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The top 100 games of the 2017-18 college football season

We march on with the list, from 70-41.

We did it. After 834 regular season games, 40 bowl games, 4,376 Nick Saban scowls, and one hell of a national championship game, the college football season is over. To remember and honor the season that was, I (along with a little help from the rest of the SB Nation college football crew) am going to count down the best 100 games of the season. We’ll unveil 30 games at a time on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, then count down the top 10 on Friday.

Let’s get to the list:

70. Nov. 4: ULM 52, Appalachian State 45
69. Nov. 4: Kansas State 42, Texas Tech 35
68. Nov. 4: Virginia 40, Georgia Tech 36
67. Nov. 4: Ole Miss 37, Kentucky 34

If you didn’t catch exciting football on the first Saturday of November, it was your fault. Not only did the headline games — Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Penn State-Michigan State, etc. — live up to hype, but there were thrillers everywhere.

Monroe:

Lubbock:

Charlottesville:

Lexington:

66. Nov. 11: UCLA 44, Arizona State 37

This was so wild, it should have been on Nov. 4. ASU took a 14-0 lead, but UCLA had it tied within six minutes. The Bruins went ahead 34-24, but thanks to a blocked punt, ASU had it tied within four minutes.

When Josh Rosen found Jordan Lasley for a 22-yard score in the fourth (Rosen had 420 yards on the day), it finally gave the Bruins the lead for good. They gave up a late field goal, but recovered the onside kick.

65. Oct. 14: West Virginia 46, Texas Tech 35

Things change quickly in the Big 12. Tre King’s 30-yard touchdown gave Texas Tech a 35-17 lead with 24 minutes left ... and the Red Raiders lost by 11.

That’s hard to do, but Will Grier was involved. The junior threw four touchdowns in 17 minutes and finished with 352 yards as the Mountaineers caught up and then just kept right on going.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

64. Sept. 23: Texas A&M 50, Arkansas 43
63. Sept. 23: Florida 28, Kentucky 27

Late-September shootouts between A&M and Arkansas are commonplace, but this was maybe the wildest yet. We saw four lead changes in a six-minute span in the fourth quarter. And after Christian Kirk scored in overtime, Armani Watts picked off Austin Allen to steal a wild win. But it wasn’t the most memorable SEC game of the day.

Florida hasn’t lost to Kentucky in 31 years. A lot of those were blowouts, but a streak that long requires funkiness. The Gators took their first lead with less than a minute left ... when Kentucky forgot to cover Freddie Swain.

That’s become a bad habit for Kentucky.

62. Sept. 30: Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 34

This almost wasn’t a game. Oklahoma State led 7-0 and was driving for another score when Damarcus Fields stepped in front of a Mason Rudolph pass and took it 95 yards. Considering OSU would build a 31-17 lead, that loomed large. It could have been 38-10.

Desmond Nisby’s short touchdown run for Tech made it 34-34 in the fourth. Then, not only did Mike Gundy commit a cardinal sin (kicking an 18-yard field goal instead of going for a touchdown), Matt Ammendola missed an 18-yard field goal. OSU’s defense stiffened, and Rudolph’s 16-yard scramble with 72 seconds left gave the Pokes the win despite themselves.

61. Oct. 28: Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 37

“Arkansas beat Ole Miss in one of 2017’s dumbest games, which is a normal result in this series.” That was our title following this year’s iteration of one of football’s wackiest rivalries. A game that featured funky formations and pointless trick plays also featured a mad comeback.

Ole Miss led 31-7 after 20 minutes, then gave almost all of it back within 15 minutes. Cheyenne O’Grady’s catch cut it to 31-28 in the third. A pair of field goals made it 37-28, but Kevin Richardson II returned a fumble 22 yards for a score with six minutes left, setting up Connor Limpert’s winning kick despite Ole Miss attempting a triple-icing.

60. Sept. 23: Buffalo 34, FAU 31

In Lane Kiffin’s debut, FAU pulled off its greatest-ever season, rolling to 11 wins and an unbeaten romp through Conference USA. But before the Owls could fly, they had to lose to Buffalo.

This was a game of runs: 14-0 Buffalo, 17-0 FAU, 13-0 Buffalo. A Devin Singletary touchdown cut UB’s lead to 27-24 in the fourth — he would finish the year with 32 rushing touchdowns — and the Owls got the ball back with four minutes to go. But UB stopped Singletary on a fourth down, and an Anthony Johnson catch iced what we would later realize was a pretty big upset.

59. Dec. 1: USC 31, Stanford 28

David Shaw played the odds. With eight minutes left in the Pac-12 title game, Stanford faced a fourth-and-goal from the USC 1, trailing 24-21. The Cardinal head coach went for it, foregoing the tie (which the Trojans would have plenty of time to break). At worst, you get stopped, and your opponent faces a 99-yard field, right? Stanford was, per the odds, likely to be the next team to score either way. Then:

  • Uchenna Nwosu charged in to stuff Cameron Scarlett (in for an injured Bryce Love) for no gain on fourth-and-goal.
  • USC drove 99 yards in eight plays to all but put the game away.

Odds aren’t guarantees, huh?

Pac 12 Championship - Stanford v USC Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

58. Sept. 16: Memphis 48, UCLA 45

Memphis sucked basically everybody into a shootout (Iowa State aside), and UCLA came to town having scored 100 points in its first two games. Yeah, this was going to be a track meet.

After a strangely quiet first quarter, UCLA scored 10 points in two minutes, and it was on. Memphis responded with two touchdown passes of 40-plus yards, and after Josh Rosen scored with 1:22 left in the half, Memphis went 72 yards in 35 seconds. Tim Hart’s 60-yard pick six put Memphis up 41-31 in the third quarter, then UCLA scored twice to yank the lead back.

Riley Ferguson’s sixth touchdown provided the margin in a game that featured 861 passing yards, 93 points, and seven lead changes.

57. Oct. 14: Army 28, EMU 27

Another what-could’ve-been in a season full of them for EMU. The Eagles’ Brogan Roback completed 19 of 27 passes and threw four touchdowns as EMU kept pace despite four time-consuming Army touchdown drives.

With 49 seconds left, Roback found Sergio Bailey for a score, and head coach Chris Creighton went for the win.

56. Sept. 2: South Carolina 35, NC State 28

Injuries claim stars every year, but we were deprived of about 10 games’ worth of Deebo Samuel this year, and that’s a damn shame.

NC State outgained South Carolina by nearly 250 yards. But the Cocks had Deebo.

55. Nov. 18: Washington 33, Utah 30

Utah nearly derailed Washington’s 2016 Playoff bid, and the two teams provided almost as many dramatics a year later.

Rae Singleton and Tyler Huntley connected for two scores to give Utah a 23-16 lead late in the third, but Myles Gaskin’s 76-yard run tied the game. Huntley made it 30-23, then Gaskin made it 30-30. But Utah had to punt with 35 seconds left, just enough time for two Jake Browning completions and a 38-yard field goal at the buzzer.

54. Oct. 14: LSU 27, Auburn 23

LSU had already been stomped by Mississippi State and fallen to Troy, and they found themselves down 20-0 to Auburn. Gut-check moment.

Ed Orgeron’s team responded. Danny Etling hit Russell Gage for a 14-yard score to make it 23-14 at halftime, and DJ Chark’s 75-yard punt return made it 23-21. Kicker Connor Culp gave LSU its first lead with 2:36 left, then added another three-pointer after Auburn’s sixth consecutive scoreless drive. LSU would win six of seven to finish the regular season.

53. Oct. 21: Louisville 31, Florida State 28

In three games against Florida State, Florida native Lamar Jackson averaged 226 passing yards and 119 rushing yards.

Jackson’s final trip to Tallahassee was a struggle. He rushed for 178, but late in the second quarter, he fumbled, and Matthew Thomas returned it 34 yards for a go-ahead. Louisville went on a 21-0 run, but Nyqwan Murray recovered teammate Jacques Patrick’s fumble in the end zone, then caught a 20-yard touchdown five minutes later. Given one last chance to win in regulation, Jackson responded with three completions and a 15-yard run, setting up Blanton Creque’s winning kick.

Louisville v Florida State Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

52. Oct. 14: Miami 25, Georgia Tech 24

Miami would reach 11-0, but the Hurricanes barely reached 5-0. They fell behind Georgia Tech, 14-3, in the second quarter, botched a surprise onside kick, and needed this ridiculous catch by Darrell Langham to set up an unlikely winning field goal.

That’s not the last you’ll see of Langham on this list.

51. Dec. 30: Penn State 35, Washington 28

It never felt like Penn State was seriously threatened, even though Washington was twice able to get to within seven points after falling behind 28-7. Still, the Fiesta Bowl gave us an outstanding performance from PSU quarterback Trace McSorley (32 for 41 for 342 yards, plus 60 rushing yards), a long touchdown run from UW’s Myles Gaskin, a Chris Petersen-in-the-Fiesta Bowl trick play ...

... and one final Saquon Barkley explosion.

50. Oct. 14: Oklahoma 29, Texas 24

A week after falling victim to an Iowa State upset, Oklahoma watched a 20-0 lead fritter away in the Red River Rivalry. Sam Ehlinger’s 8-yard touchdown run with eight minutes left gave the underdog Longhorns a 24-23 lead.

Then Baker Mayfield and Mark Andrews saved the day.

49. Jan. 1: UCF 34, Auburn 27

UCF claimed a national title for itself by finishing unbeaten and beating the team that beat both of the title game’s participants.

Two touchdowns in six minutes gave Auburn a 20-13 lead in the third, but two McKenzie Milton touchdown passes and a Chequan Burkett pick-six made it 34-20, Knights. UCF missed two field goals that could have put the game way, but with 24 seconds left, an attempted throwaway by Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham landed in UCF freshman Antwan Collier’s hands.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - UCF v Auburn Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

48. Sept. 2: Louisville 35, Purdue 28
47. Oct. 7: Arizona 45, Colorado 42
46. Oct. 21: Arizona 45, Cal 44
45. Dec. 27: Purdue 38, Arizona 35

Early-season games lack context. When Purdue and Louisville began in Indianapolis, we assumed it was simply a Lamar Jackson showcase. Surely Purdue wouldn’t make up much ground in Jeff Brohm’s first season, right?

Despite a late-third quarter pick-six, the Boilermakers took the lead early in the fourth on a nice catch by Jackson Anthrop. Jackson (378 passing yards, 107 rushing yards) connected with Dez Fitzpatrick for a go-ahead score, but the Cardinals still had to make a pair of late stops.

A month later, Arizona’s Khalil Tate introduced himself to the world. The sophomore quarterback took over and posted some of the gaudiest numbers ever seen from the position:

  • Tate rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado, scoring on bursts of 58, 28, 47, and 75 yards.
  • Then, after going for 230 more rushing yards against UCLA, Tate merely gained 137 against Cal. Zach Green added 130, but the Golden Bears sent the game to overtime with a 52-yard Matt Anderson bomb. A 22-yard pass from Tate to Bryce Wolma gave UA a 45-38 lead. Cal responded, but Ross Bowers’ two-point attempt failed.

We didn’t see Tate coming and didn’t know Brohm would take effect so quickly. But by the time the Boilermakers and Wildcats met in the Foster Farms Bowl, we knew what to expect. Tate threw for 302 and rushed for 58, but Elijah Sindelar’s four touchdown passes — including a late 38-yarder to Anthony Mahoungou — made the difference.

44. Nov. 18: North Texas 52, Army 49

This had everything you want in a shootout.

  • Contrasting styles? Army rushed for 535 yards, while UNT threw for 386.
  • Cat-and-mouse pursuit? North Texas led by scores of 21-7, 28-20, 35-28, 42-35, and 49-42 but couldn’t put it away until the end.
  • Stupid fourth quarter? The teams combined for 38 points, with Army tying on three occasions. After Andy Davidson’s tying plunge with 1:23 left, UNT had enough time to drive 46 yards and set up the winning kick.

To repeat: Army rushed for 535 and lost. Since 2000, only Air Force (545 in a 2001 loss to Hawaii) and Rice (570 in 2004 to SJSU) can top that.

43. Sept. 9: Washington State 47, Boise State 44

Maybe the best #Pac12AfterDark of the season. And the drama started well after dark. Boise State took a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, but Wazzu charged back to force overtime.

In triple OT, Wazzu put the game away on a 22-yarder by Jamal Morrow that ended like this ...

... at 2:40 a.m. ET. Very, very much after dark.

42. Dec. 2: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21

Wisconsin spent most of the season dominating inferior competition, but with a Big Ten title and Alabama’s eventual CFP bid on the line, the Badgers did a heck of a job of hanging around, getting outgained by 150 yards but nearly doing the deed.

Andrew Van Ginkel’s pick six bought the Badgers some time after a couple of missed opportunities, but Ohio State still built a 24-13 lead. Wisconsin struck back on Chris James’ short touchdown run, and when the Buckeyes could only manage a field goal at the end of a 15-play, seven-minute drive, it gave Wisconsin one last drive.

They needed one more play. Or maybe just a pass interference call.

41. Nov. 4: Northwestern 31, Nebraska 24

Nebraska and Northwestern have faced seven times since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten. Four have been decided by three or fewer points, one was decided by a Hail Mary, and 2017’s went to OT.

This time, it was Northwestern that required the dramatics. Marcus Newby’s 49-yard pick-six gave the Huskers the lead, and it was 24-17 when Clayton Thorson led the Wildcats on a 13-play, 84-yard drive to tie. In OT, Northwestern was the aggressor. Thorson scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1, then Samdup Miller sacked Nebraska for a big loss. Kyle Queiro broke up a last-ditch pass, and the Wildcats survived.

This is a hell of a young rivalry.

Check back the rest of the week as we unveil the top 40 games of the year.

  • 100 - 71
  • 70 - 41
  • 40 - 11 (Thurs.)
  • 10 - 1 (Fri.)

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