Recently on Twitter, I was strolling down through my timeline and saw that the account of College Gameday posted a question: What were the best college football games of the 2000’s? Even though we’re in 2013, I still love to look back at that era of college football. I’ve narrowed a long list down to five.
5: Florida at Miami 2003
This game I actually had the chance to attend, and what a classic it was. The Canes were coming off back to back national championship game appearances and when the Gators came to town in the second week of the 2003 season, Miami was ranked third in the country. A crowd of over 90,000 packed into the Orange Bowl and immediately went into a frenzy when Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Canes fans were then stunned when the Gators went on the attack and held a 33-10 lead halfway through the third quarter. That’s when quarterback Brock Berlin led one of the greatest comebacks in Miami history. When Frank Gore scored the go ahead touchdown with minutes to play, the Gators knew there was no chance of a game winning drive. Sean Taylor then picked off Chris Leak and the Hurricanes won 38-33.
4: Michigan at Ohio State 2006
In probably the most hyped regular season game of all time, these two bitter rivals put on a show for the ages. Coming into the game, Ohio State was ranked number one and Michigan was number two. The stakes couldn’t get any higher, the winner would advance to the national championship game. Led by Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith, who threw four touchdowns, the Buckeyes exploded for 42 points. Chad Henne led a very efficient attack for the Wolverines, but only managed 39 points. In the end, the two teams put up a combined 900 total yards of offense and the Buckeyes managed to escape to the championship game.
3: USC at Notre Dame 2005
This was the last time that both USC and Notre Dame were good enough to make it to BCS games. Perhaps that’s the reason this game was such a good one. USC was coming into South Bend as the number one team in the country and looking for their third straight national championship. Notre Dame was ranked eighth in the country behind star quarterback Brady Quinn. A back and forth game had the Irish up by three with 1:44 left. Then with 1:30 left, the Irish had the Trojans facing a 4th and 9 with the season on the line. I really thought to myself that this was the end for this great dynasty, until Matt Leinart found Dwayne Jarrett who took it to the Irish 12 yard line. Then with seven seconds to go, Leinart snuck it in to the endzone, with Reggie Bush pushing him in for the win.
2: Boise State vs Oklahoma 2006
it was a classic David vs. Goliath on the national stage. It had comebacks, trick plays, overtime and a stunning finish. Down 28-35 and on 4th and 18, the Broncos had one last chance to tie the game with 18 seconds left. The Broncos fooled the Sooners with a classic hook and lateral play that allowed Boise State to tie the game at 35-35. Oklahoma went first in overtime and running back Adrian Peterson scored on the very first play on a 25-yard run into the end zone to give the Sooners the lead 42-35. On 4th-and-2 from the Sooners’ 5-yard line, the Broncos fooled Oklahoma again as Vinny Perretta, lined up as a running back, took the direct snap and made the touchdown throw to tight end Derek Schouman. The Broncos fooled the Sooners one last time with a perfectly executed Statue of Liberty play that led to running back Ian Johnson running untouched into the end zone to win the game 43-42. Then, Johnson proposed to his girlfriend on the sideline, who was a Bronco cheerleader.
1: Texas vs USC
The greatest game, maybe in the history of college football. National Championship, Rose Bowl, doesn’t get any bigger. Coming into this game, USC was on a 34-game win streak and Texas was on a 19-win streak. There was no question that these were the two best teams in America, and the buildup for this game was massive. It featured maybe the two best players of that era, Vince Young and Reggie Bush. Young played out of his head that day. He passed for 267 yards and ran for 200 more. But his most memorable is when on 4th-and-5 from the 9-yard line with only 26 seconds left in the game, Young ran untouched into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.