100 Greatest Finishes - No. 91 to 100

Posted Jul 9, 2007

The 100 Greatest College Football Finishes since 1970 ... No. 91 to No. 100

100 Greatest Finishes - 91 to 100

The greatest endings in college football history from 1970 to the present

Writeups by Pete Fiutak  updated June 2007

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-8081-90  

The basic criteria: 1) These are the greatest finishes, not the greatest games. With few exceptions, the finish means the final play, final drive, or some other wild series of events to end a game. A good fourth quarter of a classic game doesn't necessarily count as a great finish. (For example, the classic 1997 Nebraska win over Missouri was a great game with a wild fourth quarter, but the actual end wasn't that great. It's splitting hairs.)

2) The better, bigger and more significant the game, the more important the finish.

3) How memorable was it? It might not have been meaningful to determining a national champion, but it might have been one of the signature moments in college football history.

No. 100  Rutgers 50 ... Virginia Tech 49, October 31, 1992
At the time: Rutgers was in the midst of its only winning season for more than a decade led by Miami transfer Brian Foray. The Scarlet Knight quarterback was the star of a 4-3 team that hadn't beaten anyone of note. Virginia Tech wasn't the Virginia Tech you now know starting the year 2-4-1 only beating James Madison and a miserable Temple team.
The setup: It was a fun shootout with several wild plays and major mistakes by both sides. Fortay, who threw five interceptions including one for a touchdown, was benched several times only to come back and lead Rutgers to points. Down 49-44 with less than three minutes to play, Fortay threw one of his worst interceptions of the day apparently sealing the win for Virginia Tech. But Rutgers was able to use all of its timeouts and got the ball back with 1:32 to play
The ending: On the Virginia Tech 15, Fortay threw a floating pass to the back right corner of the end zone to Chris Brantley for his third touchdown of the day coming with no time left on the clock for the win.
How they ended up: Virginia Tech went on to lose the final three games of the season to finish 2-8-1. The following year, the Hokies went 9-3 and haven't looked back since. Rutgers went in the opposite direction after 1992, but this win was part of a great finish winning four out of the final five games to end up 7-4.

No. 99  Utah 35 ... Minnesota 29, September 8, 1990
At the time: Utah had started the season with a 19-0 road win over Utah State. This was Minnesota's home opener.
The setup: Utah jumped out to an early 19-0 lead, but Minnesota battled back in the turnover-fest and eventually tied it at 29 late in the third quarter on a two-point conversion. Using the field position off a blocked punt, Minnesota had the ball set up for a 29-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds to play.
The ending: Utah's Greg Reynolds barreled through the middle of the line to block the kick. LaVon Edwards picked it up and raced 91 yards for the game-winning touchdown as time ran out.
How they ended up: Utah scored 35 points against Minnesota, but it only scored 37 points over the next four games for a 2-3 start. The offense struggled all season long as the Utes finished 4-7 in the first year of the Ron McBride era. Minnesota went on to win six of the final ten games to finish 6-5.

No. 98  Kentucky 14 ... Vanderbilt 7, November 6, 1971
At the time: Both teams stunk. Kentucky had finally broken a six-game losing streak with a 33-27 win over Virginia Tech while Vanderbilt had just broken a four-game losing streak with a 13-9 win over Tulane. It was a very cold, very rainy day between the two SEC lightweights. Kentucky was trying to break a 17-game SEC losing streak.
The setup: Kentucky's Jim Reed scored on a 44-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Vanderbilt broke a 15 quarter home scoreless streak with a four-yard Jamie O'Rourke touchdown run. Kentucky kicker Tom Kirk missed three field goals, so UK elected to punt with 50 seconds to play from its own 44 rather than try to get into field goal range.
The ending: Vandy started on its own 30 and ran a conservative play to try to run out the clock and take the tie. With the home crowd booing on homecoming day, Vanderbilt tried one more last gasp play. QB Steve Burger threw a horrible pass which was easily picked off by Kentucky's Darryl Bishop who raced up the sidelines and into the end zone for the 43-yard touchdown as time ran out.
How they ended up: Vanderbilt beat Tampa the following week before closing out with a loss to Tennessee. The Commodores finished 4-6-1 only scoring 136 points. Kentucky lost it final to game to finish 3-8 only scoring 144 points.

No. 97  Georgia Tech 31 ... Clemson 28, November 28, 2000
At the time: 5-2 Georgia Tech had won three straight and was looking to make a statement in the ACC title race. Number four Clemson had started off the season 8-0 and was looking forward to a showdown with Florida State the following week with the hopes of securing a conference title.
The setup: It was a tremendous game with long scoring drives and an 88-yard punt return for a score from Clemson's Brian Mance. The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with under two minutes to play on a Rod Gardner touchdown catch. Kelly Campbell finished with 209 receiving yards for the Yellow Jackets, and was the focus of the Clemson defense on the final drive.
The ending: Tech QB George Godsey, who finished with a school record 454 passing yards, had the ball on the Clemson 16 with time running out. He lofted a pass into the end zone for Kerry Watkins, but it appeared to be out of reach. Watkins dove, making a one-handed grab for the game-winning score with just seven seconds to play.
How they ended up: Clemson got steamrolled 54-7 by Florida State the following week before beating South Carolina in 16-14 classic. The Tigers ended up 9-3 after losing 41-20 to Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Georgia Tech won its next three games to end the regular season with a seven-game winning streak before losing 28-14 to LSU in the Peach Bowl for a 9-3 record.

No. 96 Miami 10 ... West Virginia 7, October 26, 1996
At the time: Miami was trying to break a two-game losing streak after getting blasted by East Carolina and Florida State by a combined score of 65 to 22. At 4-2, the Canes were trying to turn their season around. West Virginia was rolling and in the hunt for the Big East title having won its first seven games of the year.
The setup: It was a defensive battle as Miami was only able to manage field goal. Up 7-3 late in the fourth quarter, West Virginia couldn’t run out the clock and had to give the ball back, hoping its defense would be able to stop the Cane offense as it had done all game long.
The ending: With just :26 to play, Miami's Tremain Mack roared in and blocked West Virginia's punt. Jack Hallmon picked it up and handed it to Nate Brooks who took it twenty yards for a touchdown and a Miami win.
How they ended up: West Virginia never recovered. The following week, Syracuse blasted the Mountaineers 30-7. After blowing out a hapless Rutgers team 55-14, Don Nehlen's team lost to Virginia Tech before losing to North Carolina in the Gator Bowl to finish 8-4. Miami ended up winning five of its final six games culminating in a 31-21 Carquest Bowl win over Virginia to finish 9-3.

No. 95  Florida State 38 ... Florida 34, November 29, 2003
At the time: Florida was on a five-game winning streak and had appeared to finally get rolling under head coach Ron Zook. A win over Florida State would do loads for national respect and keep the momentum rolling. The Noles were having a slight crisis losing to Clemson and then surviving a 50-44 classic against NC State to 9-2 going into the showdown in Gainesville.
The setup: Florida fans will forever complain about questionable officiating, which had been a problem all game long, taking the luster off a great game. Keiwan Ratliff returned a Rix fumble 77 yards for a third quarter score, but Florida State would answer as Pat Watkins returned what appeared to be a downed Ciatrick Fason fumble for a score. Florida appeared to have the game won on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ben Troupe with just under three minutes to play, but Florida State had one final chance.
The ending: Down three with under a minute to play and on its own 48, Florida State’s Chris Rix rolled to his right and flung it deep. P.K. Sam fought his way through the Florida defenders, leapt up, and came down with the grab and the win. For the game, Rix completed 14 of 19 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score.
How they ended up: Florida State couldn't maintain the mojo. In a rematch with Miami, the Noles couldn't avenge a 22-14 loss and fell 16-14 in the Orange Bowl. The Gator season went from bad to worse getting blasted 37-17 to Iowa in the Outback Bowl to finish 8-5.

No. 94  Tennessee 34 ... Syracuse 33, September 5, 1998
At the time: It was the season opener for each team. Tennessee was in game one following the Peyton Manning era, while Syracuse and quarterback Donovan McNabb were trying to get off to a big start after closing out 1997 with eight straight wins before a Fiesta Bowl loss to Kansas State.
The setup: In an exciting see-saw game, Syracuse got a late 19-yard field goal for a 33-31 lead and an apparent victory. Jamal Lewis had rushed for 141 yards for the Vols, but new starting quarterback Tee Martin struggled despite running for a touchdown and throwing two scores to Peerless Price. Martin would get one final drive to try to make amends for a rocky start.
The ending: Helped by a questionable pass interference call on fourth down to keep the drive alive, Martin coolly and calmly lead the Volunteers into field goal position. With the Carrier Dome crowd roaring, Jeff Hall connected on a 27-yard field goal as time ran out.
How they ended up: Syracuse overcame the heartbreaker to shock Michigan 38-28 in the Big House. Despite losses to NC State and West Virginia, the Orangemen ended up in the BCS losing 31-10 to Florida in the Orange Bowl. Tennessee had a dream season winning tight games with Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi State to get to the Fiesta Bowl against Florida State for the national title. The Vols won 23-16.

No. 93  Miami 16 ... Syracuse 10, November 21, 1992
At the time: Miami was on yet another apparent national title run coming into Syracuse 9-0 led by Gino Torretta and its high-powered offense. Syracuse was also on a roll winning seven straight following an early season loss to Ohio State. The year before the bowl coalition kicked in, the winner of this game would be the Big East champion and earn a spot of the Sugar Bowl. The loser would likely end up in the Fiesta, though that wasn't confirmed at the time.
The setup: The Carrier Dome was rocking. Miami was up by six late in the game, but Syracuse was on the march. Marvin Graves and the Orangemen were in range for a possible program-changing win with time ticking off the clock.
The ending: Graves went back to pass and found tight end Chris Gedney on the three-yard line. All he had to do was turn get into the end zone with no time left on the clock and the win, barring a missed extra point, and the title was Syracuse's, and Miami’s national title shots would be crushed, but Gedney was stopped just short as time ran out.
How they ended up: Syracuse was still granted a major bowl slot, and took advantage with a 26-22 win over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl for its fifth straight bowl win and a 10-2 season. Miami was expected to win the national title in the Sugar Bowl, but Alabama's defense came through with a 34-13 win.

No. 92  Ohio State 27 ... Iowa 26, November 11, 1990
At the time: Iowa was 7-1 and ranked sixth in the nation with the only loss coming at Miami early in the season. Ohio State was also on a bit of a roll winning three straight and was looking to slow down Iowa's march to the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl. A home win for Iowa would clinch a trip to Pasadena.
The setup: Iowa appeared to be on the way to the win jumping out to a 17-7 first half lead, but Ohio State got a miracle play just before halftime as Jeff Graham caught a touchdown pass that bounced off the shoulder pads of Hawkeye defensive back Merton Hanks. Iowa came back roaring to take a 26-14 lead, but OSU got a 21-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Olive with just over six minutes to play to close the gap to five. The Buckeyes got the ball back at around midfield with :59 to play and no timeouts. Quarterback Greg Frey got OSU down to the Iowa three with seven seconds to play.
The ending: Frey and Olive connected for their second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter on a diving grab in the back of the end zone with one second left to play.
How they ended up: The Hawkeyes beat Purdue the following week to earn the trip to Pasadena. However, they lost to Minnesota to close out the regular season and lost 46-34 to Washington in the Rose Bowl to finish 8-4. Ohio State beat a hapless Wisconsin team the following week before losing a 16-13 heartbreaker to Michigan. A 23-11 Liberty Bowl loss to Air Force ended the year at 7-4-1.

No. 91  Mississippi State 6 ... Alabama 3, November 1, 1980
At the time: Two-time defending national champion Alabama was 7-0 and held the nation's longest winning streak at 28 games. Mississippi State, led by head coach Emory Bellard, better known as the creator of the wishbone offense, was 6-2 coming off wins over Miami and Auburn. The week before this showdown, Alabama beat Southern Miss 42-7. Southern Miss had beaten Mississippi State 42-14 a few weeks earlier.
The setup: Fumbles led to all the early points in a 3-3 tie as the defenses dominated. MSU was able to go on its only sustained drive of the game early in the fourth quarter culminating in a 22-yard field goal and a 6-3 lead. MSU had another late field goal attempt with just over two minutes to play, but it was blocked leading to a last-gasp Bama drive. QB Don Jacobs got the Tide down to the MSU 20 with no timeouts and :40 remaining even though he couldn't hear over the roaring Bulldog crowd.
The ending: Even with the cowbells and the screaming, Jacobs still got the Tide down to the MSU four. The clock kept ticking. There wasn't enough time to get the field goal unit on the field for a last-gasp attempt, so Jacobs took the snap and ran the option to the right only to be met by MSU's Tyrone Keys, who forced a fumble. MSU's Billy Jackson made his second fumble recovery of the game sealing the win ... or so the Bulldog fans thought. There were still six seconds left to play meaning MSU had to snap the ball one more time. Quarterback John Bond fumbled the snap on the MSU one leading to a mad pileup, but the Bulldogs recovered.
How they ended up: MSU ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak and a 9-2 record before losing 31-17 to Nebraska in the Sun Bowl. Alabama recovered to throttle LSU 28-7 the following week before losing 7-0 to Notre Dame. The Tide ended up 10-2 finishing with a 30-2 win over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.


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