Game of the century is a term that gets thrown around too often in College Football, and over the years it usually involved Notre Dame somehow. Still, the power has shifted south, and today SEC football rules the college game. Alabama coming in as #2, LSU as #1.
Both haven’t really faced real adversity this season, and these two SEC West titans that have met each other every year since 1964, like most No.1 vs No.2 potential classics, present one juggernaut defense (Alabama) and a power running attack (LSU). Two big-time head coaches adds to the flavor of this game (Les Miles vs Nick Saban), no doubt.
Alabama are the last of the two teams to win the national title, winning in 2009, but LSU have had their number in recent the past decade, winning 7 of the last 10 games, including the one last year.
Over the years, many games were dubbed Game of the Century before the actual clash. Only these remained after.
1935 – Notre Dame vs Ohio State
The first “Game of the Century” was the first ever meeting between the Irish and Ohio State. Notre Dame came back to win after being 0-13 but the huge crowd (81,000, a record at the time) and the demand for tickets, selling for as high as 50(!!) dollars, was what made this game so special.
1946 – Army vs Notre Dame
No.1 (Army) vs No.2 (Notre Dame), both teams entering this game undefeated. It was played at Yankee Stadium, the old one, with Army winning their last two games 59-0 and 48-0. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, as both schools went on to finish the season undefeated, but Notre Dame winning the National Championship, finishing first in the polls.
1966 – Notre Dame vs Michigan State
The Michigan State Spartans were the reigning national champions, Notre Dame 13 years (a lifetime in those days) without winning one. The Irish were ranked no.1 and #2 in the AP and Coaches polls, Michigan State just the opposite. The game ended in a 10-10 tie, remembered for the Irish running out the clock in the final 70 seconds instead of trying to make field goal distance.
Notre Dame coach, Ara Parseghian, was heavily criticized after the game by fans from both sides and by the media, doing something that later became knows as choosing to “tie one for the Gipper”. Notre Dame won the national championship despite Alabama finishing the season undefeated and untied.
1967 – USC vs UCLA
The UCLA Bruins came into this game ranked #1 in both polls and Heisman candidate, Gary Beban as their quarterback. USC were ranked #2 and #4, featuring O.J. Simpson at tailback. O.J. Simpson ran for a 64 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, winning the game for the Trojans 21-20. USC finished the season as #1 on both polls.
1969 – Texas vs Arkansas
Both teams undefeated, both teams coming backed by long winning streaks. For the Longhorns, it was 18 straight games, ranked #1 in the country. For the Razorbacks, it was 15, ranked #2. The game had huge ratings, pulling a rating of a 50 share, meaning about half the TV sets in the nation were tuned into this.
Arkansas opened a 14-0 lead, but ended up losing 15-14. Trailing 14-8 in the fourth, Texas came up with a huge pass (44 yards) at 4th and 3, leading up to the winning touchdown. Texas went on to win the national title.
1971 – Nebraska vs Oklahoma
55 Million people watched (at the time a record for a college football game) the game in Norman, Oklahoma between the national champions Nebraska, with the best defense in the nation and 20 straight wins against the Sooners, with their wishbone offense averaging nearly 500 yards a game. Nebraska won the game 35-31, and to this day it’s considered as one of the greatest in College Football history.
Nebraksa would go on to beat Alabama and win their second consecutive national championship. The 1971 team in considered by quite a few as the best College Football team of all time.
1987 – Miami vs Penn State
The 1987 Fiesta Bowl was also the decider for the National Champions. Miami came in as massive favorites, the largest TV audience for a College Football game at home. Penn State’s defense stunned the ‘Canes and the Nittany Lions led 14-10 with three minutes left. Vinny Testaverde led Miami to the Penn State 6 with 18 seconds left, but was intercepted at the goal line. Joe Paterno walked away with the national championship.
1993 – Florida State vs Notre Dame
Notre Dame hosted the favorite Seminoles at South Bend, winning in a classic #1 vs #2 31-24, despite heroics from Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. Setting themselves up for a national championship game against Nebraska, the Irish lost their next game to Boston College, giving Florida State the chance to beat the Huskers and win their first national title.
2006 – Ohio State vs Michigan
Two big ten teams, one of the biggest rivalries in all of American Sports, and both, for the first time, came into their game ranked #1 and #2, both undefeated. Ohio State won their third straight against the Wolverines, something they couldn’t accomplish for over 40 years, winning 42-39 in a instant classic. Ohio State went on and lost to Florida in the National Championship Game.