In a league of football that has witnessed its fair share of intense blowouts and regular shutouts, it’s all the more impressive when a team can rally from behind to capture an unlikely victory. Here are five of the greatest comebacks in college football history.
5. Texas Tech vs. Minnesota: 44-41 (2006)
With 7:47 remaining in the Insight Bowl, Minnesota led Texas Tech by a seemingly insurmountable 38-7 edge. As remarkable as it was inconceivable, Mike Leach and the Red Raiders scored four unanswered touchdowns followed by a 52-yard field goal by kicker Alex Trlica to force overtime. Minnesota managed a field goal, but running back Shannon Woods trumped it with a touchdown to give the Raiders the Overtime win.
4. Ohio State vs. Minnesota: 41-37 (1989)
In a sloppy chain of mistakes and blundered scoring attempts, the Buckeyes faltered to a 31-point deficit behind the Golden Gophers. Down but not out, Ohio State scrambled to dig their away out of the hole starting with a fourth-down TD towards the end of the first half. Ushered by quarterback Greg Frey, the Bucks clawed their way to a four-point lead and warded off Minnesota’s late drive to maintain an extraordinary comeback victory.
3. UCLA vs. Texas A&M: 45-44 (2017)
Early in Game One of the 2017 season, the Bruins were cursed with a string of fumbles and punts, the offense was idle, and the weary defense couldn’t stop the Aggies’ rolling momentum. By the tail end of the third quarter, Texas A&M held a titanic 44-10 lead over UCLA. Yet somehow the Bruins ignited the fire they were missing. In the final 19 minutes, Josh Rosen led his team to five straight touchdowns, throwing for 292 yards in the fourth quarter alone. With only 43 seconds left, Rosen connected with Jordan Lasley for the game-winning TD.
2. Michigan State vs. Northwestern: 41-38 (2006)
With a 38-3 lead going into the second half, Northwestern had amassed a five-touchdown mountain over Michigan State. Yet as disheartened Spartans fans prepared to exit Ryan Field, miraculously, Michigan State began hacking away at the lead. Drive after drive, the Spartans scored four touchdowns and then blocked a punt return for the fifth tying TD. By the time 18 seconds remained on the clock, Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson lined up for a 28-yard field goal attempt, and the rest is history. The Spartans’ mammoth 35-point comeback stands as the largest point deficit overcome in college football history.
1. Maryland vs. Miami: 42-40 (1984)
Before he would spearhead the Buffalo Bills’ 38-35 comeback win over the Houston Oilers, the king of comebacks, Frank Reich, harnessed his come-from-behind talents as Maryland’s backup quarterback. At the start of the second half against Miami, the Hurricanes controlled a 31-0 lead over the Terrapins and were gearing towards a shutout. Maryland head coach Bobby Ross benched starting quarterback Stan Gelbaugh in favor of Reich, who rallied the Terrapins to a 35-34 lead. Miami was stunned but wouldn’t go down without a fight. Quarterback Bernie Kosar connected with receiver Eddie Brown for a five-yard touchdown pass that cut Maryland’s lead to 42-40. However, the Hurricanes’ 2-point conversion attempt would be denied by defensive back Keeta Covington who stopped running back Melvin Bratton short of the goal line to preserve one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history.