70. Texas 23, Baylor 17 (Dec. 5)

69. Texas 24, Oklahoma 17 (Oct. 10)

Texas lost by 24 to Iowa State and got drubbed by Notre Dame, TCU, and West Virginia by an average of 42-10. The Longhorns finished with a losing record for the third time in six years, and head coach Charlie Strong will begin 2016 on the hot seat.

Texas also beat Baylor and Oklahoma, two teams that combined to go 21-3 against everyone else.

The Baylor win is easier to explain. Baylor was on its third-string quarterback, Chris Johnson, then lost him to injury and had to stick receiver Lynx Hawthorne behind center. Predictably, Hawthorne struggled, completing 10 of 22 passes for 64 yards and two interceptions. This allowed an early Texas lead to hold up. Up 20-0 at halftime, the Longhorns clung to a 23-17 lead late. On the final play, a desperation pass from running back Johnny Jefferson fell incomplete.

The win over Oklahoma: not as easy to explain. The Sooners had engineered a comeback over Tennessee (No. 15) and rolled over three bowl teams (Akron, Tulsa, WVU) by an average of 24 points. After losing to Texas, they would win their final seven of the regular season to claim the Big 12 title and a Playoff berth.

On October 10, the Sooners had no answer for Texas in the trenches. Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard rushed for 115 yards, and D’Onta Foreman ripped off an 81-yarder at a key time; meanwhile, Texas sacked OU’s Baker Mayfield six times in 34 pass attempts. Again, an early lead held up.

68. LSU 35, Florida 28 (Oct. 17)

Florida had all but wrapped up the SEC East when starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended a year for performance-enhancing drugs. With Treon Harris at QB, the Gators’ offense would fall apart, but in the first game after suspension, the Gators moved well. Harris threw for 271 yards, and a 72-yard punt return by Antonio Callaway tied the game at 28-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

Though Leonard Fournette rushed for 180 against a strong defense, LSU needed some Les Milesian trickery.

67. Northwestern 30, Nebraska 28 (Oct. 24)

Northwestern lost three games by an average of 41-5, but if the Wildcats could keep things close, they had the knack for making just enough plays. This kick-started a run of four straight wins by an average margin of four points.

It also continued one of the most underrated Big Ten series. The Wildcats and Huskers have played five times as conference rivals. The road team is 4-1, and four of the five have been decided by three or fewer points.

A 72-yard Nick VanHoose pick six gave Northwestern an early 14-5 lead, and the Wildcats held a 30-22 advantage when Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong Jr. scored on a three-yard run. But the Wildcats’ Clayton Thorson found Justin Jackson for a 28-yard gain on third-and-3 with three minutes left, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allowed Northwestern to run out the clock.

66. North Carolina 30, Virginia Tech 27 (Nov. 21)

Virginia Tech needed one more win to reach a bowl in Frank Beamer’s final season. North Carolina needed a win to keep title hopes alive.

UNC seized control with two Elijah Hood touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. Tech’s offense, limited through much of the season, responded. Michael Brewer hit Bucky Hodges for a fourth-down score with 2:54 left. Luther Maddy forced a fumble two plays later, then Brewer found Isaiah Ford for another score on fourth-and-2.

Overtime. Virginia Tech settled for a field goal, but Williams connected with Quinshad Davis from five yards out.

It was part of a happy ending for both teams. UNC finished with 11 wins for the fourth time in school history, and Tech players carried off Beamer anyway, then got the win they needed a week later against Virginia.

65. Texas Tech 48, Texas 45 (Nov. 26)

Against Texas Tech, everybody’s offense was awesome. Chris Warren III came out of nowhere to rush for 276 yards and four touchdowns, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes added 104 more (minus two sacks), and Texas was able to keep up in a track meet … for a while.

Swoopes’ 46-yard run gave Texas a 38-34 lead with 7:54 left, but Texas blinked. Tech took the lead 96 seconds later, then put the contest away with a little hide-and-seek.

64. Clemson 20, Louisville 17 (Sept. 17)

63. Clemson 23, Florida State 13 (Nov. 7)

62. Clemson 45, North Carolina 37 (Dec. 5)

Clemson’s run to the National Championship included plenty of assertions: a 41-10 romp over a good Appalachian State, a 58-0 humiliation of Miami that got the Hurricanes’ head coach fired, and a 37-17 runaway over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

The Tigers had to put in some work, too. We’ll get to their best win later (No. 11), but these three required 12 quarters of effort.

Against a rough Louisville defense on a Thursday night in Kentucky, the Tigers survived two interceptions and a special teams touchdown thanks to Wayne Gallman (24 carries, 139 yards) and two late stops. Louisville missed a 38-yard field goal with 2:28 left; then, after Clemson went three-and-out, Jadar Johnson picked off a deep pass to seal the win.

Against Florida State, Clemson had to survive an early barrage. Dalvin Cook, the most explosive player in college football, ripped off a 75-yard score on the second play, and FSU carried a 10-6 lead into halftime. But an almost perfect second-half performance tore the Seminoles apart.

Against North Carolina in the ACC Championship, Clemson again bolted ahead in the third, turning a small halftime lead into a 35-16 advantage. But the Tigers had to hold on when UNC scored on three of its final four possessions. Clemson benefited from an incorrect offside call on a UNC onside kick and advanced to the Playoff.

61. Notre Dame 24, Temple 20 (Oct. 31)

GameDay in Philly! Temple took an unbeaten record into its biggest home game ever, a Halloween showdown with one-loss Notre Dame. And for a while, it looked like the Owls would win. They kicked a field goal to take the lead with 4:45 left.

DeShone Kizer made the most of his final opportunity. Kizer hit Alize Jones for 45 yards, then connected with Will Fuller for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:09 remaining. KeiVarae Russell's interception a minute later ensured the Irish survived.


Temple would win 10 games for the first time in 36 years, but this one hurt.

60. Arkansas 54, Auburn 46 (Oct. 24)

Arkansas was only 2-4 when 4-2 Auburn came to town, and it looked like Cole Hedlund’s 25-yard field goal, which gave the Hogs a 24-21 lead with 67 seconds left, would be enough to secure their third win.

Auburn had other ideas. Sean White hit Ricardo Louis for passes of 12, 20, and 28 yards, and Daniel Carlson hit a 41-yard field goal to force overtime.

Auburn scored in three plays, and Arkansas scored on fourth-and-goal. Arkansas scored in three plays, and Auburn scored in six. Auburn connected on the mandatory two-point conversion, then Kody Walker scored on fourth down. Brandon Allen hit Drew Morgan for an immediate 25-yard score, and Auburn … blinked. Josh Liddell broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Louis, and 55 points after it looked like Arkansas was going to win, Arkansas won.

59. Stanford 41, USC 31 (Sept. 19)

58. California 30, Washington 24 (Sept. 26)

57. California 34, Washington State 28 (Oct. 3)

56. Utah 30, California 24 (Oct. 10)

55. Notre Dame 41, USC 31 (Oct. 17)

54. Oregon 61, Arizona State 55 (Oct. 29)

53. UCLA 35, Colorado 31 (Oct. 31)

52. Washington State 31, UCLA 27 (Nov. 14)

51. California 48, Arizona State 46 (Nov. 28)

They blur together, don’t they? Every week, it seems the Pac-12 produces some high-scoring ridiculousness.

You had Stanford announcing its presence by pulling away from USC in Week 3, then California surviving two wild battles with Washington teams. Utah prevented Cal from making it three straight, then Notre Dame outran USC in a South Bend track meet.

Oregon and Arizona State put on perhaps the craziest of results — a three-OT thriller that featured 1,241 yards, double-digit leads for both teams (ASU had 344 rushing yards and 398 passing yards and LOST), and controversy — but the craziness continued. UCLA fended off a Colorado upset for the second straight year, then Washington State scored on a 21-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left to take down the Bruins. And on the final Saturday, Cal scored 38 second-half points to erase a 21-point second-quarter deficit.

The Pac-12 didn’t produce a Playoff team, but it was as exhausting as ever.

50. Michigan State 31, Oregon 28 (Sept. 12)

49. Washington State 45, Oregon 38 (Oct. 10)

The bar is high in Eugene. A 9-4 record with three tight, gut-wrenching losses (all of which took place when Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams was hurt) felt like an intolerable disappointment.

Two of those came in the first half of the season.

In East Lansing, Oregon blew one too many opportunities. The Ducks turned the ball over on downs in MSU territory twice in each half. Adams connected with Byron Marshall for a late score that kept the Ducks within three, but in their final possession, the injured QB missed a wide-open deep ball.

Four weeks later, Oregon suffered the ultimate indignity: a loss to once-inferior Wazzu at home. The Ducks led by 10 with 8:20 left, but WSU forced overtime with a last-second touchdown pass as Mike Leach did this:

48. Memphis 44, Bowling Green 41 (Sept. 19)

Memphis knew how to command an audience. After blowout wins over Missouri State and Kansas and before shootout wins over Cincinnati and Ole Miss came this absurd morsel, with five touchdown passes of at least 48 yards (four in a seven-minute span in the second half), plus a 52-yard field goal.

BGSU’s Matt Johnson threw for 443 and four scores in a losing effort (three touchdowns to Roger Lewis accounted for 216), and Jake Elliott’s 29-yard field goal with 7:35 left ended up making the difference.

47. UCLA 24, BYU 23 (Sept. 19)

BYU won via last-minute, desperation touchdown pass in each of the first two weeks (Nos. 19 and 18), and it looked like the Cougars’ Week 3 visit to UCLA might end the same way. BYU picked off freshman quarterback Josh Rosen three times, and two Trevor Samson field goals gave the Cougars a six-point lead late. UCLA took it back, but no worries! Late-game deficits were old hat for BYU!

Unfortunately, UCLA’s Myles Jack wasn’t interested in any more Cougar heroics.

It ended up being the final play of Jack’s UCLA career — the junior would injure his knee in practice, then declare for the NFL — but that’s a heck of a way to go out.

46. Miami 36, Nebraska 33 (Sept. 19)

Rarely are fans of the winning team as mad as Miami’s were.

Miami blew countless opportunities to put the game away but held a 33-10 lead with 11 minutes left after Michael Badgley’s fourth field goal.

Then Miami’s defense, which would lose two starting defensive backs to targeting ejections, crumbled. Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw three touchdown passes in a little more than eight minutes, the last of which forced overtime. Almost completely ineffective for three quarters, Armstrong finished with 309 yards and four scores.

His third interception made the difference. A fed-up Corn Elder picked Armstrong off on the first play of overtime, and Badgley’s fifth field goal sealed an infuriating win.

45. Houston 33, Cincinnati 30 (Nov. 7)

44. Houston 35, Memphis 34 (Nov. 14)

43. Connecticut 20, Houston 17 (Nov. 21)

Houston went an incredible 13-1 and finished eighth in the AP poll in Tom Herman’s first year. It was a remarkable campaign, but in November, the Cougars lost their way. They needed two magic acts to reach 10-0, and then came up one trick short.

The Bearcats outgained the Cougars by 162 yards (in 18 fewer plays), and Gunner Kiel threw for 523 yards and four scores. But he threw a pick six in the third quarter to give UH a 28-14 lead, and with Cincy still down in the fourth, he threw his third pick. The Bearcats got within three points, but their last ditch stalled near midfield.

Then, an even more ridiculous escape. The visiting Tigers jolted to a 20-0 lead, and after a brief Houston comeback, led 34-14 after the first play of the fourth quarter. But with quarterback Greg Ward Jr. out due to injury, Kyle Postma led a Cougar comeback. He led four drives deep into UM territory, and despite the fact that one stalled out, his seven-yard option keeper gave the Cougars a stunning lead with 87 seconds left. Memphis drove, but Jake Elliott’s 48-yard field goal missed wide right.

With Ward still out, Postma imploded against UConn. He threw a pick and took three sacks, and Houston scored three points on its first nine possessions. He threw a touchdown in the fourth, and Brandon Wilson’s kick return score kept the Cougars within three. Herman inserted a hobbled Ward, and he was picked off by Jamar Summers with 55 seconds left.

42. Michigan 29, Minnesota 26 (Oct. 31)

The second half of the season wasn’t kind to Michigan. The Wolverines lost an all-time soul-crusher to Michigan State (No. 7), then finished with a blowout loss to rival Ohio State.

In between were a couple of classics. The win over Indiana is No. 82, but the game two weeks earlier was even better.

Perhaps still reeling from the Michigan State loss, Michigan was a step slow on defense. Minnesota took a 16-14 halftime lead, playing inspired ball in the first game after Jerry Kill’s retirement. Michigan scored early in the second half, but 10 Gopher points gave them a 26-21 lead late.

But on third-and-10 from the Minnesota 12, Wilton Speight, in for an injured Jake Rudock, hit Jehu Chesson for a 12-yard touchdown with five minutes left. That set the table for one hell of an ending.

41. Toledo 16, Arkansas 12 (Sept. 12)

Toledo blew its chances at the MAC West, but the Rockets sealed an early-season upset when they got the chance. They got help from an Arkansas offense that put on a How To Blow Chances clinic. The Razorbacks missed a field goal, turned the ball over on downs from the Toledo 7 and 34, and threw an interception from the Toledo 7.

Brandon Allen found tight end Hunter Henry on back-to-back passes to get the Razorbacks to the Toledo 16 with time for two more plays. But on the first, Allen missed a wide open Henry in the end zone. In the second, he couldn’t find a connection with Keon Hatcher. Arkansas outgained the Rockets by 197 yards but couldn’t outscore them.