Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Top 100 Games of the 2018-19 NCAA College Football Season (Part 4: #025-#001)

A four-part series taking a fond look back at the absolute best the college football season that was had to offer!



By: Jimbo X

If you’re like me, we’re just a couple of weeks removed from the National Championship game but you’re already depressed and jonesing for some hot college pigskin action. While there’s nothing I can do to make August roll around any faster, in the interim I can at least placate your NCAA football D.T.s with our official countdown of the top 100 college football games of the 2018-2019 season, which we’ve broken down into four installments covering 25 games at a time.

Yep, that’s right, we managed to review and rank a full hundred of the absolute best Division I games of the college football season  that was, and we even managed to sneak in a few FCS games in there to REALLY give you some stuff to dig up on the DVR. So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a bowl of Tostitos and your favorite fondue and get ready to reminisce on what was undoubtedly one hell of a year for college football … aye, we’re going to really be missing this shit come the middle of June, so start making that streaming video checklist now, fellas.

#025
November 17, 2018
Ohio State 52, Maryland 51

A totally bonkers score-fest that ALMOST saw the Buckeyes get bumped off by a mere .500 Big Ten also-ran. Maryland got off to a rollicking start, beginning the second quarter with a 17-3 lead. The Terrapins would hold onto said lead until the opening of the fourth quarter, when Dwayne Haskins’ six-yard pass to K.J. Hill knotted everything up at 31. Over the course of the next eight minutes, each team would score two touchdowns apiece — with Haskins’ hitting Binjimen Victor for a three-yard score with just 40 seconds remaining in regulation — to make it 45-45, thus facilitating some overtime pigskin action. Maryland could’ve tied things up after Tayon Fleet-Davis’ one-yard run, but a botched two-point conversion allowed Ohio State to waltz out of College Park with a hard-earned one-point margin of victory.

#024
October 13, 2018
Michigan State 21, Penn State 17

The night the Spartans broke the far-flung National Championship dreams of the Nittany Lions the same way Penn State’s coaching staff broke the innocence of oh so many youngsters. In a career day, Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke went 24 for 59 for 259 yards and two touchdown passes, including the game-winning 25-yard bullet to Felton Davis III with just 19 seconds left in the fourth to give Michigan State the win.

#023
October 06, 2018
SDSU  19, Boise State 13

A pivotal Mountain West showdown that had a little bit of everything — a thrilling quarterback duel between Ryan “No Relation to Spiro, Probably” Agnew and Brett “Yes, He Actually Is Related To Mark” Rypien, a fantastic rushing performance from the Aztecs (complete with Jordan Byrd breaking off a dazzling 72-yard touchdown run) and — for a refreshing change in these pass-happy college football times — some actual goddamn defense showing up when it mattered. Watching SDSU bring the heat to Rypien on the Blue Turfers’ final possession of the game was just dang beautiful, I tell you what.

#022
October 13, 2018
Central Florida  31, Memphis 30

Probably the finest moments for Central Florida this season, as pre-broken leg McKenzie Milton lobbed the rock for nearly 300 yards and lead the Knights to an exciting fourth quarter come-from-behind victory. Central Florida managed to erase Memphis’ 30-14 lead over a roughly 18-minute span; the highlight definitely has to be Taj McGowan’s awesome 71-yard saunter into the endzone around the 12-minute mark of the third.

#021
November 24, 2018
Arizona State 41, Arizona 40

Maybe, just maybe, the best Power Five game of the year nobody watched/cared about. Down 40-21 at the the end of the third quarter, Arizona State went absolutely bonkers in the fourth, scoring 17 unanswered en route to Eno Benjamin’s game-sealing 22-yard rushing TD with 3:08 remaining on the boards. And if you want high drama, you better believe this game gave you same at the very end, as Arizona kicker Josh Pollock whiffed on a 45-yard field goal attempt that woulda, coulda and shoulda gave the Wildcats the comeback win.

#020
January 07, 2018
Clemson 44, Alabama 16

Well, up until the midway point of the second quarter we had a competitive National Championship game. A.J. Terrell got things off to a rollicking start with a 44-yard interception return to get Clemson on the board early, only for Alabama to riposte via Tua Tagalovia’s thunderous 62-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy. Alas, back-to-back rushing scores from Travis Etienne ultimately gave the Tigers all the padding they needed, as Trevor Lawrence tagged Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins on two downright beautiful TD passes in the third to make the route official.

#019
November 30, 2018
Northern Illinois 30, Buffalo 29

A wild and woolly, madcap, come-from behind victory to determine YOUR 2018 Mid-American Conference champions. Buffalo maintained a 22-10 heading into halftime, which they easily expanded to a 29-10 cushion when Jaret Patterson ran nine yards for a rushing score in the opening frame of the third quarter. From there, the Huskies scored 20 unanswered on their way to a one-point win, with Marcus Childers (21 for 33, 300 passing yards, four touchdown passes) tagging D.J. Brown on a 32-yard TD strike for the decisive blow.

#018
December 01, 2018
Central Florida 56, Memphis 41

With Milton McKenzie out of action, the Knights turned to backup QB Darriel Mack, Jr. in the AAC title game. The Tigers jumped out to an early lead — to the tune of 24-7 at the beginning of the second quarter —and Memphis eventually obtained a 17-point lead heading into halftime. For the next half hour, though, it was pretty much all Central Florida, as the Knights exploded for five second half touchdowns, ultimately outscoring their conference rivals 35-7 over the last two quarters en route to the comeback win. Mack ultimately wrapped up the game 19 for 27 for 348 yards and two TD passes … plus a mere four rushing touchdowns on the day.

#017
December 01, 2018
Oklahoma 39, Texas 27

It was sweet, sweet revenge for the Sooners, as they avenged their Red River Showdown loss from two months earlier to win the Big 12 crown — and a National Championship Playoffs berth by proxy. It was anybody’s ballgame heading into the fourth quarter, as the arch rivals stood deadlocked at 27-all. Alas, Oklahoma’s 12-0 run in the final 15 minutes of play gave them more than enough cushion for the W, as the Sooners ultimately wrapped up the contest with 508 yards of total offense (379 of which came from Kyler Murray’s passing, in an effort that more or less secured his stature as the 2018 Heisman frontrunner.)

#016
September 01, 2018
Penn State 45, Appalachian State 38

Almost 11 years to the day the Mountaineers shocked Top Five-ranked Michigan, App State came dangerously close to bumping off another highly touted Big 12 team on opening Saturday this past season. In one of the wackiest fourth quarters played all year, over the course of just six minutes the Mountaineers managed to post 21 unanswered points and take a 38-31 lead with just two minutes remaining in regulation. Naturally, Penn State responded with Trace McSorley targeting KJ Hamler for a 15-yard TD strike with 42 seconds left in the fourth, thus setting us up for some overtime play. Miles Sanders galloped four yards to get the Nittany Lions on the board first — Penn State then managed to squelch the upset bid when Amani Oruwariye intercepted Zac Thomas on App State’s first (and ill-fated) OT offensive possession.

#015
September 08, 2018
Clemson 28, Texas A&M 26

A.K.A., “The Trevor Lawrence Coming Out Party.” In the opening seconds of the second quarter, the true freshman backup quarterback tagged Tee Higgins for a 64-yard touchdown pass — in hindsight, it was more or less the moment Kelly Bryant lost his starting QB job at Clemson. While that facet of the game alone would make it a worthy inclusion of the list, the fact that the showdown itself was exciting as all hell can’t be discounted; after getting up 21-6 in the first half, the Aggies ultimately managed to make it a very winnable 28-20 game in the fourth quarter. Alas, Texas A&M’s attempt to tie the contest following a 24-yard Kellen Mond to Kendrick Rogers was for naught, as Mond’s two-point attempt get picked off in the end zone with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

#014
September 15, 2018
BYU 24, Wisconsin 21

The Badgers were ranked sixth in the nation heading into this homestand against the Stormin’ Mormons. Unbeknownst by Wisconsin, BYU had a secret weapon … squirrely running back Squally Canada (yep, that’s his real name, and apparently he’s the ONE black Mormon in Utah), who frustrated the Badgers’ D all day en route to collecting 118 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Skyler Southam’s field goal from 45 yards out was all the extra cushion Brigham Young needed to fulfill the upset bid, as Rafael Gaglianone whiffed on a 42-yard  FG attempt with 36 seconds left in regulation.

#013
September 15, 2018
LSU 22, Auburn 21

In this early season SEC West clash, Auburn held the lead for the entirety of the second half — this, after wrapping up the second quarter with a late 14-0 run. Alas, a blazing 71-yard TD pass from Joe Burrow to Derrick Dillon cut the lead down to just two points, and with time expiring, Cole Tracy made good on a 42-yard field goal to give the Tigers — from LSU, that is — the last second victory.

#012
September 22, 2018
Old Dominion 49, Virginia Tech 35

Any other year, this would’ve been a lock for upset-of-the-season — alas, we also had THAT game between Ohio State and Purdue, so this one’ll have to settle for second best, it appears. At the time, the Hokies were ranked No. 13 in the nation, while Old Dominion were 0-3 with an 42-point loss to Liberty. In a game that saw both offenses combine for well over 1,200 yards, it all came down to the final five minutes, as Blake LaRussa’s 29-yard pass to Jonathan Durant broke the 35-35 deadlock for the Monarchs. Punctuating the upset was running back Jeremy Cox, who rattled off a booming 40-yard TD run with about 90 seconds lift to truly plunge the dagger through VT’s heart.

#011
September 29, 2018
Ohio State 27, Penn State 26

An early season clash between Big 10 powerhouses that definitely did not disappoint. With eight minutes to go in the fourth, the Nittany Lions held a solid 26-14 lead. Alas, Dwayne Haskins spent the final six minutes of the game ballin’ out of his mind, first tagging Binjimen Victor on a 47-yard TD pass and then targeting K.J. Hill for a 24-yard zip that gave them enough padding to eke out the victory.

#010
October 06, 2018
Texas 48, Oklahoma 45

Another Red River Shootout, another 1,000-yard-plus combined outing for the perennial Big 12 powerhouses. While the explosive quarterbacking was the big, overarching story — Kyler Murray finished the day with 304 passing yards and four TDs while Sam Ehlinger concluded the game with 314 yards and two touchdown passes — it’s hard to discount the inherent drama of the fourth quarter as Oklahoma scored 21 unanswered points over barely six minutes to tie things up 45-all … only for the Longhorns to bank a 40-yard field goal with ten seconds left in regulation to seal the deal.

#009
October 13, 2018
Notre Dame 19, Pittsburgh 14

The closest the Irish got to whiffing defeat in the regular season, and arguably the best overall performance Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book had all year … those two interceptions, notwithstanding. Down 14-6 late in the third, Book tagged Chase Claypool on a 16-yard TD pass, allowing the Irish to pull within two. Around the midway point of the fourth, Book closed the contest for good when he lobbed the game-winning score to receiver Miles Boykin on a 35-yard beaut.

#008
October 20, 2018
Purdue 49, Ohio State 20

The single most irrational upset of the season and quite possibly the single most inexplicable game in the history of Ohio State’s football program. Seemingly everything went wrong for the Buckeyes in this seemingly inconceivable loss, as OSU experienced their only (onfield) blemish of the season in spectacularly disastrous fashion. Throw in the almost-too-good-to-be-true saga of terminal cancer-afflicted Boilermaker fan Tyler Trent being on the sideline for the monumental upset — complete with post-victory Big Bass Drum gonging duties — and this game provides all the ingredients of a soon-to-be Disney TV movie.

#007
October 27, 2018
Oklahoma State 38, Texas 35

EXACTLY the high-scoring, high-yardage offense-a-thon you expected (and wanted) it to be. Taylor Cornelius wrapped up the game 23 for 34, 321 passing yards and three aerial touchdowns as the Cowboys held off a valiant comeback attempt from the Longhorns, who entered the second half trailing 31-14. Ultimately, it was a 10-yard gallup by Cornelius that gave Oklahoma State they cushion they needed to secure the W — which, as fate would have it, was actually his second scrambling TD of the day.

#006
November 03, 2018
West Virginia 42, Texas 41

A game that saw no less than eight lead changes … in the first half. By the final six minutes of the fourth things were deadlocked 34-34, only for Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger to hit Devin Duvernay for a beautiful 48-yard touchdown pass. Alas, Texas’ lead was short-lived, as the Mountaineers registered the game-winning score with just 16 seconds to go in regulation — complete with Will Grier (28 for 42, 346 yards, three touchdown passes) running in the risky two-point conversion attempt to give WVU the one-point win in lieu of what would’ve been a game-tying PAT try.

#005
November 10, 2018
Oklahoma 48, Oklahoma State 47

The much-awaited Big 10 shootout was everything we had hoped for and then some. Kyler Murray went 21 for 29 for 349 yards (yet only one passing TD) in the Sooners’ razor-thin one-point win, as Oklahoma instead relied on its steady run game — led by Kennedy Brooks (156 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries) and Trey Sermon (124 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries) — to outlast the Cowboys … whose quarterback, Taylor Cornelius, wrapped up the losing effort with a meager 501 passing yards.

#004
November 23, 2018
Oklahoma 59, West Virginia 56

Big 10 powerhouses collided for more than 100 points and nearly 1,400 yards of offense in this unabashed scorefest. The lead changed five times in the second half of play alone, as Kyler Murray went 20 for 27 for 364 yards and three passing touchdowns, while losing QB Will Grier of the Mountaineers wrapped up the game 32 for 39 for 539 yards and four TD passes.

#003
November 17, 208
Kennesaw State 60, Jacksonville State 52

One of the most amazing non-Division I games of this — or really, any other — season pitted not-quite-ready-for-D1 powerhouses KSU and JSU in a grueling quintuple overtime slugfest, culminating with Owls QB Chandler Burks tagging Justin Sumpter on a two-point conversion to give Kennesaw State the hard-fought W. Astonishingly, KSU managed to hold on despite being outyarded in the air by an absurd 417 to 74 margin; then again, the Owls did manage to outpace the Gamecocks on the ground, outrunning Jacksonville State 351 to 102 — with Burks responsible for no less than three rushing TDs.

#002
November 24, 2018
Texas A&M 74, LSU 72

The Tigers and the Aggies went into the first overtime knotted up 31-31. It would take an NCAA record seven overtimes and a combined 84 post-regulation points before a winner was determined, as A&M ultimately upended LSU 74-72. Outside of being historical for the extra-inning endurance-fest, the game is certainly worth going out of one’s way to see if only to relive Kellon Mond’s amazing performance, in which he lobbed six touchdown passes yet still had a lower QBR than LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow.

#001
December 01, 2018
Alabama 35, Georgia 28

Second verse, same as the first. The SEC leviathans followed up their all-time classic National Championship contest with a riveting SEC title contest (and de facto playoffs eliminator) that saw the Bulldogs maintain the lead for about 55 minutes — only for Jalen Hurts to make his heroic return subbing for an injured Tua Tagovailoa and scoring two touchdowns over the course of barely four minutes to give the Tide the epic come-from-behind victory. Factor in a litany of wackier than usual miscues and mishaps (i.e., Kirby Smart’s fabled fake punt call late in the fourth and Josh Jacob’s hilarious “Holy Roller” TD) and you have all the makings of a Southern-fried football classic … and what was undoubtedly the most thrilling and entertaining college football game of the season that just was.

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