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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

College Football: Top 5 Orange Bowl Games Of All Time

I was there in 1994. I saw the Seminoles win their first national title on the 22-yard field goal to win 18-16. I saw the tears of joy in the players’ eyes and the elation of Bobby Bowden, winning his first championship at the school he put on the map.

The Orange Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935 and celebrated its 75th playing on January 1, 2009. The Orange Bowl, along with the Sugar Bowl and the Sun Bowl, are the second-oldest bowl games in the country, behind the Rose Bowl (first played 1902, played annually since 1916). The Orange Bowl was a member of the now-defunct Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

The Orange Bowl hosted the BCS National Championship Game in 2001 and 2005. However, since the 2006 season, the BCS National Championship Game has been a stand-alone event, hosted by the local bowl organization one week following the New Year's Day bowl games (including the Orange Bowl). In other words, under the current BCS format, the Orange Bowl Committee hosted two games in 2009: the 2009 Orange Bowl on January 1 and the 2009 BCS National Championship Game on January 8, both at Sun Life Stadium.

Since 2007, the Orange Bowl has been host to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champion unless they are involved in the national championship game (whereas the #2 ACC team would take their place) and has used the brand Home of the ACC Champion.

The 2013 match-up ended with the Florida State Seminoles, who won the ACC championship, defeating the MAC champion Northern Illinois Huskies 31–10. This was the first time a non-AQ team that had suffered a loss previously in the season made it to the Orange Bowl.

Here are the five greatest bowl games of all time.

1965 (Texas 21, Alabama 17)

The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Texas Longhorns, representing the Southwest Conference (SWC). Texas won the game 21–17.

After the defense stopped Alabama at the one-yard line on fourth down, Texas responded quickly with the first score of the evening. After moving the ball 20 yards, Longhorn running back Ernie Koy took the ball 79-yards for a 7–0 Texas lead with only :23 remaining in the first quarter.  Texas extended their lead to 14–0 on their next offensive possession when George Sauer caught a 69-yard touchdown reception from Jim Hudson.

Although on the losing side, Alabama quarterback Joe Namath was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player for completing 18 of 37 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

1975 (Notre Dame 13, Alabama 11)

The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, competing as a football independent. In a game dominated by both defenses, Notre Dame was victorious by a final score of 13–11.

After a scoreless third, the Crimson Tide scored a late touchdown on a 48-yard Richard Todd touchdown pass to Russ Schamun, and with a successful two-point conversion closed the gap to 13–11.

After a defensive stop, Alabama again got the ball on offense and was driving for a game-winning score when Todd threw an interception to Reggie Barnett effectively ending the comeback for the Tide.

1988 Orange Bowl (Miami 20, Oklahoma 14)

It was a game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Oklahoma Sooners. It was the 54th edition of the Orange Bowl and took place at the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami, Florida on January 1, 1988. Miami was coached by Jimmy Johnson and Oklahoma was coached by Barry Switzer.

Miami won the game, 20-14. To date, it is the only time the opposing head coaches from a college national championship football game each later served as head coach of the same professional football team, and won the Super Bowl with that team, that team being the Dallas Cowboys. Ironically, Barry Switzer succeeded Jimmy Johnson as head coach of the Cowboys.

1994 Orange Bowl (Florida State 18, Nebraska 16)

Florida State came into the game 11-1, and ranked first in the nation. Nebraska came into the game undefeated at 11-0, and with a number 2 ranking. Despite their unbeaten record, the Huskers were underdogs by as much as 17½ points before the game.

The Seminoles started the fourth with a 15-7, but that just set the stage for the fantastic finish, which would see Nebraska kick a field goal with 1:15 left to go up 16-15, only to see the Seminoles rally behind Heisman winner Charlie Ward to kick a field goal of their own with 21 seconds left to lead 18-16. But after an excessive penalty assessed on the kickoff and a 29-yard pass that left the 'Huskers with one second left, it came down to a kick again, only this time it would be the Seminoles celebrating after a missed field goal.

1984 Orange Bowl (Miami 31, Nebraska 30)

It was the 50th annual Orange Bowl Classic, played on January 2, 1984, between the unbeaten Nebraska Cornhuskers and the once-beaten Miami Hurricanes, for the national championship. After leading 31-17 in the fourth quarter, Miami held on for a 31-30 victory. Nebraska pulled to within one with :48 left to play, but a two-point conversion attempt by Nebraska failed when quarterback Turner Gill's pass was tipped away by Miami safety Ken Calhoun.

 The win gave Miami its first national championship, it was also the last game for Howard Schnellenberger as he left the team in pursuit of a USFL team in Miami.

The fourth quarter began with the 'Canes holding a 31-17 lead, but as was often the case with games on this list, that was just setting the stage for late-game drama, as Nebraska would score two touchdowns to cut the lead to 31-30 with 48 seconds left when Osborne made the call that more than any other defined his career.

Osborne elected to go for the win and went for two, only to have Turner Gill's pass tipped away at the line of scrimmage and giving Miami their first title.


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