The Best CFB Comeback Wins in the Last 10 Years

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 24, 2020

The Best CFB Comeback Wins in the Last 10 Years

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    The past decade of college football has featured some wild finishes, unbelievable plays and comeback victories that will be talked about for years to come.

    Everybody loves a game with a dramatic comeback, unless your team is on the losing end of it. Even then, there are times where all you can do is respect the mental fortitude and resilience to overcome a big deficit to pull off a win.

    Some of the best comebacks from the past 10 years haven't been because of the total points they overcame, although that can certainly help. Some just happened to come in big games during the season on a national stage, or ended up solidifying the legacies of the players who took part in them.

    While there were countless comeback victories in college football over the past decade, a handful stood out above the rest.

2019: UCLA 67, Washington State 63

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Last season featured one of the highest-scoring games of the decade but also one of the wildest comeback victories that featured a complete roller coaster of emotions for both UCLA and Washington State fans.

    Heading into the contest, the Bruins had yet to win a game, going 0-3. Meanwhile, the Cougars were unbeaten through their first three matchups and were ranked in the AP Top 25.

    The Cougars got off to a blazing start and were up 49-17 halfway through the third quarter. Despite ultimately losing the game, Washington State wasn't even done scoring. The Cougars had a pair of touchdown passes from Anthony Gordon to give them 63 total points behind the quarterback's 570 yards and nine (yes, nine) touchdowns.

    But the Bruins were able to score points, and quickly, to recover in the second half. Their explosive plays included a 94-yard touchdown on the first play of a drive in the third quarter, and a 69-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth.

    Dorian Thompson-Robinson's touchdown pass to Demetric Felton with just over a minute left handed the Bruins their first win of the year. It was the first of only four wins all season for UCLA, but this wild shootout and comeback win is one that will be talked about for decades to come.

2010: Auburn 28, Alabama 27

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    The Iron Bowl has featured some exciting contests and wild finishes over the years, but 2010's matchup between Auburn and Alabama had the most electric comeback in the rivalry in quite some time.

    Led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, the Tigers were on their way to a national championship, but a tough Alabama team stood in the way of greatness. The Crimson Tide, thanks to some big plays from the likes of Julio Jones and Mark Ingram, dominated the first half and had a 24-0 lead with about eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.

    Newton then went into superhero mode, leading Auburn to 21 unanswered points with two touchdown passes and another rushing. After another Alabama field goal, Newton drove back down the field in the fourth quarter, going 67 yards in 11 plays and ultimately throwing the go-ahead touchdown to Philip Lutzenkirchen.

    That ended up being the final points in the game, and the Tigers were able to secure a 28-27 victory to keep their national championship hopes alive.

    Auburn went on to defeat Oregon in the BCS National Championship, while Newton was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The Iron Bowl almost always delivers for college football fans, but this game cemented Newton's legacy as a future superstar.

2016: TCU 47, Oregon 41

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    In one of the most memorable non-playoff bowl games in recent memory, the TCU Horned Frogs stunned everyone watching the Alamo Bowl back in January of 2016.

    Heading into their biggest game of the season, the Horned Frogs were without their star player. Quarterback Trevone Boykin was suspended due to an altercation in a bar that led to his arrest a week before the big game.

    Senior Bram Kohlhausen took over under center, but things got off to a terrible start. The Ducks led 31-0 at halftime, scoring on five of their seven first-half drives, while the Horned Frogs could hardly put together anything on offense.

    Something changed in the TCU locker room at halftime. Kohlhausen helped them score 31 unanswered points to force overtime, while Oregon's quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr., left the game due to injury. The two teams traded scoring drives in overtime before an eight-yard touchdown run from Kohlhausen and a turnover on downs in the third OT helped TCU pull off the massive comeback win.

    The Horned Frogs finished the year 11-2, and while they haven't had that kind of success since, fans aren't going to forget that incredible victory any time soon.

2017: UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    When it comes to magical comeback wins over the past decade, UCLA's miraculous victory over the Texas A&M Aggies is one of the first that comes to mind.

    Back in 2017, Kevin Sumlin's Aggies ran all over the Bruins through three quarters to kick off the college football season. With a combined five rushing touchdowns and a couple of field goals, Texas A&M was up 44-10 with just 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, with the Aggies sideline looking relaxed and ready to start the season 1-0.

    Something clicked for UCLA after that. Quarterback Josh Rosen led the offense down the field over and over again. The Bruins scored 35 unanswered points, including four passing touchdowns by Rosen in the fourth quarter, to go up 45-44 with just 43 seconds remaining.

    There was some controversy about the game-winning touchdown reception potentially being incomplete, but what will be remembered is Rosen and the Bruins capping off one of the craziest comebacks the college football world has ever seen. 

2018: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (OT)

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    The end of the 2017 college football season featured a legendary comeback, not because of the number of points come back from, but the stage on which it took place and the drama that unfolded.

    It was an all-SEC showdown in the College Football Playoff national championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide. Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart was going against his former boss from just a couple of years prior in the legendary Nick Saban.

    In a low-scoring affair, the Bulldogs got off to a strong start by completely shutting down quarterback Jalen Hurts and Alabama's offense to take a 13-0 lead into halftime. With the Crimson Tide offense incapable of driving down the field, Saban made the bold decision to bench Hurts and bring in Tua Tagovailoa, a true freshman with minimal on-field experience.

    Tagovailoa wasn't perfect, but he did enough to help his offense start putting up some points, eventually forcing overtime and then throwing a game-winning touchdown to DeVonta Smith for the national title. The soon-to-be NFL quarterback finished the game 14-of-24 with 166 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

    The bold move by Saban to switch quarterbacks changed Tagovailoa's career forever. Even Hurts' career path was altered; the talented quarterback transferred to Oklahoma for another shot at a College Football Playoff appearance.

    A 13-point comeback isn't unheard of, but on the game's biggest stage with a backup quarterback being thrown out there, it has to be one of the most exciting.