College football makes itself hard to love sometimes. The money has primarily gone to all the wrong places — coaches’ salaries and expensive locker room features have increased sharply during an era of skyrocketing revenues, and players weren’t allowed to profit off anything until about eight months ago. (And in the meantime, coaches’ salaries rose even further.) Meanwhile, the people in charge of this gold mine of a sport have … well … there really aren’t any people in charge.

The game itself, however, is just about perfect. It has roles for all sorts of different sizes, shapes and body types, it requires chess-level strategy and it depends on 18- to 22-year-olds, which gives it a level of silliness and instability that professional football can only sometimes provide. That combination can create absolute magic.

If you ever find yourself falling out of love with this often-ridiculous sport, if you ever find your eye wandering to what other sports have to offer, pull up a random game from this list and fall in love all over again. Here are the 60 best college football games of the 2000s.

(Why 60? Because it was supposed to be a top 50 and I couldn’t stomach eliminating 10 games from the list.)

For one perfect family gathering on Christmas evening, no one had to talk politics with relatives, and no one had to mind the children running throughout the house. Everyone instead got to focus on the Hawai’i Bowl to end all Hawai’i Bowls. Houston’s Kevin Kolb and Hawai’i’s Timmy Chang combined to throw for 807 yards and seven TDs, Houston sent the game to overtime with an 81-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left, the Cougars made a fourth-down stop to win it in the third OT and we got a feisty postgame brawl as the cherry on the sundae.

The 2010s began and ended with a pair of LSU-Bama games that (a) featured impossible amounts of combined pro talent and (b) helped to send LSU to the national title game. They couldn’t have been more different in terms of game flow — the former featured 1,100 total yards and 34 points in the fourth quarter alone as Alabama attempted a furious, late comeback over Joe Burrow and the Tigers; the latter featured 534 total yards and a series of failed scoring chances, primarily from the host Tide. But they were both gripping games overloaded with star power.

Four days before Bama-LSU 2011 came the pinnacle of MACtion. NIU’s Tommylee Lewis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game, and Chandler Harnish threw for six touchdowns, but that was barely enough to survive against a Toledo team that scored at least 10 points in all four quarters and twice scored to take the lead in the final 10 minutes.

The 2020 season was odd, disjointed and played under the pall of the COVID pandemic. It exposed the total lack of cohesive leadership in the sport … and it also gave us this surreal contest, in which Penn State scored twice in 48 seconds to take a sudden lead in the closing minutes, Indiana forced overtime with a last-second score and the Hoosiers won when Michael Penix Jr. succeeded on a two-point conversion by about a millimeter. An absolute thriller in a nearly empty stadium.

Two of the most prolific teams in college football met in Memphis’ Liberty Bowl and it lived up to all expectations. The teams combined for 52 first-half points, and Boise State seized control with a 24-0 run, only to watch Louisville end the game (and BSU’s 22-game winning streak) on a 23-6 run of its own to finish the season 11-1.

Part game, part endurance test. LSU’s Ed Orgeron was doused with Gatorade in the closing seconds after a game-clinching interception, but the play was overturned on a replay review, and Orgeron had to sit there, sticky, as the game not only went to overtime but went to seven overtimes. How many games can say they were directly responsible for rules changes?

In a classic Cotton Bowl, Baylor’s Bryce Petty threw for a jaw-dropping 550 yards and the Bears took a 41-21 lead into the fourth quarter, but Michigan State scored twice, then blocked a field goal attempt with 1:05 left. Connor Cook and Keith Mumphery connected for a 10-yard score with 17 seconds remaining, and the Spartans pulled off a thrilling comeback win.

When Anthony Gordon found Dezmon Patmon for a 6-yard score with 6:52 left in the third quarter — one of a record nine TD passes on the day for Gordon — Wazzu had expanded its lead to 49-17. This game was destined to be forgotten as a pretty typical, early-season conference win … but then UCLA proceeded to score 50 points in 22 minutes. Fifty! Dorian Thompson-Robinson‘s 15-yard strike to Demetric Felton with 1:07 left gave the Bruins one of the most unlikely wins in the sport’s history.

Army hadn’t beaten Navy since 2001 and had barely even come close in recent years, but the Black Knights held a 13-10 lead in Philadelphia heading into the fourth quarter. And even after giving up the lead, Army had a shot. First-and-10 from the Navy 14, 1:04 left … and Trent Steelman and Larry Dixon muffed a handoff exchange. Navy recovered the ball, and Army experienced just about the most gut-wrenching ending possible.

The Black Knights would finally end the losing streak in 2016, but this one hurt for a while.

On a gorgeous afternoon in Pasadena, Ohio State and Utah put on one of the best games of the 2021 season. Utah bolted to an early 14-0 lead, and in a three-minute span in the second quarter the teams traded touchdowns of 50, 52, 62 and, on a kickoff, 97 yards. Utah backup quarterback Bryson Barnes, a freshman walk-on, threw a touchdown pass to tie the game in the final two minutes, but the Utes couldn’t stop Jaxon Smith-Njigba (15 catches, 347 yards, three TDs), and Ohio State survived with a winning field goal in the closing seconds.

In a season defined by glorious upsets, this one felt like the most impactful of all at the time. LSU had already overcome one three-overtime loss to move back to No. 1 in the country, but simply couldn’t stop Darren McFadden. Arkansas’ star rushed for 206 yards and three scores and threw a go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and when LSU’s 2-point conversion failed in the third overtime, it felt like the Tigers’ title chances were over.

(They weren’t. There was more nonsense to come in 2007.)

Penn State’s White Out has become one of the sport’s more celebrated traditions, and it has produced quite a few incredible games — PSU’s four-overtime win over Michigan in 2013, for instance, not to mention a couple of ultra-tight losses to highly ranked Ohio State teams.

The glory of White Out can be distilled into one play: Grant Haley‘s blocked field goal return.

Ohio State lines up for a 45-yard field goal that gets blocked and run all the way back by Grant Haley to give Penn State the stunning 24-21 lead with just over four minutes left in the game.

The Nittany Lions rode this upset of the No. 2 Buckeyes to their first outright conference title in 22 years.

Louisville was 8-0 and ranked third in the country. Rutgers, in the middle of a remarkable turnaround, was 8-0 and ranked 15th. In one of the great Thursday night games of the century, Louisville took a 25-7 lead in the second quarter, but the host Scarlet Knights slowly reeled the Cardinals in. Jeremy Ito nailed a 46-yard field goal with 10 minutes left to tie the game, and after an 11-play, five-minute drive, Ito’s 28-yarder sealed a stunning upset.

USC had maybe its best defense of the Pete Carroll era in 2008 and could have been an absolute handful in a hypothetical College Football Playoff. But the Trojans ended up on the outside of the BCS race because of Jacquizz Rodgers, as the freshman rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in another glorious Thursday night affair. The Beavers scored their first win over a No. 1 team in 41 years by bolting to a 21-0 halftime lead and holding on for dear life. Rodgers’ final touchdown came with 2:39 left, and Oregon State recovered a late onside kick to survive.

It was 49-14 WKU with 12 minutes left in the greatest-ever Bahamas Bowl. After a mad comeback, it was 49-42 WKU with one second left when the Hail Mary hook-and-ladder was born.

WKU still won when CMU’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete, but the Chippewas redefined “glory in defeat” with this one.

Consider this the representative for all of the wonderful nonsense the Red River Rivalry has provided us over the last decade or so. Seven of the last eight games in the series have been decided by one score, and while Oklahoma has won the last four, this one packed in the plot twists.

Texas held a 45-24 lead in the fourth quarter until three Sooner touchdowns in four minutes — including a 67-yard Kyler Murray run — tied the game. But the Longhorns milked the last two and a half minutes off the clock and stole an upset with a 40-yard Cameron Dicker field goal.

Like the amazing Chiefs-Bills game from this year’s NFL playoffs, the best college game of 2021 was incredibly fun before the final two minutes and downright silly from there: Arkansas tied the game with 1:22 left, only to watch Braylon Sanders score on a 68-yard pass 15 seconds later. The Hogs responded with a 9-yard touchdown on the final play of regulation, but a 2-point attempt that would have won it fell incomplete.

Russell Wilson and Wisconsin overcame a 31-17 deficit to tie the game with 1:26 to go, only to watch Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol render their comeback efforts moot — barely — on the final play.

On Oct. 22, 2011, Kirk Cousins heaves the ball up, and it is deflected to Keith Nichol, who pushes his way just past the plane of the goal line.

It seemed like Nick Saban’s final game as LSU head coach was going to have a “fond farewell” tone to it — his Tigers overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to take their first lead with 52 seconds left. But they forgot to cover Warren Holloway.

The very first day of the 2000s gave us a classic. Bama’s Shaun Alexander rushed for 162 yards and three scores, but Michigan erased a pair of 14-point deficits thanks to Tom Brady and David Terrell (10 catches, 150 yards). Brady and Shawn Thompson connected for a score on the first play of overtime, and while Alabama quickly responded, Ryan Pflugner’s PAT try sailed wide right, and Michigan became the Orange Bowl champion.

This was the last meeting in this rivalry for a decade and counting, and the Aggies and Longhorns made it count. A&M went on an early 13-0 run, Texas responded with a 17-0 third quarter and A&M responded with a 9-0 run to take a 25-24 lead with 1:48 left. That was too much time. A personal foul penalty and a 25-yard run by quarterback Case McCoy set up a 40-yard Justin Tucker field goal at the buzzer, and the Longhorns took the bragging rights as the Aggies left for the SEC.

This one is remembered primarily for Tim Tebow‘s “promise” speech afterward, but it was also a hell of a game! No. 4 Florida seized control with a 17-0 second-quarter run, but 2-2 Ole Miss responded in kind in the third quarter. Jevan Snead’s 86-yard bomb to Shay Hodge gave the Rebels a late lead, which held up when Kentrell Lockett blocked what would have been a game-tying PAT and Ole Miss stuffed Tebow on a late fourth-and-short plunge.

The Ndamukong Suh game. The best defender of the 2000s sacked Texas’ Colt McCoy 4.5 times, other Nebraska defenders added 4.5 more sacks and the Huskers came as close as possible to knocking off the unbeaten Horns. But the refs put one second back on the clock after a McCoy throwaway, and Hunter Lawrence nailed a 46-yard field goal at the buzzer to send Texas to the BCS championship game.

From McCoy’s throwaway to the thrown shoe. The strangest (and most entertaining) game of the 2020 COVID season took place in The Swamp and all but eliminated Florida from national title contention. LSU hung around with a pick-six and some red zone stops, then pulled off the most unlikely of upsets when Marco Wilson was penalized for throwing Kole Taylor‘s shoe after a third-down stop and LSU’s Cade York nailed an incredible 57-yard field goal into a mid-December fog.


This game had everything: amazing locale (everything’s better at the Rose Bowl), big runs (13-0 by USC, 28-0 by Penn State, 17-0 by USC), explosive plays (six TDs of at least 24 yards, including two 70-yarders by PSU in two minutes) and a dramatic ending. Tied late and going for the win, the Nittany Lions’ Trace McSorley got picked off by Leon McQuay III, setting up a 46-yard field goal by Matt Boermeester at the buzzer.

Before Georgia finally got one over on the Crimson Tide and beat them for the 2021 national title, the Dawgs’ last 10 years were defined by close-but-no-cigar moments. In the 2018 SEC championship game, the Dawgs missed out on a spot in the CFP when Jalen Hurts, in for injured Alabama starter Tua Tagovailoa, led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives (which sandwiched an infamous failed fake punt) and scored the game-winner with 64 seconds left.

This was somehow only the third-most gut-wrenching defeat the Dawgs suffered against Bama in the 2010s.

From 1970 to 2006, Mizzou and Kansas combined to win more than eight games in a season once. But here they were, 10-1 and 11-0, respectively, playing for the No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings near the end of a wild 2007 season. They met in Kansas City for the biggest game in the history of the rivalry, and it lived up to its billing.

Mizzou’s Chase Daniel threw for 361 yards and three scores, and the Tigers built a 28-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But Kansas got back to within 34-28 before Lorenzo Williams & Co. sacked Todd Reesing for a safety with 12 seconds left to give Mizzou its first No. 1 ranking in 47 years.

In a game rescheduled in the aftermath of 9/11, second-ranked Florida needed to beat No. 6 Tennessee to secure a spot in the SEC championship game and line up a date with Miami in the BCS title game. After a slow start, the Gators went on a 20-0 run to take the lead. But behind Travis Stephens’ 226 rushing yards, the Vols charged ahead, then sealed the game by stopping Rex Grossman’s 2-point conversion pass to Jabar Gaffney with 1:26 left and recovering the ensuing onside kick.

Few games come with more hype than this one, in which two of the sport’s greatest rivals each arrived unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country. The death of former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler the prior day added even more emotional heft to the proceedings.

Troy Smith and the Buckeyes charged to a 28-14 halftime lead but could never put the Wolverines away for good. Ohio State lost a pair of late fumbles and led only 42-39 after Chad Henne‘s late touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker, but an onside kick recovery by the Buckeyes helped to seal the game and a spot in the BCS championship.

Toward the end of the wildest season of our lifetimes, it looked like we might get a Missouri-West Virginia national title game. But Mizzou got run out of the Alamodome by Oklahoma late in the Big 12 championship game, and WVU, a four-touchdown favorite over rival Pitt, forgot how to move the football. Pitt held the Mountaineers to 183 total yards — with help from quarterback Pat White’s dislocated thumb — and on its last three drives, West Virginia lost a fumble and turned the ball over on downs twice. Somehow Pitt held on for an all-time upset.

Speaking of all-time upsets … Stanford was 1-3 and starting backup quarterback Tavita Pritchard when it visited No. 2 USC early in the 2007 season. The Trojans had won 35 straight at home, and Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal were 40.5-point underdogs. No matter! Stanford forced five turnovers, and while Pritchard went just 11-for-30 passing, his 10-yard strike to Mark Bradford with 48 seconds left gave Stanford one of the most unexpected upsets in the history of the sport.

The ultimate snow bowl. Snow began falling in Shreveport shortly before the 2000 Independence Bowl kicked off, and it kept getting heavier. Mississippi State scored twice in the final 8:17 of regulation to force overtime, and while A&M began OT with a 25-yard Ja’Mar Toombs rumble, the Bulldogs blocked the PAT and returned it for two points, then sealed the game with a Wayne Madkin touchdown run.

For a while in the early 2010s, Baylor-TCU was the most reliable fireworks show in college football. And in these two games, both teams unleashed furious late comebacks. In 2011, Robert Griffin III kick-started a Heisman run by throwing for 359 yards and five scores, and BU took a 47-23 lead into the fourth quarter, but TCU responded with a shocking 25-0 run to take the lead. The Horned Frogs left too much time on the clock, though, and Aaron Jones‘ 37-yard field goal gave the Bears a narrow win.

Three years later, it was TCU’s turn to take a big lead. In a game that featured 1,267 total yards, TCU took a 58-37 lead with 11:38 left, only to watch Baylor score three times in short succession. TCU turned the ball over on downs near midfield with 1:11 left, and with help from a pass interference penalty, the Bears again drove for a last-second field goal and an amazing win.

While 2010’s BCS championship game pitted Heisman winner Cam Newton against Oregon’s absurdly prolific Chip Kelly attack, the teams combined for just three touchdowns in three quarters. Darron Thomas’ short touchdown pass to LaMichael James brought Oregon even at 19-19, but with help from a controversial call — Michael Dyer probably down? — Auburn won its first national title since 1957 with a 19-yard chip shot from Wes Byrum at the buzzer.

Auburn returned to the national title game three years later and, for three quarters, limited Florida State the way it limited Oregon. But Jameis Winston and the Seminoles scored three times in the final 11 minutes, and while Tre Mason put Auburn ahead with a 37-yard touchdown with 1:19 left, Winston responded by hitting Kelvin Benjamin for the title-winning score 66 seconds later.

In what was somehow not even the greatest Rose Bowl that Vince Young would play in, Texas and Michigan fought in an absolute thriller 12 months before Texas and USC would do the same.

Briefly benched for poor play midway through the season, Young got hot late in 2004 and put together an all-timer in Pasadena. Michigan led 31-21 heading into the fourth quarter and hit two field goals late, but behind Young’s 180 passing yards and 192 rushing yards, the Horns kept charging, and Dusty Mangum’s 37-yard field goal at the buzzer capped an 11-1 campaign and set the table for the Horns’ 2005 title run.

From 2016-18, the College Football Playoff gave us three consecutive amazing finals, the first two pitting the same teams against each other.

In the 2015 season’s title game, Alabama won its fourth national championship in seven years by surviving both upstart Clemson and a chaotic fourth quarter. Trailing 24-21 into the fourth, the Tide needed both an onside kick recovery and a 95-yard kickoff return from Kenyan Drake to stake out a 38-27 lead, then held on for dear life as Clemson kept scoring. It took another onside kick recovery late to finally lock up the title.

A year later, Clemson ever so slightly got the better of the Tide. Alabama took a 24-14 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers roared back against a tiring Tide defense, scoring twice to take the lead and, following a 30-yard Jalen Hurts touchdown run that put Bama back ahead, scored the winning touchdown on a short Deshaun Watson-to-Hunter Renfrow pass with a single second left on the clock. A fabulous sequel that exceeded the original.

The 2016 Alamo Bowl featured just about the most incredible comeback you’ll ever see. Oregon charged to a 31-0 halftime lead behind two scores from Royce Freeman. Quarterback Vernon Adams was knocked out of the game late in the second quarter, but surely that was a big enough lead, right?

Nope. TCU scored 17 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth, and quarterback Bram Kohlhausen scored on an 8-yard run in the third overtime to somehow give the Horned Frogs the win.

The most impactful Friday night game of the 21st century. Oklahoma State needed to win its final two games to play for the national title and took a 24-7 lead early in the second half, but Paul Rhoads’ pesky Cyclones wouldn’t go away. They tied the game at 24-24 with 5:30 left, and when Quinn Sharp’s 37-yard field goal attempt sailed just wide (if it was wide at all) late in regulation, overtime loomed. In the second OT, Ter’Ran Benton picked off OSU’s Brandon Weeden, and Jeff Woody rumbled in for the winning score. The Cowboys came achingly short of a title shot.

The game that turned Johnny Manziel into a legend.

We haven’t gotten many great semifinal games in the CFP era, but this one was spectacular. Ohio State dominated the first 25 minutes, but a run of field goals meant the Buckeyes led only 16-0. Clemson scored twice in 95 seconds — including once on a 67-yard Trevor Lawrence run — to make it 16-14 at halftime. Travis Etienne scored to give Clemson the lead with 1:49 remaining, but the Buckeyes were positioned to take the lead back until Nolan Turner picked off a Justin Fields pass in the end zone with 37 seconds left. The 2019 season produced three nearly perfect teams, but one had to bow out before the finals.

Behold, one of the greatest minutes in college football history.

2:21 left, fourth quarter: Otis Anderson scores from 23 yards to give unbeaten Central Florida a 42-34 lead.

1:41 left: South Florida’s Quinton Flowers and Darnell Salomon connect on an 83-yard touchdown bomb. After the 2-point conversion, it’s a tie game in Orlando.

1:28 left: Mike Hughes takes the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for the go-ahead score. The Bounce House loses its mind.

UCF recovered a fumble near midfield to wrap up the rivalry win and the unbeaten regular season, but it took something magical to get the job done.

Top-ranked USC hadn’t lost for more than two years, but Charlie Weis’ Notre Dame squad looked poised to pull a massive upset when Brady Quinn scored from five yards out with 2:04 left. But USC got one last chance to win during a chaotic final minute, and Matt Leinart got just enough assistance to get the job done.

With a stop on fourth-and-25, Ole Miss would have been on the doorstep of its first SEC West title. How hard could that be?

Now we’re getting into the really good stuff. It feels like each of these last 13 games should have been in the top five, so consider this a nine-way tie for fifth.

This game is primarily remembered as the example for what happens when rivalries go too far, but before Auburn could beat Oregon for its first national title in 53 years, the Tigers had to work themselves out of a 24-0 hole against Nick Saban’s rival Tide. Luckily they had Cam Newton. It was 24-7 at halftime and 27-21 at the end of the third quarter, and Newton’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen gave the Tigers a shocking lead. The Tigers still had to make a pair of late stops, but they did so.

With Cincinnati positioning itself for a shot at the national title and Pitt angling for its first top-10 finish since 1982, these River City rivals put on a show in the snow.

Pitt rode a 24-point second quarter to a 31-10 lead, but two huge plays by the immortal Mardy Gilyard — a 98-yard kick return and 68-yard reception — brought the Bearcats back into the game. They tied it at 38-38 late, but Pitt responded with a Dion Lewis touchdown with 1:36 remaining … and mishandled the snap on the extra point. That opened the door for Cincinnati to win the game when Tony Pike lobbed a perfect 29-yard touchdown pass to Armon Binns that, had the refs not put one second back on the clock in the Texas-Nebraska game (see No. 37 above), would have sent the Bearcats to the BCS championship game.

In one of the most important games of college football’s revolution, Northwestern gained 654 yards on the vaunted Wolverines defense — 332 rushing, 322 passing — and it was just barely enough. Michigan led 45-36 heading into the fourth quarter, but 10 points in three minutes gave the Wildcats their first lead. Anthony Thomas put the Wolverines back ahead, but he fumbled as he surged for a first down that would have clinched the game. Zak Kustok hit Sam Simmons for an 11-yard score with 20 seconds left, and the crowd at Evanston’s Ryan Field had just witnessed history.

Miami had won 34 straight games and was a two-score favorite over an Ohio State team that had won five of its last six games by seven or fewer points. The Hurricanes were one game away from crowning their second dynasty, but the Buckeyes defense rose to the occasion. Ohio State took a 17-7 lead deep into the third quarter, and it almost held up until Todd Sievers forced overtime with a 40-yard field goal at the buzzer.

Miami scored in the first OT, and Ohio State’s response drive was saved by a pass interference call on a fourth-down incompletion. A Craig Krenzel TD for Ohio State prompted a second OT, and after Maurice Clarett scored for the Buckeyes, they stopped a fourth-and-1 pass attempt and snared their first national title in 34 years.

Most of the games this high on the list had a major impact on the national title race. This one didn’t … but it was only maybe the most significant upset of all time.

(Apologies to Michigan fans for this cluster of games. It was neither intentional nor personal.)

Act I: Alabama kept Mark Richt’s Bulldogs out of the BCS championship game by overcoming an 11-point third-quarter deficit and taking the lead on a 45-yard Amari Cooper touchdown catch with 3:15 left. Georgia drove 80 yards in response, but on first-and-goal from the Bama 8, Chris Conley caught a deflected Aaron Murray pass and got tackled in bounds. Georgia was out of timeouts, and the clock expired. Bama won the national title.

Act II: Georgia had to wait five years (and change coaches) to get another shot. The Dawgs won the SEC to reach the national title game and took a 13-0 halftime lead, but backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa brought the Tide back. They tied the game at 20-20, but it went to OT after they missed a late field goal. Georgia kicked a field goal in OT, then sacked Tagovailoa for a huge loss, but on second-and-26, he hit DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown. Bama won the national title.

Georgia had to wait another four seasons for another shot at the title in 2021, and finally overcame the Tide in a game that didn’t make this list but could have. No one could say that the Dawgs hadn’t paid their dues.

Tua Tagovailoa throws a perfect pass to DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard TD in OT, giving the Crimson Tide their fifth national championship under Nick Saban.

Somehow the amazing 2010 Iron Bowl was neither the best Iron Bowl of the century nor the best game of Nov. 26, 2010. Those honors belong to the nightcap in Reno.

The best Nevada team ever, piloted by Colin Kaepernick, trailed unbeaten Boise State 24-7 at halftime (just like Auburn!) but clawed back to tie the game with 5:14 left. One play later, Doug Martin scored on a 79-yard catch and run to put the Broncos back on top. Nevada tied the game with 13 seconds left only to watch Kellen Moore complete a 54-yard bomb to Titus Young. With one second left, Kyle Brotzman lined up a 26-yard field goal for the win … and pushed it wide. Then he did it again on a 29-yarder in overtime. Anthony Martinez’s 34-yarder gave the Wolf Pack the win. Explosions, plot twists, gut punches … this game had it all.

Four years before they lost as a heavyweight to Nevada, Chris Petersen’s Broncos pulled an upset even more meaningful than the one that would happen in Ann Arbor a few months later. Unbeaten and playing in the Fiesta Bowl against an Oklahoma team two years removed from back-to-back BCS championship appearances, the Broncos pulled out all the stops.

A pick-six gave them a 28-10 lead midway through the third quarter, but after the Sooners tied the game with 1:26 left, they took the lead on their own pick-six.

Reeling, Boise State emptied the playbook. First, they sent the game to overtime with seven seconds left thanks to a 50-yard hook-and-lateral touchdown — Jared Zabransky to Drisan James for 15 yards, then James to Jerard Rabb for 35. Then, after OU’s Adrian Peterson had put the Sooners back ahead, the Broncos scored on a touchdown pass from receiver Vinny Perretta to tight end Derek Schouman. Going for two points and the win, they broke out the Statue of Liberty play. Zabransky handed the ball behind his back to Ian Johnson, who scored the winning points and then proposed to his girlfriend for good measure. What more could you possibly ask for from a sporting event?

Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium gave us two of the greatest games ever in a two-week span late in 2013. It’s almost a shame that these games are basically boiled down to two plays because both games had countless plot twists. Georgia unleashed a ferocious fourth-quarter comeback to all but end Auburn’s BCS hopes, and two weeks later, Auburn needed lots of offensive innovation (and some Alabama field goal problems) to stay within shouting distance of unbeaten Alabama.

Still, these games came down to two of the most magical plays the sport has ever provided us.

The Prayer at Jordan-Hare:

The Kick-Six:

Miraculous moments that became even greater because of the magical calls by late Auburn radio man Rod Bramblett.

This game was everything college football can be. It was stocked with future pro talent, it featured two completely different styles of offense, it was played within the Rose Bowl’s perfect confines (as were so many games on this list) and the plot twists were legion.

Oklahoma went on a 24-7 run to take a commanding lead in the second quarter, but two touchdowns in two minutes gave Georgia a sudden edge early in the fourth. But after OU tied the game with a Baker Mayfield-to-Dimitri Flowers touchdown pass, Steven Parker returned a Sony Michel fumble 46 yards to push the Sooners back ahead. A short, late Nick Chubb touchdown sent the game to overtime, and in the second OT possession, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter blocked Austin Seibert‘s field goal attempt. That gave Michel a chance to atone: His 27-yard explosion sent the Dawgs to the national title game.

Somehow, this was merely the second-best Rose Bowl of the century.

USC hadn’t lost in 34 games. Texas hadn’t lost in 19. Two of college football’s best teams ever happened to take the field in the same season, and only one of them could win the national title. A 16-0 run gave the Longhorns a second-quarter lead, but USC responded with a 20-3 run and held a 38-26 advantage with less than five minutes remaining. Vince Young scored on a 17-yard run to make it 38-33, but USC had a chance to ice the game by converting a fourth-and-2 with 2:13 left. LenDale White gained only one yard.

Given one last chance, Texas took advantage. Barely. Young completed a third-and-12 pass to Quan Cosby to keep the drive alive, and on fourth-and-5 from the USC 8, with 19 seconds left, Young escaped the pocket and outraced everyone to the right pylon. All the game’s stars had star performances, it was Keith Jackson’s last game on the mic … it was just perfect.