Greatest CFB Comebacks

Greatest CFB Comebacks
C.J. Bacher quarterback of Northwestern scrambles with the football during game action in a contest that saw Michigan State come from 35 points down to win 41 to 38 over Northwestern University at Ryan Field in Evanston, Il (Photo by Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

The greatest CFB comebacks is a relative subject.  Should it be the greatest comeback statistically or largest comeback in a big game?  A few of those greatest CFB comebacks will be examined here.

Greatest CFB Comebacks

The only team to register a 30+ point comeback more than once was UCLA.  Minnesota and Oregon have been on the losing end of 30+ point comebacks twice.

Maryland 42 Miami 40 1984

Deficit overcome 31 points

Long before he would engineer the NFL’s greatest comeback for the Buffalo Bills, Frank Reich led what was then the biggest college football comeback ever for Maryland. Miami, the defending national champion, led 31-0. It was then that Reich — who had been injured — came off the bench and led the comeback, pushing the Terrapins ahead with 5:29 left on a 68-yard tipped TD pass to Greg Hill. Maryland scored again to go ahead by eight, and in the end, it had to stop a Miami two-point conversion to hold on for the win. In its next game, Miami lost to Boston College on Doug Flutie’s classic Hail Mary.

Ohio State 41 Minnesota 37 1989

Deficit overcome 31

This was a memorable moment for Ohio State early in the tenure of John Cooper, amid an otherwise forgettable 8-4 season. Predictably, it was a sloppy game early, with Minnesota taking advantage of Buckeyes’ mistakes to build a 31-0 lead early in the second quarter. Ohio State got its scoring started with a fourth-down touchdown late in the first half, and the comeback began. Led by quarterback Greg Frey, the Buckeyes climbed all the way back to take a four-point lead, then fended off a Minnesota final drive that got all the way to the 22-yard line.

California 42 vs Oregon 41 1993

Deficit overcome 31 points

Oregon was still a year away from its breakthrough 1994 run to the Rose Bowl. In 1993, it limped to a 5-6 losing record thanks in part to a mammoth comeback by a California team that started the season 5-0 and was ranked No. 17. The Ducks led the Golden Bears 30-0, but the Golden Bears rallied back and went ahead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Dave Barr to Iheanyi Uwaezuoke with 1:17 to play, followed by a two-point conversion for the win.

Texas Tech 44 Minnesota 41 2006

Deficit overcome 31

Joel Monroe hit a 20-yard field goal to give Minnesota a 38-7 lead over Texas Tech with 7:47 left in the Insight Bowl. Of course, Mike Leach’s Red Raider offenses were always capable of scoring a ton of points in a hurry, and that’s exactly what happened. The Red Raiders scored four touchdowns, then got a 52-yard field goal from Alex Trlica as time expired in regulation to force OT. Minnesota settled for an OT field goal, and Shannon Woods scored Texas Tech’s winning touchdown. Minnesota fired coach Glen Mason two days later.

TCU 47 Oregon 41 2015

Deficit overcome 31

A wild Alamo Bowl featured an all-time great comeback and three overtimes. With TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin suspended, Oregon raced out to a 31-0 halftime lead. But Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams left the game with an injury, and Bram Kohlhausen led the Horned Frogs back. The Horned Frogs scored 31 straight points, including Jaden Oberkrom‘s 22-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to force overtime. The teams traded touchdowns in the first OT and field goals in the second. In the third, Kohlhausen scored on an eight-yard run, and the TCU defense came up with a fourth-down stop for the win.

UCLA 67 Washington State 63 2019

Deficit overcome 32 points

UCLA had trailed by as many as 32 points (49-17) in the third quarter before stringing together a remarkable comeback. The Bruins took the lead for good in the game’s final 70 seconds. Trailing by a 63-60 margin, UCLA forced a fumble with 2:27 to play and scored on a 15-yard completion from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Demetric Felton with 67 seconds remaining.

UCLA 45 Texas A&M 44 2017

Deficit overcome 34 points

UCLA could seemingly do nothing right for much of the game. After kicking a field goal on its first drive, the Bruins were plagued by fumbles and punts, as they couldn’t protect Josh Rosen and his receivers couldn’t get open. When they finally scored a touchdown with three minutes left in the second quarter, Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams responded with a 61-yard TD run on the Aggies’ next play. It was that kind of night for UCLA, which trailed 44-10 after two third-quarter Texas A&M field goals.

Rosen led the Bruins on five straight touchdown drives covering nearly 400 total yards, all in the last 19 minutes! There were no forced turnovers, just the defense coming up with stops (and a missed Aggies field goal). The final score went from Rosen to Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds left, and the Bruins stopped Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond just short of a first down on fourth down to finish off the win.

Michigan State 41 Northwestern 38 2006

Deficit overcome 35 points

The biggest comeback in college football history came at the expense of Northwestern. Both the Spartans and Wildcats finished 4-8. They nevertheless made history in Evanston, Ill., on Oct. 21, 2006. Northwestern went ahead 38-3 with 9:54 left in the third quarter. Michigan State somehow responded led by quarterback Drew Stanton, plus a blocked punt among the five touchdowns. With the game tied, Michigan State intercepted C.J. Bacher, setting up Brett Swenson’s 28-yard game-winning field goal to give the Spartans the win after trailing by 35.

The Final Word

In conclusion, this is a list of the best and the worst in college football.  That all depends on the color you might be wearing. Games like these are what college football is all about.

 

 

 

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