As part of an ongoing series throughout the fall, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame posts This Week in College Football History, which takes a look back at some of college football’s landmark moments over the last 146 years. RoadTripSports and College Football America is proud to present this year’s release in its entirety, courtesy of the National Football Foundation.
Dec. 3, 1988
No. 12 Oklahoma State def. Texas Tech, 45-42
Instead of being in New York to accept his Heisman Trophy, Oklahoma State tailback and College Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders was in Tokyo shattering record books. Sanders rushed for 332 yards on 44 carries to reach 2,628 yards for the season, breaking the old single-season record (2,342) set by USC’s Marcus Allen, a fellow Hall of Famer and Heisman winner. Sanders found the end zone four times to finish the season with 39 touchdowns (combined rushing and passing), 10 more than anyone else in NCAA history. Red Raiders I-back James Gray matched Sanders with four touchdowns, but was held to 23 yards on the ground. The teams combined for 1,163 yards, and Texas Tech quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver threw for a school-record 446 yards. Sanders burned Wyoming for 222 yards and five touchdowns in a Holiday Bowl victory, and the Cowboys finished No. 11 in the final AP Poll with a 10-2 record. The Red Raiders finished with a 5-6 record.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
Dec. 1, 1984
No. 3 Florida def. No. 12 Florida State, 27-17
Florida completed its most successful season in program history by winning their fourth-straight meeting against Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles in a rain-soaked edition of the Governor’s Cup. Torrential rains hinted that the team with a better rushing game would come out on top, and Florida tailbacks Neal Anderson and Lorenzo Hampton each rushed for 94 yards. Although Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell only passed for 71 yards, he threw the team’s first two scores with touchdown passes of 33 yards and five yards. Trailing 17-3 at halftime, Florida State tacked on another field goal after a muffed punt by the Gators at the nine yard line. Hampton put the game out of reach with an eight-yard run for a 24-7 lead. Due to NCAA infractions, the Gators did not go bowling, despite a 9-1-1 record and a No. 3 spot in the final AP Poll. Florida State wrapped up a 7-3-2 season with a draw against Georgia in the Citrus Bowl and a No. 17 ranking.
Dec. 2, 2006
No. 15 West Virginia def. No. 13 Rutgers, 41-39 (3OT)
Rutgers looked to end a 14-game losing streak in Morgantown and clinch the Big East’s Orange Bowl spot, but West Virginia outlasted the Scarlet Knights deep into the night through three overtimes. Mountaineers backup quarterback Jarrett Brown threw for 244 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a 40-yard touchdown to help West Virginia to a 20-10 third-quarter lead. Rutgers freshman wide receiver Tim Brown hauled in a 72-yard bomb to cut the deficit to three, and Jeremy Ito booted two field goals to turn the tables on West Virginia. Mountaineer kicker Pat McAfee sent it to overtime with a field goal in the final minute of regulation. After the teams traded field goals and touchdowns in the first two overtime series, West Virginia had the ball to start the third overtime. West Virginia’s Brown threw his only touchdown pass to Brandon Myles, and connected with Dorrell Jalloh for the two-point conversion. The game featured a number of NFF National Scholar-Athletes, including Jay Henry and Reed Williams for West Virginia and Brandon Renkart and 2006 Campbell Trophy winner Brian Leonard for the Scarlet Knights. With the loss, Rutgers instead earned a Texas Bowl bid, defeating Kansas State to finish 11-2 and No. 12 in the final AP Poll. Rich Rodriguez’s Mountaineers also finished 11-2 with a No. 10 ranking after beating Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
Dec. 4, 1971
No. 12 Tennessee def. No. 5 Penn State, 31-11
After being honored for their contributions to Tennessee football with his brother Johnny Majors, a College Football Hall of Famer for the Vols, Bobby Majors celebrated his final home game in style. He started with a 44-yard punt return for a touchdown, and continued with another 38-yard punt return and two kick returns for 113 yards. Mighty Penn State, whose national title hopes and 15-game win streak were spoiled, totaled zero yards on all returns. Vols linebacker Jackie Walker returned an interception 43 yards to the end zone, and cornerback Conrad Graham returned a fumble for a 76-yard touchdown to highlight Tennessee’s defensive scores. Nittany Lions halfback and College Football Hall of Famer Lydell Mitchell provided the only upside for Penn State, increasing his record touchdown total to 29 with a fourth-quarter scoring catch. College Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions defeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-1 and No. 5 in the final AP Poll. Tennessee, coached by NFF Board Member and current Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle, edged Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl to wrap up a 10-2 season and finish with the No. 9 ranking.
Dec. 5, 1998
Miami (Fla.) def. No. 3 UCLA, 49-45
After the game was cancelled 10 weeks earlier due to Hurricane Georges, it had seemed unlikely that the two schools would reschedule. In 30 years, UCLA had never played a regular season game after the USC game, and the Bruins had their eyes on a national title dance with Tennessee. UCLA agreed to go across the country to face the Hurricanes, who were coming off a 66-13 loss to Syracuse. Miami scored on its first three possessions, and built a 21-17 lead thanks to scores of 45 and 10 yards by tailback Edgerrin James. Bruins quarterback Cade McNown threw five touchdown passes, with the last putting UCLA back on top 38-21. Miami tailback Najeh Davenport cut the lead to 10 with a 23-yard score, and Scott Covington threw a 71-yard bomb to Santana Moss to make it a three-point game. McNown answered with a rushing touchdown, but Covington answered promptly. A controversial fumble by Bruins wide receiver Brad Melsby gave Miami the ball with 3:25 remaining. Covington completed four passes on as many attempts to set up James for the winning touchdown as Miami ended UCLA’s 20-game winning streak. The Hurricanes finished a 9-3 season with a win over North Carolina State in the Micron PC Bowl, and finished No. 20 in the final AP Poll. The Pac-10 Champion Bruins fell to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, finishing 10-2 with a No. 8 ranking.
Dec. 6, 1969
No. 1 Texas def. No. 3 Arkansas, 15-14
U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, the self-professed “biggest football fan in the country,” was in attendance and millions were watching this pseudo-national championship and showdown of College Football Hall of Fame coaches Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles. The Razorbacks turned two early fumbles into a 14-0 lead with a one-yard plunge by tailback Bill Burnett and a 29-yard scoring strike from Bill Montgomery to Hall of Famer Chuck Dicus. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Longhorns quarterback James Street scrambled 42 yards to the end zone to put Texas on the board. Royal gambled and sent the offense back out for the two-point conversion, and Street ran it in to make it 14-8. Later in the quarter, facing fourth-and-two at their 43-yard line, Royal gambled again. Street connected with Randy Peschel for a 44-yard gain. Less than a minute later, halfback Jim Bertelsen tied the game up, and Happy Feller kicked the winning extra point. Longhorn defensive back Tom Campbell picked off Montgomery in Texas territory late in the game to clinch the win. Arkansas fell to Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl and finished No. 7 in the final AP Poll with a 9-2 record. Texas finished off a perfect 11-0 season with a win over Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to seal the program’s second national championship.
Dec. 7, 1996
No. 6 BYU def. No. 20 Wyoming, 28-25 (OT)
Las Vegas, Nev.
After winning 12 games for the first time since their 1984 National Championship, Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards’ BYU Cougars won the first-ever WAC title game. The Cougars got off to a hot start, establishing a 13-0 halftime lead on field goals by Ethan Pochman and a Brian McKenzie touchdown run. Wyoming was ignited in the second half by its defense. Linebacker Jim Talich forced a fumble on a sack of BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian, and the ball was scooped up by linebacker Jay Jenkins for a 25-yard touchdown. Cowboy wide receiver David Saraf hailed in two scoring strikes and kicker Cory Wedel completed a two-point conversion pass for a 25-20 lead. Forced to punt from their end zone, Wyoming coach Joe Tiller, the namesake of the NFF’s Northwest Indiana Chapter, conceded the safety. The ensuing free kick was short, and allowed the Cougars to drive to the Wyoming three-yard line and boot the tying field goal. Pochman won it for BYU after the Cowboys failed on their overtime series. The Cougars defeated Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl to finish 14-1 and No. 5 in the final AP Poll. Wyoming finished the season 10-2.