From the Bush Push to the Iron Bowl, SportsNation was there
Mark Schlabach, Pat Forde, Bruce Feldman and Ivan Maisel shared stories this week about the best game each has ever attended, but that wasn't enough. So, ESPN.com turned to SportsNation for more stories. And SportsNation delivered. Tales of great performances, historic wins, hugs with strangers, rivalry games and miraculous finishes were included in the thousands of contributions.
Take a look at some of the best games SportsNation's ever attended:
The best game EVER was ND vs. USC in 05. The game was back and forth the entire way. Brady Quinn looked poised to seal his fate in Irish lore forever. But then, on 4th and 9, Leinart connects with Dwayne Jarret for a 65 yard pass to the Irish 5. Then, a few franctic seconds later, Reggie Bush pushed Leinart over the goal line for a heart-breaking victory. I can't even start to describe the dumbfoundedness and shock. The entire stadium was silent, save a few punks from SC. After the game, I sat in the stands for another half hour crying and trying to figure out what just happened. Even though I was on the losing end, that was easily the greatest game I ever have been to.
USC @ Notre Dame 2005. Hands down, the most phyiscally and mentally draining game I have ever experienced. A beautiful fall day in South Bend ... the green jerseys ... USC ranked #1 coming off three consecutive 33 point thrashings of ND ...a combustable atmosphere to start. When ND finally had SC pinned deep in their own territory on 4th & 9, the stadium was rocking. You could feel how much ND wanted to win. Then Jarrett catches that amazing pass from Leinart and dashes 65 yards for the first down. You could literally feel the ebb of the momentum from 65,000 ND fans to the 15,000 SC fans, which included myself. Feeling SC now had ND where they wanted them, then Leinart was popped, fumbled and appeared to run out the clock, the ND fans started to storm the field. Again the surge of emotions was incredible. But wait ... the ball was out of bounds ... everyone off the field!!Then the Bush Push capped it off. I never felt more exhausted ... the keg never tasted so sweet on the bus ride back to Chicago. That game was college football at its finest.
--Chris Hurley (Austin, TX)
The Clemson-Florida State Game with the Puntrooskie. It was raining and miserable and we came up from Tallahassee in an RV with tickets in the second row of the end zone. I saw what looked like a muffed snap and burried my head, then a little old lady tapped me on the shoulder and I saw LeRoy Butler running down the sideline and looking like the road runner. The entire stadium went silent except for our coner of the end zone -- it was Dead in Death Valley. But we partied all weekend long. Go Noles.
-- Craig Skinner (Miami)
In 2005, Alabama made a miraculous run to 9-0 even after losing most of our offense when Tyrone Prothro shattered his leg in a 31-3 thrashing of Florida. A few weeks later Tennessee came to Tuscaloosa. Trailing 6-3 late in the game, Tennessee got within the Alabama 5-yard line. On a run play, an Alabama defender put his helmet right on the ball and forced a fumble as the runner crossed the goal line. This play, immortalized by the Daniel Moore print "Rocky Stop" preserved the Alabama lead and the win.
-- Robert (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
"Choak at Doak" -- UF vs. FSU (31-31) in Doak Campbell Stadium, November 1994. FSU was down 31-3 at beginning of 4th quarter, but rallied for 28 pts to tie. Absolutely intense fourth quarter -- loudest and most energetic that stadium has ever been! To be down by that much and rally to tie against your archrival (and Steve Spurrier) was fantastic. The Gators were so frustrated after the game, they took their helmets off and threw them in disgust! That alone made the game :)
-- Jeremy (Raleigh)
I am biased obviously, but by far the best football game I have ever witnessed was UNC upsetting Miami 31-28 on a last second field goal on October 30, 2004. Miami came in contending for a national championship. We were just happy to see a team like that on our field. At half time, we were all pretty impressed that we hung so close against Miami. But as the game and the night progressed, we started to realize that we could actually win this game. When Connor Barth knocked the 42-yard field goal down with time running out, the feeling was incredible. My friends and I always reflect on that night. No matter what was going on outside the stadium, within Kenan it was perfect.
-- Phil (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Despite being a longtime Stanford fan, I have to cite the 1982 Big Game -- and its infamous "The Play" -- as being the most memorable college game I've attended. One apsect that gets lost when recalling those final moments was that the game had two amazing finishes. People forget that John Elway converted a 4th-and-17 pass in double coverage that kept alive what many Stanford fans believed was the game-winning drive. Certainly I would have preferred that scenario, but 25 years later I'm pleased to have been in attendance on that November afternoon to witness what is arguably the greatest ending in college football history.
-- Tim Donovan (Los Angeles)
The best college football game that I saw in person was the 2006 Rutgers-Louisville game. I have been attending RU football games since my freshman year in 1983. The atmosphere even before the game was unreal from the traffic signs along Route 18 flashing 'Go RU!' to the vibe during the pre-game tailgate. When Rutgers was on it's final drive, Rutgers Stadium turned into a huge rave party. And when RU won the game on Jeremy Ito's second field goal attempt, the celebration that ensued wasn't just about the game. Decades of frustration were finally erased with the win. That game was truly a program establishing win. Rutgers football has arrived and is here to stay for the long haul.
-- Mike Goffinet (Maple Shade, N.J.)
2005 WVU: 46 Louisville: 44 3OT Unlike most others, we stayed for the entire game. In an incredible comeback, WVU overcame two different 17-point deficits to knock off the alleged team to beat in the new-look Big East. This game also signaled the beginning of the careers of Steve Slaton and Pat White. The Mountaineers and Cardinals kicked off a new conference rivalry on one of the greatest days in college football history (same day as the last second wins of Michigan and USC over Penn State and Notre Dame respectively). Amazing game, amazing atmosphere, and an amazing kick start to the careers of two Heisman candidates.
-- Patrick (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Maybe a better way to articulate the best game I ever saw is to call it "The Best Game I Barely Saw". When Texas A&M played Mississippi State in the 2000 Independence Bowl, I sat in the bleachers, cold to the core. Through my best vocal efforts, I urged on my beloved alma mater ... but Texas A&M was unable to emerge victorious after regulation and overtime. I will never forget how hard the snow came down in Shreveport.
-- Mike Jones (Houston)
The best game I ever saw in person was Missouri's victory over Nebraska in 2003. Faurot Field was rocking even though it was cold and drizzling the entire game. All the Tiger fans were on tenterhooks wondering if this would finally be the year we beat those guys or if the Nebraska curse would work its evil voodoo once again. The Tigers scored on a trick pass back to QB Brad Smith and a fake field goal, but the game wasn't iced until the defense snagged a late interception. The Tiger faithful was so ecstatic they tore down both goal posts. I stood on the U of MIZZOU in the north end zone and watched the kids tear down the goal posts in celebration of the first Tiger victory over Nebraska since James Wilder ran wild in Lincoln in 1978.
-- Ted P. (Okeechobee, Fla.)
Hands down, no question -- 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas versus USC. Two storied programs, the rebuilt 'Horns against the recent Trojan dynasty -- winner takes all, a clear victory for the maligned BCS system, pairing two teams that otherwise would never meet -- Heisman subplot of Bush versus Young -- multiple lead changes, incredible plays from Vince, played in the Granddaddy of the all, the Rose Bowl. Oh, and the Horns won, on the 4th down late-in-the-game scramble after receivers were covered. I can't imagine a better game!
-- Mike D (San Antonio)
The best game I ever saw in person was "Wide Right I." I stood face-painted and head-shaved while watching from the Miami student section into which Gerry Thomas had to kick. We erupted as he missed and cheered even harder watching Bobby Bowden run onto the field and suddenly realizing the game was lost after thinking he won. The Miami students and players stayed in the stands celebrating for half an hour after that ending. Everything was quiet on Tennessee Ave. that evening, except for the pre-paid bands playing to empty fraternity houses. That was a good day.
I was actually at the Flutie miracle game at Miami in 1984. Being a diehard Canes fan, I was sick to my stomach after the Hail Mary. Sitting at the open of the stadium, I saw the ball go up (forever) and 8 guys jump for it and lastly the ref raising his arms signaling touchdown. How could that be possible? It's taken 23 years to realize I was lucky to be there.
-- Rob (Virginia Beach)
I'm not an ND fan, but my parents are big time. I was 12 when they dragged us to the Cotton Bowl, yeah THAT Cotton Bowl. Down 23 with seven to play, Comeback Joe, the whole bit. But mostly I remember my siblings and me BEGGING to leave and my Dad shouting "You never leave a Notre Dame game early." History.
-- Tim (Dallas)
It was not just another Saturday in autumn. The date was November 26th, 1999 at Kyle Field where in-state rival Texas Longhorns came to town. Yet, it was different this time because of the Bonfire tragedy eight days before. The stadium was no longer filled with hatred and bitterness found in the previous games, but it had an atomsphere of mutual respect and sorrow throughout Kyle Field. I remember vividly that the Aggies were trailing the Longhorns by the score of 13-16 for much of the fourth quarter. Then suddently late in the fourth quarter, A&M quarterback Randy McCown threw a high ball to the right corner of the end zone and the A&M receiver Bumgardner went up and got it, pulling down a touchdown pass with 5:02 remaining. The catch simply put A&M ahead for good with the final score of 20-16. Prior to that game, I have attended two funeral services for my fallen friends due to the Bonfire tragedy. Yet on that day it washed away all our sorrow and grief made us feel like a champion. I cried and looked in the sky knowing that the twelve angels were with us. That day was different, I just don't think I will ever experience another game of triumph after tragedy.
-- Mike Zhang (Plano, Texas)
Definitely the best game I ever saw in person was the Red River Shootout in 2001. Time running down with the Sooners up 7-3 and Roy Williams goes superman over the Texas line and hits Chris Simms. The ball falls perfectly in Teddy Lehman's hands in the end zone ... half of the crowd ecstatic ... the other half dejected. I will never forget it.
-- Jimmy (Owasso, Okla.)
It has to be the Ole Miss vs Arkansas game in 2001 in Oxford. 7 OTs!!! It was a back and forth game with Arkansas coming out on top. Gotta give Matt Jones props ... he was unstoppable that night. At the end of the game everyone was just so emotionally drained ... but it was one of the best games I ever saw.
-- Hildon (Oxford, Miss.)
I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the 1975 Rose Bowl when USC's great tailback Anthony Davis was injured but USC still came from behind in the fourth quarter against a favored Ohio State. Pat Haden found JK McKay for a touchdown with about 2:00 left. Instead of kicking the tying PAT, Coach John McKay went for two and when QB Pat Haden found a diving Shelton Diggs in the end zone, USC had a 18-17 win in one of the best college football game in history.
-- Jon (Westport, Conn.)
1980 Georgia vs. Florida. This game has been rehashed so many time because of Larry Munson's call during the Belue-to-Scott 93 yard miracle, it almost seems cliche. But I was there and can truly say that I've experienced a magnitude 8.2 earthquake. The Gator Bowl did nearly fall down that day. What a memory. What a great game.
-- David (Ft. Lauderdale)
Without question the best game I ever saw in person was this last season's Oklahoma-Oregon game. It had everything, star running back Adrian Peterson put on a show with 150 yards in the fourth quarter alone, and the Sooners looked poised to sink the Ducks for the third year in a row. But Dennis Dixon and the Ducks pulled off a remarkable comeback, and if you throw in a little controversy with the on-side kick to spice things up, you have one fantastic game. Not to metion the fact that Oklahoma nearly ran back the final kickoff and looked as though they would come away with the victory after all, but Blair Phillips took to the sky to block Garret Hartley's field goal (the only kick he missed all year) as time expired. The fans stormed the field, and I nearly had a heart attack. What a game it was.
-- Brian (Eugene, Ore.)
The "Miracle on Markham", on Nov. 29, 2002 was by far the best ending to a ball game I will ever see in person, and I actually got to see if from the sidelines. I work the chains for War Memorial Stadium, and I remember the feeling of despair and defeat when Arkansas took the field with 30 secs left and had 81 yds to go. I'm a huge Hogs fan, but I didnt give them a chance with no timeouts left. Then Matt Jones hit Richard Smith to move to about 30 yd line. Jones then hit Decori Birmingham with a perfectly placed lob in the corner of the end zone to tie the game, and the extra point put us ahead 21-20. It made us SEC WEST champs, and cemented Jones's place in Razorback lore. To top it all off, I somehow came up with the game ball from the extra point, and it sits in a glass box on my mantle to this day.
-- Bill (Little Rock)
As an Ohio State fan it is somewhat ironic to remember my most favorite game as an OSU loss but the OSU vs Texas game on SEP 10 2005 in the Horseshoe was a fans dream from an entertainment perspective. It was billed as the Shoedown in the Shoe, between Vince Young and the Longhorns against AJ Hawk and the fantastic OSU defense. The buildup up to this game was simply incredible and the fact that the game actually lived up to the hype ... at NIGHT, which is rare in Columbus for games, added to the atmosphere. The crowd was so loud that night that the band could not be heard before the game. This was big, it was OSU vs Texas for the first time ever, two football crazy states that are eerily similar and for me this game and atmosphere topped any Michigan game. Although the game was a defensive battle and Vince Young led a winning drive in the final minutes, the atmosphere and amount of respect I had for both teams competing that night in a truly special environment, was something I will remember forever. I feel this game started a trend for the benefits of early season nonconference showdowns that is truly a great thing for all college football fans.
-- Greg (Columbus)
November 3, 2000. Michigan @ Northwestern. One year after Northwestern suffered through a 1-win Big Ten season, they up-ended the Wolverines 54-51. Damien Anderson (NU's star RB) dropped the potential game-winning TD pass late in the 4th quarter and we thought the game was over. But the Cardiac 'Cats (aided by an inexplicable Anthony Thomas fumble on Michigan's game-sealing, run-out-the clock drive) had some life left. Northwestern won the game on a Sam Simmons slant and the student section stormed the field (after Michigan's failed FGA seconds later). We even tried in vain to tear down the goal posts, but to no avail. Northwestern pride for the win, but shame for our inability to pull down the uprights.
-- Matt (Columbus)
There are few things as special as fall Saturdays in Happy Valley ... one of those exceptions is a night game there! I was a part of the 2005 clash between Penn State & Ohio State & it was by far the best college football game I've ever been to. I was fortunate enough to be part of the "White Out" & the atmosphere during that game was like none other. The stadium was just rocking (literally) throughout, with Zombie Nation blasting! The significance of the game was that Penn State showed it was back on the national stage. The moments are still vivid in my mind ... Derrick Williams touchdown, Tamba Hali's hit on Troy Smith to cause the game-clinching fumble, & the near half-hour celebration in the stands after the game. I only hope I can be part of another game as special as that Saturday night.
-- Adam (Parsippany)
The 1998 K-State Nebraska game was by far the most exciting and most memorable game i have ever seen. Beating Nebraska for the first time in 29 years and storming the field were amazing; it felt like we finally showed all neh-sayers that K-State was a legitamite power in college football. But the most memorable part was after the game. Old men who had had season tickets for many years were in the stands with socket wrenches taking of the planks of wood that they had sat on for every game. The security guards were even helping them because that spring the stadium was being renovated. I've never seen anything like it.
-- Joel (Wichita)
1994: Washington at Oregon The Duck faithful will never forget this game: "The Pick." With the game and a possible Pac-10 championship on the line, Washington had the ball on the Oregon 9 with 1:04 left and the score UO 24 UW 20. Kenny Wheaton intercepts Damon Huard at the goal line and takes it 99 yards to the house. Crowd goes berzerk. I didn't get my voice back for 3 days. Ducks ended up going to the Rose Bowl that year, first time since '58. The replay of the radio announcer losing his mind still gives me goose bumps. Go Ducks!
-- Richard (NYC)
Ohio State LSU, Sep 24, 1988. I was 11 years old and this is the first game I can remember, the game that turned me into a fan of football. My dad has always been a die hard Buckeyes fan and decided to stay to the very end whilst others headed for the exits. Ohio State scored 16 points in the final 4½ minutes to win 36-33. My dad was so excited he bear hugged me and spun me around in a circle with my legs flying out, barely missing the few remaining fans standing around us. That was a special day.
-- Ryan (Nashville)
Being a life long Baylor fan generally means leaving a football field demoralized, dejected, angry and hoping for baseball season. But the Baylor game against Texas A&M three years ago was amazing. Rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, the baptists rose up and defeated the evil empire that has long haunted our dreams. On a wild (and likely insane) call, Guy Morriss decided to go for two in the first overtime and to end it. A horrible call. But, unlike all the defeats suffered in the lore of the Baptist Gridiron, our wideout caught the ball. Holy crap! We won. The students tore down the goal post and marched it two miles down the main drag of Waco, Texas, and left it in the yard of the University's President (you have to understand, we don't get to tear down the goal posts that much, mostly it is for annual maintenance, so this was a big deal). Anyhow, it was great to see Jerusalem on the Brazos rise up and defeat the Aggies. Sic 'Em Bears.
-- Sam (Houston)
This is an easy question to answer! Without a doubt, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma. Never before have I been a part of such an incredible sporting event. The emotions were incredible. As every unfathomable play at the end of the fourth quarter unfolded, each fan base went from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows in a matter of seconds with it a culminating in three of the most memorable plays in college football history! I have lived in Boise since 1988 and have watched the Broncos grow from a 1-AA mighty mite, to a BCS winner was incredible!
-- Chris (Boise)
Sept. 8, 1990 Cougar Stadium Provo, UT. BYU 28 Miami 21 Miami came to Provo as the No. 1 team in the land, cocky and full of trash-talk. Ty Detmer laid 406 yards of passing with an over 70 percent completion rate on the vaunted Hurricane defense as Cougar Stadium set a new attendance record of 66,235 screaming blue fans. BYU overcame 4 turnovers in the game and held Miami scoreless in the 4th quarter to hold on for the victory. Fans swormed the field as the goal posts came down in a sea of royal blue and BYU pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Cougar football history.
-- Carey van Boxtel (Murrieta, Calif.)
USC 55 ND 24 (1974 in Los Angeles). Why? at the half ND was up 24-6; both teams were ranked in the top 5, and ND was one of the top defensive squads in the country. As everyone remembers, USC (Anthony Davis) ran the 2nd half kickoff back for a TD, and the rout was on. SC scored 35 points in the 3rd quarter! They scored an unbelievable 55 consecutive points and sent Ara Parsegian into retirement that day. The crowd was on its collective feet with the 2nd half kickoff, and we never sat down until Coach McKay finally started pulling his starters with about 8 minutes left in the game. The electrcity was enough to light up downtown LA for a few days! FIGHT ON! And USC went on to defeat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and win a portion of the National Championship by scoring in the closing minutes and going for the two point conversion!
-- Bruce M Jaffe
The greatest football game I ever watched live was LSU vs. Auburn 1988. With just under 2 minutes left in the game, LSU was down 6 to 0 when Quarterback Tommy Hodson threw a touchdown pass to Eddie Fuller to tie the game. The crowd erupted. LSU took the lead with the extra point that followed. The crowd noise was unbelievable and for several minutes afterward my ears were ringing. LSU's defense held Auburn to seal the victory. Later, the game became known as the "earthquake game" because LSU's Geology department noted seismic activity at the exact time the Bayou Bengals scored. This was one of many great battles between LSU and Auburn and I hope there will be many more to come.
-- Baton Rouge
Best game ever played was Purdue at Wisconsin in the fall of 1998. Drew Brees has a NCAA record 83 pass attempts, but the badgers won late on a interception by Jamar Fletcher to extend the Badgers then undefeated season. It was also the first ever playing of the famed "JUMP AROUND" in camp Randall Stadium. Eventually helping lead the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl with a victory over UCLA.
-- Jason Krieger (Ithaca, NY)
The best game I ever witnessed live was "MARY" ... Hail Mary. That is, the best catch ever to end a college football game. Colorado verse Michigan. Kordell Stewart and the Buffaloes silenced a crowd of over 100,000 by completing the 75+ yard bomb in the final seconds in Ann Arbor.
-- Dan (Omaha)
Freshman year, September, 1980 Michigan at Notre Dame. Game seemed lost for the Irish when late in the 4th quarter they bring in a Freshman QB, Blair Kiel, who moves the team to the 34 yard line with :03 left on the clock. Senior Harry Oliver, in his first game hits a 51 yd FG as time expires. Some say the wind stopped miraculously or that TouchDown Jesus pushed the ball through the uprights. As the student body section collapsed onto the field it was pandemonium. The game was best summed up by the Michigan paper headlines "Michigan 27, Notre Dame 26, God 3." I have been to many Irish games since then, but that one moment captured the essence of the ND mystique!
-- Steve (Charlottesville)
I really didn't care who won this game, but the best game I've seen in person was the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Marshall was down to East Carolina 38-8 at halftime and Byron Leftwich let them back to win 64-61 in double overtime.
-- Ted Holder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
I was at the Kentucky-LSU game a couple years back when LSU had the Hail Mary ... I was a student at UK and on the field when the TD was scored ... the only thing I could think of was that only UK could lose a game in that fashion.
-- Sean (Charlotte)
The best game I ever attended was the 1999 regular season game between Mount Union and John Carroll. Although the game was between two D-III institutions and not two D-I powerhouses, the atmosphere rivaled those at the Penn State games I've attended. As a student at Mount at the time we were standing on the back of the endzone when Mount pulled out the victory in the 3rd OT. As the teams battled back and forth I was hugged and even yelled at by one of the Mount Union players mothers as she was upset that her sons team was not able to put away what she felt was an inferior opponent. At the end of the game several players from both teams had to be literally carried off the field due to shear exhaustion. Needless to say, the best game I've ever attended. 57-51 Mount win.
-- Gregory (Edinboro, Pa.)
The 2004 Michigan/Michigan State game where Braylon Edwards made the MSU cornerbacks look like little kids leading UM back from down 17 in the 4th quarter and the overtimes. Four catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the 4th quarter alone! Triple-overtime! What a game!
-- Aaron (Ann Arbor)
As a Virginia Tech alum, I've seen many great games in Blacksburg. But the one game that sticks out the most was in actually in Charlottesville. I was there on a Thursday night in '95 when Virginia handed Florida State its first ACC loss. The crowd sequence for the final play -- noise, complete silence, and then eruption -- is still perfectly clear to this day. There is still an argument every time these teams play as to whether or not Warrick Dunn scored on that final play.
-- Tyler (Richmond, Va.)
The Night the Barn Burned (1996) LSU defeated Auburn 19-15 in 1996 while the old Auburn Sports Arena, affectionately called "the Barn," burned to the ground across the street from the stadium. After scoring a touchdown, Auburn trailed 17-15 and attempted the two-point conversion. LSU intercepted the pass and returned it for a 19-15 win. The fire began when a tailgater placed a barbecue grill too close to the building. Scenes of the fire were captured by ESPN during the national broadcast as flames were seen as high as the Jordan-Hare west upper-deck. The game was never delayed, and the Auburn public address announcer continually advised fans not to worry: "the stadium [was] not on fire; the flames [were] outside the stadium."
-- Tim (Atlanta)
Has to be the 1972 Auburn-Alabama game at Legion Field, Birmingham. The atmosphere at this rivalry -- in the years it was played in Birmingham - was special. With the crowd divided 50/50, no matter which team made a big play, there was a constant roar throughout the stadium. Also, all the seats are filled, the stadium steps have people perched there, and, folks are just packed in every open space -- seat or no seat. The game was incredible! Alabama undefeated; Auburn with just 1 loss for a team that was not expected to do much that season. Though the Tigers had but one loss, they had won "ugly" games to stand at 9-1. "Punt Bama Punt" says it all! 17 4th quarter points by Auburn to win it 17-16. Absolutely stunning!
-- Gary (Colleyville, Texas)