100 Greatest Finishes - No. 61 to 70

Posted Jul 9, 2007

The 100 Greatest College Football Finishes since 1970 ... No. 61 to No. 70

100 Greatest Finishes - 61 to 70

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 | 71-8081-90 | 91-100  

No. 70  Syracuse 28 ... Virginia Tech 26, November 14, 1998
At the time: It was a battle for the Big East title as 7-1 Virginia Tech faced a 5-3 Syracuse team that needed a win against the Hokies and a victory over Miami the following week to win the title.
The setup: Syracuse dominated the game, but was down 21-6 at halftime on a 76-yard Jarrett Ferguson touchdown run, a blocked punt for a score and a 78-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. SU QB Donovan McNabb led the Orangemen back to a 22-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. SU decided to go for two after a Rob Konrad touchdown, but Tech's Loren Johnson picked off a McNabb pass and took it deep into SU territory before fumbling it into the end zone. After the Hokie recovery, Tech was up 23-22. A 49-yard field goal gave Tech a 26-22 lead with just over four minutes to play. SU was moving the ball on its final drive, but it was also eating up tons of time. McNabb saved the day on a fourth down scramble down to the 15 before throwing up. He yacked twice more on the next play, but still ended up getting the offense down to the one with less than a minute to play. And then he made Virginia Tech fans sick
The ending: On first and goal from the one, Konrad got stuffed. McNabb had to throw the ball away on second down, but a pass interference call on Tech once again made it first and goal from the one. McNabb got sacked by Tech's Corey Moore forcing a spike on the following play with five seconds left. On the 13 and with time for one more play, McNabb rolled to his right unable to find any receivers open. TE Stephen Brominski tried to get open running to the left with a Hokie defender frantically chasing him. McNabb wheeled and fired the pass high in the air across the field. Brominski outjumped the defender for the touchdown and the win with no time left on the clock.
How they ended up: Syracuse blasted Miami 66-13 the following week to win the Big East champion and a berth in the Orange Bowl. After losing 31-10 to Florida, the Orangemen finished with an 8-4 record. Virginia Tech beat Rutgers 47-7 the next week before losing 36-32 to Virginia. With a 38-7 Music City Bowl win over Alabama, the Hokies finished with a 9-3 record.

No. 69  Georgia 56 ... Auburn 49, November 16, 1996
At the time: 3-5 Georgia was desperately trying to get its season going losing three of its last four games and coming off a blowout loss to Florida. 7-2 Auburn was in the mix for the SEC title, but couldn't afford to slip after losses to LSU and Florida in league play.
The setup: Auburn had a stronger team than Georgia in 1996 and looked the part early on with a 28-7 lead late in the first half on three Dameyune Craig touchdown passes. But the Dawgs fought back with a late touchdown before heading into the locker room and a 67-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward on the third play of the second half to get in it. Down by seven, Georgia had the ball on its own 18 with 1:07 to play. QB Mike Bobo caught fire completing five straight passes before getting sacked as time was running out. And then the fun began.
The ending: On 3rd and 18, Bobo connected with Corey Allen for a 30-yard touchdown pass with no time left on the clock followed by a Hap Hines extra point to tie it at 28 and force overtime. In the first extra frame, Craig ran for a 13-yard score for Auburn, but Georgia answered with a nine-yard Robert Edwards touchdown run. In the second overtime, Edwards ran for a five-yard score answered by a Fred Beasley three-yard run to tie it at 42. The Tiger offense kept on rolling in the third overtime as Craig ran for a one-yard score, but Edwards was at it again with a nine-yard score to tie it at 49. Edwards once again the man on the next Dawg drive working it down to the two leading to a one-yard Torin Kirtsey touchdown run for a 56-49 lead. It was Auburn's turn in the fourth overtime, but this time the Georgia defense was tough. Craig threw two incompletions and ran for seven yards for 4th and 3 from the 18. Craig was able to scramble for two yards, but was stopped short of the first down. It was over, and it only took four overtimes.
How they ended up: Auburn had more heartache the following week losing to archrival Alabama 24-23. A 32-29 win over Army in the Independence Bowl closed out an 8-4 season. Georgia couldn't keep the momentum going losing 31-27 to Ole Miss to ensure a losing season, but a win over Georgia Tech ended the Dawg season at 5-6.

No. 68  Texas 16 ... Arkansas 14, October 17, 1987
At the time: Arkansas had gotten off to a decent start winning four of its first five games with the only loss coming to eventual national champion Miami. Texas wasn't having the best of beginnings with a 2-3 record coming off a 44-9 loss to Oklahoma. On the year, Longhorn QB Brett Stafford had thrown one touchdown pass and ten interceptions.
The setup: Arkansas WR Derek Russell dropped a sure touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. After three more passes, Arkansas stuck with its option attack for the final three quarters not attempting another throw. The ground attack steamrolled over the Longhorns for two second quarter touchdown runs for a 14-7 lead. Texas managed a field goal to keep it close and got the ball back with 1:48 to play on its own 44. After dodging a bullet with fumble, the Horns faced 4th and 10 from the Hog 32 with time winding down.
The ending: With :14 to play, there was time for a few plays, but Texas first had to get a first down. Stafford was able to keep the chains moving finding Eric Metcalf for a first down with four seconds to play. To make matters worse, an illegal procedure call on the Horns put the ball on the 18 for the game's final play. Stafford threw a perfect strike to Tony Jones, but Arkansas defensive backs Steve Atwater and Anthony Cooney arrived at the same time nailing Jones so hard that he spun around before hitting the turf with a thud. He hung on to the ball as the clock read 0:00 for the 16-14 win.
How they ended up: Arkansas rebounded to win three straight games and five of the final six before losing 20-17 to Georgia in the Liberty Bowl finishing 9-4. Texas won three of its next four games before losing to Texas A&M in the regular season finale. A 32-27 Bluebonnet Bowl win over Pittsburgh ended UT's season at 7-5.

No. 67
  Clemson 31 ... South Carolina 27, October 19, 1977
At the time: Clemson was in the midst of a solid 7-2-1 season in the first year under head coach Charley Pell highlighted by a 21-17 loss the previous week to eventual national champion Notre Dame. South Carolina was struggling losing five of its previous seven games and needed a win to keep bowl hopes alive.
The setup: Clemson roared out to a 24-0 lead midway through the third quarter, but South Carolina bounced back with a 77-yard touchdown run from Spencer Clark followed up by two Steve Dorsey touchdown runs to cut the Tiger lead to four (because of a missed two point conversion) with seven minutes to play. Clemson couldn't punt the ball all game long and it became a problem late giving the Gamecocks great field position. USC took advantage as Philip Logan made a leaping grab for a 40-yard touchdown and a 27-24 lead with 1:39 to play. QB Steve Fuller led the Tigers into scoring range with two big passes, but time was running out.
The ending: On first down from the USC 20, Clemson WR Jerry Butler broke off his pattern and was wide open in the clear, but Fuller's pass sailed and appeared to be well out of Butler's reach. The Tiger receiver leapt up and was able to grab the ball with both hands while falling backwards. He landed in the end zone and hung on for a spectacular 20-yard touchdown with :49 to play. South Carolina couldn't complete a pass on its final drive.
How they ended up: Clemson went on to play Pittsburgh in the Gator Bowl for the school's first post-season game since 1959. The Panthers won 34-3 dropping the Tigers to 8-3-1. South Carolina didn't go to a bowl, but it did get to travel to Hawaii for the season finale losing 24-7 to finish 5-7.

No. 66  Penn State 27 ... Nebraska 24, October 25, 1982
At the time: Nebraska had a 2-0 record and a burgeoning juggernaut of a team led by QB Turner Gill and a backfield of Mike Rozier and Roger Craig beating Iowa and New Mexico State by a combined score of 110-7. Penn State was ranked second in the country winning its first three games led by quarterback Todd Blackledge and running back Curt Warner.
The setup: Penn State was up 21-14, but the great Nittany Lion D struggled through three quarters giving up a spectacular long touchdown reception to Irving Fryar and 356 yards of total Husker offense. As the fourth quarter started, Nebraska moved the ball well but could only manage a field goal. Looking to put the dagger in and all but end the game, Penn State drove deep only to be stopped by a Neil Harris interception in the end zone. With the momentum swing, the Huskers went on a 13-play methodical drive down the field that took 5:43 off the clock capped by a Gill quarterback sneak with only 1:18 to play taking a 24-21 lead.
The ending: Penn State got the ball on the 35 after a personal foul penalty on the kickoff. Blackledge took advantage with a swing pass followed by a pinpoint touch throw to Kenny Jackson.  But the drive bogged down with Penn State facing fourth and 11 from the Husker 33.  Blackledge was able to convert connecting with Jackson for the first down by inches. The drive was helped by a catch that appeared to be out of bounds, but went the Nittany Lions way. With :13 to play, Blackledge completed a pass down to the two with time for one, possibly two more plays. Blackledge only needed one on a perfectly executed play action pass to Kirk Bowman who had to dive to make the touchdown grab for the 27-24 win.
How they ended up: Penn State lost to Alabama the next week, but won the national title after reeling off six straight wins finishing by beating Herschel Walker and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Nebraska went on to win its final ten games finishing with a 21-20 win over LSU in the Orange Bowl to end up No. 2.

No. 65  Ohio State 20 ... Arizona State 17, Rose Bowl, January 1, 1997
At the time: 11-0, No. 2 ranked Arizona State was in the hunt for a national championship going into the Rose Bowl against a fourth-ranked Buckeye team that saw its championship dream die in a heartbreaking 13-9 loss to Michigan.
The setup: QB Jake Plummer had led the Sun Devils to three heart-stopping wins over the course of the season and would be tested again by Ohio State. Down 14-10, ASU blocked a field goal to give Plummer the ball with just over five minutes to play. Once again, the Snake got the job done converting a 4th and 3 to get down to the OSU eight leading to a touchdown run with 1:40 to play and a 17-13 Sun Devil lead.
The ending: Ohio State had rotated quarterbacks all season long between Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine. On the final drive of the season, head coach John Cooper turned to the better passer, Germaine, with only one timeout left and 65 yards to go. Germaine and Dimitrius Stanley hooked up for three clutch plays to get to the ASU 29. Unable to slow down the momentum, the Sun Devil secondary started committing penalties flagged on an attempt to Stanley followed up by a pass interference call against David Boston. With :28 to play, OSU had it first and goal on the five. Germaine was able to find Boston in the right flat for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead with only :19 to play. This time, Plummer wasn't able to get the job done as his last gasp drive stalled.
How they ended up: Florida beat unbeaten Florida State in the Sugar Bowl meaning Arizona State would've likely been the national champion if it had held on against the Buckeyes. Instead, ASU finished fourth. Ohio State was passed over by the Gators for the national title finishing second.

No. 64  Notre Dame 31 ... Florida State 24, November 13, 1993
At the time: While not quite the Game of the Century, it wasn't far off on the hype scale. Florida State and eventual Heisman winner Charlie Ward was everyone's number one team off to a 9-0 start. Notre Dame was a bit of a surprise with a 9-0 start of its own before hosting the Noles in South Bend.
The setup: Overcoming a 7-0 deficit, Notre Dame reeled off 24 straight points before the Seminole offense finally work up. Ward threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Warrick Dunn and Kevin Bentley hit a field goal, but it appeared over when the Irish took a 31-17 lead late in the game. That's when Ward got hot.
The ending: Down by 14 with just over four minutes to play, FSU faced fourth and goal from its own 20. Ward connected with Kez McCorvey and things suddenly became interesting. Getting the ball back for one final drive, Ward, who finished with 297 passing yards and 38 on the ground, marched the Noles into scoring position getting down to the Irish 14 for one more play. Here was the best quarterback in the country with the game, and possibly the national title, on the line. Looking for Kevin Knox in the end zone, Ward forced his throw and Notre Dame's Shawn Wooden was able to break it up to seal the win for the Irish.
How they ended up: The week after this classic, Notre Dame lost 41-39 to Boston College on a last second field goal denying a chance to play undefeated Nebraska for the national title. Florida State slid back into the No. 1 spot and beat the Huskers 18-16 in the Orange Bowl for a controversial national championship. The Irish settled for a 24-21 win over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

No. 63  Texas 38 ... Michigan 37, Rose Bowl January 1, 2005
At the time: After some controversial politicking, Texas got into the Rose Bowl over a California team that many thought was more deserving. At 10-1 with only a loss to Oklahoma, the Longhorns earned the chance to face a Michigan team that backed its way into the Rose Bowl after losing 37-21 to Ohio State. The 9-2 Wolverines had one of the nation's best receiving corps, but Texas had one of the best ground attacks in college football.
The setup: It was a battle of heavyweight punches as Texas QB Vince Young ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns, but Michigan WR Braylon Edwards was equally great catching ten passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolverines couldn't put the Horns away only able to manage two field goals in the fourth quarter taking the 37-35 lead on a 42-yard field goal. Texas would get one last shot.
The ending: Young started his final drive on his own 34 with 3:04 remaining. In typical Longhorn fashion, it was the running game that kept the chains moving helped by Young runs of nine, 14, four, five and two yards. With the clock winding down, Texas was able to get to the Wolverine 19 and call time out with two seconds remaining to give PK Dusty Mangum a chance to win the Rose Bowl. Mangum was 10-of-14 on the year, but was only 5-of-9 from 30 to 49 yards. This kick would be from 37. Michigan called two timeouts to ice the Longhorn kicker, but it didn't work as he split the uprights for the win in the first matchup between the two superpowers.
How they ended up: Texas finished the season ranked 5th in the AP poll and 4th in the Coaches' poll. Michigan ended up with a 9-3 record ranked 14th in the AP and 12rh in the Coaches'.

No. 62  Mississippi 17 ... Mississippi State 10, November 28, 1992
At the time: The two teams were 7-3 and in the middle of strong seasons when it was time for the annual Egg Bowl. 16th ranked Mississippi State was coming off a hard-fought 30-21 loss to eventual national champion Alabama while the 24th ranked Rebels were on a three-game winning streak.
The setup: Ole Miss turned the ball over six times in the first half, but MSU had a nightmare of a time taking advantage. Down 10-7, the Rebels took a 14-10 lead on a Cory Philpot touchdown run and went up by seven on a 22-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Todd Jordan drove the Bulldogs deep into the Rebel territory, but an interception snuffed out the drive with just over two minutes to play. Fortunately for MSU, Ole Miss DB Michael Lowery ran it out of the end zone and was tackled on the three. When Rebel RB Cory Philpot lost a fumble two plays later, MSU had the ball on the Ole Miss eight with 1:49 to play.
The ending: Down by seven points, MSU got a pass interference call in the end zone making it first and goal on the two. Starting QB Greg Plump came back in and ran the option pitching it to Randy Brown. Stuffed. On another pitch to Brown, Ole Miss once again read the play perfectly and stopped it to make it third and goal from the four. Ole Miss threw Plump for a two-yard loss meaning there was time for one final play. On fourth down, Plump had to throw, but he fired it too hard behind his receiver for an incomplete pass with :19 to play. It's now known in Ole Miss circles as "The Stand". 
How they ended up: Ole Miss went on to shut out Air Force 13-0 in the Liberty Bowl for a 9-3 season. MSU went up 14-0 in the Peach Bowl to NC State only to end up losing 21-17 to finish 7-5.

No. 61  Iowa 29 ... Ohio State 27, November 14, 1987
At the time: Iowa was on a roll winning three straight games for a 7-3 record. Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was in trouble as bowl hopes were slipping away with a two-game losing streak and a 5-3-1 record.
The setup: Ohio State jumped out to a 14-3 lead on two Everett Ross touchdown catches, but Iowa bounced back for a 15-14 halftime lead highlighted by a 50-yard Kevin Harmon scoring run. It was a see-saw game the rest of the way. Down 27-22, Iowa had the ball on its own 36 with 2:45 to play.
The ending:  Iowa QB Chuck Hartlieb was helped by a penalty and a 14-yard pass, but the drive stalled on the Buckeye 30. A sack and a Hartlieb fumble (which Iowa recovered) made it 2nd and 31 from the Iowa 49 with just over a minute to play. It took a fourth down conversion and a 27-yard pass to Marv Cook, but Iowa kept the drive alive with :47 left. Hurt by a sack and a busted play, it was 4th and 23 from the Buckeye 28 with :16 to play and no timeouts left. In a panic, Iowa frantically tried to get the final play off, and just made it. Hartlieb connected with Cook at the nine where he was met by two Buckeye defenders. Undaunted, Cook hit the deck just as the ball crossed the goal line. Not knowing this, Iowa ran up to the line to try for one more play, but it wasn't needed. Iowa won 29-27 made famous in Hawkeye-land for radio announcer Jim Zabel's screaming call of "It's an Iowa touchdown, it's an Iowa touchdown!"
How they ended up: Bruce was fired after the game, but his team rallied the following week to beat Michigan 23-20 to finish 6-4-1. Iowa beat Minnesota the following week leading to a Holiday Bowl appearance against Wyoming. The Hawkeyes won 20-19 to finish with a six-game winning streak and a 10-3 record.


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