The Top Five College Football Games of the Decade (So Far)

Michael PeriattCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 28:  Ian Johnson #41 of the Boise State Broncos celebrates an undefeated season after their game against the Fresno State Bulldogs on November 28, 2008 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

The college football doldrums are upon us.  This year's recruiting has ended and school is no longer in session.  Most programs haven't begun camp yet and the only news that flashes across the screen is suspensions and violations.

Schedules have been analyzed and re-analyzed, and the big out of conference games have been talked about endlessly. So instead of continuing to look forward, I think this is the perfect time to take a look back at the greatest games of the past nine years.

Now, I'm only going to list my top five here so feel free to list more, but before I begin, let me list the criteria for being a great game.

1. Stage—Was it the national championship or some good game between two teams that weren't in the national picture? For example, that Trinity game with fifteen laterals was sweet, but it wasn't greatness because it didn't mean more than what I just had for dinner.

2. Memorability—I'm not sure if that's a word or not, but is it one of those games where any fan can tell every meticulous detail about the moment they either heard about it or watched it? 

Can they tell you where they were, who they were with, what they were eating, and what quarter they took a dump? (Yes, I remember things like this.)

3. Rewatchability—If this game was on ESPN classic at the same time as new episodes of your two favorite TV shows would you still try to catch every possible second between commercials? Or at least DVR it?

4. Great individual performances—Did some guy look like the first kid to hit puberty in pee wee football? Was he sooooo good that even if you didn't like the team you found your self constantly saying things like, "Oh my God. He's freakin' unstoppable."

Or if he was playing against your team something like, "Holy f*%#in s*%$. Can somebody f*%$@# tackle this f*%$@r."

5. Certainty—This goes two ways.

Case 1—You have no clue who's going to win until the clock strikes zero and even then you're still expecting something crazy to happen. You would sit there completely unsurprised if the ref batted down the game winning pass or one of the players proposed to a cheerleader after he scored the game winning touchdown. (Oh wait!)

Case 2—It's a close enough game, but you're positive one team is going to win.  Then something insane happens and that team you were so sure was going to win is kneeling on the field with there head in there hands.

6. Wow factor—To be in the top five, you have to be in almost shock and/or pandemonium after the game.  You have to get that buzz that has nothing to do with what you were just drinking (Not that I would know anything about that, Mom).

You have to feel like something important just happened in your life and if you're like me you might be on a loop saying something like, "Oh my God! I can't believe that just happened!"  Two minute pause in disbelief...."Oh my God. That's unfreakinbelieable." 

Then say it all over again.

And last but not least......

7. Great Finish—self explanatory!

Ok now we begin the countdown.

No.5: 2008 Texas Tech vs. Texas

Maybe it's just because it's so fresh in my mind, but this game was great for four reasons.

1. It had an amazing finish

2. Games are always great when they define a player’s entire career in one play. Bill Buckner will always be the guy who let the grounder go between his legs.

Ryan Hamby will always be the guy who dropped a perfect pass twice on the same play against Texas in 2005. And Blake Gideon will always be the guy who dropped the interception that would have sent Texas to the championship.

On the other side of the coin, there are the Kirk Gibsons, Joe Carters, and Santonio Holmes of the world. 

You can add Crabtree to the list. No matter what Crabtree does in the NFL, this will always be what defines him. 

At least it was a good play.

3. Now the Red Raiders were known for something more than their bell ringer. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, please click. Very funny.)

4.  It had a direct effect on the National Championship.

No.4: OSU vs. Miami 2003 National Championship

Now I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with this one, but hear me out. Nobody gave Ohio State a shot in this game.


They were 13 point underdogs who were lucky to beat Cincinnati, Purdue, and Illinois coming into play one of the greatest teams of all time. And if you don’t remember how dominant this Miami team was, get this...They had won 34 consecutive games.

Almost three straight years without a single loss. That’s insane.

Ohio State almost lost that game so many times, but they came through in clutch situation after clutch situation. There was no way they could keep it up. 

And they didn’t.   

On fourth-and-three it happened. The most controversial call in college football history.  That infamous pass interference call is still the subject of controversy today. (It wouldn’t have mattered if Michael Jenkins catch had been accurately called in bounds on third down in the fourth quarter making it nearly impossible for Miami to even send the game into overtime, but no one talks about that.)

Lastly, people forget how talented BOTH teams were.  Go back and look at both rosters. Each team sent tons of players to the NFL. The athletes on each team were just unbelievable.

Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson, Kellen Winslow, Roscoe Parish, Sean Taylor, Chris Gamble, Matt Wilhelm, Mike Doss, Michael Jenkins, Will Smith ect.

No.3: USC vs. Notre Dame 2005

For me this is the ultimate memorability game. It was October 15, 2005.  My leg was broken, my Grandma and her Notre Dame loving husband were in town, I didn’t eat anything because I was on pain meds, and I never took a dump because it was too much effort to get to the bathroom. (I told you.)

Plus it was the finale of one of the greatest overall college football days ever. 

Any game that has the clock at zero, has time put back on the clock for one more play, then has a controversial game winning touchdown that has its own name (The Bush Push) to keep national title and Heisman hopes alive—is off the charts is greatness.

No.2: USC vs. Texas National Championship 2006

Never get one of the greatest athletes in college football history pissed.  Otherwise he’ll burn you for 467 yards, 3 TDs, and a “Keep your freakin' Heisman.”

No.1: Boise State vs. Oklahoma 2007

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t watch this game.  I watched the beginning, but being only 14 (yes this is my excuse) I didn’t stay up to the end.  In fact I woke up the next morning and didn’t even think about it. 

Then my dad came downstairs with bags under his eyes the next morning and said, “I saw the greatest football game of my life yesterday.” I said, “What? What happened?” But he couldn’t even verbalize it.  It was that big to him.

He told me later he couldn’t sleep that night because he was so fired up. Now that’s greatness. So I switched on Sportscenter, watched the highlights, and then went online to watch the whole game.


If they would have made this up and put it in a movie (they should so make a movie of this game), I wouldn’t have believed it. A hook and ladder on fourth-and-18? A half back pass on fourth-and-two? A Statue of Liberty two-point conversion to win it all?

Any sports fan knows these things just don’t happen. Not even in a video game. Just awesome.


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