They were the biggest games, the most thrilling moments, and the memorable battles. They’re the 10 best games of the 2017 regular season.
2017 10 Best College Football Regular Season Games
– Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews
Absolutely no argument whatsoever if you want to stump for any number of other great showdowns and moments that could’ve and should’ve made the list of the top college football games of the 2017 regular season. These are ten of the wildest, craziest, most amazing games of the year.
They’re not always the most important – yeah, the Big Ten Championship absolutely belongs on here – but they were the ones that made the season so much fun.
So, here we go …
10. Boise State 59, Colorado State 52, OT, Nov. 12
Colorado State was up 35-10 at the half and 52-38 with under two minutes to play. But just as this seemed like the Rams’ big Mountain West coming out party, Boise State QB Brett Rypien threw his third touchdown pass of the day – hitting Sean Modster from 13 yards out.
After star WR Cedric Wilson recovered the onside kick, connected with Jake Roh for a score to force overtime. Bronco RB Alexander Mattison ran for a four-yard score, Colorado State fumbled on its overtime possession, and Boise State had the win on its way to taking the Mountain West championship.
Star of the Show: Rypien threw four touchdown passes, but Mattison ran 23 times for 242 yards and three scores.
9. LSU 27, Auburn 23, Oct. 16
Remember the climate. The SEC coaching hot seats were flaming at Arkansas, Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee – and at the time – Missouri. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron wasn’t going to be fired after less than one season, LSU was blown out a few weeks earlier by Mississippi State 37-7, lost at home to Troy, and struggled to get by Florida.
Down 23-7 late in the first half, LSU got a 14-yard touchdown catch from Russell Gage in the final minute. The LSU defense held firm in the second half, D.J. Chark returned a punt 75 yards for a score, and Connor Culp hit two field goals in the final three minutes for a 27-23 win. After Auburn collapsed, many Tiger fans were screaming that Gus Malzahn should be fired. Little did they know what was coming next.
Jump the Chark: The LSU defense stepped it up in the second half, but D.J. Chark caught five passes for 150 yards and returned the punt for a score that turned the game around.
8. Army 14, Navy 13, Dec. 8
Part of the key was that both teams were good. This wasn’t just some regular Army-Navy game where everyone had to say nice things that went beyond just football – this was a real game between real teams with real wins.
In a wild snowstorm that took the game to an even more dramatic level, there were just three passes thrown between the two teams, as the high-octane rushing attacks had to keep it on the ground more than usual.
Down 13-7 late, Army marched on a 13-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a one-yard Ahmad Bradshaw run. Blake Wilson hit the extra point for the lead, but there was still over five minutes to play.
Navy’s Malcolm Perry – who ran for 250 yards and a score on the day – got the Midshipmen in a position to win it on a 48-yard field goal try. Bennett Moehring hit it well, had the distance, and … just wide.
The unsung D: Even though Perry was all but unstoppable on most of his 30 carries, Navy was held to just 2-of-11 on third down conversions.
7. UCF 49, UCF 42, Nov. 24
The War on I-4 turned in a classic every bit as entertaining and wild as any of the classic Miami-Florida State showdowns.
UCF was still shooting for a perfect season, and a shot at a New Year’s Six game, and an American Athletic Conference title, and the East Division. USF was going for all of that, too – except for the perfect season.
The Knights couldn’t stop USF QB Quinton Flowers, who hit 83-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Solomon with 1:41 to play to pull within two down 42-40. The Bulls hit the two point conversion to tie it, but UCF’s offense would have one more shot. It wouldn’t need it, as Mike Hughes took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for the dramatic game-winning score.
On the day, USF put up 653 yards of total offense and UCF 533 in one of the best shootouts of the season.
He Lost, But … Flowers threw for 503 yards and four touchdowns, and ran 20 times for 102 yards and a score.
6. Western Michigan 71, Buffalo 68, 7 OT, Oct. 7
Oh, who cares that both teams finished 6-6 and didn’t get a bowl invite. They each had solid seasons, and they played in a game better than anything they could come up with in the post-season.
In lousy weather – and with Buffalo without its starting quarterback, Tyree Jackson – the two teams played a tough, exciting battle for four quarters, with Bull PK Adam Mitcheson hitting a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds to tie it at 31. WMU would get its chance to win it, but UB blocked the WMU 52-yard attempt.
And so it went into overtime, and then another, and then another, with fumbles, missed kicks, and chance after chance for both teams to win it fizzling away.
Finally, in the seventh frame of a game that took on a social media life of its own, Mitcheson hit a field goal, WMU’s Jarvion Franklin answered with a touchdown, and it was all over for a 71-68 Bronco win
WMU outscored UB 40-37 in the seven overtimes.
The Quarterbacks: The two combined for 1,328 yards of total offense Bull backup QB Drew Anderson throwing for 597 yards and seven scores, and Bronco passer Jon Wassink throwing five touchdown passes.
5. Penn State 21, Iowa 19, Sept. 24
The game had a little of everything. It had No. 4 Penn State. It had a cranked up night crowd in Iowa City. It had the nationally televised audience. It had the introduction to America of the wonderful new tradition of waving to the kids in the hospital overlooking the stadium.
And it had Saquon Barkley.
28 carries for 211 yards and a score, and 12 catches for 94 yards – the Heisman race went through the Penn State star after his great performance, but Iowa’s running back wasn’t bad, either.
Akrum Wadley took a pass 70 yards for a fourth quarter score, and followed it up with a 35-yard touchdown run with just 1:42 to play for a 19-15 improbable lead. But the Hawkeyes went for two after each score, and missed on both tries.
Trace McSorley led Penn State to 65-yard desperation 12-play drive, capped off with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson with no time left on the clock.
It Was The Barkley Game, But … McSorley completed 31-of-48 passes for 284 yards and an a pick, ran for 61 yards, and threw the game-winning score.
4. UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44, Sept. 4
Now THIS is how you start a season.
On the Monday night after an okay-not-great opening weekend, Texas A&M roared in front of a national-TV crowd with a 31-3 start. The running game was unstoppable, UCLA couldn’t do anything, and it looked like this might just be the team and this might be the year everything started to roll under Kevin Sumlin.
And then Josh Rosen went Josh Rosen.
Down 41-10 with less than 20 minutes to play, Rosen led UCLA on a decent touchdown drive. And then another. And then another, with Darren Andrews catching two of the scoring passes. And then, improbably, the Bruins pulled within six with just over three minutes to play on a 16-yard touchdown strike.
The Bruin defense got the three-and-out it needed, and then Rosen took over, going 66 yards in ten plays. Following an impossible desperation fourth down throw to keep the drive alive, he finished it off with a fake spike – and unnecessary move, by the way – and a ten-yard throw to Jordan Lasley for the touchdown to complete one of the greatest comebacks of all-time.
It Wasn’t Just Rosen: Three Bruins – Caleb Wilson, Darren Andrews, and Jordan Lasley – all hit the 100-yard receiving mark, with Wilson going for 208. Rosen? 35-of-59, 491 yards, four scores.
3. USC 27, Texas 24, 2 OT, Sept. 17
It was the big game of the day, at night, in the Coliseum, with all of the hype and excitement surrounding the rematch of the two programs that put on the classic show in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Texas needed the win to make a big splash early on in the Tom Herman era – especially after opening with a loss to Maryland – and No. 4 USC had to keep on rolling after slipping by Western Michigan and easily beating Texas.
Sam Darnold was great at times – throwing two touchdown passes in the second quarter, including an improvised flip to Ronald Jones for a 56-yard score as time ran out – and he had his whiffs, giving up a pick six to DeShon Elliott. But the Trojan offense died in the second half.
Texas managed a field goal in the third to pull within four, and then Sam Ehlinger looked like it was about to be his national statement as the New Big Thing, leading the to a 91-yard scoring drive in the final moments, capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman with just 45 seconds to play for a 17-14 lead.
And then the good Darnold showed up.
With three big completions, he got the Trojans in field goal range, and Chase McGrath came through with a 31-yarder to force overtime. The two traded touchdowns in the first OT, Texas lose a fumble on its possession in the second frame, and McGrath nailed the 43-yarder for the win.
The Good & Bad of Darnold: Even with the two interceptions, Darnold was magnificent, completing 28-of-49 passes for 397 yards and three scores.
2. Oklahoma 62, Oklahoma State 52, Nov. 4
The Sooner comeback win over Texas, and the late rally against Kansas State, were amazing, and this game would’ve been turned out to be bigger if Oklahoma State didn’t lose to K-State, but … wow.
These were the two best passing quarterbacks on two of the best passing teams going at it for what seemed like the Heisman, and a shot at the Big 12 Championship.
It just didn’t stop.
In a firefight of firefights, neither defense had a prayer against Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph playing at the top of their respective college games.
It was 38-38 at halftime, Oklahoma took control in the third quarter with a 10-0 run, and then the bombs were even more explosive in a wild fourth quarter.
Rudolph brought OSU back with a 33-yard touchdown strike, but Mayfield answered with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. Rudolph came right back with a 75-yard drive and a second touchdown pass to Tyron Johnson in the quarter to pull the Cowboys within three, and then the defenses finally rose up to settle things down for a few moments.
It wasn’t until Trey Sermon tore off a 53-yard touchdown dash in the final minute that OU could finally take a breath. It was a thriller, but this turned out to be all about …
The firefight: 1,446 yards of combined offense, with 1,046 of that through the air. There were 62 first downs, and the two teams combined to convert 14-of-29 third down tries. And the stars?
Mayfield completed 24-of-36 passes for 598 yards and five scores with two picks, and he ran for a score. Rudolph threw 54 times for 448 yards and touchdowns and two interceptions. OSU RB Justice Hill tore off 228 yards and two scores, and OU WR Marquise Brown lead all receivers with nine catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
And the best game of the 2017 regular season?
1. UCF 62, Memphis 55, 2OT, Dec. 2
The two teams had already played earlier in the year in an easy 40-13 UCF win. That was the only blemish on the Memphis schedule, and now the stakes were higher with the American Athletic Conference championship on the line as well as – almost certainly – a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
In an insane, emotionally-charged home atmosphere – and with the loss of head coach Scott Frost to the Nebraska job looming – the two teams put on a firefight in, arguably, the most entertaining conference championship game ever.
It kicked in right from the start, with UCF going up 17-7 in the first quarter highlighted by two McKenzie Milton touchdown passes, and then boosted on a 50-yard scoring play to Tre’Quan Smith early in the second for a 24-14 lead.
And then it was MU’s turn, going on a 17-point run highlighted by a 68-yard Anthony Miller touchdown catch for a 31-24 halftime lead. But Milton needed just under two minutes to tie it back up with a quick drive leading to his 16-yard touchdown run, and with two more big scoring passes to seemingly take control of the game going into the fourth quarter.
Memphis wouldn’t go away, with Tony Pollard taking off for a 66-yard scoring dash and Miller catching a ten-yard scoring play to tie it up late. The Tigers had a shot to potentially win it, but a penalty pushed back a field goal attempt to 51 yards – and Riley Patterson missed it.
In overtime, QB Riley Ferguson quickly found Miller for a touchdown, and UCF answered right back with a short touchdown run, and another to open up the second overtime.
The Tigers knocked on the door to tie it back up again moving to 1st-and-goal from the five, but Ferguson didn’t get set, didn’t get enough on his throw, and Tre Neal picked it off for the championship-sealing win for the perfect regular season.
The stars came out: Ferguson’s interception was his only blemish, completing 30-of-42 passes for 471 yards and four scores. Milton threw three uncharacteristic picks, but he also threw for 494 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 68 yards and a score.
Miller was unbelievable, catching 14 passes for 195 yards and three scores, but three other receivers – MU’s Sean Dykes and UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith and Dredrick Nelson – also went over the 145-yard mark.
In all the two teams combined for 1,479 yards of total offense, six turnovers, 22 penalties, 64 first downs, and the best game of the 2017 college football regular season.