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Worst to first: The BCS title games

Published 10:25pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Like it or not, the Bowl Championship Series is gone.

The BCS was put together in the middle 1990s and sounded awesome on paper. No longer would the two top ranked teams in the nation jet off to different corners of the country to play a bowl game. They would now meet on the same field to determine a national champ. The new four-team playoff may or may not work well, the BCS did its job (most of the time) and it forever has a spot in the history of the beautiful game known as college football.

While some of the games lived up to the hype, others were complete snooze fests. So without further adieu, here are the games ranked according to “Most fun to watch.”

16. 2005: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

Oklahoma led the game early, but the Trojans took complete control in the second quarter to lead 38-10 at half. The powerful USC offense, led by Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Steve Smith and LenDale White ran over and around the Sooner defense. USC led the game 55-10 in the fourth before the Sooners tacked on a late glory TD.

15. 2012: Alabama 21, LSU 0

The “Game of the Century: Part II” stunk up the Super Dome, even worse than the city of New Orleans usually smells. There are many, myself included, that think this game shouldn’t have even taken place. But in the end, the flat-terrible LSU offense was suffocated by the Tide defense in a game that few fans outside of Bama Nation remember as fun.

14. 2013: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14

The Tide went-back-to-back in 2012 and knocked off the previously undefeated Fighting Irish down on South Beach. Bama jumped ahead early and completely ran roughshod over the Notre Dame defense, and Heisman finalist Manti Te’o. The game was over by half, and Nick Saban produced another title for the Tide.

13. 2002: Miami 37, Nebraska 14

The Hurricanes scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead 34-0 at halftime. The ‘Canes were far and away the top team in the nation during the season. Nebraska lucked in to the game via a rash of late-season upsets, and the Huskers seemed to just be happy to be there.

12. 2007: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

The Gators, powered by Tim Tebow, led 34-14 at the half, and shutout the Buckeyes in the third and fourth quarters to win another title. The only reason this stinker of a game ranks ahead of others is that Tebow was must-see TV while in Gainesville.

11. 2008: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

The Buckeyes led the ball game 10- early in the first quarter, but that’s about the extent of the excitement. The Bayou Bengals came roaring back down the stretch to put the game away in the second half.

10. 1999: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16

The very first BCS title game was Tennessee’s to take from the beginning. The Vols led 14-9 at half, and both teams sort of trodded through the game. While the score was tight the entire way, the game wasn’t much for wow factors.

9. 2010: Alabama 37, Texas 21

The Tide claimed its first national title in 17 years with a victory over the Longhorns. There is no doubt that this game would be much higher on the list if Texas quarterback Colt McCoy wouldn’t have been injured early in the game. The Tide defense caused chaos for backup Garrett Gilbert, and Bama went back atop the football world.

8. 2000: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29

The Seminoles captured the national title in a wild game over the Michael Vick-led Hokies. The game produced big play after big play, and saw the ‘Noles fend off a late Tech rally by scoring 18 fourth-quarter points.

7. 2001: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2

The Sooners came out on top of an old-school defensive slugfest to win the national title in 2000. Only one touchdown was scored, coming late in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run for the Sooners. Florida State was unable to get the offense in gear, but the low-scoring affair kept the nation intrigued until the final whistle.

6. 2009: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

The Gators got two fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal their second-straight national title. The two teams traded scored for the majority of the game until Florida picked up the final two of the game, a field goal from Jonathan Phillips and a pass from Tim Tebow to David Nelson.

5. 2004: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

While the Tigers led 21-7 at one point, the Sooners never quit battling. Oklahoma scored midway through the fourth quarter to put the very pro-Tiger crowd on pins and needles throughout the rest of the game. The Tiger defense made crucial stops late, and made the short walk to Bourbon Street for yet another title celebration.

4. 2011: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

The Tigers’ offense, led by Cameron Newton, was shut down in the first quarter, but came alive in the second to secure Auburn’s first national title since 1957. Running back Michael Dyer gave Auburn a shot at the championship with an improbable run late in the game that saw him slide over the top of a would-be tackler. Wes Byrum drilled a 19-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.

3. 2014: Florida State 34, Auburn 31

The last BCS title game was one of the greatest ever. FSU freshman quarterback Jameis Winston led a game-winning drive with 16 seconds to go to give the Seminoles their second BCS title. Auburn’s miracle season ended with a loss, but it is still remarkable the Tigers went from 3-9 to 11-2 in just one off-season.

2. 2003: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2 OT)

The 2003 game was the only BCS title game to go to overtime, and it delivered. The Hurricanes were perceived to be unstoppable, and had won 34 games in a row. The Buckeyes were 11-point underdogs, but pulled off one of the biggest upsets in bowl history. The game is none for a variety of famous plays including the vicious injury sustained by Miami running back Willis McGahee, and a pass interference call against the Hurricanes in overtime. The win was the Buckeye’s national title during the BCS era, despite appearing in three title games.

1. 2006: Texas 41, USC 38

The 2006 game goes down as not only the best national title game of all time, but also the best college football game of all time. The Longhorns and Trojans traded the lead seven different times in the game, with the final coming on an 8-yard scramble by Texas QB Vince Young on fourth down with 19 seconds left. The game saw 32 points scored in the fourth quarter. Young accounted for 467 yards of total offense. The game also saw the only time where two Heisman winners appeared in the same starting lineup. USC QB Matt Leinart won the award in 2004, and running back Reggie Bush won in 2005.

Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers high school, recreation and Troy University athletics, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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