Tues Question - Greatest Regular Season Games

Posted Aug 28, 2006

CFN's Tuesday Question - The All-Time Greatest Regular Season Games

- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time | 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners | 10 Greatest Playmakers of All-Time
- All-Time Offensive Team | All-Time Defensive Team

Pete Fiutak     
Q: The ten greatest regular season games of all-time were ...

A: This is always fun. No sport has a more important regular season than college football, so the excitement level is always jacked up for the biggest of the big games. Normally these rankings are done on meaning and importance, but here, I put as much of a premium on the exciting battles.

The games that just missed the cut (in order of how close they came). They all belong on the list....
Notre Dame 31 ... Florida State 24   November 13, 1993
- Georgia Tech 41 ... Virginia 38   November 3, 1990
- USC 21 ... UCLA 20   November 18, 1967
Boston College 41 ... Notre Dame 39   November 20, 1993
- Princeton 21 ... Chicago 18   October 28, 1922
- Georgia 26 ... Florida 21   December 2, 1980

The top ten ...

10. Harvard 29 ... Yale 29   November 23, 1968
This is one of the most endearing games of all-time since it fuels the imagination for everyone who dreams of being called out of nowhere to become a star in the biggest situation imaginable. Both Harvard and Yale were undefeated and playing for the Ivy League title. Down 22-0 late in the first half and with its offense going nowhere, Harvard replaced starting quarterback George Latich with Frank Champi, who had thrown for 46 yards on the season. He immediately sparked the Crimson as he threw a 15-yard touchdown pass with only 39 seconds to go in the first half, and led a scoring drive early in the second half culminating with a Gus Crim scoring run to narrow the lead to 22-13. After Yale and its star quarterback Brian Dowling scored to take a 29-13 lead with just under eleven minutes to play, all seemed hopeless for the Crimson. Champi responded with an 86-yard drive ending with a 16-yard TD pass with only 42 seconds to play. Crim ran for the two-point conversion to get Harvard within eight. On the ensuing onside kick, Yale lined up in a normal kick return formation and bobbled it leading to a Harvard recovery. With three seconds to play, Champi hit captain Vic Gatto with a pass deep in the end zone to pull within two, and then completed the two-point conversion to give the Crimson a miraculous tie preserving the Crimson's first unbeaten season since 1920 finishing 8-0-1. The Harvard student newspaper ran the classic headline "Harvard Wins 29-29."

9. Army 0 ... Notre Dame 0   November 9, 1946
In Yankee Stadium, the nation's two best teams, who each came into the game averaging over 30 points per game, were locked in a defensive struggle. Army marched six times inside the Irish 30-yard line, but Notre Dame held tough time and again. Army QB/DB Arnold Tucker was the star of the game intercepting three Irish passes including one that wiped out one of the best Irish scoring threats of the day. Notre Dame, led by star quarterback Johnny Lujack, only got across midfield three times all day, but the defensive effort by the Irish, also led by Lujack, was able to match Army's defensive performance. After Tucker's interception, Mr. Inside, Doc Blanchard, took off around the right side, but was barely tripped up by a game-saving tackle by Lujack to keep the game scoreless. This halted Army's 25-game winning streak.

8. Boston College 47 ... Miami 45   November 23, 1984
Yes, we all know about, arguably, the most famous play in college football history, the Doug Flutie-to-Gerard Phelan Hail Mary. This game was so much more. In a game that would resemble a pinball game, the points were flying fast and furious in windy and rainy conditions. Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar threw for 447 yards and two touchdowns while UM running back Melvin Bratton ran for 134 yards and four scores including what appeared to be the game-winning run with 28 seconds to play. Down 45-41 and 48 yards away, Flutie scrambled to his right, narrowly averted a sack, and then let it fly. He let it go from around his own 37-yard line which means the 5-9 QB chucked it 63+ yards after already throwing the ball 45 times and scrambling around all game long. Amazingly enough, Gerard Phelan had gotten behind the Miami secondary, adjusted to the throw, and made the miraculous catch.

7. SMU 20 ... TCU 14   November 30, 1935
This game had as much hype as there had ever been for a Southwest Conference game. When it was over, it was dubbed the Game of the First Half of the Century. 10-0, No. 1 SMU had the great running back Bobby Wilson while 10-0, No. 2 TCU boasted All-America quarterback Sammy Baugh. Wilson started off the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run. He put the Mustangs up 14-0 on his second touchdown of the game. Baugh was able to fight to get the Horned Frogs back into the game early in the fourth quarter tying it at 14. On the drive following Baugh's game-tying touchdown pass, Wilson, all 147 pounds of him, converted on a fourth-and-seven catching a fake 36-yard punt from Bob Finley. On the play, Wilson dove, caught it on the four-yard line, and then rolled into the end zone for score. Baugh came close to leading TCU to scores on two late drives, but both fizzled out and SMU ended up winning the national title.

6. Miami 26 ... Florida State 25   October 3, 1987
The Hurricanes were ranked third in the nation and was firmly entrenched as a college football powerhouse at this point. Florida State was ranked number four and was starting to establish itself as one of the best programs in the nation. Down 25-19 with 2:32 to play, Miami quarterback Steve Walsh audibled out of a short pass and floated a throw up the right sideline hitting Michael Irvin in perfect stride for a 73-yard touchdown. FSU quarterback Danny McManus got the ball back needing to go 75 yards for a touchdown, and he came through lofting a perfect pass to Ronald Lewis, who made a diving catch in the back of the end zone while dragging his feet to pull within one. Even though the Seminole kicking game had been miserable all day, head Bobby Bowden didn't hesitate to send Derek Schmidt out on the field for the tie. Bowden had said before the game that if it came down to it, he'd kick the extra point and take the tie instead of going for two, but McManus and the other FSU players lobbied furiously to go for two and the win. An underthrown McManus pass was broken up in the right corner of the end zone and the Canes had the win on the way to the national title.

5. Notre Dame 10 ... Michigan State 10   November 19, 1966
The No. 1 ranked Irish and No. 2 ranked Spartans battled and bruised each other to no avail.  Star Irish quarterback Terry Hanrattay was knocked out after getting crushed in the first quarter by Spartan defensive lineman Bubba Smith.  Starting Notre Dame running back Nick Eddy was out after hurting his shoulder getting off the train in East Lansing.
Even without their stars, the Irish found themselves tied 10-10 with the ball on their 30-yard line with time to go for the touchdown, or at least a game-winning field goal. But head coach Ara Parseghian elected to run the clock out and take the tie to the disappointment of football fans everywhere.

4. Notre Dame 31 ... Miami 30   October 15, 1988
The No. 1 ranked Hurricanes came into South Bend with the swagger of a defending national champion. The Canes had little trouble with the Irish over the previous years winning 24-0 in 1987 and 58-7 in 1985, but this was a new Irish team. The Hurricanes would overcome the crowd and a controversial Cleveland Gary fumble in the end zone as Steve Walsh moved the ball with little trouble on the team's final drive. On fourth down, Walsh threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to pull the Canes to within one point with 45 seconds to play. Head coach Jimmy Johnson could've kicked the extra point and would've still been the team to beat for the national title, but he chose to go for the win. Miami's two-point attempt was denied when Notre Dame's Pat Terrell knocked down Walsh's desperate try, and the Irish went on to win the national championship.

3. Nebraska 35 ... Oklahoma 31,   November 25, 1971
I always get yelled at whenever I underrank this game, but I just watched it again a few weeks ago and it just doesn't compare to the top games on my list. For months, the hype for this game was more than simply fodder for sports fans. It became a national event, and the game itself more than lived up to the hype. By many opinions, this remains the Game of the Century and a favorite in the hearts of many old-time fans. It was No. 1 Nebraska traveling to face No. 2 Oklahoma with the defending national champion Huskers coming in on a 29-game winning streak on Thanksgiving day and all the sports world watching. 55 million homes were tuned in. With 7:05 to play and 74-yards away with 7:05 left to play, the Huskers marched to the end zone highlighted by a big third down catch and run from eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Rogers. Bruising running back Jeff Kinney pounded it in for the lead and his fourth touchdown of the day, and then the defense held to preserve the historic victory.

USC 34 ... Notre Dame 31, October 15, 2005
Matt Leinart twisted and turned his way in for a one-yard touchdown run with three seconds to play to cap a wild finish. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn stretched out his arm for a five-yard touchdown with just over two minutes to play for a 31-28 Notre Dame lead, but there was too much time left on the clock. USC's final drive was bogging down, but Leinart called an audible on 4th and nine and connected with Dwayne Jarrett for a 61-yard pass. Three plays later, USC got to the two and was able to stop the clock on a Reggie Bush run for a first down, but didn't have any timeouts left. Leinart scrambled and dove to the end zone, and was stopped just short. Fans and players rushed the field as time ran out, but few saw the ball get knocked out of bounds giving USC second and goal from the one with seven seconds left. With USC head coach Pete Carroll and the coaches signaling to spike the ball, Leinart took the snap and got in for the score. Bush scored three touchdowns on runs of 36, 45 and nine yards, and LenDale White ran for a three-yard touchdown. Notre Dame's top highlight came on a bruising 60-yard punt return for a touchdown from Tom Zbikowski.

Texas 15 ... Arkansas 14   December 6, 1969
I always argue that this is among the most underrated games of all-time in terms of excitement and importance. Most still call the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma classic the greatest game of all-time, but this was simply a more entertaining game (at least to me). It was No. 1 Texas, winner of 18 straight vs. No. 2 Arkansas, winner of 15 straight in the showpiece game in college football's 100-year anniversary. It was a game that received almost unprecedented national hype when it was moved from October 18th to December 6rh to give it more of a national audience. It worked as the move made the showdown the focus of the entire sporting world doing a television rating of a 50 share. In other words, half the TV sets in the country were on this game. The game was given even a loftier status when a helicopter carried in President Richard Nixon, who had said he would name the winner of this game the national champion.  Arkansas took a 14-0 lead, and then Texas quarterback James Street began a great fourth quarter by running for a 42-yard touchdown and converted the two-point conversion. On fourth and three late in the game, Street hit Randy Peschel for a 44-yard play called 53 veer pass. The pass was a shock from the hard-core running team and would've caused a colossal controversy if it didn't work. Jim Bertelson scored on a two-yard run to tie things up. The conversion from Happy Feller put Texas up 15-14 with just under four minutes to play. Arkansas wasn't finished as the offense marched down the field making it all but certain that the game would come down to a game-deciding field goal attempt, but the Longhorns won the game, and the national title, when they intercepted a Bill Montgomery pass with 1:22 to play on their 21.

Richard Cirminiello     
Q: The ten greatest regular season games of all-time were ...

: 10. Northwestern 54 ... Michigan 51, Nov. 4, 2000
Maybe more than any other game in league history, this classic shootout declared the Big Ten as much more than just hulking linemen and three yards and a cloud of dust.  The game was the scene of almost 1,200 yards of total offense and wasn’t decided until Zak Kustok found Sam Simmons with 20 seconds left.  It was a wildly entertaining game, and easily one of the biggest wins in Northwestern history.  Best of all, those gaudy numbers were grown organically, without the artificial inflation that comes with five or six overtimes.     

9. Georgia 26 ... Florida 21, Nov. 8, 1980
This game was arguably the best Cocktail Party ever—that alone would put in the Top 25.  Factor in a memorable day from a freshman named Herschel Walker and a spectacular 93-yard, game-winning catch and run from Georgia’s Lindsay Scott, and you’ve got the ingredients for one of the ten bets games of all-time.  The Dawgs would go on to a perfect season and a national championship, which gives the come-from-behind even more historical relevance.   

8. California 25 ... Stanford 20, Nov. 20, 1982
The 1982 version of this long-standing rivalry was already a good game, but it was the final play that stamps it as one of the most memorable in college football history.  In what’s probably the zaniest, most unthinkable finishes in the annals of the sport, Cal turned the final kickoff into a rugby match, lateralling the ball long enough for Kevin Moen to find a seam in the tuba section and sprint into the end zone for a miraculous game-winning score.  We’ve seen plenty of games end on a Hail Mary, but for sheer sports novelty and excitement, we may never again witness a finish this unique. 

7. Notre Dame 31 ... Florida State 24, Nov. 13 1993
As luck would have it, the best regular season game of the decade happened to fall on the day I got hitched.  The things we do for love.  The overwhelming majority of the men chose the bar with the TV over lots of free food, a testament to how meaningful this game was between the No. 1 ‘Noles and No. 2 Irish.  Like the cocktail hour, the game lived up to the hype and kept Notre Dame fans holding their collective breaths until Charlie Ward’s bid for the tie was batted away in the Irish end zone. 

6. Texas 15 ... Arkansas 14, Dec. 6, 1969
Naturally, I’ve only seen this game on Classic Sports, but as a historian of college football, it’s easy to recognize the significance of a rivalry game between the nation’s top two teams.  The game received an unprecedented amount of attention, creating an unbelievable national buzz that would compare to one of today’s Super Bowls.  The ‘Horns scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and squelched a late Hog rally to remain unbeaten and cop the 1969 national championship. 

5. Boston College 47 ... Miami 45, Nov. 23, 1984
At its best, sports can have a magical quality about it.  And that was never more evident than when Doug Flutie’s heave found Gerard Phelan’s chest at the end of the Miami game.  It was one of the greatest finishes ever of a college game, but this was much more than a single play.  Miami and BC went toe-to-toe for 60 minutes, putting up all kinds of numbers in awful conditions.  Even before the miracle finale, it was vintage Flutie, who threw for 476 yards and three scores, and ended any speculation over who would win the 1984 Heisman Trophy.     

4. Miami 26 ... Florida State 25, Oct. 3, 1987
It started slowly, but wound up being one of the most compelling and dramatic final two quarters of college football.  It was Miami and Florida State, which meant gobs of talent and instant hatred on both sidelines and in both cities.  The ‘Noles jumped out to a big lead, but the ‘Canes battled back and took a 26-19 lead in the waning minutes on Steve Walsh’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Michael Irvin.  Danny McManus drove Florida State 75 yards for what appeared to be the equalizer, but the ‘Noles went for the win, and the two-point conversion failed. It was vintage Miami-Florida State in a game that set the standard for this rivalry.

3. USC 34 ... Notre Dame 31, Oct. 15, 2005
The energy for this game was palpable from the Friday night pep rally right up until kickoff in South Bend.  It just felt like a one-for-the-ages match up, and it failed to disappoint.  It was also the first time in years that a game between these long-time rivals really mattered on a national scale.  The last five minutes pulsated like mad with three lead changes, an absolutely perfect 61-yard, fourth down toss from Matt Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett and Leinart’s plunge to win the game with the three seconds left.  Just an insane finish to a great football game.  USC left South Bend with its 28-game winning streak intact, while even in losing, Notre Dame make a statement that better days lie ahead.        

2. Nebraska 35 ... Oklahoma 31, Nov. 25, 1971
Again, never saw it live, but know enough about the game and its place in history to place it this high.  All the ingredients were in place for a classic American sporting event—Thanksgiving Day, rival programs, No. 1 v. No. 2 with the top-ranked Huskers riding a 29-game winning streak.  Both teams had steamrolled everything in their paths, setting up a showdown of epic proportions.  The game itself lacked a dramatic, last-second finish, but was competitive throughout and well-played, living up to its billing as the Game of the Century.

1. Notre Dame 31 ... Miami 30, Oct. 15, 1988
Personally speaking, it was the most exciting regular season college football game I’d ever seen.  The whole Catholics vs. Convicts thing was stirring passions on both sides and the teams brawled in the tunnel before the game even started.  The game could possibly match that kid of intensity, could it?  It did.  Miami temporarily quieted a berserk South Bend crowd by pulling within a point with under a minute left.  Making one of the gutsiest calls a coach will ever make, Jimmy Johnson put Miami’s 36-game winning streak on the line and sent out the offense to go for two and the lead.  Steve Walsh’s pass was batted away in a game that propelled the Irish to the 1988 national championship and back to prominence in college football.        

John Harris     
Q: The ten greatest regular season games of all-time were ...

1.  1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
This one just seemed to have it all.  Offensive explosion, led by Nebraska IB Jeff Kinney’s four touchdowns.  Defensive performances, led by Nebraska NT Rich Glover’s 22 tackles.  A transcendent moment, 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers’ “Man, woman and child” punt return in the first quarter when he first shook Oklahoma star RB Greg Pruitt on first contact and then bobbed and weaved for the opening score of the game.  Can you imagine Adrian Peterson running down and covering punts?  Either way, Oklahoma QB Jack Mildren and WR Jon Harrison kept the Sooners in the game with tremendous performances as well, even though the passing game wasn’t the foundation of the OU wishbone offense.  Eventually, though, Kinney wore down the Oklahoma defense.  Games don’t often live up to the tremendous hype, but this one did.

2.  1984 Boston College vs. Miami
If all you ever remembered about this game was the “Hail Mary” from Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan, that might be enough to make the list.  However, what moves this game up the list is the entire 60 minutes where Miami’s Bernie Kosar and BC’s Flutie waged an air battle akin to Ali-Frazier III.  Flutie just got the chance to throw the last punch, and what a haymaker it was.  But, Kosar sliced up the BC defense just as much as Flutie did the Cane secondary (Flutie – 476 yards passing, Kosar – 447).  92 points, a million yards of total offense and two of the greatest college QBs dueling in a fabled setting?  Has to be one of the top two regular season games ever.

3.  October 15, 2005 USC vs. Notre Dame
It’s hard to believe that, as a college football fan, you weren’t in a quandary about which game to watch at about 7:00 PM EST.  USC and Notre Dame were completing one of the greatest in their storied history, 34 – 31 Men of Troy.  Michigan ruined Penn State’s perfect season on the last play of the game on a Chad Henne dart to Mario Manningham.  And, in the underrated game of the day, West Virginia and Louisville went into three overtimes.  Lucky for me, I had two TVs and one computer showing games so I didn’t miss one play (okay, sorry, that was a bit obnoxious).  No one day had as much to remember than this October day last season and the USC-Notre Dame finish just added the panache it needed to be, arguably, the greatest single day in college football history

4.  1988 Notre Dame vs. Miami (ironically October 15th, 1988)
If the “Catholics vs. Convicts” moniker wasn’t enough to tell you about the bad blood between these two, maybe the pre-game fight was.  The Canes hadn’t lost a regular season game since early in the 1985 season, a season in which the Canes drubbed the Irish in the Orange Bowl.  Running it up, actually.  The Irish seniors were freshmen when that happened and by their senior year they were ready to exact revenge.  The Irish defense made one play after the next slowing down a Steve Walsh/Cleveland Gary offense that didn’t seemingly have a weakness.  Irish DE Frank Stams was brilliant coming off the edge, harassing Walsh all game long, helping create Pat Terrell’s key pick six off a Stams deflection.  The Irish did have luck on its side when the officials blew the Cleveland Gary fumble call in the fourth quarter, but they deserved to win this game, regardless.  Jimmy Johnson made it a game for the ages when he decided to go for two to win, not to tie and on this occasion, it didn’t pay off for him or the Canes.  31 – 30.  Irish.  Greatness.  

5.  1968 Harvard vs. Yale
Ivy League games don’t usually make any list of the greatest games of all-time, but this one is the exception, to say the least.  Yale, led by Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill, were as dominant as any Ivy team had ever been, but Harvard was undefeated as well going into the game at Harvard Stadium.  The Crimson were toast with 42 seconds left, trailing by 16 points, 29 - 13, but somehow Frank Champi, Vic Gatto and the Crimson pulled ‘victory’ from the jaws of defeat by scoring 16 points in those last 42 seconds to tie.  The final touchdown of the game, where Champi scrambles for about a year in the pocket, is one of the most improbable in the history of the Ivy League.  The next day the Harvard newspaper headline read “Harvard wins – 29 – 29”.  Leave it to the ‘smaht’ kids to figure that one out.

6.  1969 Texas vs. Arkansas
For all of the hype that followed this game, it didn’t quite live up to all of the hype, but this old-school SWC battle was a tremendous game, nonetheless.  With President Nixon in the audience, Texas QB James Street made two plays in the fourth quarter that made him a legend in Austin forever – 43 yard touchdown scramble and the 4th and 3 throw to Randy Peschel to put the Horns in position to score the game winning touchdown.  For three quarters, the Hogs shut down the unstoppable Horn offense, but when Street exerted his will in the final 15 minutes, the Hogs couldn’t stop him.  President Nixon made enemies all over Happy Valley, PA when he proclaimed the Longhorns National champs in the locker room after the game, which just added more intrigue to the game.  Rumor has it that Joe Paterno was Deep Throat, in response to the slight of his undefeated 1969 team, but that’s never been substantiated (yes, that’s tongue in cheek).

7.  1980 Georgia vs. Florida
“Lindsay Scott!  Lindsay Scott!  Lindsay Scott!”.  This Cocktail Party, err, Florida-Georgia matchup looked bleak for the Dawgs due in large part to a passing game that was putrid throughout the day.  That’s probably why Georgia announcer Larry Munson couldn’t believe what he was seeing as Scott was sprinting down the sideline past the Florida secondary with just over a minute remaining for the 93 yard game winning touchdown.  The Scott TD overshadowed a wonderful performance by true freshman RB Herschel Walker (238 yards) and the loss overshadowed a gutty performance by freshman Gator QB Wayne Peace.  But, all everyone will remember is “Lindsay Scott!” and Munson’s famous call.

8.  1967 USC vs. UCLA
Two Heisman candidates battling for personal and team supremacy in not only the Pac-8, but the national championship race – a solid formula for one of the greatest regular season games of all-time.  UCLA’s Gary Beban, who would win the ’67 Heisman, and USC’s OJ Simpson carried each one’s respective team in the most memorable ‘battle of LA’.  Simpson’s 64 yard touchdown run put the Trojans ahead early in the fourth quarter.  But, Beban had a shot to bring the Bruins back, but the Trojan defense snuffed out each opportunity to put USC into the Rose Bowl and at the forefront of the national championship race.

9.  1985 Alabama vs. Auburn
Soon-to-be Kansas City Royal Bo Jackson was the marquee name in this version of the annual Iron Bowl.  Even in playing with broken ribs, Bo still ran for two touchdowns against Cornelius Bennett and the ‘Bama defense.  But, the names Gene Jelks and Van Tiffin became household names in ‘Bama homes and blasphemous in Auburn residences due to this game.  Jelks’s long touchdown run put ‘Bama up late in the fourth quarter, but Auburn responded with a late touchdown to put them up one.  After Auburn sacked QB Mike Shula, it didn’t look like Tiffin would get a shot at a game winning field goal, but one bold reverse call and a completion to Greg Richardson gave Tiffin a 52 yard shot to win the game.  And, become a hero.  Chalk up both for Tiffin.  The Iron Bowl has had many great memorable games, but this was one of the best games I ever saw.

10.  1987 Miami vs. Florida State
It’s hard to imagine that a regular season game had as many pro prospects.  Prime Time.  Michael Irvin.  Steve Walsh.  Sammie Smith.  Bennie Blades.  Bill Hawkins.  Leroy Butler.  Daniel Stubbs.  Wow.  And, the list goes on and on.  But, the game itself was a gem.  Miami trailed 19 to 3, but it should’ve been worse if the Noles could kick a field goal (yes, the precursor to the Wide Right series).  But, after two touchdowns and two 2 point conversions, the Canes tied it up.  After recovering a Nole fumble, Walsh hit Irvin on a long touchdown catch-and-run that put Miami up by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.  But, the Noles fought back to score what seemed to be the game tying touchdown on a tremendous catch by Jacksonville native Ron Lewis.  However, Bobby Bowden went for the two to win, and Bubba McDowell made him pay for taking the risk.  The state of Florida has always had great football, but this game exemplified the talent that was prevalent in this state.  People may not have taken notice before this game, but those people took notice after this game, no question.

Honorable Mention:  1993 Boston College vs. Notre Dame, 1997 Florida vs. Florida State, 2000 Northwestern vs. Michigan, 2001 Arkansas vs. Ole Miss (7 OTs), 1982 Cal vs. Stanford, 1966 Michigan State vs. Notre Dame, 1994 Florida vs. Auburn and Colorado vs. Michigan, 1972 Auburn vs. Alabama (“Punt, Bama, Punt”), 1997 Nebraska vs. Missouri – “Flea Kicker”, 1999 Alabama vs. Florida, 1999 Georgia Tech vs. Georgia

Best “Weather” games
1.  1992 Apple Cup – QB Drew Bledsoe slicing UW through a blinding snowstorm to drop defending national champs.
2.  1992 Notre Dame vs. Penn State – the “Snow Bowl”
3.  1950 Michigan vs. Ohio State – the first “Snow Bowl”
4.  1985 Ohio State vs. Michigan game – Sheets of rain and Bucks knocking off #1 Iowa.
5.  1984 Red River Rivalry – Texas vs. OU – Kissing your sister in the rain

Best offensive shootouts
1.  2000 Michigan vs. Northwestern
2.  1984 Boston College vs. Miami
3.  1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
4.  1994 Florida vs. Auburn
5.  1990 USC vs. UCLA
6.  1990 Georgia Tech vs. Virginia
7.  1998 Washington vs. Arizona State
8.  1992 Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
9.  1999 Alabama vs. Florida
10.  1999 Georgia Tech vs. Georgia

Best series of great games
1.  Miami vs. Florida State (1987, 1991, 1992, 2000, 2002)
2.  Alabama vs. Auburn (1972, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1993)
3.  Notre Dame vs. USC (2005, 1989, 1974, 1986)
4.  Miami vs. Notre Dame (1988 – 1990)
5.  Michigan vs. Ohio State (1969, 1996)

Best Upsets
1.  1969 Michigan over #1 ranked Ohio State
2.  1981 Wisconsin over #1 ranked Michigan
3.  1993 Boston College over #1 ranked Notre Dame
4.  1997 Georgia over Florida
5.  1995 UVA over Florida State – first ACC loss for Noles comes in C’Ville.
6.  1990 BYU over Miami
7.  1999 Minnesota over #2 Penn State
8.  1988 Washington State over #1 UCLA
9.  1997 LSU over #1 Florida 

Best Comebacks
1.  1994 Florida State vs. Florida – the “Choke at the Doak”
2.  1968 Harvard vs. Yale – “Harvard wins 29 – 29”
3.  1984 Maryland vs. Miami
4.  1974 USC vs. Notre Dame
5.  2003 Arkansas vs. Alabama
6.  1994 Colorado vs. Michigan
7.  1988 Miami vs. Michigan
8.  1994 Penn State vs. Illinois

Best #1 vs. #2
1.  1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
2.  1969 Arkansas vs. Texas
3.  1967 USC vs. UCLA
1993 Notre Dame vs. Florida State
5.  1981 USC vs. Oklahoma
6.  1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State 

Best Finish
1.  1982 Cal vs. Stanford
2.  1984 Boston College vs. Miami
3.  2005 USC vs. Notre Dame
4.  1994 Colorado vs. Michigan
5.  1968 Harvard vs. Yale
6.  2002 LSU vs. Kentucky – the “Bluegrass Miracle”
7.  1988 Florida State vs. Clemson – the “Fumblerooski”
8.  1982 SMU vs. Texas Tech – think “Music City Miracle” 18 years earlier
9.  1979 Michigan vs. Indiana – solely for Michigan announcer Bob Ufer’s end game ‘call’.

Matthew Zemek     
Q: The ten greatest regular season games of all-time were ...

Having two teams in a larger context gives less cause for divisiveness. Do note that a number of highly publicized and historically significant games are not on this list. The notion of a great game suggests that a game with appreciable significance and attendant hype was played well by two teams, with the end result having considerable implications for the sport in some fashion: a national title game reached (or not), a Heisman Trophy won (or not), a great rivalry being affirmed or enhanced on a national level. Great games merge on-field quality with history. Many well-played games in college football's 137-year history have not been significant, and many significant games have not been played well.

This list, then, looks at the huge games that were played well.

(1) Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31 - 1971. Why the best ever? A Heisman AND an eventual national champion were defined in this game, but the loser possessed levels of valiance and stature that were very close to the winning team. I would also submit that it's important that a game reverberates through the pages of time, aging the way a fine wine would, before it dares to be called the very best regular season college football game of all time.

Consider this: if the 2006 Notre Dame team stumbles, would you downgrade the 2005 USC-Notre Dame game on an all-time list? The answer isn't an easy or automatic one, but the very fact that such a question merits contemplation is enough to keep Trojans-Irish out of the top spot. It's also why very recent history needs to be tempered by a longer historical view... in college football and just about any other field of study.

(2) Army 21, Navy 18 - 1946. There were two Army-Navy games with particularly incredible play, heft and drama in the 20th century. In 1963, Navy went to the national title game because a clock malfunction at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia. In this game, Army benefited from a clock malfunction that hampered Navy's chances for victory in the dying moments.

This game rises above the '63 contest because the last of Army's great Blanchard-and-Davis juggernauts was taken to the wire by a one-win Navy team. That only makes this game more remarkable... and more emblematic of the spiritedness of an Army-Navy game, in which the passions often render the records irrelevant.

(3) USC 21, UCLA 20 - 1967. The greatest run John McKay ever saw occurred in this game. 'Nuff said.

(4) USC 34, Notre Dame 31 - 2005. A classic by any standard in any age.

Ragged in a few areas, but boy was that fourth quarter chock full of glorious gridiron moments that gave you goosebumps. As memorable a fourth quarter in any football game, anywhere and anytime. The rivalry and the scene only enhanced the football fullness of this electrifying climax to a mid-Autumn masterpiece.

(5) Notre Dame 31, Miami 30 - 1988. The other game at Notre Dame Stadium in the past 30 years that truly exceeded the absurdly ridiculous pre-kickoff hype. That it had the ultimate college football ending - a climactic two-point try which Notre Dame's Pat Terrell foiled - didn't hurt.

(6) Miami 26, Florida State 25 - 1987. The best Miami-FSU game ever played.

That alone makes this a game worthy of distinction.

(7) Florida 32, Florida State 29 - 1997. Bobby Bowden won the career series against Steve Spurrier and Florida, but in 1997, Spurrier had his two greatest moments as a coach. First came the national title in January, the moment that validated his career and gave the Gators a coveted, historic and long-elusive moment on the mountaintop. This game in November of that same calendar year featured one of the single most creative coaching performances in college football history. The Doug Johnson-Noah Brindise QB shuffle--a play-to-play platoon used by Spurrier--enabled a flagging Florida team to pick off the Noles and knock FSU out of a likely split national title with Michigan. It's hard to remember a big and consequential game being more influenced by a coach's strategy than this one.

(8) Navy 21, Army 15 - 1963. 1946, except the other team got victimized by the clock. This turnabout is precisely what makes the Army-Navy game worthy of two entries on this short list: you can't have one of these without the other.

(9) Boston College 47, Miami 45 - 1984. One could find other "fun"

shootout-style games in college football's long and colorful history, but this was the point-a-minute game that had the great scene (the venerable Orange Bowl), the national TV audience, the lasting effect on the Heisman Trophy, and a classic finish, all wrapped into one. That the sport's reigning champion was on the other side of Hail Flutie didn't exactly diminish the magnitude of the occasion.

(10) Georgia 26, Florida 21 - 1980. This game produced riveting action, one of the great radio calls in sports history, an eventual national champion's closest escape from danger, and the ability of a run-first team to find an unusual way to win a game in its final stages. "Run, Lindsay, Run!" is a moment that, even to this day, reverberates through the ages the way a great moment should. That the rest of this game wasn't chopped liver makes the '80 Cocktail Party worth toasting.