NCAAF: Ten Craziest College Football Finishes

This past Saturday, we saw one of the most unbelievable endings in college football history.

Michigan State found victory in the most unlikely of circumstances when the Spartans returned a botched long snap on the final play of the game to turn what the world assumed would be a 23-21 Michigan win into a 27-23 loss.

Now, we have seen some crazy finishes in college football in our lifetimes, so, without further ado – here is a listing of some of the craziest college football finishes of all time (ranked in no certain order). Let is know what you think, and if you want to rank them, go ahead!!!

Hail Flutie

Boston College 47, Miami 45
November 23, 1984

Losing to Miami with 6 seconds left, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan as time expired. A play that helped define the “Hail Mary.”

The Band is on the Field

California 25, Stanford 20
November 20, 1982

Known as “The Play” or by the name from its famous radio call “The Band is on the Field.” California used a series of laterals to return a kickoff for a touchdown with no time on the clock. The last ballcarrier, Kevin Moen, ran through members of the Stanford band who had prematurely taken the field in celebration.

Kordell Stewart Hail Mary

Colorado 27, Michigan 26
September 24, 1994

Saturday night’s play wasn’t the only crazy ending in Michigan Stadium history. Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart also has a claim, as his 70-yard completion as time expired gave the Buffaloes an unlikely win.

Kick-six in the Iron Bowl

Auburn 34, Alabama 28
November 30, 2013

Like Saturday’s play, this one was another special teams return in a rivalry game. Auburn’s Chris Davis caught a field goal try that came up short and returned it 109 yards with no time on the clock to win the game.

Statue of Liberty

Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42
January 1, 2007

Boise State’s welcome onto the national stage came via a daring trick play on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime of the Fiesta Bowl. Quarterback Jared Zabransky faked a pass and handed the ball off to Ian Johnson, who ran into the end zone untouched.

Colorado’s 5th Down

Colorado 33, Missouri 31
October 6, 1990

Known more for controversy than heroics, Colorado beat Missouri on a run by quarterback Charles Johnson as time expired. Officials realized afterward that the play happened on a play after fourth down, but the game result stood and Colorado wound up winning the AP national title at season’s end.

1980 Holiday Bowl

BYU 46, SMU 45
December 19, 1980

This one wasn’t just about the final play. BYU came back from 20 points down in the final 2:33, and used a blocked punt to set up Hail Mary from QB Jim McMahon caught by tight end Clay Brown.

The Bush Push

USC 34, Notre Dame 31
October 15, 2005

A top-10 matchup in South Bend saw the top-ranked Trojans, with a 27-game winning streak, needing a final drive to secure a win. That drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt Leinart, one that would become controversial after he was pushed in by running back Reggie Bush.

Bahamas Bowl

Western Kentucky 49, Central Michigan 48
December 24, 2014

The school 67 miles up the road from East Lansing had its hand in a pretty memorable finish last year. The Chippewas scored a touchdown as time expired on a Hail Mary that also included three lateral passes. But a failed two-point conversion kept the Chippewas from pulling off the win.

The Michigan State Miracle

Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
October 17, 2015

The Spartans have had their share of great finishes, from the Cotton Bowl to the “Little Giants” play. The finish of Saturday night’s rivalry game in Ann Arbor belongs with the best in college football history.

Jalen Watts-Jackson played the role of unlikely hero in an unlikely bobbled punt snap and touchdown for the Spartans. And he wound up in the hospital with a dislocated hip.

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Nick Ficorelli
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