No matter where you look, you can pretty easily find a story telling you that the 2011 college football season was one of the sport's worst ever. Considering the Penn State scandal alone, you likely find this sentiment true. Throw in a national title game nobody (outside of Alabama) wanted to see, along with ongoing arguments about playoffs, player compensation, recruiting scandals and controversies, and this would have been a relentlessly negative year even without Jerry Sandusky playing such a disturbingly prevalent role.
But very little of the negativity had anything to do with the actual on-field product. Even with the national champion perfecting a style of play designed to take any shrivel of fun out of the game, there was just so much to enjoy about college football in 2011. September was great, October was better, November had hundreds of plot twists, and the bowl season came through with multiple great finishes. College football found a place for 17-year old freshmen and 28-year old seniors. "MACtion" and "Tessitore Magic" became memes. A graceful quarterback (and great human being) won the Heisman trophy. Both traditional and non-traditional powers found great success. Taking risks was rewarded, and whether you like basketball on grass or big-boy football, you found plenty to enjoy. Let's take a look at 100 great games from the 2011 season.
Any number of things can make a game great, and we will see a little of everything here. Close games, dominant games, amazing individual performances, high-scoring affairs, low-scoring slogs ... they all make the list. To be a top game, you really just had to show people why they love college football. There are many different routes to take to achieve that. And if you are keeping score, here are the teams featured multiple times:
- 6 Games: Oklahoma State
- 5 Games: Baylor, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Toledo, Wisconsin
- 4 Games: Clemson, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU
- 3 Games: Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Houston, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas Tech, USC, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Michigan
- 2 Games: Alabama, Arizona State, Ball State, Cincinnati, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Maryland, Miami, Missouri, N.C. State, Northwestern, San Jose State, South Florida, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Tulsa, UAB, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest