FSU-Auburn and the 10 Greatest National Championship Games of All Time
Gauging FSU vs. Auburn In a Historical Perspective
When the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles lined up against each other for the 2014 BCS National Championship Game, most people predicted a Seminoles victory by two touchdowns or more. The basis behind this was that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would absolutely tear apart the Tigers' defense, and the team's physical and talented defense would stifle the Tigers' offense game that had proven so successful throughout 2013.
Once the two sides got onto the field a different story played itself out, though, as Auburn jumped out to a 21-3 lead on the back Nick Marshall actually throwing the ball, which had many openly questioning whether the Seminoles would actually get blown out. Of course this did not happen as a gutsy fake punt call by Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher changed the tide of the game and set up what turned out to be an epic second-half.
The last five minutes of the fourth quarter arguably became the best stretch in the history of college football as the lead changed four different times and both teams brought their A-games. Ultimately Winston showed why he was the Heisman Trophy winner by guiding the Seminoles to a game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter and in the process started the talk of whether the game was the best National Championship ever.
Of course the 2013 BCS National Championship Game was by no means the best football game ever -- it simply wasn't top notch from start to finish -- but it surely provoked the flames over what the best championship game. On that note, I have decided to compile a list of the ten greatest National Championship Games of all time which compiles the entire history of college football.
In order to qualify for this list the game must have pitted the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation against each other in a bowl game, whether that game was officially titled a "National Championship" or not. Additionally the games must have been of epic proportions, captivating the minds of fans, the media and players alike.
There will surely be a number of people who believe one National Championship should be added to this list, and for that I encourage you to leave a comment or suggestion and I will reply to start an open-ended conversation.
10. USC vs. Wisconsin 1963
While the 1963 Rose Bowl was not an official National Championship Game, it did pit the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation for the first time in a bowl game. When the Wisconsin Badgers and USC Trojans got on the field they played up to their rankings, and the game set eleven Rose Bowl records. In the fourth quarter Wisconsin nearly came back from a 42-14 deficit but ultimately fell just short as USC won 42-37.
9. Miami vs. Oklahoma 1988
The 1988 Orange Bowl put the bad boy Miami Hurricanes against the more civil Oklahoma Sooners, and an epic game ensued. The two sides went at it all game long, although ultimately the Hurricanes would clinch a 20-14 win by forcing Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson to fumble late in the fourth quarter.
8. LSU vs. Oklahoma 2004
In one of the more controversial National Championship Games of the BCS era, the second-ranked LSU Tigers went up against the Oklahoma Sooners, who were ranked first in the BCS but third in the coaches and AP polls. Despite that controversy, the game between LSU and Oklahoma was an epic clash defined by defensive strength and physical play. Ultimately Nick Saban's LSU team would pull out a 21-14 win and become the BCS National Champions.
7. Tennessee vs. Florida State 1999
The 1999 Fiesta Bowl was the first designated National Championship of the BCS era, and both the Tennessee Volunteers and Florida State Seminoles came to play. On the field the actual game was defined more by the fact that Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke was not on the field, and the Volunteers stifled a previously lethal Florida State offense to win 23-16.
6. Penn State vs. Miami 1987
The 1987 Fiesta Bowl saw a high-powered Miami Hurricanes team come up against a Penn State Nittany Lions side that looked rather beatable. Once the two sides got on the field, however, all preconceptions went out the door as Joe Paterno got Penn State's physical style to rattle the flashy play of Miami. In the fourth quarter Penn State scored to take a 14-10 lead they would hold onto, and they carried Paterno off the field as National Champions afterward.
5. Auburn vs. Oregon 2011
Heading into the 2011 Tostitos BCS National Championship there was no clear consensus as to whether the Auburn Tigers or Oregon Ducks were the better team, and this made the game a must-watch for all football fans. On the field the two sides showed nearly equal ability as they both racked up massive yardage totals but could not deliver touchdowns or field goals. Ultimately Auburn was able to win the game 22-19 on the backs of a field goal as time expired.
4. Penn State vs. Georgia 1983
The 1983 Sugar Bowl pitted the second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions against the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs which ensured the game's winner would be the National Champion. The on-field play did not disappoint as Penn State clung onto different leads throughout the game and tried to stop Herschel Walker from being a deciding factor. Late in the game Penn State was able to ride out a 27-13 win and give Joe Paterno his first National Championship in the process.
3. Florida State vs. Nebraska 1994
The 1994 Orange Bowl saw the Florida State Seminoles play the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and really by extension this was a matchup of wide open play and physical behemoths. Throughout the game physical play seemed to dominate, although Florida State showed they could handle getting into a physical battle. A missed field goal with time running out ultimately gave the Seminoles a 18-16 win and the National Championship.
2. Ohio State vs. Miami 2003
The 2003 Fiesta Bowl saw undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami Hurricanes go to battle with the Hurricanes going into the game as clear favorites. On the field the Buckeyes were able to keep the game tight on the back of running back Maurice Clarett and quarterback Craig Krenzel. The game would go ultimately go to double-overtime with Clarett providing the final dagger with a five-yard touchdown run to cap off a 31-24 win that featured 58 future NFL players.
1. Texas vs. USC 2006
The 2006 Rose Bowl Game was arguably the best college football game ever and certainly was the best National Championship game. From start to finish the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans went back and forth with the lead changing seven different times throughout the game. Ultimately Texas won the game 41-38 on the back of Vince Young, who capped off a MVP performance with a eight-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.