Texas and USC pulled off the near impossible in the 2006 Rose Bowl — a game where performance actually topped incredible hype.
The setup had everything: Two of the most iconic programs in the sport, massive winning streaks, individual star power, Wild West vs. Hollywood, all in the grandest setting possible.
The game delivered on all accounts. The 3½-hour roller-coaster ride kept everyone glued to their seat. Not only did 93,986 attend, but it also was the most-watched college football game in at least 25 years.
Ranking the four best BCS title games:
1. 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
Two Heisman winners, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, helped the two-time defending national champs roll up 574 yards offense — and they still lost. The Trojans had their 34-game win streak snapped because Vince Young played one of the greatest games in the history of the sport, accounting for 467 yards (200 rushing) and capping it with an 8-yard dash on 4th-and-5 with 19 seconds left. Despite 1,130 total yards, 53 second-half points and 32 fourth-quarter points, it was a 4th-and-2 stop of LenDale White by the Longhorns defense that set up Young’s final heroics.
2. 2002 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (OT)
The seemingly invincible Hurricanes oozed with NFL talent, had won 34 straight and were 12-point favorites. Yet the Buckeyes, led by freshman phenom Maurice Clarett and aided by a controversial pass-interference call, pulled the stunning upset in what remains the only title game to go overtime. One forgotten fact: OSU’s defense stopped Miami four straight times after 1st-and-goal in the second OT.
3. 2014 Rose Bowl: Florida State 34, Auburn 31
The fourth quarter of the last BCS title game featured 31 points and three TDs in the final 4:31. It was nearly as good as Texas-USC. Kermit Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return gave the Seminoles a 27-24 lead. Tre Mason put the Tigers back ahead 31-27 with 1:19 left. But Heisman winner Jameis Winston had the last say, firing a TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin to win it with 13 seconds to play.
4. 2011 Fiesta Bowl: Auburn 22, Oregon 19
As close as this was, only the fourth quarter was compelling as two enormous offenses were stalled by unsung defenses. Heisman winner Cam Newton was held in check, but DT Nick Fairley was a beast for the Tigers. Game MVP Michael Dyer had the signature 37-yard run to set up Wes Bynum’s 19-yard FG as time expired.