeyes, as OSU won, 31-26.

    '06 Rose Bowl—Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno's squads battled through three overtimes, and PSU emerged victorious, 26-23.

    '12 Sugar Bowl—Michigan's Brendan Gibbons hit the game winner in overtime as the Wolverines toppled Virginia Tech, 23-20.

    '01 Orange Bowl—Florida State's vaunted offense was shut down by Oklahoma's stout defense as the Sooners prevailed, 13-2.

10. '09 Fiesta Bowl

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    Final Score: Texas 24, Ohio State 21

    Player of the Game: Texas WR Quan Cosby, 14 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown

    This game was slow in the first half, as the Ohio State defense dictated the pace of the game, holding a potent Texas offense to only three points in the half.

    Then Colt McCoy got rolling in the third quarter, running for a 14-yard touchdown, then following that up with a seven-yard pass to put Texas up, 17-6.

    OSU responded with 15 straight points in the fourth quarter to take the lead before McCoy capped off a 78-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Cosby to take the lead for good with 16 seconds left to play.

    Texas' defense delivered on the Buckeyes' final drive, as a sack by Brian Orakpo broke up the final attempt at a "Hail Mary."



9. '99 Rose Bowl

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    Final Score: Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31

    Player of the Game: Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne, 27 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns

    The "Great Dayne" was the star of this one, running all over the UCLA defense to the tune of 246 yards and four scores on the ground.

    But it was the Badgers defense that stepped up big late.

    With UCLA driving in the fourth down 31-28, Badgers cornerback Jamar Fletcher picked off Cade McNown and returned the pick for a touchdown.

    On the Bruins' ensuing drive, the Badgers defense shut down the Bruins, sealing the deal with a Wendell Bryant sack on fourth down.

    In spite of an anemic pass offense that gained only 154 yards through the air, the Badgers pulled off the big win.

8. '11 Rose Bowl

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    Final Score: TCU 21, Wisconsin 19

    Player of the Game: TCU QB Andy Dalton, 15-of-23 for 219 yards and a score, led TCU in rushing yards with 28 and a rushing touchdown

    In a victory for "BCS busters" everywhere, TCU physically dominated Wisconsin, pulling out a huge victory in Pasadena.

    Andy Dalton was efficient passing the ball, and found the end zone with his feet, leading the Horned Frogs offense.

    TCU's stud linebacker, Tank Carder, tipped the Badgers' attempt at a two-point conversion, and after a failed onside kick attempt from Wisconsin, TCU ran out the clock to seal the "upset."

7. '05 Rose Bowl

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    Final Score: Texas 38, Michigan 37

    Player of the Game: Michigan KR/WR Steve Breaston finished the game with a Rose Bowl-record 315 all-purpose yards 

    In spite of Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston and his Rose Bowl-record 315 all-purpose yards, the Wolverines fell just short against the Longhorns.

    Vince Young scored four rushing touchdowns and racked up 192 yards on the ground, and he also gained 180 through the air while tossing a touchdown.

    Texas went into the third quarter down by 10, while Michigan quarterback Chad Henne had already tossed a Rose Bowl-record four touchdown passes.

    But it was all Texas in the fourth, as the Longhorns scored 17 in the quarter to Michigan's six, pulling out the win with a field goal as time expired.

6. '12 Fiesta Bowl

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    Final Score: Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 OT

    Player of the Game: OSU WR Justin Blackmon, eight receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns

    This one isn't very old, but it was a good one.

    Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck played an incredible game, completing 27 of 31 passing attempts for 347 yards, but he couldn't compensate for Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson.

    Williamson misfired on an attempt at the end of regulation that would have won the game for the Cardinal, then missed another in overtime.

    These two high-scoring units capped off excellent campaigns with one of the best BCS games of the era, racking up 79 points in the Cowboys' win.

5. '11 BCS Championship

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    Final Score: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

    Player of the Game: Auburn RB Michael Dyer for clutch running on the Tigers' final drive

    Auburn kicker Wes Byrum kicked a field goal as time expired to take this bizarre game for the Tigers.

    Auburn drove 73 yards in seven plays, keyed by a strange play in which running back Michael Dyer was tackled, but not deemed down as his knee and elbow never hit the ground.

    For a game featuring explosive players such as Cam Newton, Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, the scoring was scarce.

    The two teams only managed 40 points between them, but the game-winning drive led by Newton and Dyer and the display that the two defenses put on in slowing down two of the most explosive offenses in college football.

    Each team scored in the final 2:33 of the game, Oregon on a two-yard shovel pass to James, and Auburn on the field goal as time expired.

    Definitely one of the best BCS games, ever, even if half the scoring was in the final two-and-a-half minutes.

4. '07 Fiesta Bowl

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    Final Score: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 2OT

    Player of the Game: Boise State QB Jared Zabransky, 19-of-29 for 262 yards and three touchdowns with one interception

    In the classic "David vs. Goliath" matchup, Boise State pulled off the upset in one of the greatest games of all time, not just the BCS era.

    Boise State, led by quarterback Jared Zabransky, pulled off the improbable victory.

    Boise State scored on a 4th-and-18, with an old-fashioned hook and lateral that Drisan James took in for the score.

    The Broncos won the game courtesy of their trick plays, including the hook and lateral, a pass from a backup wide receiver for a touchdown in overtime, and a Statue of Liberty play for the two-point conversion to win it in double overtime.

    Any game that featured a proposal afterward between a player and a cheerleader has to make this list.

3. '00 Orange Bowl

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    Final Score: Michigan 35, Alabama 34 OT

    Player of the Game: Alabama RB Shaun Alexander, 25 rushes for 161 yards, three touchdowns

    This game was decided by a missed extra point in overtime, but that shouldn't detract from this game.

    Michigan fought back, led by quarterback Tom Brady, from 14-point deficits twice in the game to force overtime, while Alabama running back Shaun Alexander ran all over the Wolverines for three touchdowns.

    Michigan wide receiver David Terrell was the star of the Wolverines' effort, piling up 150 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 10 receptions.

    The Wolverines had two chances to win the game in regulation, fumbling the ball at the Tide 1-yard line and having a field goal blocked that prevented the regulation victory.

    In the end, Ryan Pflugner missed the Tide's extra point try in overtime, giving the victory to Michigan.

2. '03 Fiesta Bowl

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    Final Score: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 2OT

    Player of the Game: Ohio State CB/WR Chris Gamble played on offense and defense, contributing 69 yards receiving, and limiting Miami wide receiver Andre Johnson to 54 yards receiving and only four catches.

    The end of this game was thrilling, as Miami kicked a field goal with two seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.

    Miami struck first in overtime, scoring on a seven-yard pass from Ken Dorsey to Kellen Winslow.

    Ohio State seemed to lose the game on an incomplete pass on fourth down during their overtime possession, but a late flag gave them new life and led to a one-yard rushing score from Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel.

    In the second overtime, Ohio State struck on a Maurice Clarett run from five yards out, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

    Miami fans would rather forget this game, but it was one of the most enjoyable games of the BCS era, so it is not going away any time soon.

1. '06 Rose Bowl

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    Final Score: Texas 41, USC 38

    Player of the Game: Texas QB Vince Young, 30-of-40 for 267 yards, 19 rushes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

    Argue, if you will, but this game, featuring an incredible performance from Texas quarterback Vince Young, finds itself atop these rankings.

    Defensive purists might disagree, as the game featured over 1,100 yards of offense, but there has not been a more entertaining BCS game than this one.

    USC appeared to have the game in hand late in the fourth quarter, up 12 points.

    But then Young worked his magic, scampering into the end zone with 4:03 left in the game to bring the Longhorns within striking distance.

    Texas' defense stopped the Trojans on fourth down, and Young led Texas on a 10-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in his eight-yard touchdown run on fourth down for the winning score.

    Young racked up a ridiculous 467 yards of offense and scored three times on the ground to carry the Longhorns to the win, in spite of the best efforts of USC running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White.

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