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History of College Football Bowl Games Is Filled With Memorable Moments

Posted on December 19, 2009 by A.J. Foss
Vince Young's winning touchdown run in the 2006 Rose Bowl is just one of many memorable moments in the history of college bowl games.

Vince Young's winning touchdown run in the 2006 Rose Bowl is just one of many memorable moments in the history of college bowl games.

Bowl season begins this Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl and ends January 7th with the BCS Championship Game between Texas and Alabama.

In all, there will be 34 postseason games this year, a record for most bowl games in a year.
Even though the amount of bowl games is getting absurd, many of college football’s greatest moments have occurred during the bowl season.

So before the three-week odyssey of bowl games begin, here are the 25 most memorable college football bowl moments:

What is the Greatest Game/Moment in College Bowl History?

  • 2006 Rose Bowl (Vince Young leads Texas to victory) (28%, 21 Votes)
  • 2007 Fiesta Bowl (Ian Johnson scores game winner then proposes to cheerleader) (26%, 19 Votes)
  • 2003 Fiesta Bowl (Ohio State upsets Miami in double overtime) (19%, 14 Votes)
  • 1979 Cotton Bowl (Montana leads Notre Dame Comeback) (15%, 11 Votes)
  • 1984 Orange Bowl (Miami wins as Nebraska misses two-point conversion) (12%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 74

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25. 1996 Fiesta Bowl – On the final play of the third quarter, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier breaks seven tackles on his way for a 75-yard touchdown. The run is the signature play in the Cornhuskers’ 62-24 rout of the Florida Gators for the national championship.

24. 1985 Orange Bowl – With 14 minutes remaining in the game and the score tied at 14, Oklahoma kicker Tim Lasher kicks a 22-yard field goal which is nullified by an illegal procedure penalty on Oklahoma. Unaware of the flag, the Sooner Schooner rolls on to the field drawing another penalty on Oklahoma. The 20 yards in penalties force Lasher to attempt a 42-yard field goal, which is blocked by Washington safety Tim Peoples. The Huskies would go on to win the game 28-17.

The ruling that Charles White scored before fumbling the football was a big one in the 1979 Rose Bowl.

The ruling that Charles White scored before fumbling the football was a big one in the 1979 Rose Bowl.

23. 1979 Rose Bowl – In the second quarter, USC running back Charles White is stripped of the ball at the Michigan 1-yard-line, which is recovered by linebacker Jeter Meter. But the officials rule that White crossed the goal line with the ball and gave the Trojans a touchdown even though replays clearly show White fumbled the ball before he crossed the goal line. The “Phantom Touchdown” is the difference in the game as USC defeats Michigan 17-10.

22. 1993 Sugar Bowl - #2 Alabama knock off #1 Miami 34-13 to win the national championship. The game includes a remarkable play as Alabama safety runs down wide receiver Lamar Thomas and strips the ball from him as Thomas was on his way to an apparent 89-yard touchdown.

21. 1969 Orange Bowl – Penn State quarterback Chuck Burkhart runs for a three-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the game to cut Kansas’ lead to 14-13. The Nittany Lions go for two and fail, but are saved by a penalty on the Jayhawks for having 12 men on the field. Penn State try for two again and this time are successful as halfback Bob Campbell runs it in to give the Nittany Lions a 15-14 win, completing the first of head coach Joe Paterno’s five undefeated seasons.

Joe Namath could not save Alabama in the 1965 Orange Bowl, but he would enjoy success at the stadium later in his career.

Joe Namath could not save Alabama in the 1965 Orange Bowl, but he would enjoy success at the stadium later in his career.

20. 1965 Orange Bowl – In the first primetime college football game on television, Texas upsets #1 Alabama 21-17, despite Alabama quarterback Joe Namath coming off the bench and throwing for 255 yards.

19.1980 Rose Bowl - USC running back Charles White runs for 70 of the 83 yards on USC’s game-winning drive that culminates with a 1-yard touchdown by White that gives the Trojans a 17-16 win over Ohio State. White finishes with 247 yards on 39 carries and one touchdown.

18. 1982 Sugar Bowl - With a fourth-and-five at the Georgia 33, Pittsburgh quarterback Dan Marino lofts a pass to the end zone that is caught by tight end Clay Brown with 35 seconds left in the game that gives the Panthers a 24-20 win over the defending national champions.

17. 1973 Sugar Bowl – Leading 24-23 and facing third-and-eight from their own 2-yard-line, Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements completes a 35-yard pass to Robin Weber giving the Irish a key first down with 2:12 remaining in the game. The Irish run out the clock to defeat #1 Alabama and win the national championship for Notre Dame.

This pass by Tom Clements from in his own end zone was eventually caught by Robin Weber to preserve a 24-23 Notre Dame victory over Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl.

This pass by Tom Clements from in his own end zone was eventually caught by Robin Weber to preserve a 24-23 Notre Dame victory over Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl.

16. 2006 Insight Bowl - Trailing 38-7 to Minnesota with 7:47 left in the third quarter, Texas Tech scores 31 unanswered points to force overtime. After holding the Gophers to a field goal in the overtime period, Shannon Woods scores a three-yard touchdown run giving Texas Tech a 44-41 win and the greatest comeback in bowl history.

15. 1963 Rose Bowl - Wisconsin score 23 points in the fourth quarter in a furious comeback but fall short as they lose to USC 42-37.

14. 1997 Rose Bowl - After Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer puts the Sun Devils ahead 17-14 with a 11-yard scramble for a touchdown with 1:40 left, Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine drives the Buckeyes 65 yards in 12 plays with the drive culminating

with a 5-yard touchdown pass to David Boston with 19 seconds left. The Buckeyes hold to win 20-17 and end the Sun Devils’ hopes for a national championship.

13. 1991 Orange Bowl - Raghib Ismail’s 92 punt return for a touchdown with 43 seconds left in the game is called back because of a debatable clipping penalty which leads to Colorado defeat Notre Dame 10-9 and win a share of the national championship.

12. 1975 Rose Bowl – After throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to John McKay Jr. with 2:03 remaining in the game, USC quarterback Pat Haden finds Sheldon Diggs in the end zone for a successful two point conversion giving the Trojans a 18-17 lead that they will hold to as they defeated Ohio State to win a share of the national championship.

11. 2005 Capital One Bowl - Iowa quarterback throws a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway on the final play of the game, giving the Hawkeyes a 30-25 win over the LSU Tigers.

10. 1980 Holiday Bowl - BYU, led by quarterback Jim McMahon, score 21 points in the final 2:33 of the game, which includes a 41-yard touchdown pass from McMahon to tight end Clay Brown as time expired to give the Cougars a 46-45 victory over SMU.

9. 1928 Rose Bowl – Roy Rigels, an All-American center for California, recovers a Georgia Tech fumble but runs 65 yards in the wrong direction and into his own end zone for a two-point safety for Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets win the game 8-7.

Barry Krauss stopped Mike Guman on fourth down to preserve victory for Alabama in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

Barry Krauss stopped Mike Guman on fourth down to preserve victory for Alabama in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

8. 1979 Sugar Bowl – Penn State running back Mike Guman is stopped inches of the goal line by Alabama linebacker Barry Krauss on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard-line, securing the 14-7 win for the Crimson Tide and a share of the national championship.

7. 1978 Gator Bowl – Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes punches Clemson defensive back Charlie Bauman after Bauman celebrates in front of the Buckeye bench an interception in the final minutes of Clemson’s 17-15 victory. Hayes, the coach of the Buckeyes for 28 years, was fired the next morning.

6. 1987 Fiesta Bowl - Miami quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Vinny Testaverde is intercepted five times, the last one by Penn State linebacker Pete Giftopolous near the Nittany Lion goal line with 18 seconds left, as the #1 Hurricanes are upset by #2 Penn State 14-10, giving the Nittany Lions the national championship.

Joe Montana gave a glimpse of greatness to come with his perfomance in the 1979 Cotton Bowl.

Joe Montana gave a glimpse of greatness to come with his perfomance in the 1979 Cotton Bowl.

5. 1979 Cotton Bowl - Coming back into the game and after staying in the locker room to eat bowls of chicken soup to raise his body temperature because of hypothermia, Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana leads the Irish back from a 34-12 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Houston Cougars 35-34. Montana throws the game-winning touchdown pass, eight yards to Kris Haynes, as time expires.

4. 2003 Fiesta Bowl - Aided by a controversial pass interference penalty in the first overtime period that would have ended the game, #2 Ohio State upsets #1 Miami 31-24 in double overtime to win the national championship and end the Hurricanes’ 34-game winning streak.

3. 2006 Rose Bowl – In a performance reminiscent of the previous year’s Rose Bowl, Texas quarterback Vince Young accounts for 467 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, including a 8-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-five with 19 seconds remaining to give the Longhorns a 41-38 win over USC, which ends the Trojans’ 34-game winning streak and gives Texas their first national championship in 35 years.

2. 1984 Orange Bowl - Trailing 31-30 with 48 seconds left and needing only a tie to clinch the national championship, Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne goes for two to win the game but is unsuccessful as Miami safety Ken Calhoun deflects quarterback Turner Gill’s pass. The Hurricanes would go on to win the game 31-30 and would vault from #5 to #1 in the polls the following day, clinching the school’s first national championship.

Boise State running back Ian Johnson scored the game winning touchdown then claimed an even greater prize at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Boise State running back Ian Johnson scored the game winning touchdown then claimed an even greater prize at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

1. 2007 Fiesta Bowl – Trailing 35-28 with 18 seconds left and facing a fourth-and-18 from the Oklahoma 42-yard-line, Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky completes a 15-yard pass to Drisan James, then laterals to his teammate Jerard Rabb who precedes down the left sideline to get in the end zone and along with the extra point tied the game at 35 with seven seconds remaining. After giving up a touchdown to Oklahoma in the overtime period, Boise State faces a fourth-and-two at the 5-yard-line. Bronco wide receiver Vinny Perretta takes the snap and throws a touchdown pass to Derek Schoumann that brings the Broncos to within one point. Instead of going for the tie, Boise State goes for two and the win. The Broncos ran the “Statue of Liberty” play as running back Ian Johnson runs it in untouched for a successful two-point conversion and a 43-42 upset win over the Sooners.

Then during the post game interview, Johnson proposes to his girlfriend, Boise State head cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, who accepts.

Check out more great work from A.J. Foss on his blog: A.J.’s Old School Sports Blog.


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