Was the Chris Davis return in the Auburn vs. Alabama Iron Bowl the greatest ending in college football history?

It may well be in some respects, given the context: you have a two-time defending champion, getting out-coached but still looking like they were headed to Atlanta for another SEC Championship and then probably on to another BCS Championship, and then suddenly you have the best coach of his era arguing for 1 more second on the clock, then bringing in a frosh kicker, then not setting up any type of defense or personnel to stop a huge return. It was all surreal, and it happened in only a few real-time minutes from start to finish. Even in the immediate aftermath, it was nearly impossible to process what happened. Paul Finebaum thinks it’s one of the best. So did Pat Forde:

(Forde also noted something cool in a different tweet: what some argue is the best college hoops game ever was Duke-Kentucky in 1992, i.e. the Laettner shot. That game, and last night’s Iron Bowl? Both called by Verne Lundquist. Kinda nuts.)

College football is great for a ton of reasons, a few of which I’ve attempted to discuss here and there on this site. One of them is that a tremendous college football ending, because of the fan bases, the passion, the likelihood you don’t have work the next day, and the fact that it often involves a no-name 19-year-old and not a millionaire, tops almost anything out there. There’s been a ton of crazy endings. Here’s a collection of a few that rival the 2013 Iron Bowl. I tried to keep these related to games with some kind of broader context; the Iron Bowl last night was fairly important as a rivalry game and a step in the BCS process, so picking a random mid-October game between two teams that ended up 6-6 that year wouldn’t really do anything justice. (I figure since this blog is called ‘The context of things,’ I should provide some context.) This isn’t in any kind of order except for the insanities of my own mind. If you like words more than moving images, read this.

I’d start here:

Vince Young’s pro career wasn’t what it was supposed to be, but … you’d be hard pressed to find a better ending than that, in such a monumental spot. No one was giving Texas a chance in that game. USC was a straight dynasty. But … no.

I can still remember almost everything about this drive. This is almost perfect college football: two storied programs, dusk beginning to fall in a classic stadium, a drive to stay No. 1…

I love Lundquist as much as the next fan of fall Saturdays, but Keith Jackson was the man.

I actually fell asleep before the end of this game and I haven’t forgiven myself since (going on seven years next month).

Iconic call. Iconic moment. In some ways this whole sequence personifies a good deal of what is great about fall Saturdays.

Same things I said about ND-USC: two iconic programs (OK, maybe 1.5), iconic moment, dusk falling, underdog QB, etc… everything you come to expect from the college game.

Possibly the greatest game ever played in Notre Dame Stadium, which says … a lot. 

I sometimes miss the days when all the important bowl games were clustered around Jan. 1 or Jan. 2. TV money changed everything.

The Miami-FSU rivalry wasn’t much this year (although the teams did enter both ranked in the top-10), but in coming years, it could really be something again.

Personally thought this was a boring game and the pass interference call was a little bullsh*t-ish, but the final 20 or so real-time minutes surrounding this game were pretty strong.

This was pretty much the last time Saban got beat on a true walk-off play, so it felt like a good wrap-up to this list.

I’ll probably do one or two more CFB posts this weekend leading into Championship Saturday. If there’s any notable things I missed above, definitely leave ’em in the comments.

Ted Bauer