That all bets are off when it comes to college football conference championship games has been learned over the past 25 years. After this weekend, if we’re lucky, we’ll have a clearer picture of the College Football Playoff race.
It is possible that one of these games could be replaced by one of the ones on this list if we are extremely fortunate. Here are the five greatest conference championship games of all time, in alphabetical order.
5. Alabama 28, Florida 21 – 1992 SEC Championship
The 11-0 Crimson Tide blew a 21-7 third-quarter lead and were tied 21-21 in the final minutes of the game in the first conference championship game ever. A Shane Matthews interception by Antonio Langham gave the Gators a 28-21 victory with less than three minutes remaining. Soon after, Alabama won its first national championship in school history by defeating Miami in the championship game.
4. Texas 13, Nebraska 12 – 2009 Big 12 Championship
Longhorns: Ndamukong Suh and the Cornhuskers held the unbeaten Longhorns to an average of just over 40 points per game in the Big 12 championship game. Texas retook the ball with 1:28 to go and drove to the Nebraska 29-yard line, despite being down 12-10.
Running back Ndamukong Suh chased down quarterback Colt McCoy and threw the ball out of bounds with seconds left. Officials determined that one second of play remained after the clock struck zero. To put Texas in the national championship game, Hunter Lawrence kicked a 46-yard field goal with extra time remaining.
3. Michigan State 16, Iowa 13 – 2015 Big Ten Championship
The Big Ten Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff were on the line for the 11-1 Spartans and the undefeated Hawkeyes.
Iowa took a 13-9 lead with 14:49 remaining in the game in an old-school battle between whole-grain offences. LJ Scott scored a one-yard touchdown on a 22-play drive that lasted more than nine minutes and ended with 0:27 remaining. The Spartans won after Iowa fumbled on its next possession.
2. Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33 – 1998 Big 12 Championship
Undefeated In the fourth quarter, Kansas State led Texas A&M 27-12, but the Aggies rallied to force overtime with just over a minute remaining. Both teams traded field goals in the first extra period. A&M responded with a 32-yard touchdown to win the Big 12 championship and end Kansas State’s national championship hopes in the second half.
1. Alabama 32, Georgia 28 – 2012 SEC Championship
The winner of the SEC Championship Game would face either No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Georgia for the national championship. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jay Rome in the second quarter after a scoreless first quarter. At halftime, the Crimson Tide had a 10-7 advantage thanks to a 41-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy (he had 181 rushing yards for the day).
A.J. McCarron’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper gave Alabama a 32-28 lead with 3:15 left in the game after the teams traded scores in the third and fourth quarters. That did not stop Georgia from driving to Alabama’s 8-yard line, though.
Chris Conley caught a deflected pass from Murray with nine seconds remaining in the game, which put the Broncos up 1-0. The Bulldogs were unable to run another play before the clock ran out. For many, it was a game to behold and since Alabama went on to annihilate Notre Dame in the BCS finals a month later, it felt like college football’s true national championship.
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