The 2019 season is officially over, but now it is time to reflect on an amazing season filled with outstanding moments and outstanding games. We will start by reflecting on the best games from this past season, which all contributed to this being one of the most exciting seasons of college football that I can remember. This was one of the hardest posts to write due to the large amount of games that deserve some mention when talking about this topic. These games will be replayed on ESPN & YouTube by a lot of fans and I highly recommend going back and watching these games if you love college football because these games showcase why this is the greatest sport in the world.
10. Texas v. LSU (45-38 LSU)
Week 2 (September 7th) in Austin, TX
This game was billed as one of the first playoff altering matchups in the season. Joe Burrow (#9 LSU QB) was not projected to be the Heisman trophy winner, nor was LSU projected to be the National Champions of college football. LSU took a 20-7 lead into the half and many people thought the game was a wrap when the score was 23-14 late in the 3rd quarter. Sam Ehlinger (#11 Texas QB) led a furious comeback and the lead shrunk to 2-points with 11 minutes left in the game. LSU made one of the gutsiest calls of the year on 3rd & 11 with about 2 minutes left, opting to throw deep instead of running the clock down. Burrow hit Justin Jefferson (#2 LSU WR) for a 61-yard touchdown pass to put Texas away in Austin and secure one of the most impressive wins of the season up to that point in the season.
9. Alabama v. LSU (46-41 LSU)
Week 11 (November 9th) in Tuscaloosa, AL
This game was another “Game of the Century” in a rivalry that always seems to deliver big games. The Tigers and their potent offense came out firing early and built a commanding 33-13 lead going into halftime. Joe Burrow (#9 LSU QB) was almost perfect in the 1st half and the Crimson Tide had no answers on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily, the Tide had Tua Tagovailoa (#13 Alabama QB) and he delivered in the 2nd half, leading the comeback and had the score within 6-points with 5 minutes left in the game. Joe Burrow & Clyde Edwards-Helaire (#22 LSU RB) was too much for Saban’s defense to handle and LSU scored with 1:37 left in the game to clinch a win in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2011.
8. North Carolina v. Clemson (21-20 Clemson)
Week 5 (September 28th) in Chapel Hill, NC
The only team to outplay Clemson all year (Until LSU in the National Championship) was this Tar Heels team. Sam Howell (#7 UNC QB) was consistent and made plays all game for North Carolina, which took an early 7-0 lead and held it until the 2nd quarter. Trevor Lawrence (#16 Clemson QB) had a slow start, but Tee Higgins (#5 Clemson WR) bailed him out repeatedly and put up 129 yards on 6 catches plus a touchdown. The game was tied 14-14 at the half and stayed that way until mid-4th quarter when Higgins broke away for a 38-yard touchdown. The Tar Heels finally put together a drive and put it in the end zone with 1:17 left on the clock and the defining moment for both teams followed. Mack Brown (UNC HC) made the gutsy decision to win or lose the game here and avoid an overtime matchup against the Tigers. The Brent Venables (Clemson DC) led defense made a spectacular play and snuffed out the option play by the Tar Heels, which gave Clemson the 1-point win in their first true test of the season.
7. Washington State v. Oregon State (54-53 Washington State)
Week 13 (November 23rd) in Pullman, WA
Pullman, WA was a crazy place this past season; between Mike Leach’s rants, epic meltdowns, and epic comebacks Pullman had it all. Over 1200 yards of offense and 6 total turnovers between these two teams made this matchup seem like a crazy video game, but this speaks volumes on why you should tune into “PAC-12 After Dark” on Saturday nights. Washington State built a 11-point (35-24) lead going into the 4th quarter and then the chaos ensued. Oregon State drove down the field to cut the lead to 3-points, but Washington State answered quickly to keep the lead at double digits. Oregon State then scored 21 points in 3 minutes and took an 11-point lead (53-42) into the final 4-minutes of the game. Game over right? Wrong, Washington scores twice in the final 2 minutes of the game and comes away with one of the wildest collapses and victories all in the same night.
6. Baylor v. Oklahoma (34-31 Oklahoma)
Week 12 (November 16th) in Waco, TX
I know there is another Baylor-Oklahoma game (BIG-12 Championship) that could have been included in this list, but this one was special. A 28-3 lead had Baylor thinking ahead to a 10-0 start to the season and Oklahoma was watching their playoff hopes evaporate. Even after Oklahoma cut the lead to 14 points (31-17) going into the 4th quarter, Baylor felt comfortable in their home stadium and a stingy defense that forced 3 turnovers in the first three quarters. Jalen Hurts (#1 Oklahoma QB) went on to throw 2 touchdown passes to tie the game and eventually lead the game winning drive with 1:45 left in the game. The game ended on a heartbreaking interception by Baylor, which allowed the Sooners to ice the game and complete one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.
5. Memphis v. SMU (54-48 Memphis)
Week 10 (November 2nd) in Memphis, TN
College Gameday finally made an appearance in Memphis, TN and these two AAC teams did not disappoint. 102 points and over 1,000 yards of total offense later, we had a classic Saturday night college football game. This is the game that Antonio Gibson (#14 Memphis RB/WR) was introduced to the average college football fan. Gibson had a 50-yard receiving touchdown, a 97-yard kickoff return, and finally a 78-yard touchdown run to put the game away in the 4th quarter. Memphis exploded in the 3rd quarter and continued the momentum into the early 4th quarter, which extended their lead to 12 points (54-32). SMU was not to be denied and scored 16-points unanswered in the final 8 minutes to make it a close game, but Memphis had too much firepower. This game was essential in showing how great a conference the AAC really is and I expect this game to be mentioned when the AAC becomes a power conference in the future.
4. Wisconsin v. Oregon (28-27 Oregon)
The Rose Bowl (January 1st) in Pasadena, CA
The first of two bowl games on this list appears here and for a game with a legendary history, this was one for the ages. This was the collegiate finale of both Justin Herbert (#10 Oregon QB) & Jonathan Taylor (#23 Wisconsin RB), both of which are going down as legends at their respective schools. Oregon forced 4 turnovers, which included a 31-yard fumble recovery that changed the momentum of the game in the 3rd quarter. Herbert was slowed down through the air, but delivered 3 rushing touchdowns, including the eventual game winner in the 4th quarter with 7:41 left in the game. Brady Breeze (#25 Oregon S) was a game changer with 11 tackles and a fumble returned for a touchdown. This game was exciting from the coin toss and further solidified the Rose Bowl as one of the most storied games in college football.
3. Auburn v. Alabama (48-45 Auburn)
Week 14 (November 30th) in Auburn, AL
Another legendary game in a legendary rivalry with countless moments that will never be forgotten. Tua Tagovailoa (#13 Alabama QB) was out, which pushed Mac Jones (#10 Alabama QB) to the forefront of the college football world and he delivered for the Crimson Tide. Jones led the Crimson Tide to over 500 yards of total offense, but had plenty of help from Jaylen Waddle (#17 Alabama WR). Waddle put together his biggest performance of his short career, in which he had 3 receiving touchdowns and a huge kickoff return that answered an Auburn interception return for a touchdown. Auburn’s defense was clutch time and time again, which was highlighted by a 100-yard interception return by Zakoby McClain (#35 Auburn LB). Another missed Alabama field goal and a substitution error by the Crimson Tide sealed the game for Auburn and gave the Tigers their biggest victory of the season.
2. Clemson v. Ohio State (29-23 Clemson)
Fiesta Bowl (December 28th) in Glendale, AZ
This game was #1 on a lot of people’s list, but I think it is because of the stakes rather than the game. There is an obvious #1 game, but this was a close second in my opinion. A 16-0 Ohio State lead did nothing to quiet the Clemson doubters. Ohio State looked like the better team for most of the 1st half, but Travis Etienne (#9 Clemson RB) & Trevor Lawrence (#16 Clemson QB) were not going down without a fight. Etienne broke away for a huge touchdown run and Lawrence followed it up with his own 67-yard run less than a minute later. A 16-point lead evaporated in less than 3 minutes and Ohio State never recovered from this. Clemson took their first lead midway through the 3rd quarter on another touchdown by Etienne, but Justin Fields (#1 Ohio State QB) answered early in the 4th with a big pass of his own. A 2-point Ohio State lead was taken into the final minutes, but Lawrence and Etienne struck again with a 34-yard touchdown connection. The dramatics ended with a Justin Fields interception to Nolan Turner (#24 Clemson DB) and the Tigers headed to New Orleans for the national championship. The biggest game of the year (to this point) lived up to its billing and made Glendale, AZ the center of college football for one night.
1. Washington State v. UCLA (67-63 UCLA)
Week 4 (September 21st) in Pullman, WA
How many of you guys watched this game? I am assuming not many since this game did not kickoff until 9:15pm and many of you were probably nursing hangovers. Even if you did watch this game I know you considered turning it off after halftime. Let me explain why this game is #1 on a list of games all of you actually watched. Washington State took a 35-17 lead into halftime and UCLA had no answer for Anthony Gordon (#18 Washington State QB), who had 4 passing touchdowns in the 1st half. Washington State did not miss a beat in the 2nd half, where Gordon threw another 2 touchdowns to push the lead to 49-17 with 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Here is where many of you went to bed and made the worst choice of your life. In less than 3-minutes UCLA reeled off 3 unanswered touchdowns to end the 3rd quarter and cut the lead to 11 points (49-38). You think this is wild right? Well, these teams combined for 42 points in the 4th quarter. UCLA cut the lead to 3 points immediately in the 4th quarter, but Gordon and the Cougars answered with another touchdown pass. Dorian Thompson-Robinson (#1 UCLA QB) led the Bruins to 14 unanswered points and their first lead since the 1st quarter. Anthony Gordon was not to be denied and threw his 9th (Yes, this kid threw 9 passing touchdowns and lost. It is a shame) touchdown to give the Cougars the lead again. Thompson-Robinson stuck last and led the Bruins down the field and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown and one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. The teams combined for 130 total points, over 1,300 total yards, 7 turnovers, and 56 1st downs. Nobody really knows what goes on in Pullman, but in the 2019 season two of the best games in college football history were played. This further validates that you should really stay up for “PAC-12 After Dark” and watch some of the wildest games of college football you will ever see.