The Most Tragic Losses in College Football History


College football is a beloved tradition in the United States. Fans from all over the US flock to stadiums every Saturday during the fall to watch their favorite teams compete. While there have been many memorable and exciting games over the years, there have also been some heartbreaking losses that will forever be remembered.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the five most tragic losses in college football history. These are games that fans will never forget, and they continue to haunt those involved to this day. Here are five of the most tragic losses in college football history:

1. Oklahoma Losing to Notre Dame in 1957 Ending a Winning Streak

Crushing defeat shattered Oklahoma's dynastic 47-game winning streak when they lost to Notre Dame in 1957. Oklahoma had gone an undefeated season since 1953 and was looking to win their third consecutive national title. However, the Fighting Irish gave them a shock in the form of a 7-0 defeat. During a nail-biting matchup against Notre Dame, Dick Lynch scored a touchdown with mere minutes left on the clock that ultimately secured the Irish victory. Devastated fans of Oklahoma tearfully lingered in their seats for half an hour after the game had concluded.

2. Nebraska’s Heartbreaking Loss in the 1996 Orange Bowl

The Nebraska Cornhuskers faced off against Florida State in the 1996 Orange Bowl for the National Championship title. After leading much of the game, they ultimately fell 18-16 in a heartbreaking loss. With 1:50 left on the clock, the Seminoles intercepted Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier’s pass and ran for a touchdown to seal the win. This game has since become known as “The Game of the Century," and it remains one of college football's most famous losses.

3. 2003 Fiesta Bowl Controversial Pass Interference on Glen Sharpe

In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl matchup between Ohio State and Miami, Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Glen Sharpe was called for a pass interference penalty with only seconds left on the clock.The clock was winding down in overtime as Miami and Ohio State battled for a win. With only one fourth-down play left, Craig Krenzel chucked the ball…only to have it slip right through Chris Gamble's hands! The Hurricanes thought they had secured their victory, but then the refs called a pass interference penalty on Glen Sharpe.

The call allowed the Hurricanes to tie the game and eventually win in a second overtime. While some experts argued that the penalty was justified, many still believe it was a terrible call that changed the outcome of the game.

4. Michigan’s Loss to Appalachian State in 2007

In 2007, one of college football's most iconic teams was stunned by a tiny Division I-AA program from Appalachia, who beat them 34-32.

Sportsbooks were so certain of Michigan's victory over Appalachian State in their football game that no betting line was established. This FBS vs. FCS matchup usually results in overwhelming wins for the former and it looked like this one would follow suit, especially since the battle marked the debut of Big Ten Network. Appalachian State put on an impressive show in the first half, taking a 28-17 lead into halftime. Michigan managed to overtake the Mountaineers 32–31 by the fourth quarter, yet Appalachian would not be deterred and rallied back with 26 seconds left to retake their advantage through a short field goal. The defense then stepped up when it mattered most and blocked Michigan's potential game-winning kick as time expired - leaving them triumphant at 34–32!

This college football game ended in a shocking upset that was considered one of the greatest in sports history and served as a warning that teams should never underestimate their opponents. The upset shocked the college football world and will be remembered as one of the most stunning losses of all time.


5. Stanford Losing to Cal in 1982 “The Play”In 1982

California's Golden Bears faced off against Stanford at their annual Big Game rivalry. What started out as a seemingly average game quickly turned into one of the most talked-about games in college football history. The teams were tied at 20 with four seconds left on the clock when Cal's Kevin Moen got a hold of a lateral pass from teammate Richard Rodgers and ran it for an astonishing 57-yard touchdown. Stanford players stopped chasing Moen just one step before the goal line, allowing him to score and seal Cal's stunning victory.This game is now known as "The Play," and it remains one of the most memorable losses in college football history. The call was so controversial that Stanford refused to attend a post-game event with their hosts and even threatened legal action against the referees.

6. Coach Bobby Bowden's Famous "Wide Right" Loss at Florida State

For almost 30 years, Coach Bobby Bowden reigned as the head coach of Florida State's Seminoles. FSU was a perennial powerhouse under his leadership - until 1991 when they played Miami for the national championship. The game went down to the wire and with 18 seconds left on the clock, Florida State was trailing 17-16. They had a chance to win with a field goal, however, the kick by Gerry Thomas sailed just wide of the right upright - "wide right". The loss dashed FSU's hopes of a national championship and it has come to be known as one of the biggest heartbreaks in college football.

7. Miami's Defeat by Boston College in 1984

The Miami Hurricanes were a powerhouse in the early 1980s, having won two national championships and a remarkable 58 straight games. However, their longest winning streak came to an end in 1984 when they faced off against Boston College. The Eagles shocked the world by completing an improbable 47-45 comeback victory against the heavily favored Hurricanes.

Boston College scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning two-point conversion with just 47 seconds remaining. The Hurricanes had one last chance to win but their field goal attempt was blocked, sealing the Eagles' victory and ending Miami's remarkable winning streak. This loss stunned college football fans around the world and has been remembered as one of the depressing losses in the sport's history.

8. Ann Arbor Miracle in 1994

In 1994, the Michigan Wolverines and Colorado Buffaloes met in an epic showdown. With just seconds remaining and trailing 26-21, Michigan quarterback Brian Griese launched a Hail Mary pass downfield that was caught by receiver Mercury Hayes for a miraculous touchdown - giving the Wolverines a 27-26 victory. This moment has been dubbed the "Ann Arbor Miracle" and it remains one of the most thrilling endings in college football history. Michigan was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and they celebrated their improbable win with a wild on-field celebration that will forever be remembered by Wolverines fans. On the other hand, their victory spelled heartbreak for Colorado's Buffaloes, who had been so close to an upset win.


9. Michigan State vs. Penn State College Football Game in 2005

In 2005, the Michigan Wolverines and Penn State Nittany Lions squared off in one of college football's most memorable games. The game was a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire with the teams tied at 17 in the fourth quarter. Penn State had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth but kicker Kevin Kelly missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with just four seconds remaining.

Michigan then got the ball back and kicker Garrett Rivas managed to make a 41-yard field goal as time expired. The kick was good enough to give the Wolverines an exhilarating 20-17 game winning touchdown, sending their fans into a frenzy and leaving Penn State's players and fans in despair. The game was a classic and it remains one of the most talked-about games in college football history.

10. LSU Losing to Alabama in 2011

In 2011, the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide faced off in a game that was dubbed "The Game of the Century." This matchup featured two undefeated teams with national title aspirations. The Crimson Tide team was favored by 10 points at home but it didn't matter as both teams fought tooth-and-claw for four quarters.

In the final play, Alabama pulled off the 9-6 victory in overtime thanks to a field goal by kicker Cade Foster. The game was one of the most intense and dramatic matchups in college football and it also marked an emotional loss for LSU - one that will be remembered by Tigers fans for years to come. Despite their loss, the game showcased LSU's strength and determination and helped them become a powerhouse in the college football world.



College football has witnessed some incredible games and finishes throughout the years. From Miami's heartbreaking loss to Boston College to Michigan's miraculous Hail Mary touchdown, these moments and greatest upsets have been etched into college football folklore forever. Not only do these stories provide us with thrilling entertainment, but they also provide us with important lessons and themes that remind us of the power of sport.

Whether it's a miraculous comeback or an emotional loss, college football has given us some of the most memorable stories in history. These incredible games have been remembered by generations, and they will continue to be celebrated in the future.

Back to blog
Leave a Reply
Connect with us
Recent Posts