The Auburn Tigers face the Oregon Ducks January 10th in Arizona for the thirteenth installment of the BCS National Championship Game, marking the fifth straight appearance of a school from the SEC and the first appearance of a team other than USC from the Pac -10. Although critics of the algorithmic single Championship Game format are numerous and notable, there is no question that the big game has produced some of the most memorable contests in NCAA football history.
Quite often “-Best” lists are subject to the compiler’s age, location, background, affiliations, etc. and the old proverb holds true: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. To take a more objective approach, below is a list of BCS National Championship games as ranked through the eyes of the game clock:
#1 – 2003 Tempe, Arizona: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Miami Hurricanes
When it was over – 1st Drive 2OT
The game featured eighteen future first round NFL draft picks, a Miami team with a 34 game winning streak going for back-to-back championships and a double-digit underdog in Ohio State. Staunch and opportunistic, the Buckeye defense forced the ‘Canes to overcome a 17-7 3rd quarter deficit to tie the game with no time on the clock at the end of regulation, setting up the first overtime in a national championship game. A then controversial call dubbed the “Fiesta Fiasco” by Sport Illustrated’s Rick Reilly set up a second overtime in which a four down goal line stand from the two yard line sealed the victory for Ohio State.
Final score: Ohio State 31 Miami 24
#2 – 2006 Pasadena, CA: Texas Longhorns vs. USC Trojans
When it was over – 0:19 4th Quarter
Texas quarterback Vince Young delivered arguably the best individual performance in a college football championship game by completing 75% of his passes with no interceptions, amassing 467 yards in total offense and scoring three rushing touchdowns including the game winner with 19 seconds left on the clock to knock off the highly touted, defending national champion USC Trojans. A game for the ages, the lead changed hands six times and the teams set numerous BCS Championship Game records including the most first downs at 30 each, 289 rushing yards for Texas and 365 passing yards for USC.
Final score: Texas 41 USC 38
#3 – 2009 Miami, FL: Florida Gators vs. Oklahoma Sooners
When it was over – 10:45 4th Quarter
A signature jump pass by Florida QB Tim Tebow gave the Gators a 10-point lead with three minutes left in the game but it was Florida’s defense that held the Sooners on two goal line stands in the first half and then picked a pass from Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford late in the 4th that buoyed the Gators to their second Championship in three years. Florida’s all-purpose back Percy Harvin, fresh off of an ankle injury, had 171 yards in total offense with a score including a 52-yard yard in the 4th Quarter that set up the go ahead field goal.
Final score: Florida 24 Oklahoma 14
#4 2000 New Orleans, LA: Florida State Seminoles vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
When it was over – 12:59 4th Quarter
Although Florida State was the ‘wire- to-wire’ Champion that year, it was Hokie QB Michael Vick’s coming out party that left a big impression and proved Virginia Tech was no fluke. Florida State QB Chris Weinke threw for 329 yards with four touchdowns and WR Peter Warrick set a Sugar Bowl record accounting for 20 total points in the game. Virginia Tech overcame a 21-point deficit to take the lead late in the 3rd Quarter led by the stellar play of freshman Vick who tallied 322 yards of total offense with a rushing and passing touchdown.
Final score: Florida State 46 Virginia Tech 29
#5 2004 New Orleans, LA: LSU Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners
When it was over – 5:24 2nd Quarter
LSU’s defense held Heisman winning QB Jason White and the Sooners to just 154 total yards en route to their first National Championship since 1958. The defensive unit from the Tigers sacked White 5 times and intercepted him twice, one of those for a touchdown by DE Marcus Spears. On offense LSU RB Justin Vincent led the offensive way rushing for 117 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry and a scoring a touchdown on an 18-yard run for the go ahead score.
Final Score: LSU 21 Oklahoma 14
#6 2008 New Orleans, LA: LSU Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
When it was over- 7:25 2nd Quarter
OSU RB Chris “Beanie” Wells got the Buckeyes on the board first with a 65-yard touchdown run that was followed by a field goal 4 minutes later putting the Bucks up 10 but LSU answered with 31 straight points led by QB Matt Flynn who threw for 4 touchdowns. The Tiger defense with by Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson sacked Buckeye QB Todd Boeckman 5 times, picked him off twice and the special teams added a blocked field goal that led to the go ahead score.
Final Score: LSU 28 Ohio State 24
#7 1999 Pasadena, CA: Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida State Seminoles
When it was over – 14:05 2nd Quarter
Tennessee QB Tee Martin and WR Peerless Price connected on two 70-yard+ plays setting up 14 points while the Vol’s D held Florida State to 253 total yards offense and Seminole stand-out WR Peter Warrick to only one reception. Third string Florida State QB Marcus Outzen got the start and the Vols took advantage, sacking Outzen 4 times and intercepting him twice, one returned for a 54-yard touchdown by CB Dwayne Goodrich for the go ahead score.
Final score: Tennessee 23 Florida State 16
#8 2010 Pasadena, CA: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas Longhorns
When it was over – 14:18 2nd Quarter
Alabama knocked out Texas QB Colt McCoy on the Longhorns fifth play from scrimmage putting true freshman QB Garrett Gilbert behind center for the remainder of the game. The Crimson Tide offense, led by Heisman winner RB Mark Ingram, racked up 205 rushing yards and a took a 24-6 halftime lead. Gilbert matured quickly though and connected with WR Jordan Shipley on two second half touchdowns to bring the game within 3 points with just over six minutes remaining, but it was the Alabama D that forced turnovers on each of Texas’s next three drives to seal the Tide’s first Championship since 1992.
Final Score Alabama 37 Texas 21
#9 2005 Pasadena, CA: Miami, FL: USC Trojans vs. Oklahoma Sooners
When it was over – 0:12 1st Quarter
USC QB Matt Leinart threw for 5 touchdowns, 3 to WR Steve Smith, as the Trojans dismantled the #2 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The Trojan D forced Sooner QB Jason White into three interceptions and held RB Adrian Peterson to just 82 yards down from his 150 yard per game average in his freshman campaign. USC RB Lendale White rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns including the go ahead score at the end of the 1st quarter.
Final score: USC 55 Oklahoma 19
#10 2007 Glendale, AZ – Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
When it was over – 2:37 1st Quarter
The undisputed number one ranked Ohio State Buckeyes entered the championship game undefeated and led by Heisman Trophy winning QB Troy Smith. The number two ranked Florida Gators entered the match with one loss and controversy surrounding the BCS nod. Although Ohio State WR Tedd Gin, Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93-yards a touchdown, it was all Florida from there scoring 34 first half points led by the efficient arm of QB Chris Leak who completed 70% of his passes for 234 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s D held Ohio State to under 100 yards of offense and sacked Smith six times including three by DE Derrick Harvey.
Final score: Florida 41 Ohio State 14
#11 2002 Pasadena, CA: Miami Hurricanes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
When it was over – 7:15 1st Quarter
Arguably the best college football team of all time, the Canes featured the likes of WR Andre Johnson, RB Clinton Portis, TE Jeremy Shockey, LT Bryant McKinnie, MLB Jonathan Vilma, OLB DJ Williams, FS Ed Reed and CB Phillip Buchanon starting and consisted of 17 first round NFL Draft picks in all. The 2001 Canes beat opponents by an average of 33 points and scored the first 34 points of this game en route to the school’s fifth national title.
Final score: Miami 37 Nebraska 14
#12 2001 Miami, FL: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Florida State Seminoles
When it was over – 7:16 1st Quarter
They came into the night as the highest scoring teams in the nation, but it was defense that won the night. Led by LB Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma forced a key fumble from Florida State QB Chris Weinke, intercepted him twice and held the Noles running game to 27 yards. Florida State’s only points came on a safety with 55 seconds left to play.
Final score: Oklahoma 13 FSU 2