December 19, 2008

After 1,000 bowls, here's 60 of the best

Saturday's EagleBank Bowl is the 1,000th "major" bowl in history. With that historic plateau in mind, we combed the archives for what we consider to be the most memorable bowls in history.

We broke it up by decades but fudged it a little bit by lumping all the pre-1960 bowls together. Unquestionably the greatest decade for bowls was the 1970s, as there were at least another eight bowls that could've made our top 10.

PRE-1960s

1. 1929 Rose: Georgia Tech 8, California 7. This one is remembered for Roy Riegels' wrong-way run. He recovered a fumble by Tech's Stumpy Thompson on Tech's 27, but got turned around and returned it the wrong way, to Cal's end zone. He was run down by teammate Benny Lom, with the ball placed at Cal's 1. Tech scored a safety on the next play when it blocked a Lom punt out of the end zone; that proved to be the winning margin.

2. 1954 Cotton: Rice 28, Alabama 6. Perhaps as famous as Riegels' faux pas is Tommy Lewis' tackle his off-the-bench tackle for Alabama. Rice's Dicky Maegle was on his way to a 95-yard touchdown run when a helmetless Lewis flew off the Alabama bench and tackled him around the Tide's 40. The refs awarded Rice a touchdown, one of three scored by Maegle, who rushed for 265 yards on just 11 carries. Lewis scored Alabama's only touchdown.

3. 1939 Rose: USC 7, Duke 3. Duke entered unbeaten and not having allowed a point all season. But the Trojans rallied behind fourth-string quarterback Doyle Nave, who came on late and tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass in the waning seconds to backup receiver Al Krueger.

4. 1942 Rose: Oregon State 20, Duke 16. This was the only Rose Bowl not played in Pasadena. Because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the game was moved to Duke's campus in Durham, N.C.

5. 1925 Rose: Notre Dame 27, Stanford 10. This was Notre Dame's first bowl appearance and also its last until the 1969 season. It matched two of the greatest coaches in history, Notre Dame's Knute Rockne and Stanford's Pop Warner. And it also matched the Irish's famed "Four Horsemen" and Stanford star Ernie Nevers.

6. 1956 Rose: Michigan State 17, UCLA 14. The final two minutes were wild, capped by Dave Kaiser's 41-yard field goal with seven seconds left the first field-goal attempt of his career.

7. 1946 Orange: Miami 13, Holy Cross 6. On the last play of the game, with Holy Cross on Miami's 26, the Crusaders disdained a long field-goal attempt and went for the touchdown. But Miami's Al Hudson intercepted the pass on the 11 and returned it 89 yards for the winning score.

8. 1942 Cotton: Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21. Alabama finished with one first down and 75 yards of offense, yet still won thanks to 12 yes,12 A&M turnovers.

9. 1946 Cotton: Texas 40, Missouri 27. Texas' Bobby Layne threw two TD passes and scored on four runs to overcome 408 rushing yards by Missouri's Split-T attack.

10. 1945 Sugar: Duke 29, Alabama 26. The lead changed hands four times, and the Blue Devils rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit.

1960s

1. 1963 Rose: USC 42, Wisconsin 37. USC led 42-14 early in the fourth quarter before Badgers QB Ron VanderKelen caught fire and led a furious rally that fell just short. USC came in ranked first, Wisconsin second; it was the first 1-2 meeting in a bowl game in history.

2. 1965 Orange: Texas 21, Alabama 17. It was the first night-time Orange Bowl, and the Longhorns held off Joe Namath-led Alabama. Namath threw for 255 yards and two TDs, but was stopped on a sneak late in the fourth quarter as the top-ranked Tide fell.

3. 1969 Orange: Penn State 15, Kansas 14. Penn State benefited from a KU penalty to finish unbeaten. The Nittany Lions scored on a 3-yard run by Chuck Burkhart with 15 seconds left to cut KU's lead to 14-13. Penn State went for two, but the pass was incomplete. But the Jayhawks were penalized for having 12 men on the field, and Burkhart then ran in the winning two-point conversion. KU coaches later said that after watching film, they realized that 12 defenders had been on the field for four plays.

4. 1970 Cotton: Texas 21, Notre Dame 17. Texas had beaten Arkansas in the "Game of the Century" in the regular-season finale, then rallied in the fourth quarter to down the Irish, who were playing in their first bowl since the 1924 season. Texas' winning score came with 1:08 left.

5. 1969 Rose: Ohio State 27, USC 16. It was No. 1 Ohio State, which was unbeaten, against No. 2 USC, which had one tie. USC TB O.J. Simpson, the Heisman winner, rushed for 171 yards on 28 carries and scored on an 80-yard run, but Ohio State converted two fumbles into TDs in the fourth quarter to win.

6. 1964 Cotton: Texas 28, Navy 6. Unbeaten Texas came in No. 1, and once-beaten Navy was No. 2 behind Heisman-winning QB Roger Staubach. But Texas rolled, thanks to a defense that held Navy to minus-14 rushing yards. Staubach was harassed all day, rushing 12 times for minus-47 yards.

7. 1968 Orange: Oklahoma 26, Tennessee 24. The Sooners led 19-0 at halftime, but the Vols stormed back in the second half. Tennessee's Karl Kremser later a college soccer coach who won two NCAA Division II titles at Florida International missed a 43-yard field goal with seven seconds left.

8. 1964 Sugar, Alabama 12, Ole Miss 7. All of the Tide's points came on field goals by Tim Davis, a pre-med student. Ole Miss lost six fumbles but still had a chance to win it late. It appeared as if the Rebels had thrown a TD pass, but the receiver was ruled out of the end zone. Ole Miss' final play was a run that was stopped on Alabama's 2.

9. 1961 Orange: Missouri 21, Navy 14. Newly elected president John Kennedy was on hand. What truly was memorable is that each team scored on a long interception return in the first quarter. Navy's Greg Mather scored on a 98-yard return, then Mizzou's Norm Beal took one back 90 yards. Navy rushed 24 times for minus-8 yards.

10. 1967 Sugar: Alabama 34, Nebraska 7. Alabama was unbeaten and hoped a win over the once-beaten 'Huskers would be enough to propel them to No. 1. It didn't happen. The Tide rolled behind QB Kenny Stabler and WR Ray Perkins, but Notre Dame and Michigan State which had played to a 10-10 tie in the regular season finished first and second, respectively.

1970s

1. 1973 Sugar: Notre Dame 24. Alabama 23. Both had perfect records, and the Tide came in No. 1 and the Irish No. 3; this was the first meeting in history between the teams. Alabama took a 23-21 lead early in the fourth quarter but missed the extra point. Notre Dame's Bob Thomas kicked a 19-yard field goal with 10:34 left to give the Irish the lead. Late in the game, Alabama downed a punt at Notre Dame's 1. On third-and-8 from the 3 with a little more than two minutes left, Irish backup tight end Robin Weber basically was left uncovered because of a blown coverage and hauled in a 37-yard reception from Tom Clements to seal the No. 1 ranking.

2. 1979 Sugar: Alabama 14, Penn State 7. Top-ranked Penn State was going for its first national title, but a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter by the second-ranked Tide gave Alabama the title. First Matt Suhey, then Mike Guman were stopped on attempted dives over the top at Alabama's 1.

3. 1979 Cotton: Notre Dame 35, Houston 34. Dallas had gone through an ice storm, and the weather made it doubly tough on Notre Dame QB Joe Montana, who had the flu. Also making it tough was that Houston led 34-12 in the third quarter. But Montana and the Irish rallied. He threw two TD passes in the final 4:15, with the second coming on the final play of the game to give Notre Dame the win.

4. 1978 Gator: Clemson 17, Ohio State 15. The game was far from a thing of beauty, but sadly it's still remembered vividly by a number of fans. It was the final game for Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who punched Clemson NT Charlie Bauman after an interception with just more than two minutes left. The game was the first for Clemson coach Danny Ford, who was promoted from an assistant's job after Charley Pell left in early December to coach Florida.

5. 1980 Rose: USC 17, Ohio State 16. The Buckeyes were unbeaten and ranked No. 1, but they couldn't handle USC TB Charles White. White had 39 carries for 247 yards, including 70 of the 83 on the Trojans' winning drive. He capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge. USC finished with 519 yards of offense.

6. 1978 Orange: Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 6. Oklahoma was ranked second, and took the field knowing top-ranked Texas had lost in the Cotton Bowl. OU was feeling good, considering Arkansas coach Lou Holtz had suspended three players including star RB Ben Cowins and leading receiver Danny Bobo. But backup TB Roland Sales ran wild for the Hogs, finishing with 205 yards. OU didn't score until the fourth quarter.

7. 1971 Cotton: Notre Dame 24, Texas 11. The Longhorns came in ranked No. 1 and the holders of a 30-game winning streak. But the Irish forced six turnovers, including five fumbles, and cruised to the win. Irish QB Joe Theismann scored on two runs and also threw a TD pass.

8. 1972 Orange: Nebraska 38, Alabama 6. Both were unbeaten, with the Huskers ranked first and the Tide second. The game was no contest. Nebraska led 28-0 at halftime, and a defense led by NT Rich Glover dominated Alabama's Wishbone attack.

9. 1975 Fiesta: Arizona State 17, Nebraska 14. Think of this as the first "mid-major" striking a blow. Arizona State was in the WAC at the time, and even though the Sun Devils were unbeaten, no one took them seriously. That changed after they beat the 10-1 Huskers by rallying from an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit.

10. 1971 Rose: Stanford 27, Ohio State 17. The Buckeyes were unbeaten and ranked second, and top-ranked Texas already had fallen in the Cotton Bowl. But Heisman winner Jim Plunkett carved up an Ohio State secondary that hadn't seen a passing attack like Stanford's. Plunkett threw for 265 yards and a TD and found open receivers everywhere.

1980s

1. 1984 Orange: Miami 31, Nebraska 30. The 'Huskers came in unbeaten and ranked No. 1, thanks to an offense averaging almost 52 points per game. But Miami took a 17-0 first-quarter lead and made it stand up barely. After Nebraska scored with 48 seconds left on a 24-yard run on a fourth-and-8 option play, 'Huskers coach Tom Osborne disdained a tie that likely would have gotten him his first national title and instead went for two. The pass was knocked down, and Miami's run as a national power began.

2. 1987 Fiesta: Penn State 14, Miami 10. Miami went into the desert ranked No. 1 and put its swagger on full display when it showed up at a bowl-sponsored dinner wearing fatigues. But Penn State picked off Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde five times, including the game-sealer with UM at Penn State's 13 with 18 seconds left.

3. 1980 Holiday: BYU 46, SMU 45. Quite simply, unreal. SMU led 45-25 in the final three minutes after three TDs from Craig James and two from Eric Dickerson. But Jim McMahon and BYU mounted an incredible rally. A TD pass with 2:35 left made it 45-31, but BYU missed the two-point conversion. The Cougars recovered the onside kick and scored on a short run and two-point conversion with 1:58 left. This time, SMU recovered the onside kick, but went three and out and had its punt blocked. BYU recovered on SMU's 41 with 41 seconds left but no timeouts. Two incompletions later, BYU was down to its final play. McMahon heaved it into the end zone, where Clay Brown caught it after the clock has gone to 0:00. Kurt Gunther then hit the winning PAT.

4. 1988 Orange: Miami 20, Oklahoma 14. Both were unbeaten, but the Hurricanes' defense proved a bit tougher than OU's stingy unit. Miami was the first team to score 20 on OU all season. Meanwhile, OU's Wishbone attack managed just 179 rushing yards.

5. 1983 Sugar: Penn State 27, Georgia 23. Penn State coach Joe Paterno finally got his first national title. The Nittany Lions took a 27-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, then held on. Heisman winner Herschel Walker ran for 103 yards for Georgia in his final college game. Penn State's Curt Warner ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

6. 1988 Sugar: Auburn 16, Syracuse 16. Auburn had the ball on Syracuse's 13 with enough time for one play. Tigers coach Pat Dye chose to kick the field goal, and Win Lyle nailed it from 30 yards out. Syracuse finished 11-0-1.

7. 1985 Orange: Washington 28, Oklahoma 17. OU was 9-1-1 and ranked No. 2, and the Sooners felt that a big victory over 10-1 Washington would be enough to propel them past BYU and into No. 1. But Washington scored two touchdowns in a four-minute span of the fourth quarter to get the victory. With the score tied at 14 early in the fourth quarter, OU K Tim Lashar kicked an apparent 22-yard field goal. But OU was called for an illegal procedure penalty; unfortunately for the Sooners, its cheerleaders drove the "Sooner Schooner" wagon onto the field, and officials threw a flag, which cost OU 15 yards. Lashar's longer field goal was blocked.

8. 1989 Fiesta: Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21. Both teams came in unbeaten, but no one really gave WVU a chance to upset the top-ranked Irish. And the Mountaineers didn't. QB Tony Rice and Notre Dame rolled up 455 total yards and finished No. 1.

9. 1984 Holiday: BYU 24, Michigan 17. BYU was unbeaten and ranked No. 1. Michigan was 6-5. QB Robbie Bosco hit Kelly Smith with the winning TD pass with 1:23 left. BYU outgained Michigan 184 to minus-5 in the fourth quarter.

10. 1982 Liberty: Alabama 21, Illinois 15. It was the last game for Alabama coach Bear Bryant, whose team had trouble containing Illinois QB Tony Eason. He threw for 423 yards but also had to leave the game three times after hard hits and the Tide intercepted each of backup QB Kris Jenner's three passes. Bryant died less than a month later.

1990s

1. 1994 Orange: Florida State 18, Nebraska 16. Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden got his first national title, but he had to sweat it out at the end. Nebraska's Byron Bennett hit a 27-yard field goal with 1:16 left for a 16-15 lead. Nebraska's ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, plus the 'Huskers later were penalized for a late hit after a 20-yard pass play. That set up a 22-yard field goal by Scott Bentley with 21 seconds left. The 'Huskers quickly moved down the field, but Bennett's 45-yard attempt on the final play was wide left.

2. 1997 Rose: Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17. Arizona State was unbeaten and ranked second, but the Sun Devils' national title hopes ended on a late Ohio State touchdown. After Sun Devils QB Jake Plummer scored on an 11-yard scramble for a 17-14 lead with 1:40 left, Ohio State QB Joe Germaine coolly guided the Buckeyes to the winning score. The drive was helped by two interference calls on the Sun Devils, and the winning score came on a 5-yard pass to David Boston with 19 seconds left.

3. 1991 Orange: Colorado 10, Notre Dame 9. Colorado clinched The Associated Press portion of the national title with the win. But it didn't come without controversy. Notre Dame's Raghib Ismail returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown with 43 seconds left, but it was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty.

4. 1993 Sugar: Alabama 34, Miami 13. Both were unbeaten, but no one gave Alabama much of a chance in a game that would decide the national title. But the Tide picked off Heisman winner Gino Torretta three times and crushed the Hurricanes. The game might be best remembered by a play that didn't even count; UM WR Lamar Thomas appeared headed for a 89-yard touchdown on a pass-and-run, but Alabama CB George Teague tracked him down and stripped the ball from Thomas at the Tide's 15. The play was negated because Alabama was offside.

5. 1996 Fiesta: Nebraska 62, Florida 24. Both were unbeaten, but from the second quarter on, it was all Huskers. Nebraska ran for 524 yards, led by QB Tommie Frazier's 199-yard, two-TD performance.

6. 1995 Orange: Nebraska 24, Miami 17. Nebraska coach Tom Osborne won his first national title (he ended up winning two more in the next three seasons) and he did so on Miami's home field. Miami led 17-7 early in the third quarter before the 'Huskers rallied and wore down the 'Canes. Miami had minus-35 yards in the fourth quarter.

7. 1997 Sugar: Florida 52, Florida State 20. A year after it was dismantled by Nebraska in the title game and a month after it lost at Florida State in the regular season, Florida extracted some revenge by pounding its rival. Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel threw for 306 yards and three TDs and also ran for a score.

8. 1991 Cotton: Miami 46, Texas 3. No. 4 Miami hammered No. 3 Texas, but the manner in which the Hurricanes pranced and preened and were called for penalties is the most vivid memory. UM was called for 16 penalties, for 202 yards, but the Hurricanes also forced five turnovers.

9. 2000 Orange: Michigan 35, Alabama 34 (OT). Michigan's Tom Brady had the game of his life well, to that point, anyway by throwing for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Michigan's Hayden Epstein had his potential tying field goal blocked on the final play of regulation. In OT, Michigan scored on a 25-yard pass on its first play. Alabama scored on its second play, but K Ryan Pflugner missed the extra point.

10. 1999 Rose: Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31. Ron Dayne ran wild for the Badgers, finishing with 246 yards and four TDs on 27 carries. UCLA started 10-0 but dropped its final two games, to Miami in a game postponed until December because of a hurricane, then this postseason matchup.

2000s

1. 2006 Rose: Texas 41, USC 38. Vince Young's greatest performance, on a huge stage.

2. 2007 Fiesta: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (OT). A big victory for the little guys. Boise State's hook-and-ladder touchdown ties it up and sends it into overtime, there's a Statue of Liberty play for the winning two-point conversion, then the star of the game proposes on live TV to his cheerleader girlfriend. It's a Hollywood movie, folks.

3. 2003 Fiesta: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OTs). The "unbeatable" Hurricanes were beaten in a titanic defensive struggle. Ohio State benefited from a late pass-interference call in the second OT, then had a goal-line stand to seal it.

4. 2001 GMAC: Marshall 64, East Carolina 61 (2OTs). Byron Leftwich threw for 576 yards and four touchdowns and also ran from a score as the Thundering Herd rallied from a 38-8 halftime deficit in the highest-scoring bowl game ever.

5. 2005 Rose: Texas 38, Michigan 37. Dusty Mangum hit a 37-yard field goal on the final play to give the Longhorns the win in the first of their two consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Vince Young ran for four TDs and threw for another in a precursor to his great 2006 game.

6. 2006 Insight: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 (OT). In a game few saw because it was on the NFL Network, the Red Raiders put together the greatest comeback in bowl history for the win. Minnesota led 38-7 midway through the third quarter before Tech roared back. Minnesota fired coach Glen Mason in the aftermath of the loss.

7. 2001 Orange: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2. Behind the steady play of Heisman winner Chris Weinke, FSU came into the contest with a six-game winning streak in which the average margin of victory was 37 points. But OU's defense shut down the Seminoles, who were just 1-of-15 on third-down conversions.

8. 2006 Sugar: West Virginia 38, Georgia 35. The game was moved to Atlanta's Georgia Dome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but the huge "home"-crowd advantage didn't help Georgia. WVU took an early 28-0 lead and erased any doubt about the Big East belonging in the BCS.

9. 2000 Independence: Mississippi State 43, Texas A&M 41 (OT). First, it was a surreal atmosphere, as the game was played amid a snowfall in Shreveport, La. Second, it was a bizarre OT. A&M scored first in OT, then saw its extra-point attempt blocked and returned for two points by the Bulldogs. Mississippi State scored on its possession to end it. It was Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill's first win over his former employer.

10. 2005 Orange: USC 55, Oklahoma 19. Top-ranked USC blew the second-ranked Sooners' doors in in an impressive display on both sides of the ball. USC QB Matt Leinart threw five TD passes.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.
Rivals.com national college football writer Olin Buchanan contributed to this report.




 

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