Daily Ask CFN: The Top 5 National Championship Games Of All-Time Are … ?
The Daily Ask CFN Question: What are the top five college football national championship games of all-time?
Welcome to the offseason feature of the Daily Ask CFN. Please shoot over your questions to @PeteFiutak and I’ll try to crank up at least one a day.
For the most part, I’ll answer the questions I’m being asked on most radio appearances, continuing with …
If it’s not Clemson over Alabama, what are the top five national championship games of all-time?
With a week off to let the dust settle a bit and to try to put the games into proper perspective …
5. 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship: Clemson 35, Alabama 31
How about the greatest fourth quarter in national championship history? Deshaun Watson’s epic 420-yard, three-touchdown, one rushing score game made it his moment, but the game became legendary because Alabama had it. It overcame all its struggles to take the lead late, and all the best defense in college football had to do was come up with one more stop. It couldn’t. It’s not the greatest of all-time because of these reasons, but it was still an amazing game.
4. 2014 BCS Championship: Florida State 34, Auburn 31
For some reason this has been totally blown off and forgotten about in the history of brilliant games. Maybe it’s because the Auburn Kick Six win over Alabama is what the season will be remembered for, and maybe it’s because Florida State was awful in the first half, but nothing beats the final 4:42.
Auburn took a four point lead on a field goal, Kermit Whitfield returned the ensuing kickoff for a score, Tre Mason gave the Tigers the lead with just over a minute to play on a 37-yard TD run, and Jameis Winston led the Noles on an 80-yard touchdown drive with a touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds to play. In the 2017 National Championship, Clemson could’ve still tied it with a field goal. FSU was down four – it needed a touchdown.
3. 2003 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami 24
This had absolutely everything. There were the wild mood and momentum swings, there was the ridiculous talent level on both sides of the ball, there was Ohio State trying to finally get over the hump, and an epic Miami team going for all-time greatness status.
Sort of like the Scarbrough injury this year, things might have been different if Willis McGahee didn’t get hurt, but Miami still had the game won, except for the controversial pass interference call that gave the Buckeyes a new life. In terms of drama and emotion, this one was hard to beat.
2. 1984 Orange Bowl: Miami 31, Nebraska 30
It wasn’t the BCS era, and it wasn’t technically a true national championship in the old bowl-and-poll era, but this might have been the greatest college football game of all-time. Between the insane Orange Bowl crowd and the red-hot Miami/Bernie Kosar start, and the historic nature of that Nebraska team, it was the type of game and atmosphere college football might not see again.
The Fumblerooski, the Irving Fryar dropped touchdown, the historic two-point try for the win – rather than Nebraska kick the extra point for a tie and the national title – this was truly special. However, if ranking games that were purely national championships …
1. 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
Three major difference between this and the rest. 1) This was the hyped-up game that took an entire year of buildup, and it delivered in every way possible. 2) Both teams were unbeaten. 3) The performances on both sides of the ball were legendary.
Obviously this will always be the Vince Young game – 30-of-40 for 267 yards, 19 carries for 200 yards and three scores – but Matt Leinart had a day, too, throwing for 365 yards. LenDale White was killing the Texas defensive front, Dwayne Jarrett was unstoppable, and Reggie Bush was terrific – when he got the ball.
USC needed just one yard to run out the clock – and couldn’t do it. Pete Carroll had to keep getting the ball to Bush – and the Heisman-winner had it in his hands just 20 times. USC needed just one more stop after holding Texas to 3-of-11 on third downs, and couldn’t.
The Trojans were awesome, converting 8-of-14 third down chances and outgaining Texas 574 yards to 556.
But Vince Young was just too good.
Again, shoot over your questions to @PeteFiutak