Ghosts of BCS Games Past: A Look Back at the Best and Worst of the BCS

Chris Eggemeyer@@chriseggemeyerCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2010

Ghosts of BCS Games Past: A Look Back at the Best and Worst of the BCS

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    With the BCS bowls just around the corner, it's time to take our focus off the Oregon Ducks, Cam Newton and the University of Connecticut.

    It's time to take a trip into the past and look back at some famous, and some famously bad, matchups that have taken the big stage in the six BCS bowl games.

    You all probably remember some of these games: the 2008 Rose Bowl, featuring USC against Illinois, and the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, featuring Utah against Pittsburgh.

    The BCS has some great games in its past, but also some very bad games.

    So, without further delay, here are the 10 best and worst BCS bowl games ever.

Worst: 1998 Orange Bowl

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    It's hard to believe that an NFL superstar like Peyton Manning once had an ugly past like this, but it's true.

    In the 1998 Orange Bowl, the 11-1 Tennessee Volunteers, led by the great Peyton Manning, took on the 12-0 Nebraska Cornhuskers, led by running back Ahman Green.

    This game was never close.

    The Cornhuskers led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 14-3 at the end of the second. The score was 28-3 before Tennessee scored its first touchdown.

    The final score of the game: 42-17 Nebraska. This one was simply lopsided from the start.

Best: 2006 Rose Bowl

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    Once upon a time, the rivalry between Texas and USC was huge.

    With Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush leading a powerful USC team into the Rose Bowl ranked No. 1 in the BCS, Southern Cal looked like it might be bringing home the roses.

    Texas was there to play spoiler, though. With Vince Young at the helm, the No. 2 Longhorns snuck out the victory, 41-38.

    If there was one spectacular player of this game, it was Vince Young, who was 30 for 40 for 267 yards, and also ran 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Worst: 2010 Fiesta Bowl

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    I know it hasn't happened yet, and this is supposed to be about the past, but I have to include this one, if only as an extra.

    The Oklahoma Sooners should feel slighted. On account of the automatic qualifying status of the Big East, the University of Connecticut managed to make it into one of the big name BCS bowls.

    This wouldn't be that bad normally. The problem is that UConn is unranked.

    There should be a clause in the BCS bowl system that says teams not ranked in the BCS cannot play in BCS bowl games.

Best: 2003 Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship

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    As a quick refresher for those of you who don't know, the Fiesta Bowl served as the BCS National Championship game in 2003.

    The 2003 Fiesta Bowl was a big match between the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0) and the No. 1 Miami Hurricanes (12-0), and this one wasn't short of sparks or star power.

    Big plays were made and touchdowns were scored by future NFL greats like Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow Jr., Andre Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and Jonathan Vilma.

    This game was always close. Ohio State held the biggest lead of the game in the third quarter, when they held a 10-point advantage.

    The game went into double overtime, where Miami once again had the chance to tie the game and send it to another overtime. Having been stopped three times on the goal line, the Canes lined up for one last effort on 4th-and-1.

    Quarterback Ken Dorsey threw the ball as he was being hit by Ohio State linebacker Cie Grant. It went incomplete, and Ohio State won the game, 24-17 in double overtime.

Worst: 1999 Orange Bowl

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    The Florida Gators and the Syracuse Orangemen faced each other in this big ticket BCS bowl game long ago.

    While the 1998 Syracuse squad boasted Donovan McNabb under center, he was never enough to keep the Orange in the game.

    The Florida Gators were up 14-0 before Syracuse scored its first points (a field goal), but those would be its last points until a 62-yard desperation pass in the fourth quarter went for a touchdown. By that time, though, the Gators were already up 28-3.

    Final score: 31-10.

Best: 2006 Orange Bowl

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    This one looked like a lopsided matchup. 

    The Penn State Nittany Lions were ranked No. 3 in the BCS, and were figuring to take down the No. 22 Florida State Seminoles fairly easily.

    So much for that.

    Florida State put up quite a fight, an effort spearheaded by the big play potential of the offense.

    In the end, though, FSU kicker Gary Cismesia pushed the ball left and hit the upright, opening the door for the Nittany Lions to grab the win in triple overtime.

Worst: 2005 Fiesta Bowl

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    The 2005 Fiesta Bowl was the first BCS bowl game to field a non-BCS conference team, and boy was that a mistake.

    The Pittsburgh Panthers were never even close in this matchup.

    The Utah Utes were up 28-0 before the Panthers scored their first (and only) touchdown.

    The final score was 35-7. Talk about lopsided.

Best: 2005 Rose Bowl

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    Chad Henne, Braylon Edwards, Mike Hart, Vince Young, Bo Scaife. This game was full of star power.

    The Michigan Wolverines were looking for the win against the much higher-ranked Texas Longhorns, and they put up one heck of a fight.

    The game came down to the wire, but Texas kicker Dusty Magnum was sure in his aim on a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds, putting the game on ice and bringing the Roses to Texas in a 38-37 win for the Longhorns.

Worst: 2008 Sugar Bowl

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    So much for a glorious end to Hawaii's undefeated 2008 season.

    Georgia ran and passed all over the place, and played shutdown defense. Hawaii was never even close, and was down 38-3 at the end of the third quarter. It was that bad.

    Final score: 41-10. There really aren't proper words for this one.

Best: 2007 Fiesta Bowl

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    There are plenty of great bowl games in the history of the BCS, but to me, nothing comes close to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a game which ended with the finest display of trick plays that I have ever seen.

    Boise State was down 35-28 in the fourth quarter, but had stalled. It was 4th-and-18 with 18 seconds left on the clock.

    Drisan James caught a 15-yard pass. With Oklahoma defenders closing in, he lateraled in stride to Jerard Rabb, who ran the final 35 yards for the touchdown. A successful hook-and-lateral is beautiful to watch.

    Then comes overtime. The Sooners get on the board with a touchdown and successful point after. Boise State followed with a touchdown. Instead of electing to kick the extra point and send the game into a second overtime, though, Boise State chooses the two-point conversion option. The Broncos hit a perfectly executed Statue of Liberty play, scored the two-point conversion and won the game.

    Oh yeah, and Ian Johnson, who ran the two-point conversion in, ran over to the cheerleader section and proposed to his girlfriend.

    Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up.