It’s not surprising to find out that since 2008, most of the most watched college football games in the regular season had Alabama involved. In fact, they show up six times, sometimes against LSU, other times against Auburn. Notre Dame and USC are the only non-SEC teams making more than one appearance in the top 10.
Mentioning again: The rankings are based on regular season games only, not conference championships, bowl games or playoff games. The rankings are based on number of viewers, not ratings, market share or demographics.
#5 Ohio State at #1 USC (2008): 11.8 million
After beating Youngstown State and Ohio, the Buckeyes travelled to California to face the number one team in the country. They got destroyed 35-3, their only points coming in the first quarter. Mark Sanchez threw four touchdown passes. Ohio State finished the season 10-3, losing to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, co-winning the Big Ten. USC’s loss a week later at Oregon State denied them a shot at the national title, settling for the Pac-10 championship and beating Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
#10 LSU at #1 Alabama (2013): 11.9 million
Another familiar chapter in the LSU-Alabama rivalry since Nick Saban became the head coach. Alabama beat LSU 38-17 and improved to 9-0, remaining #1 in the country until the Iron Bowl (more on that a bit later). After getting beat up by A.J. McCarron and T.J. Yeldon, they went on to win their two remaining conference games, and beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
#1 Texas at #7 Texas Tech: 12.204 million
A game that has a special place in Big 12 history, and certainly for Texas Tech, beating the number one Longhorns with a last second touchdown by Michael Crabtree, which put them at #2 in the country a day later. The Red Raiders ended up going 11-2 that season, with their loss at Oklahoma forcing a 3-way tie in the South division along with Texas and the Sooners. Oklahoma won the BCS standings tiebreak to play for the conference title, Tech settled for the Cotton Bowl and losing to Ole Miss. Texas finished the year 12-1, beating Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
#2 Auburn at #9 Alabama: 12.5 million
The 2010 Iron Bowl is also known as the Cam-Back, with an undefeated Auburn trailing 0-24 in the second quarter, but ended up winning on three touchdown passes from Newton and one rushing touchdown by the future number one overall pick, winning 28-27. Auburn went on to go undefeated, winning the national championship against Oregon. Alabama finished the season 10-3, beating Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.
#5 Notre Dame at #2 Florida State (2014): 13.25 million
A highly controversial game, that ended in a 31-27 win for Florida State. Everett Golson found Corey Robinson for the touchdown with 13 seconds on the clock, but a pass interference call, a very soft one at best, cancelled the touchdown and took the play back 10 yards. Notre Dame lost the ball on the next play, and the game, beaten for the first time that season. The Seminoles, defending national champions, had a weird season in which no matter how poorly things went for them early in games, Jameis Winston (most of the time) bailed them out later on. They won the ACC, and went undefeated into the first college football playoffs, only to be crushed by Oregon. Notre Dame kinda fell apart after that game, losing four in a row to finish the season before beating LSU in the Music City Bowl.
#15 Auburn at #1 Alabama: 13.53 million
A year after the famous kick six moment things were going well for Auburn heading into the second half, as a Nick Marshall pass to Quan Brady made it 33-21 in the third quarter. But Blake Sims connected with Amari Cooper on two touchdown passes, ran for one himself, as did Derrick Henry. When the dust settled, Alabama won 55-44, the highest scoring Iron Bowl. Alabama won the SEC but losing the in CFP semifinal to Ohio State. Auburn finished the year 8-5 after a 5-0 start, losing to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
#1 Alabama at #6 Texas A&M (2013): 13.59 million
A year earlier, Johnny Manziel and the Aggies stunned Alabama in Tuscaloosa, setting up an interesting week 2 revenge-or-repeat match at Kyle Field. Revenge was the case. The Aggies led 14-0, but interceptions started happening, and the Alabama lines took over. They opened up a 21-point lead, and although Manziel finished with 5 touchdown passes, 464 passing yards and 98 rushing, the 49-42 scoreline in Alabama’s favor slightly lies about how not close the game was. A&M finished the season a disappointing 9-4, beating Duke in the Chick-Fil-A bowl game. Alabama? They went undefeated through the first 11 games. Then came Auburn.
#1 Alabama at #4 Auburn (2013): 13.78 million
Auburn went into the game 10-1. Alabama? They were 11-0. With time almost running out, Adam Griffith was about to kick a field goal to win the game for Alabama, which should have sent them to the SEC championship game. However, Griffith missed that kick. Overtime? Nope. Chris Davis returned the kick for 100 yards and a touchdown to send Jordan-Hare into Euphoria.
Not just that. After being number one all season long, Alabama were knocked out of the top 2, with Auburn, after winning the SEC title game, taking their place, losing to Florida State in the final BCS championship game. Alabama went on to lose against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
#1 Notre Dame at USC (2012): 16.06 million
USC were the preseason number one, but by this game, they were 7-5, no longer ranked. Notre Dame needed this win to make it into the BCS championship game, doing what they needed to, winning 22-13, led by Theo Riddick with 146 yards and a touchdown. Notre Dame were crushed by Alabama in the title game, while USC lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, losing five of their final six games.
#1 LSU at #2 Alabama (2011): 20.01 million
“Game of the Century” is usually labeled to #1 vs #2 regular season games. This was the first since 2006, and only the second since 1993. The highly anticipated game didn’t deliver, unless you’re a fan of seeing no touchdowns. LSU won the game 9-6 on a 25-yard field goal in overtime. They went through the season undefeated, winning the SEC, to make the BCS championship game. Alabama didn’t lose another game, but not playing for the conference title should have left them out of the championship game, right? Well, the BCS works in mysterious ways. They got in thanks to the human voters while most of the computers leaned towards Oklahoma State. In any case, Alabama avenged the loss, beating LSU 21-0, and were crowned as national champions, be it for their defense, or simply Les Miles behinds the scenes magic.