SB Nation

Bill Connelly | January 16, 2014

Top 100 college football games of 2013


Top 100 college football games of 2013100 through 71

100 Connecticut 28, Temple 21 (November 23)

99 Eastern Michigan 35, Western Michigan 32 (OT) (November 9)

Wins were hard to come by for UConn and EMU; the two programs combined to go just 4-19 against FBS competition. Heading into November, Ron English's EMU had beaten only Howard (and only by 10), while UConn was winless. It took a while, but both got into the win column in dramatic fashion.

The Huskies' trip to Philadelphia began like a lot of other UConn games. Temple, only 1-9 itself, forced four punts, a turnover, and a turnover on downs in the first half, taking a 21-0 lead. But interim coach T.J. Weist's Huskies rallied. They scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and tied with a hilarious, improbable, 14-play, seven-minute, 50-yard drive midway through the fourth. Five plays later, Yawin Smallwood picked off a short pass and took it 59 yards for the eventual win. This was a shot in the arm: the Huskies won their next two games.

And in front of a depressing 2,177 fans in Ypsilanti, EMU and WMU played a back-and-forth game. WMU led by two at halftime, EMU took a 21-16 lead midway through the third, and WMU went on a 13-0 run and took a 29-21 lead into the final minute. With 51 seconds left, EMU capped a 17-play, 75-yard drive with a 10-yard pass and converted the two-pointer to reach overtime. After WMU settled for a field goal, EMU's Ryan Brumfield plunged in from four out to give the Eagles a rivalry win with an odd final score. They would not win again in 2013.

98 Notre Dame 14, USC 10 (October 19)

Intensity counts. In front of 80,795 in South Bend, two famous helmets collided in a hard-hitting battle, albeit one that lacked in offense. Both schools desperately needed a win. Notre Dame needed to win out to reach a BCS bowl after September losses to Michigan and Oklahoma; USC, meanwhile, was in its second game under interim coach Ed Orgeron and trying to make something of a lost season.

Notre Dame gained 168 yards in two first-half touchdown drives and just 132 the rest of the way. Irish backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix went zero-for-four with six carries for five yards against the stout Trojan defense. USC missed a field goal with 9:25 left, then turned over on downs twice in the final three minutes, and Notre Dame held on.

Drama? Absolutely.

97 Washington State 10, USC 7 (September 7)

This wasn't what you would call the Mike Leach prototype, but against a USC offense that was lacking in identity or confidence, Leach's Cougars marched into the Coliseum and pulled one of the season's bigger upsets.

Damante Horton returned an interception 70 yards for a score in the final seconds of the first half, and the only offense WSU needed was a 41-yard field goal with three minutes left. Wazzu's Connor Holliday threw two interceptions and was sacked four times ... and won. USC's longest completion: eight yards.

96 No. 19 Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24 (OT) (December 5)

Intense even before Teddy Bridgewater did Teddy Bridgewater things. The last conference battle between the last Big East powers was nip and tuck, with Louisville scoring the first 10 points and Cincinnati scoring the next 14. But Bridgewater got silly in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati kept responding. Tony Miliano kicked a 26-yard field goal with seven seconds left to send it to overtime. But after Louisville scored on its possession, Cincy went four-and-out.

95 No. 1 Alabama 38, No. 13 LSU 17 (November 9)

Alabama was cruising toward another spot in the national title game, and it seemed LSU might be the biggest obstacle remaining. (Whoops.) Alabama-LSU is always huge, but when it has even one-way title implications, it sucks up most of the oxygen in the college football universe.

The score made it look easy, but it certainly wasn't. In front of 101,821 in Tuscaloosa, LSU's Zach Mettenberger spotted Travin Dural for a short touchdown in the final minute of the first half, and an LSU field goal early in the second tied the game at 17-17.

But a successful fake punt gave the Tide a much-needed boost. T.J. Yeldon scored two short touchdowns to build Bama a lead, and after LSU turned the ball over on downs in Alabama territory, the Tide put things away with another long drive.

94 Indiana 44, Penn State 24 (October 5)

45-22 in 2012. 41-24 in 2010. 34-7 in 2008. 52-7 in 2003. 58-25 in 2002. 48-26 in 1996. 45-21 in 1995. Indiana had never beaten Penn State, and the Hoosiers had rarely gotten close.

They held a tight 21-17 advantage heading into the fourth in Bloomington, but once they got rolling, they kept rolling. A short Tre Roberson touchdown made it 28-17. A 36-yard touchdown to Kofi Hughes made it 35-17. After Penn State fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Roberson scored again on the next play. Three touchdowns in four minutes turned a tight game into catharsis.

93 Arizona 42, No. 5 Oregon 16 (November 23)

Hey, speaking of catharsis ... Arizona had been beaten by an average of 51-20 in its last three games against Oregon and had lost by seven touchdowns the year before.

But the Wildcats became an unstoppable killing machine on third downs, and Oregon suffered its first true thrashing since 2008. The Ducks played at a top-10 level most of the season, but an occasional slice of humble pie might not be a bad thing.


92 Iowa 24, Michigan 21 (November 23)

I would say this felt like an old-school Big Ten slugfest, but that would be giving too much credit to Michigan's running game. The Wolverines' offense reached its nadir -- 57 plays, 158 yards -- but four Iowa turnovers helped them build an unexpected 21-7 lead late in the first half.

Iowa was more effective at getting out of its own way in the second half, and the Hawkeyes slowly reeled the Wolverines in. Jake Rudock found Tevaun Smith for a 55-yard touchdown three plays into the second, Michigan's offense went three-and-out on four of five possessions (and four-and-out on the other), and Iowa's Mike Meyer put the Hawkeyes ahead for good on a 34-yard field goal with 6:02 left.

91 No. 7 Miami 24, Wake Forest 21 (October 26)

In ended with a portending of doom for Miami, but at the time this game came across as a, failed upset bid.

Wake Forest rode a strong defensive performance as far as it could go, taking a 14-10 lead into the fourth. Miami's Duke Johnson scored to give the Hurricanes the lead, but Wake responded with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of its own, capped by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Price to freshman tailback Dominique Gibson. Unfortunately for Wake Forest, Johnson rushed seven times for 42 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds left.

It was Miami's last win for a month. Johnson got hurt, and the Hurricanes lost to Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Duke in successive weeks.

90 Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (OT) (November 23)

After a pair of second-half highlights -- a 99-yard Kenny Bell touchdown on a kickoff return and a 46-yard strike from PSU's Christian Hackenberg to Jesse James -- NU coach Bo Pelini finished conservative, settling for a 19-yard field goal to tie at 20-20 with 4:29 left.

But conservatism plays in the Big Ten, and the non-gamble paid off. A late PSU drive stalled, and after Nittany Lions kicker Sam Ficken missed a 37-yard field goal wide right in overtime, Nebraska's Pat Smith boomed in a 42-yarder to give the Huskers their eighth win.

89 New Mexico State 34, Abilene Christian 29 (October 26)


88 Pittsburgh 58, Duke 55 (September 21)

We had no idea at the time, but this game almost cost Duke a division title.

Pitt took down the Blue Devils with an old-fashioned shootout. Tom Savage completed two long touchdown passes within a minute of each other (67 yards to Devin Street, 69 yards to Tyler Boyd). Duke responded with the Jamison Crowder show -- a 62-yard touchdown catch, a seven-yard touchdown run, and an 82-yard punt return touchdown.

And that was the first half. Pitt led, 37-28, at the break, but big plays kept rolling. Duke's Brandon Connette and Brandon Braxton hooked up for a 75-yard touchdown to bring Duke within 51-35, but Pitt's Anthony Gonzalez sealed the deal with a pick-six (Duke's four turnovers were a deal-breaker), and the teams combined for 1,130 yards and 50 first downs.

87 No. 12 South Carolina 28, UCF 25 (September 28)

We had no idea at the time, but this was UCF's only loss. And it almost wasn't.

UCF shut down a feckless South Carolina offense, led first by Connor Shaw (before injury), then by Dylan Thompson. UCF forced two turnovers and took a 10-0 lead into the break before SC running back Mike Davis went off. South Carolina scored four straight touchdowns in an 18-minute span to go up. But Blake Bortles and Rannell Hall connected for a 73-yard score to make it 28-18, and even though Bortles was picked off at the South Carolina five with 6:48 left, another UCF touchdown made it 28-25 with under two minutes left.

86 No. 25 Missouri 41, No. 7 Georgia 26 (October 12)

Georgia's 2013 was exciting. It wasn't all good, but it was dramatic. Here's the first of many Georgia entries. Here's also when the nation learned it might need to take Missouri seriously.

The Tigers took a stunning 28-10 lead into halftime against the banged-up Dawgs, who were without Todd Gurley, Justin Scott-Wesley, and others. Georgia still had Aaron Murray, however; the senior quarterback found Rantavious Wooten and Chris Conley for scores, and Georgia was within 28-26 with 12:15 remaining.

And then Missouri quarterback James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury. Enter backup Maty Mauk. And a trick play.

85 Texas 31, Iowa State 30 (October 3)

It was already an interesting Thursday night. John Harris caught a 44-yard Hail Mary score with no time remaining in the first half, ISU's Quinton Bundrage scored on a 97-yard pass from Sam B. Richardson midway through the third quarter, and ISU clung to a 30-24 lead into the final minute.

But then...

84 Texas 47, WVU 40 (OT) (November 9)

A month after Ames, Texas kept its Big 12 title hopes alive with another comeback. Texas fought back from down 26-16 as the final 16 minutes included four lead changes. Paul Millard and Mario Alford connected on a long score to give WVU a 40-37 lead with 7:39 left, but a short Texas field goal sent the game to overtime. Case McCoy hit Al De La Torre for a short score, Steve Edmond picked off Millard, and Texas left Morgantown still undefeated in conference.

83 Toledo 45, Navy 44 (OT) (October 19)

Navy played in all sorts of fun games. This one had a cruel finish.

Both offenses started slowly, and Navy held a 14-10 halftime lead despite a long Rockets fumble return touchdown. Toledo's David Fluellen and Kareem Hunt ripped off long scores, and Toledo held a 31-21 lead late, but after a 96-yard touchdown drive, Navy completed the comeback with a 40-yard Nick Sloan field goal at the buzzer.

Unfortunately, Sloan had another role to play. In the second overtime, Sloan missed a PAT following a Geoffrey Whiteside touchdown. Toledo responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Terrance Owens to Bernard Reedy, and Jeremiah Detmer iced it with the PAT.

82 Akron 31, Toledo 29 (November 29)

Akron had already had a successful year. After winning six games in four seasons, the Zips had won four in Tommy Bowden's second year in charge. They had scared the living hell out of Michigan and Northern Illinois. They had won three of four games down the stretch.

But then they finished with a scalp. A 35-yard pass from Kyle Pohl to Tyrell Goodman gave them a 31-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Toledo's Bernard Reedy scored on a 28-yard pass from Terrance Owens, but Akron blocked the PAT. This was big because four minutes later, Toledo scored again. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Akron stole a 31-29 win to close out an encouraging 5-7.

81 BYU 47, Houston 46 (October 19)

Houston wasn't the Houston we've come to know. The Cougars were reliant on defense, and against BYU's always solid defense, one could have expected a 17-16 slugfest.

Instead, it was a throwback. BYU's Taysom Hill looked like Ty Detmer, Houston's John O'Korn channeled Andre Ware, and despite 11 combined sacks (!), the offenses combined for 1,164 yards. BYU survived with an 11-yard touchdown from Hill to Skyler Ridley with 1:08 left.

80 SMU 59, Temple 49 (October 26)

SMU and Temple played in a few thrillers. The Owls lost all of theirs.

They sprinted out here to a 28-7 lead after 21 minutes, but SMU tied it at 35-35 late in the third. At 42-42, Temple faltered. Deion Sanders returned a kickoff 87 yards to set up a short SMU score, and following a Temple three-and-out, Garrett Gilbert hit Keenan Holman for a 50-yard score and a 10-point lead.

79 Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech 37, No. 14 Arizona State 23 (December 30)

Some don't have to make sense. Regular season results suggested the Holiday Bowl would be a blowout win for Arizona State. There was no real reason to think Texas Tech could keep things close.

Apparently ASU thought that, anyway. Tech jumped out to a 13-0 lead, extended to a stunning 27-6 lead early in the second, and coasted. With a young coach and a young roster, Texas Tech chose the final game of the season to impress.


78 No. 15 Oklahoma 38, No. 10 Texas Tech 30 (October 26)

Two months earlier, it was a different story for Tech. The Red Raiders had not yet lost five games in a row; instead, they were undefeated and 10th in the country. They were flawed but winning, and they almost won their second straight in Norman.

It was a game of runs -- 21-0 by Oklahoma, 17-0 by Tech, 14-0 by Oklahoma. OU's Jalen Saunders caught six passes from Blake Bell for 153 yards and two scores, but Tech got the ball back with a chance to tie with a minute left. No dice. Chuka Ndulue sacked Davis Webb, Tech went four-and-out, and OU held on.

77 No. 4 Ohio State 40, No. 16 Northwestern 30 (October 5)

Context matters. At the time, this was a test for Ohio State and opportunity for an undefeated Northwestern team that was 4-0 and ranked 16th. Ignore that Northwestern was already showing cracks -- some injury-related, some not -- and ignore that the Wildcats would go 1-7 after said 4-0 start.

Ryan Field was stuffed with fans and alums, GameDay was in town, etc. And for a while, the Wildcats were up to the task, leading 20-13 at halftime and 30-27 midway through the fourth quarter. But they never had an answer for Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde (26 carries, 168 yards), who scored the game-winner with 5:22 left.

76 Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 10 (November 23)

It's a simple rule. Win a game via fake jump pass, make the top-100-games list.

75 Tulane 36, East Carolina 33 (October 12)

ECU still would have lost the Conference USA East title to Marshall because of an end-of-season loss in Huntington, but this crazy game had all sorts of conference title implications.

ECU, still fresh off of a demolition of North Carolina, headed to New Orleans and ran into a defensive buzzsaw. The game was tied at 6-6 at halftime, and a resurgent Tulane surged ahead with a 99-yard pick-six by Derrick Strozier.

Down 10, ECU fought back. Warren Harvey kicked a field goal with 5:38 left, and Vintavious Cooper tied it on a short run four minutes later. And in overtime, the offenses dominated. ECU scored a touchdown in one play, and Tulane scored in two. The two traded touchdowns in the second overtime as well. But after Harvey missed a 34-yarder wide right in OT No. 3, Tulane's Curtis Johnson sent stud kicker Cairo Santos onto the field on the Green Wave's first play of the third OT. He booted a 42-yard game-winner.

74 Washington State 24, Arizona 17 (November 16)

The USC game was Wazzu's signature win of the year, because it was USC. But the win over Arizona was tougher, both because the Wildcats were pretty damn good themselves and because both the offense and defense had to make big plays.

Washington State jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, but Ka'Deem Carey gave Arizona a 14-10 advantage at halftime. It was 17-17 in the fourth when things got weird. WSU's Andrew Furney hit the left upright on a 46-yard field goal attempt, and Arizona's Jake Smith responded by missing a 34-yarder. WSU unfurled a perfect, 80-yard, nearly five-minute touchdown drive to take the lead, capped by a 25-yard pass from Connor Halliday to Isiah Myers. But Arizona responded in kind, quickly driving into the WSU red zone. On fourth-and-4 from the WSU 13, a pass from B.J. Denker to Samajie Grant fell incomplete, and Wazzu had its second big road win of the year.

73 Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46 (August 31)

The first week was highlighted by eight FCS-over-FBS upsets. None was more fun than the one at Reser Stadium, where Eastern Washington's blood-red Eagles outpassed the Beavers. OSU's Sean Mannion completed 37 of 43 passes for 422 yards (13 for 196 to Biletnikoff-winner Brandin Cooks), and somehow it wasn't enough, because EWU's Vernon Adams completed 23 of 30 for 411 yards and four scores.

EWU bolted to a 29-17 halftime lead, but OSU took a 39-36 lead early in the fourth quarter. Here's where the salty FCS team is supposed to fall apart, but EWU did not. EWU and OSU traded scores, and with 18 seconds left, Adams plunged in from two yards out to give EWU a stunning win. It would become more stunning when Oregon State won its first six games against FBS opponents.

72 Mississippi State 17, Ole Miss 10 (November 28)

Not well-played, but damn dramatic.

Mississippi State played inspired defense, refusing to allow an offensive touchdown all Thanksgiving night. Injured MSU quarterback Dak Prescott keyed a late rally, first engineering a late field goal drive that tied the game at 10-10, then completing four passes on what could have been the game-winning drive in the closing second. Evan Sobiesk missed a 39-yard field goal at the buzzer, however, and the game went to OT.

In overtime, MSU said, "to hell with field goals." Prescott scored on a three-yard run on fourth-and-one, and as Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was going in to tie the game, Nickoe Whitley, playing on a torn ACL, stripped him near the goal line. MSU recovered in the end zone and took back the Golden Egg.

71 No. 21 UCF 19, Houston 14 (November 9)

Bright House Networks Stadium, UCF's relatively new home, is not listed as one of college football's most terrifying venues. But on a night in which the eventual AAC champions got a significant test from a young Houston (one that could have taken the conference title with an upset win), the crowd showed up and made a difference.

That big-game atmosphere included UCF's young running back William Stanback seemingly clinching with a 38-yard run with 10:23 left. UCF was up 19-7, but Houston's freshman quarterback, John O'Korn, found Wayne Beadle for a 12-yard touchdown with four minutes remaining, and after a UCF three-and-out, Houston got a chance to win. But on fourth-and-goal with 20 seconds left, Brandon Alexander broke up a pass intended for Aaron Johnson, and UCF got to celebrate.

Producer: Chris Mottram | Editor: Jason Kirk | Design: Josh Laincz | Photos: Getty and USA Today Images

About the Author

Bill Connelly grew up a fan of the Miami Dolphins (post-1970s glory), Pittsburgh Pirates (ditto), Portland Trailblazers (ditto again) and Missouri Tigers. That he still enjoys sports at all shows both severe loyalty and a potential personality disorder. He spends his evening playing with excel sheets and watching DVR'd football games from ESPN Classic. See more of his work at Rock M Nation, Football Outsiders and Football Study Hall.