Over the next few weeks, ESPNU will be televising, countdown fashion, the 25 best college football games of 2013. The list of games that are ranked 25 through 6 was determined by ESPN brass and has been released. The top five will be determined by fan vote among ESPN's choice of contestants: Auburn-Alabama, Auburn-Georgia, Florida State-Auburn, Ohio St.-Michigan, and Texas A&M-Duke.
South Carolina's epic comeback victory over Missouri came in at seven on the list, and some Carolina fans might be wondering why this incredible game wasn't ranked higher. After all, the game had it all. It was a game of consequence in the SEC East between two ranked teams. The Gamecocks needed an injured Connor Shaw to come in and play the game of his life to bring the Gamecocks back from a substantial deficit and force overtime. During the first overtime, Shaw forced a second overtime with a long TD pass to Bruce Ellington on fourth down. The game would end up coming down to a shanked Mizzou FG that ended the game with a Carolina victory. Both teams would end their seasons very well, demonstrating that they were indeed excellent teams who had been well-matched when they played.
Does this game deserve to be ranked among the top five? If it were to replace any of the choices for top five, I think it would likely have to be Texas A&M-Duke, possibly Ohio St.-Michigan. I won't even try to compare it to Auburn-'Bama or Auburn-UGA. It's extremely rare to see games like these in the first place, and when you throw in the fact that these were highly consequential games from both conference and national standpoints and that they were installments in legendary rivalry series, with Auburn-'Bama arguably being the nation's premier rivalry, you just have to shake your head and wonder how these two games were won by a single team in a single season.
FSU-Auburn wasn't quite as dramatic as Auburn-UGA or Auburn-'Bama, but it was an excellent football game featuring a comeback led by the Heisman Trophy winner. This one also gets points for being a competitive national title game when it's become the norm for the title game to be decided in blowout fashion.
Ohio St.-Michigan wasn't as consequential given Michigan's lackluster season, but it was the best recent installment in a storied rivalry and featured a memorable ending when Brady Hoke played for the win instead of the tie but lost the gamble. Carolina's win over Mizzou was more consequential and arguably almost as dramatic, but when I think about it objectively, the rivalry factor and the way the game ended put OSU-Michigan over the top in the comparison. Carolina has an argument here, though, especially when you consider that both Carolina and Mizzou were much better than Michigan. Heck, they were likely better than OSU, too, when you consider that Carolina beat Clemson, who beat Ohio St.
The game on the top-five list that I'm least enamored with is Texas A&M-Duke. Make no mistake, this was a fun game to watch, with Johnny Football making tons of great plays to lead a comeback win over the Blue Devils. My concern with this game is that it's largely on the list because of Manziel's star power. Neither of these two teams had seasons comparable to Carolina, Mizzou, Auburn, Alabama, or Ohio St., and that definitely takes away from the game in my view. Moreover, while the TAMU comeback was great, TAMU had to play exceptionally poorly to get in the hole in the first place. The game strikes me as much as a prime example of what can happen when you pair two teams with great offenses and no defenses up as it does of a truly great game between good, well-matched teams. I think Carolina's win over Mizzou was a better game than TAMU-Duke, but I suspect ESPN chose the latter game in order to cash in on Manziel's ability to bring in viewers.
What does the GABA community think?