Our college football experts, Dennis Dodd and J. Darin Darst, debate the best games of the past three decades.
|What was the most memorable game of the 2000s?|
|Dennis Dodd||J. Darin Darst|
| One hint: 250 planes -- mostly private Gulfstream types -- landed in South Bend that day. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, Southern California-Notre Dame was kind of a big deal on Oct. 15, 2005. ND, with its history of upsets, getting the No. 1 Trojans right where it wanted them -- at home, on national TV. On a field smeared with decades of leprechaun droppings, the Trojans lucked out. Reggie Bush "nudged" Matt Leinart over the goal line for the winning TD after the Irish had dominated the game. Only after Dwayne Jarrett, sporting a scratched cornea, caught a 61-yard pass on fourth down. Only after Leinart had conveniently fumbled out of bounds with seven seconds left. Only after Leinart then decided on his own, apparently, to sneak it in. The Bush Push became lore ("I just shoved him in there as hard as I could," Bush said). So did Charlie Weis' classy congratulatory speech to Trojan players afterward. The win kept alive USC's drive toward a third consecutive national championship that ended in that season's fantastic Rose Bowl loss to Texas. |
Best of the rest in the 2000s (in chronological order): Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 31, 2000; Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (OT), 2003 Fiesta Bowl; Texas 41, USC 38, 2006 Rose Bowl; Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33, 2006; Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (OT), 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
|As exciting as last year's Fiesta Bowl was, nothing will ever top the 2006 Rose Bowl. The hype was enormous -- two undefeated teams, No. 1 vs. No. 2, the top three Heisman vote-getters (Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Matt Leinart). Southern California was putting together one of the most dominating seasons in recent history and featured two of the best players of this decade, but coming into the game, their defense was suspect, and the big question was -- could they stop Vince Young? The game had nonstop action and a little controversy, too. Young's knee looked like it was down before he pitched to Selvin Young, who ended up scoring in the first quarter. With USC leading 38-26 in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Trojans would be winning another national title, but Young took over the game. The fourth-down stop by Texas' defense was a huge moment, allowing the Longhorns to get the ball back one final time. At that moment, everybody started to believe Young was going to lead Texas to victory -- and that he did.|
|What was your most memorable game of the 1990s?|
|Dennis Dodd||J. Darin Darst|
| I turned to a writer next me on Nov. 8, 1997, and muttered something like, "Look behind us." Missouri was about to upset No. 1 Nebraska in Columbia. Predictably, the student section was about to trample us, the media waiting on the sideline. The students stormed the field, but Nebraska beat the Tigers 45-38 in overtime in what is still the best game I have ever seen. Missouri, which hadn't beaten Nebraska since 1979, nursed a 38-31 lead to the final seven seconds. Scott Frost had led Nebraska to the Missouri 12. With the entire country watching, Frost hurled a line drive into the end zone. The ball hit teammate Shevin Wiggins in the chest and popped out. As those students were storming the field thinking the game was over, Wiggins kept the ball alive by kicking it with his right foot. The ball stayed in the air long enough for Matt Davison to catch the game-tying TD. Missouri, deflated by what would become known as the "Flea-Kicker," didn't have enough left in OT. Wiggins admitted a week later he intentionally kicked the ball. Nebraska kept alive a national championship season (a title that was shared with Michigan in Tom Osborne's final season). Missouri suffered the latest in a long line of heartbreaking losses that went back to the beginning of the decade with the infamous Fifth-Down Game against Colorado. |
Best of the rest in the 1990s: Colorado 33, Missouri 31, 1990; Miami 35, Colorado 29, 1993; Boston College 41, Notre Dame 39, 1993; Colorado 27, Michigan 26, 1994; Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33, 1998.
|There were a lot of great one, including some Notre Dame vs. Michigan battles and Wide Right I and Wide Right II between Miami and Florida State, but nothing tops the "Game of the Century" between the Fighting Irish and Seminoles in 1993. Both teams were 9-0, and it was pretty much a given that the winner was going to face Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the national title. The hype was better than most of the game as Notre Dame had a comfortable 31-17 lead, but eventual Heisman winner Charlie Ward threw a touchdown (that bounced off a Notre Dame defender) to cut the lead to 31-24. Florida State forced a three-and-out, setting up one final drive by the Seminoles. They got down to the Irish 14, but Ward's final pass was batted down, and the Irish celebrated. What made the game even more memorable was the Irish went out and lost to unranked Boston College the next week, allowing Florida State to jump back to No. 2. The Seminoles then beat Nebraska to win the national championship, which prompted Notre Dame to print bumper stickers that read "Notre Dame 31, National Champions 24".|
|What was your most memorable game of the 1980s?|
|Dennis Dodd||J. Darin Darst|
| Try this trivia question on your friends: Name Steve Young's last college play. Answer: A touchdown reception. BYU beat Missouri 21-17 in the 1983 Holiday Bowl on running back Eddie Stinnett's pass to Young with 23 seconds left. Sometimes it's not entirely the game, it's what the game means. Young once played defensive back at BYU because he was so unathletic. He ended up as one of BYU's and the NFL's all-time greats. Missouri linebacker Bobby Bell and Young staged a personal duel that night. Bell was the game's defensive MVP with four sacks. Young was, well, Young. On the game's most crucial play, Bell was zeroing in on Stinnett. The running back's pass to his quarterback cleared the linebacker's fingertips by about an inch. The gimmick play worked so well that Young was able to trot 14 yards into the end zone. A year later BYU won a national championship after beating Michigan in the same bowl. For Missouri, it would be 14 years and six days before the Tigers played in another bowl -- another loss in the same Holiday Bowl in 1997. |
Best of the rest in the 1980s: Georgia 26, Florida 21, 1980; BYU 46, SMU 45, 1980; Cal 25, Stanford 20, 1982; Miami 31, Nebraska 30, 1984 Orange Bowl; Boston College 47, Miami 45, 1984.
|This is an easy one. The first game college football game I ever attended was the 1984 Orange Bowl when I was 12. Back then, I didn't know how important the game was, I was just happy to go to a game on New Year's Day. My mom actually got two free tickets from her boss and gave them to my dad and me for Christmas. Growing up in South Florida, it was a pretty big deal for Miami to be playing Nebraska, so all my friends were jealous that I got to go. My dad bought me a big foam finger, a T-shirt, program and pennant, all of which I own to this day. Since they played the game in the real Orange Bowl instead of Dolphin Stadium, parking was a disaster, so we left with about five minutes remaining, so we could beat the traffic (yes, before the famous two-point conversion). But I had my little five-inch, black-and-white television and watched the well-known play in the car on the way home and always think of that when I see the highlights.|