40. Florida State 29. Miami 24 (Oct. 10)

Jimbo Fisher’s final victory over Al Golden looked like the one before it. Miami held a late lead, but FSU scored last.

The Seminoles played with fire. Two Dalvin Cook touchdowns — a 72-yard run, and a ridiculous 36-yard reception — helped FSU to an early 17-3 lead, and the ‘Noles still led by 10 at half. But Miami’s Brad Kaaya, who finished 29-for-49 with three touchdowns, found Joe Yearby for a one-yard score in the third quarter, then hit Stacy Coley on a 29-yarder with 10 minutes left. The Hurricanes had gone on a 23-6 run to take the lead.

Unfortunately for Miami, the ‘Canes didn’t have Cook. The sophomore rushed 22 times for 222 yards and caught three passes for 47, and his 23-yard run with 6:44 left ended up making the difference.

Then FSU made fun of Golden's plane banners problem.

39. Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27 (Sept. 26)

38. Oklahoma State 35, Iowa State 31 (Nov. 14)

37. Baylor 31, Kansas State 24 (Nov. 5)

36. Kansas State 38, Iowa State 35 (Nov. 21)

The Big 12 race was Oklahoma’s domain. The Sooners lost to Texas early but ran the table against contenders. That doesn’t mean it was a boring year in the Big 12. The twists were legion, and Oklahoma State or Kansas State were usually involved.

It’s easy to forget, considering OSU’s season ended with three consecutive losses, the last two by a combined 63. But Mike Gundy’s ‘Pokes were unbeaten in mid-November. A back-and-forth game against Texas was turned by a muffed punt snap that set up OSU’s game-winning field goal. And after falling behind by 17 against Iowa State, the Cowboys wrangled one more week with a perfect record.

Kansas State had its moments, not even including the one-point win over West Virginia that made the Wildcats bowl-eligible. We’ll talk about the epic TCU game at No. 14, but in November alone, the Wildcats were on the right and wrong sides of nip-and-tuck battles.

On the first Thursday in November, KSU fell behind Baylor and freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, 31-10, in the fourth quarter, then nearly unleashed an amazing comeback. Quarterback Joe Hubener ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run, then found Deante Burton for a 10-yard score with four minutes left. Baylor missed what would have been the game-clinching field goal with 51 seconds left, giving KSU a chance to seal the comeback. Only, Terrell Burt picked off the first pass of the next drive.

Against a lesser Iowa State, KSU was able to complete the comeback.

35. Baylor 49, North Carolina 38 (Dec. 29)

You’re Art Briles. You have two strong passing quarterbacks, but they both got hurt. Your third-stringer is a part-time receiver who lost to TCU in a monsoon (No. 75). Your fourth-stringer is a full-time receiver who lost to Texas (No. 70). You’ve had most of a month to craft an offense for your bowl. What do you do?

Why, you build an "everyone’s a quarterback!" offense, ask four different players to throw at least one pass, and dial up 82 rushes for 651 yards a year after throwing for more than 600 yards in a bowl, both records.

34. Rutgers 55, Indiana 52 (Oct. 17)

33. Maryland 46, Rutgers 41 (Nov. 28)

The Scarlet Knights went 4-8, 1-7 in Big Ten play, and replaced head coach Kyle Flood with Ohio State’s Chris Ash. 2006, this was not.

But RU played in two ridiculous games, and that doesn’t even include the Washington State game at No. 80. First, they scored 28 straight in a comeback win on the road; then, they allowed 33 second-half points and blew a 21-point lead at home.

Indiana was 4-2 and had just about salted away a win. Devine Redding’s 66-yard run gave the Hoosiers a 52-27 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Hoosiers had scored on four consecutive drives and eight of 11 overall. They were on a 28-0 run.

IU’s last four possessions: fumble, interception, interception, punt. Rutgers’ last five possessions: touchdown, return touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal.

A month later, the tables turned. Rutgers took a 31-10 lead, but Maryland went on 17-0 run. Rutgers scored, then Maryland scored twice more. Rutgers kicked a field goal to go back up 41-39 with five minutes left, then Brandon Ross ripped off an 80-yard run 17 seconds later.

Rutgers moved back into Maryland territory, but on third-and-1 from the Maryland 38, Roman Braglio stuffed Robert Martin … and on fourth-and-1, Avery Thompson stuffed Martin.

32. Tennessee 38, Georgia 31

Tennessee made a habit of blowing double-digit leads against good teams (see Nos. 94, 17, 16 and 15), but the Vols did something smart on Oct. 10: let the Dawgs take the lead!

A Leonard Floyd fumble return and Reggie Davis punt return gave Georgia a 24-3 advantage late in the second quarter, but Tennessee got things together.

The Vols scored twice in the last 64 seconds of the first half to cut UGA’s lead to seven, then twice in the third quarter to take the lead. Davis scored again to tie, but Josh Dobbs capped a 78-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run.

The game wasn’t over. Pinned at the 1 with 1:48 left, Georgia put a drive together. Greyson Lambert hit Davis for 18 yards, Terry Godwin for 19, and Kenneth Towns for 23, and Georgia advanced to the UT 22. But a pass to Malcom Mitchell failed as time expired, and the Vols survived a classic.

31. Duke 45, Virginia Tech 43 (Oct. 24)

For two years in a row, Duke had started the season hot, played a barn-burner against Virginia Tech, then collapsed. But hey, at least the Blue Devils beat the Hokies this time.

This ended up stretching into four overtimes because Duke couldn’t close. The Blue Devils led 21-10 after Shaun Wilson’s 58-yard touchdown run and 24-16 with two minutes remaining. But on fourth-and-2 from the Duke 23, Michael Brewer found Bucky Hodges for a touchdown, and Travon McMillan’s two-point conversion tied the game. Duke worked down the field, but Ross Martin’s 46-yard kick hit the right upright.

In the fourth overtime period, there was finally separation. A Virginia Tech two-point pass failed, Duke's Thomas Sirk found tight end Eric Schneider for a 25-yard score, and Sirk plunged in for the win.

30. Virginia Tech 55, Tulsa 52 (Dec. 26)

"That was different."

That’s how Frank Beamer described his last game as Virginia Tech’s head coach. The Hokies are not known for non-overtime shootouts, but Tulsa’s all-offense, no-defense combination sucked the Hokies into just that.

Tech and Tulsa combined for four touchdowns in the first 3:18 of the Independence Bowl, then another eight scores before halftime. The Hokies hadn’t scored more than 28 points in regulation since early September, but they were up 45-31 at halftime.

Things slowed down. At least, they did for Tech. Down 18, Tulsa scored two touchdowns in four minutes in the fourth quarter to get to within 55-52. And with Tech blowing a three-touchdown lead in Beamer’s last game, Tulsa got the ball back with two minutes left. But Dadi Nicholas and Luther Maddy combined for one sack, then Nicholas recorded another to seal the win.

And the dance.

29. Duke 44, Indiana 41 (Dec. 26)

I still agree that Indiana’s attempted game-tying field goal was no good.

It was a controversial way to end a back-and-forth Pinstripe Bowl, but what a game it was, with seven lead changes, one team with 389 passing yards (IU), and one team with 373 rushing yards (DU).

28. West Virginia 43, Arizona State 42 (Jan. 2)

Again, if you think bowl season wasn’t fun, you weren’t watching the right games.

This featured nine lead changes (two in the final five minutes), three long touchdown passes, a blocked PAT returned for two points, 1,196 yards despite 13 tackles for loss, and this play, which went down as "Howard, Skyler pass complete to Shorts, Daikiel for 18 yards to the ASU9, 1ST DOWN WVU."

27. Stanford 30, Washington State 28 (Oct. 31)

After losing to Portland State, then dropping a close one to Cal, the Cougars ripped off three consecutive wins, two on the road against Oregon and Arizona, to move to 5-2.

A win over Stanford at home would’ve given the Cougars control over the Pac-12 North. They came so, so close. WSU dominated the first half but kept coming up short of the end zone. Four Erik Powell field goals gave Wazzu a 12-3 halftime lead, and a fifth made it 15-3 early in the second half.

WSU needed a bigger advantage. Kevin Hogan rushed for two touchdowns (including an unlikely 59-yarder) to give Stanford a 27-22 lead early in the fourth quarter, and though WSU responded, a 19-yard chip shot put the Cardinal ahead in the final minutes. WSU got to the Stanford 27 with four seconds remaining, but after five made field goals, Powell's 43-yarder sailed wide right, and Stanford owned the North.

Hey, speaking of missed field goals …

26. Mississippi State 51, Arkansas 50 (Nov. 21)

In front of 71,936 in Fayetteville, Mississippi State raced out to a 31-14 second-quarter lead thanks to three Dak Prescott touchdown passes. But in the 13 minutes that followed, Arkansas’ Brandon Allen threw four touchdowns of his own, two to Hunter Henry, and midway through the third quarter the Hogs had a stunning 42-31 lead.

Mississippi State would respond. With a chance to all but put the game away, Allen couldn’t find Henry on fourth-and-1 from the MSU 26, and the Bulldogs stormed ahead with three consecutive touchdown drives. MSU took a 44-42 lead, and after Allen responded with his seventh touchdown pass, the Bulldogs drove 82 yards in six plays for a 51-50 advantage.

But you knew Arkansas would get another chance. Allen completed five consecutive passes to get the Hogs to the MSU 19. Three straight rushes set Cole Hedlund up for a game-winning, 29-yard field goal. But …

25. California 45, Texas 44 (Sept. 19)

It came against a flawed defense. And it was followed by lengthy bouts of regression. But Jerrod Heard’s coming-out party was a thriller. The Texas QB threw for 364 yards and rushed for 163, and in erasing a three-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, he ignited Darrell K. Royal. Until kicking again got in the way.

24. Iowa 27, Pitt 24 (Sept. 19)

23. Oregon 38, Stanford 36 (Nov. 14)

22. Stanford 38, Notre Dame 36 (Nov. 28)

Stanford hosted Oregon at the wrong time. The Ducks spent much of the season with an injured wing, but with quarterback Vernon Adams healthy, the Ducks were spectacular. And after a back-and-forth first half, they took control, 35-23. Stanford cut it to 35-30 on Hogan’s touchdown pass to Greg Taboada, but the Cardinal were their own worst enemy. They lost two fumbles on bad snap exchanges.

Another Hogan-to-Taboada touchdown pass made it a two-point game, but Hogan’s two-point conversion attempt was broken up, and Stanford suffered its second loss.

At least the Cardinal got the pleasure of knocking someone else out. Hosting 10-1 Notre Dame, they held another halftime lead but again found themselves trailing into the fourth quarter. Hogan’s 10-yard pass to Austin Hooper made it 35-29 Stanford, but Notre Dame went on a dramatic, 15-play, 88-yard, six-minute drive and took the lead on DeShone Kizer’s touchdown plunge, with a questionable review leaving 30 seconds on the clock.

Thirty seconds was too long. Notre Dame committed a face mask penalty on the kickoff, and Hogan hit Devon Cajuste for 27 yards with 10 seconds left. That gave Conrad Ukropina a chance to make another game-winning kick.

21. Oklahoma State 70, Texas Tech 53 (Oct. 31)

The most BIG 12 of all Big 12 games this season.

In every Texas Tech game, one thing was guaranteed: both teams would find epic success. On Halloween in Lubbock, Oklahoma State scored at least 14 points in every quarter but trailed by 10 at halftime thanks to Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes (three passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown) and Jakeem Grant (kick return touchdown, receiving touchdown).

OSU’s big plays were too much to overcome. Jalen McCleskey scored on a 67-yard punt return, Raymond Taylor scored on a 28-yard run, a 64-yard J.W. Walsh run set up a short touchdown, and James Washington scored on receptions of 75 and 73 yards. Tech tried to keep up, but its defense couldn’t pretend to get a stop. In a game that produced 1,304 yards and 17 touchdowns, Tech came up 17 points short.

20. Nebraska 39, Michigan State 38 (Nov. 7)

Thanks to late wins over Ohio State and Iowa, Michigan State was able to finish 12-1, win the Big Ten, and play in the Playoff.

But for the first two months, the Spartans played with fire. They nearly blew a lead against Oregon. They let Purdue (24-21) and Rutgers (31-24) hang around And in Lincoln, they got burned, perhaps even legally.

The rule is that the receiver can come back in to catch the ball as long as he "immediately returns inbounds after going out of bounds due to contact by an opponent, which includes contact with the defender."

Was this contact that forced him out? Well, you be the judge.

That came with 19 seconds left and capped an 11-point fourth-quarter comeback for a Nebraska that had been on the wrong end of quite a few dramatic endings. Speaking of ...

19. BYU 33, Nebraska 28 (Sept. 5)

18. BYU 35, Boise State 24 (Sept. 12)

BYU finished 9-4 with nice wins over Nebraska and Boise State and tight losses to UCLA, Missouri, and Utah. That makes things sound normal, doesn’t it?

It ignores that the season began with an injury to star quarterback Taysom Hill and variations of Hail Mary wins in the first two weeks.

17. Alabama 19, Tennessee 14 (Oct. 24)

16. Florida 28, Tennessee 27 (Sept. 26)

15. Oklahoma 31, Tennessee 24 (Sept. 12)

There are about 150 snaps in an average game. Any can serve as the coin flip on which a win or loss is decided. Our outlook on an entire season can be dictated by that one snap in one crucial game.

Tennessee fans know this. The Volunteers finished a healthy 9-4 and 22nd in the AP Poll, their best season in nearly a decade. But they were close to something so much better, and for many, the negative feelings from four blown games outweighed the good feelings from the nine wins.

It didn’t help that three of the losses were so formulaic: jump out to a double-digit lead, go conservative, and lose. Against Oklahoma, the Vols led 17-3, having scored on three of their first five drives. But safe play-calling resulted in seven punts and a missed field goal over the final eight drives of regulation.

Oklahoma scored two late touchdowns to force overtime. In the second OT, Sterling Shepard scored a tiptoeing touchdown, and Zack Sanchez picked off Joshua Dobbs.


Two weeks later, Tennessee led 27-14 midway through the fourth quarter, but a steady stream of fourth-down conversions kept Florida alive. Still, the Vols had all but sealed the deal, until ...

Tennessee reached Florida territory as time was expiring, but Aaron Medley’s 55-yard field goal went wide right.

The third game carried little shame. Tennessee battled eventual national champion Alabama to a near-draw in Tuscaloosa, taking the lead on a 12-yard Jalen Hurd run with 5:49 left. Alabama responded with a 71-yard scoring drive, capped by Derrick Henry’s 14-yard touchdown run. The Tide held on by five; it was their last close win until the Championship.

14. TCU 52, Kansas State 45 (Oct. 10)

13. Oklahoma 30, TCU 29 (Nov. 21)

TCU was Bizarro Tennessee, frequently starting poorly but ending games with panache. We’ll save the Frogs’ greatest comeback for the top five, but TCU mastered drama in October.

First, you had Kansas State doing Bill Snyder things, hosting the No. 2 Horned Frogs and hopping to a 35-17 halftime lead. After starting with two touchdowns, the unstoppable (to date) TCU offense scored only three points on its final five possessions of the half, and KSU’s run game rolled.

TCU responded with a 28-7 run to start the second half. Trevone Boykin’s silky, 69-yard score gave the Horned Frogs a shocking 45-42 lead, but KSU responded with a game-tying field goal … and Boykin hit Josh Doctson for a stunning 55-yard score with 1:10 left. TCU recovered a fumble on KSU’s next play, and that was that.

Three weeks later, with Boykin hurt, the Horned Frogs almost engineered another stunner. They trailed Oklahoma, 30-13, heading into the fourth quarter, but as he would do in the Alamo Bowl, TCU’s Bram Kohlhausen found a rhythm. He connected with KaVontae Turpin for an 86-yard score with nine minutes left, and after a Jaden Oberkrom field goal got the Frogs to within 30-23 late, he connected with Emanuel Porter for the potential game-tying touchdown in the final minute.

Head coach Gary Patterson had no interest in overtime. He called for a chance at the win.

12. Notre Dame 34, Virginia 27 (Sept. 12)

Notre Dame’s sudden Heisman contender, quarterback Malik Zaire, was lost for the season. Underdog Virginia erased a 12-0 deficit and took a late 27-26 lead. Everything was going wrong for the Irish, who had not yet proved the resilience that would carry them to 10 wins.

But with 18 seconds left, backup Kizer connected with one of the best receivers in the country.

11. Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22 (Oct. 3)

This ended up being one of the most consequential results of the season. If Notre Dame pulls this out, the Irish finish 11-1, potentially ahead of a 12-1 Clemson in the Playoff rankings.

At the time, it was more spectacle than consequence, a tail-of-a-hurricane squall into which SB Nation sent Steven Godfrey. In front of a standing-room-only crowd, Clemson took a 21-3 lead into the fourth quarter, then held on for dear life as those resilient Irish found four-leaf clovers again.

CJ Prosise scored on a 56-yard pass from Kizer. A 33-yard pass to Chris Brown set up a Kizer score to cut the lead to 24-16. Kizer threw an interception, but Clemson missed a field goal. Brown fumbled at the Clemson 4, but Clemson went three-and-out. And after a poor punt (again: it was super wet), Notre Dame drove 32 yards in 58 seconds, scoring on a short pass to Torii Hunter Jr.

Tie game? Overtime? Nope.

And Dabo Swinney's season mantra was born.