All week, Sports on Earth counted down the 100 best college football games in history, a select group of memorable classics noteworthy for their importance, quality, close scores and/or exciting finishes. Of course, for as many great games as there are on a weekly basis, there are also plenty of games that make viewers shake their head. Whether it's sloppy play, ineffective offense or lopsided final scores, some games are so unwatchable that that they somehow become watchable. We can't look away.
Over time, no matter how ugly or lopsided, many of these games become endearing to remember. So, we pick college football's most unwatchable games not necessarily to chastise them. As we said when Wake Forest beat Boston College 3-0 in 2015, these are the best worst games. They've lovable in their own way … at least for those who didn't pay money to attend them.
Just missed the cut
- Oregon State 3, Pittsburgh 0; 2008. This Sun Bowl doesn't require much explanation.
- UConn 7, Tulane 3; 2015. Each team had nine first downs, and the only touchdown came on a 67-yard interception return.
- Florida State 24, Wichita State 0, 1969. The season-opener featured a record 17 lost fumbles -- 10 by Wichita State and seven by Florida State -- and 20 total turnovers.
- N.C. State 13, Virginia 0, 1944. The AP referred to the game as the "Battle of Mud," a rain-soaked, sloppy matchup in which N.C. State set the record for fewest yards (10) and first downs (0) by a winning team, recovering two fumbles in the end zone for TDs.
- Arkansas State 3, Florida Atlantic 0; 2005. With zero points in regulation, Arkansas State won on a 21-yard field goal in OT.
10. Michigan 78, Rutgers 0
Oct. 8, 2016; Piscataway, N.J.
Oklahoma 77, Texas A&M 0
Nov. 8, 2003; Norman, Okla.
In the past decade, Michigan has lost at home to an FCS team and went on the road and beat a Big Ten opponent like it's supposed to beat an FCS team. Actually, it was far worse than what's supposed to happen against an FCS team. It was bizarrely difficult to look away from last year's Michigan-Rutgers game, a matchup so lopsided that Rutgers was lucky to lose by only 78. Rutgers did not get a first down until the fourth quarter and finished with two. It completed 2 of 18 passes for five yards. Including sacks, it rushed 36 times for 34 yards, while Michigan had 481 rushing yards. Rutgers punted 16 times, more than any team in a single game since at least 2000.
Amazingly, it was only one point worse than what then-No. 1 Oklahoma did to Texas A&M in 2003. Here's how bad things were for Texas A&M: Oklahoma did not score a point in the fourth quarter. It was 77-0 after three quarters. Oklahoma's official website explained the details: "Texas A&M had more penalty yards (63) than offensive yards (54) and more punts (12) than first downs (3), none in the second half." During a Heisman campaign, Oklahoma QB Jason White completed 16 of 18 passes for 263 yards and five TDs.
9. Wake Forest 6, Virginia Tech 3
Nov. 22, 2014; Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest 3, Boston College 0
Oct. 10, 2015; Chestnut Hill, Mass.
It's the game that gave us the image of legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer raising his arms in triumph just as the 0-0 end-of-regulation score was shown on TV.
In a scoreless, mistake-filled game, Wake Forest actually put together a drive to go for the win, but it missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired, its third missed kick of the game. The Demon Deacons lost six yards on their OT possession but made a 49-yard field goal, and the Hokies answered with a 28-yarder. In the second OT, Virginia Tech lost 10 yards and missed a 53-yard kick. Wake Forest's Mike Weaver subsequently made a winning 39-yarder. A double-OT game managed just nine total points, and this also turned out to be one of the games involved in the infamous "WakeyLeaks" scandal in which a Demon Deacons radio announcer passed confidential game plan information to opposing teams.
Less than 11 months after its infamous 0-0 game in regulation, Wake Forest managed to win another ACC game without scoring a touchdown, a baffling game at Boston College that neither team seemed to want to win. The only points in the game came after Wake Forest recovered a fumble at the five-yard line, lost two yards and kicked a field goal in the third quarter. Wake Forest (five) had 13 fewer first downs than Boston College (18), but the Eagles' drives ended in three fumbles, an interception, two missed field goals and eight punts. Wake Forest punted 10 times.
The final sequence was mind-boggling: After driving 45 yards, Boston College fumbled on the eight-yard line. Wake Forest fumbled on third down at the 11-yard line with 56 seconds left. Boston College ran to the one, but after another run, the clock was running as buddies were untangled and the clock ran out before the Eagles could spike it. Game over.
8. Iowa 6, Penn State 4
Oct. 23, 2004; State College, Pa.
Penn State's run of four losing records in five seasons hit a low point in Happy Valley in the middle of the 2004 season -- against an Iowa team in its third straight top-10 season. Every stereotype of outdated Big Ten football was involved here. The teams combined had 16 first downs, 315 total yards and seven turnovers. These were excellent defenses -- Penn State went 4-7 despite never allowing more than 21 points -- but Penn State's only points came on a safety 1:21 into the game and an intentional safety with over eight minutes left with Iowa punting from its own end zone. Rather than give Penn State good field position with a four-point lead, Iowa was more comfortable with avoiding the risk of a blocked punt and giving the ball to Penn State at its own 34-yard line down by two, after it had already missed a 25-yard field goal. Penn State threw an interception on its next play.
7. Miami 2, Oregon 0
Dec. 6, 1958; Miami, Fla.
Oregon, which became a national power known for its fast-paced offense capable of racking up a ton of points, holds a strange distinction: It played in the last 0-0 game. And, according to the scores on Sports-Reference, it also played in the most recent 2-0 game: a loss to Miami in front of 22,989 fans at the Orange Bowl stadium. The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Oregon had two touchdowns taken off the board because of penalties. The only points came in the third quarter, when a Miami punt pinned the Ducks on their own one-yard line and got the safety. Miami lost four fumbles, and Oregon frequently squandered opportunities and threw four interceptions.
6. Utah State 5, Ohio 0
Sept. 17, 1994; Athens, Ohio
Early in a 0-11 season in which it failed to score more than 16 points, Ohio was shut out at home by Utah State, which went 3-8 and also won a game against Louisiana Tech 7-3. According to the Akron Beacon-Journal, Ohio crossed midfield twice. When it got as far as the Utah State 35, it had to punt. In front of a crowd of 5,940 on a rainy day, Utah State won with a 45-yard field goal in the first quarter and a safety in the second quarter. The Aggies' starting quarterback? Current head coach Matt Wells.
This wasn't actually the most recent game in which the winning team scored five points: In lousy weather in 1995, Michigan beat Purdue 5-0. But extra credit goes to Ohio-Utah State game for being played amid a winless Bobcats season.
5. Alabama 21, LSU 0
Jan. 9, 2012; New Orleans, La.; BCS National Championship
Two of the most talented teams in college football history managed to score a total of one touchdown in over 120 minutes of play against each other during the 2011 season. The November Game of the Century was at least close; in what seemed to be a national title play-in game, LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime, winning a field-goal contest. Because of Oklahoma State's upset loss at Iowa State, Alabama was given a rematch with LSU for the national title.
The result was an unwatchable, dominant revenge game from Alabama, and LSU hasn't been the same since. The Crimson Tide won 21-0 … but 15 of their points came on field goals, as Jeremy Shelley went 5-for-7. LSU didn't even enter Alabama territory until midway through the fourth quarter. When it finally did, it lost a fumble that led to Alabama's Trent Richardson scoring a 34-yard touchdown, the first TD in over 115 minutes of play between the two teams. LSU had five first downs, two turnovers and 92 total yards, rendering its regular-season win over Alabama meaningless.
Alabama, of course, deserves a ton of credit for one of the most dominant defensive performances in championship history. But it was also the most unwatchable BCS national championship, and its lackluster qualities are magnified by the high stakes and the fact that it was a rematch of a touchdown-less game.
4. Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2
Sept. 13, 2008; Starkville, Miss.
Auburn was ranked No. 9 at the time, but perhaps this game should have been a sign of what was to come. Mississippi State went 4-8, in Sylvester Croom's final season. Auburn ended up falling to 5-7, in Tommy Tuberville's final season. The two teams punted on the first nine possessions, before Auburn made a field goal midway through the second quarter. The teams combined to miss their other three field goal attempts and ultimately had a total of 17 punts. Mississippi State's only points came with 7:06 left in the game, when the Tigers were called for holding in the end zone, resulting in a safety. Following the safety, the game ended with two Mississippi State turnovers on downs and one fumble, plus two Auburn fumbles before it ran out the clock.
3. Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland 0
Oct. 7, 1916; Atlanta, Ga.
Cumberland was not supposed to play a game in 1916. It had disbanded its football team. But it had a contract to play Georgia Tech, and Georgia Tech coach John Heisman would not let Cumberland out of the game. Heisman had motives: He wanted revenge, after Cumberland crushed Georgia Tech in baseball with the help of ringers. Cumberland had to hastily assemble something resembling a football team to make the trip to Atlanta. Heisman and Georgia Tech, a dominant team in a run of three seasons without a loss, showed no mercy. The Yellow Jackets scored at least 42 points in every quarter, including 63 in each of the first two. It will forever be the biggest blowout in the history of college football.
2. Oregon 0, Oregon State 0
Nov. 19, 1983; Eugene, Ore.
Cherish it forever: The last game that ended in a 0-0 tie, something that's now impossible with the current overtime system. Infamously known as the Toilet Bowl, this edition of the Civil War rivalry featured 4-6 Oregon and 2-8 Oregon State, which had won a total of three games in the previous four seasons. On a windy, rainy day at Autzen Stadium, Oregon and Oregon State combined for six lost fumbles and five interceptions, plus four missed field goals. The good news for the Beavers was that it broke a streak of eight straight Oregon wins in the rivalry. The bad news, beyond playing in one of the ugliest games ever, was that it lost the next four games, too.
1. Texas Tech 0, Centenary 0
Nov. 11, 1939; Shreveport, La.
It takes a special kind of 0-0 tie from the early days of football to make this list. After all, 0-0 games weren't uncommon, and neither was excessively conservative punting. But the details of this rainy game between the Red Raiders and the Gents are truly spectacular. Believe it or not, lots of details are available: the Shreveport Times devoted several page columns to the play-by-play and statistics of the game.
The game was the banner headline of the front page, too, with a subhead of: "Punting Duel Is Staged on Muddy Field." The newspaper reported a record-low attendance of fewer than 1,000 people in the lousy weather.
Found on Newspapers.com
The Times reported that the game featured only 28 plays, although the NCAA counts 33 for 30 yards, with Texas Tech -- which went to the Cotton Bowl the previous year -- finishing with -1 yard. The ball was fumbled on 14 of these plays. One of the only compliments the Times game story could provide was that there were merely two penalties.
Most importantly, there were SEVENTY-SEVEN PUNTS, which, of course, still stands as an NCAA record. In fact, there were so many punts that it was impossible to keep track. The Shreveport Times cited 78. The AP said 75. The NCAA record book also says that Texas Tech's Charlie Calhoun punted 33 times on first down, with 36 total punts covering 1,318 yards, and that in total the game featured 67 first-down punts.
The play-by-play and statistics are spectacular to behold:
Found on Newspapers.com
Found on Newspapers.com
May the legacy of this game live on forever. On second thought, we'll take 3-2 or 6-4 any day.