10 Biggest Late Season Choke Jobs of the BCS Era

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst INovember 15, 2013

10 Biggest Late Season Choke Jobs of the BCS Era

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    Death, taxes and a late-season slip-up by a BCS title contender.

    For college football fans across the country, those are the only certainties in life.

    Year in and year out, several teams enter November as viable national title contenders. Only a handful of games stand in the way of a coveted berth into the BCS title game.

    However, nothing is ever as easy as it seems in college football.

    But which late-season slip-up ranks as the worst?

    Could it be USC’s mishap against UCLA in 2006? Or what about Boise State’s field-goal debacle in 2010? And who could forget West Virginia’s blunder that capped off an upset-filled 2007?

    Join B/R as we take a stroll down memory lane and compile a list of the 10 biggest choke jobs of the BCS era.

10. Florida State (2003)

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    The Matchup: No. 3 Florida State (8-1) at Clemson (5-4), Nov. 8, 2003

    Final Score: 26-10


    Why It’s Here

    Through nine weeks of the season, the Seminoles only blemish was a loss to then-No. 9 Miami back on Oct. 11. Hardly a reason to crucify the team.

    Given losses by all but one of the teams in major conferences, Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden found themselves just one USC or Oklahoma loss away from a BCS title appearance.

    The Sooners would later lose. Unfortunately, the Seminoles would drop one first.

    A trip to face the Tigers—coached by Bowden’s son Tommy—in Death Valley wasn’t supposed to be an issue.

    Florida State had won 11 in a row against its ACC foe, and Clemson was fresh off a 45-17 pasting from Wake Forest.

    However, the Tigers came out to play, racing out to a 16-0 lead. By the time the Seminoles realized what hit them, they were down 26-3 late in the fourth.

    Florida State Chris Rix never seemed to be able to get into a rhythm. He threw for just 194 yards and two interceptions on 16-of-31 passing.

    Bobby chose the wrong time to suffer his first loss to Tommy.

    Then again, maybe saving his son’s job—Tommy had been on the hot seat all season long—was a little more important than winning a BCS title.

9. Texas Tech (2008)

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    The Matchup: No. 2 Texas Tech (10-0) at No. 5 Oklahoma (9-1), Nov. 22, 2008

    Final Score: 65-21


    Why It’s Here

    The Red Raiders were on the final game of a grueling four-game stretch. It was one that included four ranked teams, two road contests and three Top 10 opponents in a span of five weeks.

    After passing the first three tests with flying colors, only a trip to face the then-No. 5 Sooners in Norman stood in the team’s way of a likely undefeated season.

    Unfortunately, that dream ended midway through the second quarter when Oklahoma jumped out to a 28-0 lead.

    When all was said and done, Texas Tech conceded 65 points, 625 total yards of offense, 32 first downs and its dignity—it was the most points allowed in school history.

    Offensively, the team mustered just 406 yards of offense and a season-low 21 points.

    With the loss, the Red Raiders quest for a BCS title wasn’t just over, it was demolished. Not only that, but quarterback Graham Harrell successfully took himself out of the Heisman Trophy running.

    Sure, losing to a Top Five opponent on the road isn’t really a "choke job" so to speak. However, doing so in the manner that Texas Tech did is pretty unheard of.

    The team settled for a berth in the Cotton Bowl, where it eventually lost to Ole Miss, 47-34.

8. Boston College (2007)

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    The Matchup: Florida State (5-3) vs. No. 2 Boston College (8-0), Nov. 3, 2007

    Final Score: 27-17


    Why It’s Here

    In a season defined by upsets, the Eagles had one of the more embarrassing ones late in the year.

    Coming off a heroic effort against Virginia Tech the previous week—throwing two touchdowns in the final 2:11—quarterback Matt Ryan had himself in the Heisman Trophy discussion. Not only that, but he had Boston College on track to make some serious noise on the national stage.

    It didn’t take long for both campaigns to unravel.

    Although he topped 400 yards through the air, Ryan also tossed three costly interceptions. One of which was returned for six with just 1:10 remaining that sealed the upset.

    For a team that had lost two of its last three, nobody expected the Seminoles capable of such a performance. However, a strong effort by quarterback Drew Weatherford (29-of-45, 354 YDs and two TDs) helped the team prosper.

    The Eagles would also lose the following week to Maryland and again to the Hokies in the ACC title game.

7. Miami (2005)

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    The Matchup: Georgia Tech (6-3) at No. 3 Miami (8-1), Nov. 19, 2005

    Final Score: 14-10


    Why It’s Here

    Hurricane Wilma cancelled an October showdown between these two teams. Instead, they would play in the second-to-last game of the season.

    That certainly didn’t work out in the Hurricanes favor.

    The team racked up just 237 total yards of offense, including just 30 yards of rushing. Furthermore, Miami was only 1-of-14 on third-down conversions.

    Quarterback Kyle Wright struggled all night, throwing for 207 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 14-of-31 passing. He was sacked seven times.

    The Hurricanes had plenty of chances to retake the lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, costly mistakes and poor execution hit Miami at the wrong time.

    The loss not only robbed Miami of a chance at the BCS title, but it also kept the team out of the ACC title game.

    A berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl was the consolation price—a 40-3 loss to LSU.

6. Boise State (2010)

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    The Matchup: No. 4 Boise State (10-0) at No. 19 Nevada (10-1), Nov. 26, 2010

    Final Score: 34-31 (OT)


    Why It’s Here

    After years of knocking on the door, the Broncos found themselves in the Top Five of the AP Polls and within striking distance of a BCS title. The team was riding a 24-game win streak and nothing seemed to be able to slow them down.

    That is, except the Wolf Pack.

    Boise State looked set to keep the dream alive, scoring the game’s first 17 points and holding a 24-7 lead at halftime. But Colin Kaepernick and Nevada had other plans.

    The team came back to tie the game at 24 with 5:14 remaining, but the Broncos responded just 21 seconds later, with running back Doug Martin taking a Kellen Moore pass 79 yards to the house.

    Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack again tied it up with 13 seconds remaining. But following a 53-yard pass play, Boise State had a 26-yard field goal set up with two seconds left.

    Unfortunately, Kicker Kyle Brotzman missed it. To make matters worse, he missed another chip-shot attempt in overtime from 29 yards.

    Instead of playing in a BCS Bowl, the Broncos had to settle for the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas.

5. USC (2006)

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    The Matchup: No. 2 USC (10-1) at UCLA (6-5), Dec. 2, 2006

    Final Score: 13-9


    Why It’s Here

    After appearing in back-to-back BCS title games, the Trojans appeared to be on their way to a third straight.

    The team had won 55 of its previous 58 games. Not to mention, USC had won seven straight against the Bruins in the head-to-head series.

    Did UCLA really stand a chance at stopping them now?

    The team's 235 total yards of offense would tell you no. However, the scoreboard read 13-9 in the Bruins favor. 

    It marked the eighth time a team ranked in the BCS top two lost its final regular-season game.

    Trojans quarterback John David Booty couldn't get anything going, throwing for 274 yards and an interception on 23-of-39 passing. Running back C.J. Gable fared worse, rushing for just 52 yards on 19 carries (2.7 yards per carry).

    It marked the end of the USC dynasty.



4. Oklahoma (2001)

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    The Matchup: Oklahoma State (3-7) at No. 4 Oklahoma (10-1), Nov. 24, 2001

    Final Score: 16-13


    Why It’s Here

    After winning the BCS title the previous year, the Sooners had high hopes of making a return trip to the championship game. A loss by then-No. 1 Nebraska the previous day only increased those odds.

    All Oklahoma needed now was to beat Big 12 cellar dweller Oklahoma State in its final regular-season game paired with a loss by Florida in the SEC title game.

    The Gators wound up losing their game. However, surprisingly, so did the Sooners.

    With the loss, Oklahoma's 19-game home-win streak was snapped. It was a game the team was favored to win by 27 points.

    The Sooners were outgained 334-220 and turned the ball over three times. Furthermore, the team was surprisingly held to zero rushing yards.

    It was an overall nightmare finish for Oklahoma which saw a golden opportunity fall right in its lap.

3. Wisconsin (2004)

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    The Matchup: No. 5 Wisconsin (9-0) at Michigan State (4-5), Nov. 13, 2004

    Final Score: 49-14


    Why It’s Here

    The Badgers came into this one on a roll.

    Over the first nine games of the season, the team was holding opponents to just 9.1 points per game—the lowest mark in the nation. Furthermore, Wisconsin hadn’t conceded more than 17 points all year.

    That all changed against the Spartans, who topped that mark by halftime.

    Backed by a strong rushing attack, a clutch performance from the defense and a trick play, Michigan State was absolutely dominant. The team racked up 551 yards of total offense, including 430 yards on the ground.

    Badgers running back Anthony Davis did his part, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. But he was outdone by the Spartans duo of Jehuu Caulcrick and Jason Teague, who combined for 258 yards and two scores on 30 carries.

    All in all, it was a disappointing result for Wisconsin, which wound up losing the following week (30-7 at Iowa) and against Georgia in the Outback Bowl.

    The loss to Michigan State was so embarrassing, that the Wisconsin athletics department went out of their way to make sure all video evidence of the event has been removed from existence.

    OK, not really. But would you blame them?

2. West Virginia (2007)

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    The Matchup: Pittsburgh (4-7) at No. 2 West Virginia (10-1), Dec. 1, 2007

    Final Score: 13-9


    Why It’s Here

    The Mountaineers are still kicking themselves over this one.

    Only one win against a hapless Panthers squad stood in the way of a berth in the BCS title. This was the same team West Virginia had beaten four of the last five years while dropping 45 on them in each of the last two.

    Yet in a season full of a multitude of late-season upsets, this was easily the most shocking of them all.

    To the Mountaineers credit, the team did lose Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Pat White in the second quarter. But then again, even he didn’t look capable of doing much in his time on the field: 5-of-10 for 50 yards, 41 rushing yards on 14 carries (2.9 yards per carry).

    In fact, one of the nation’s better offenses was completely shut down, as West Virginia was outgained 225-183.

    The loss continued the "curse" on the No. 2 team. The Mountaineers became the sixth team of the 2007 season to hold the ranking and lose. But with West Virginia a four-touchdown favorite, it was a trend that didn’t look like it would continue on that day.

    Unfortunately for West Virginia, it still remains as the most-winningest team not to win a national championship.

1. Oklahoma State (2011)

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    The Matchup: No. 2 Oklahoma State (10-0) at Iowa State (5-4), Nov. 18, 2011

    Final Score: 37-31 (20T)


    Why It’s Here

    It was a modern day David vs. Goliath.

    The Cowboys entered this one having lit up the scoreboard at will. The team was averaging 51.7 points and pounded the ball at a mark of 171.1 rushing yards per game.

    On this Friday, the team managed just 31 and 60 respectively.

    To make matters worse, Oklahoma State was a 27-point favorite against the Cyclones. Not to mention, Iowa State was historically just 0-56-2 against teams ranked sixth or higher in the AP Poll.

    However, five turnovers sealed the deal for the Cowboys. 

    Although Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 476 yards and three touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions. None more costly than the one tossed in the second overtime.

    It was a stunning turn of events for a team that had only committed 16 turnovers in its first 10 games.

    Unfortunately, it was enough to cost the Cowboys a spot in the BCS title game and earn them the not-so-coveted top spot in these rankings.


    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.