College Football History: The 10 Greatest Games In The Last 30 Years
With the 2010 college football season just around the corner, it's a great time to look back at 10 of the best college football games ever played.
What determines a game to be one of the best ever? One could look at stats, scores, rankings, players, or whatever. Personally, the emotional up and downs of a game is what makes it great for me.
I cannot claim that I've seen every college football game over the past 30 years, but I have seen most of the classics. Today, with the YouTube's of the world all over the Internet, you can easily search out specific games to watch. Technology is a very beautiful thing.
Let's take a look at 10 of the best college football games in the last 30 years.
James Walker is a syndicated and National Writer for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BRJamesWalker. Also, feel free to subscribe to his Facebook page: James Walker - National Writer for Bleacher Report.
No. 10: Sept. 16, 1991: Miami Defeats FSU 17-16: Wide-Right I
Bobby Bowden's Seminoles were 10-0 and ranked No. 1 when the No. 2-ranked Miami Hurricanes arrived in Tallahassee.
Unfortunately for FSU, Miami had ruined the Seminoles national championship hopes in three of the past four seasons.
With a 16-7 FSU lead to start the fourth quarter, Miami scored on a field goal by Carlos Huerta and a three-yard TD run from Larry Jones on a fourth and two conversion.
Now down 17-16, FSU got the ball back with less than three minutes left in the game.
FSU drove down the field, and a pass interference call moved the ball down to the Miami 18-yard line with less than a minute to play.
Then Bowden made a controversial decision; Dan Mowrey normally was called on to kick field goals, but Coach Bowden decided on Gerry Thomas instead since he had been spot on throughout the game.
As the kick went up, the team and fans began to celebrate including Coach Bowden, but the ball sailed wide right.
Unfortunately for FSU, the goal posts were narrowed the previous season, so if it were a year earlier the kick would have been good.
No. 9: Sept. 24, 1994: Colorado Over Michigan 27-26: Kordell's Hail Mary
Entering the third week of the 1994 season, No. 7 Michigan hosted No. 4 Colorado in Ann Arbor.
The game featured the eventual Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam, and other future NFL players such as Kordell Stewart, Amani Toomer, Ty Law, and Michael Westbrook.
Stewart and Westbrook would make this game one for the history books when with six seconds left in the game, Stewart threw up a Hail Mary pass that covered more than 70 yards.
After being tipped by a few Michigan DBs, the ball found Westbrook in the back of the end zone for the game winning TD.
Michigan ended the season 8-4 and defeated Colorado State in the Holiday Bowl, and Colorado defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and finished the season 11-1. The Buffaloes' only loss was to Nebraska.
No. 8: Jan. 2, 1987: Penn St. Upsets Miami 14-10: Those Army Fatigues
Some feel that the 1986 Miami Hurricanes was the best college football team not to win a national championship. If you listen to radio show host and former Hurricane DT Dan Sileo, he will tell you that quite often.
The "U" was 11-0 led by Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, and were supposed to be a dead lock to win the game.
The match up was made famous when the Canes arrived to the pre-bowl dinner party wearing army fatigues.
Penn State was the exact opposite in demeanor. What they lacked in flash they made up in defense.
They too were 11-0 and were playing for a second consecutive national title after losing to Oklahoma the year before.
To summarize the game, the Hurricanes destroyed themselves with turnovers. Regardless, Miami still led 10-7 in the fourth quarter.
After Testaverde threw his fourth interception, Penn State's DJ Dozier scored on an eight-yard run with little over eight minutes left in the game.
Miami still had a chance to win when they started their final drive of the game with three minutes left.
With 25 seconds left, Miami moved the ball down to Penn State's six yard line. Then Testaverde's pass was picked off by LB Pete Giftopoulis to end the game.
The Heisman Trophy winner ended with five interceptions, and the Canes gave up seven turnovers.
Penn State won the national championship and Miami ended ranked No. 2. However, Miami bounced back nicely by winning the national championship the following season.
No. 7: Nov. 20, 1993: Boston College Upsets Notre Dame 41-39
Lou Holtz will never forget this game that's for sure. No. 1 Notre Dame was 10-0 and just defeated FSU the week prior in the latest "Game of the Century."
The Fighting Irish was one game away from the Orange Bowl and a shot at the National Championship.
On the other side was the other Catholic school, Boston College, and head coach Tom Coughlin. The Eagles started the season 0-2 before winning seven straight when they arrived in South Bend.
When it was all said and done, Notre Dame's loss sent FSU to the National Championship game to face Nebraska, and the Irish settled for No. 2 by defeating Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
No. 6: Jan. 3, 2003: Ohio State Upsets Miami 31-24 In The Fiesta Bowl
The defending National Champion Miami Hurricanes were heavily favored to defend their title against the 13-0 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Early on it looked as if Miami would cruise to an easy victory as predicted due to the fact that the Buckeyes didn't earn a first down until late in the first quarter.
The game took a turn in Ohio State's favor when tragedy struck the Hurricanes. RB Willis McGahee blew out his knee after running roughshod over the Buckeye defense.
It was one of the scariest injuries ever seen on television since Washington Redskins QB Joe Theismann's years before.
The game went into OT and the Canes scored on a seven-yard TD pass to TE Kellen Winslow Jr. On the next possession, the Buckeyes looked to be stopped, but an extremely controversial pass interference call on Miami kept Ohio State alive.
QB Craig Krenzel later ran in a one-yard rushing TD to tie the game again and send it into a second OT.
RB Maurice Clarett scored on a five-yard TD run, and after the extra point the score was 31-24. When Miami took the field, QB Ken Dorsey got his bell run badly, and it forced him to leave the game for several plays.
Dorsey later returned, and he drove the Canes down to the Ohio State six-yard line. Then Ohio State got called for pass interference bringing the ball to the one-yard line.
What happened next could only be explained as if the Lord above smiled on the Buckeye Nation.
After four straight attempts, the Buckeyes stopped the Canes and won the National Championship. Miami ended up No. 2 in all polls.
No. 5: Oct. 15, 2005: USC Beats Notre Dame 34-31: The "Bush-Push"
Do you remember when then Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis was going to bring Notre Dame back to prominence?
At the time, the Fighting Irish was 4-1 after defeating Pitt, Michigan, Washington, and Purdue with a loss to Michigan State.
USC, on the other hand, was No. 1 and the defending national champions when they arrived in South Bend. They were also on a 27-game winning streak.
With less than two minutes left in the game, the Fighting Irish were leading 31-28 after QB Brady Quinn's five yard TD run.
On USC's next drive with 1:32 left in the game, QB Matt Leinert threw a 61-yard pass to WR Dwayne Jarrett that arguably was the greatest pass in college football history.
USC had no time outs left when they got down to the Notre Dame two-yard line. The first play had Leinert call his own number, but the Irish stopped him short of the goal line.
Fans and players rushed the field thinking the game was over, but they didn't see the ball get popped out of Leinert's hands stopping the clock before time ran out.
Once the field was cleared, USC had seven seconds left, and Leinert chose to call his number one more time.
The infamous "Bush Push" would come next; RB Reggie Bush helped Leinert get into the end zone to win the game.
USC would eventually extend their winning streak to 41 games before losing to Texas in the BCS Championship game.
No. 4: Sept. 1, 2007: Appalachian State Upsets Michigan 34-32
This was by far the biggest upset in college football history. Michigan was ranked No. 5 in the country when the two-time defending Division FCS Appalachian State Mountaineers arrived in Ann Arbor.
Ironically, the Big 10 Network had just launched two days prior to the game, but most of the country did not have access to the new network so not too many people outside of Ann Arbor got to see the game.
The Mountaineers were not able to move the ball much during the second quarter allowing Michigan to get back into the game.
However, with 1:37 left in the game, Appalachian State got the ball back and drove 69 yards, which led to a field goal to give them the 34-32 lead.
Michigan had one chance left, and QB Chad Henne hit WR Mario Manningham for a 46-yard pass bringing the ball to the Mountaineers 20-yard line.
With six seconds left in the game, Michigan attempted a field goal, but it was blocked to end the game.
No. 3: Jan. 1, 2007: Boise St. Upsets Oklahoma 43-42 In The Fiesta Bowl
This game, in my humble opinion, was one of the most exciting games ever played.
Unheralded Boise State, then 12-0 and ranked No. 8, finally received their due and BCS bid to face No. 10 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Still lacking some respect, the Sooners were expected to easily defeat the higher ranked Broncos.
At one point, Boise State led Oklahoma 28-10 in the third quarter stunning the crown and Sooners. Up to that point, the Sooners were playing poorly and didn't help themselves by committing several mistakes.
But in the fourth quarter, the Sooners fought back and was up 35-28 when Boise State drove 78 yards in five plays converting a fourth and 18 with a 35 yard TD on an incredible hook-and-lateral with Drisan James catching the ball and pitching it to Jerard Rabb who ran it in with seven seconds remaining in the game.
In OT, Sooner RB Adrian Peterson ran 25 yards for a TD on the first play of OT. The Broncos then tied the game when Vinny Parretta tossed it five yards to TE Derek Schouman. This wasn't the only trickery the game witnessed.
The call that made this game legendary happened with Boise State decided to go for the win instead of a tie. The Statue of Liberty play was called, and Ian Johnson ran untouched for a two-point conversion and marriage proposal to his cheerleader girlfriend.
Boise State ended up No. 5 in the AP and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches' Polls. The Sooners finished No. 6 in both polls.
The significance of this game was huge not only for Boise State, but for the non-BCS conferences as well.
No. 2: Nov. 23, 1984: Boston College Upsets Notre Dame 47-45
This game was destined to be great when the decision was made to move it to the Friday after Thanksgiving so the defending national champions Miami Hurricanes could be highlighted.
The game lived up to its billing. Miami RB Melvin Bratton was the Canes player of the game with four TDs.
QB Bernie Kosar had a great game, too, throwing for over 400 yards and two TDs. It seemed like Miami was going to escape with a victory after an embarrassing loss to Maryland the week before.
Then came the Eagles and QB Doug Flutie. With one drive left, Flutie started out on the Boston College 20-yard line. Soon came one of the greatest, if not the greatest, college football plays of all time.
With six seconds left on the clock, Flutie scrambled to his right after ducking a sack, and then let it rip from around his 37-yard line.
The 5'9" QB threw the ball 63+ yards into the end zone on the Hail Mary of all hail Mary's. It appeared that the Miami defenders didn't think he could throw it that far.
WR Gerard Phelan ran behind the Miami defenders and the untouched ball fell right into his arms.
Boston College went on to beat Houston 45-28 in the Cotton Bowl, whereas the Hurricanes lost to UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl.
No. 1: Jan. 4, 2006: Texas Defeats USC 41-38 In The Rose Bowl
Some feel this was the greatest national championship game ever. It's hard for me to disagree.
USC and Texas had been ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, all season long, and from the second the preseason polls were released the excitement for this game was at a fever pitch.
With just over six minutes to play in the game, USC held the lead 38-26 before Texas drove the ball down field and scored on a QB Vince Young six-yard run to bring it within five points.
With under four minutes left in the game, USC tried to run out the clock. Going for it on fourth and two from the Texas 45-yard line, LenDale White was stopped cold. Texas now had one more try to win the game.
The came the drive that made Vince Young a college football legend. A face mask call on third and 12 helped move the ball into USC territory, and Young went to work.
He threw two passes to Brian Carter before running for seven yards for a first down on the 13-yard line. After throwing two incomplete passes, Young ran for five yards failing to make a first down.
On fourth and five from the USC eight-yard line, Young ran for a TD to bring Texas to a 39-38 lead. After a two-point conversion again by Young, USC had very little time to make a comeback and failed.
Texas won the BCS Championship and USC finished No. 2.