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4/08/2008 01:08:00 PM
Down-to-the-wire title games
If Vince Young was able to run past USC in the last minute of the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Harry How/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
If you fell asleep last night, did you ever miss out. Kansas looked over matched by Memphis for much of the night, but the Jayhawks came alive down the stretch to tie the game and then win in overtime. It was an exciting, compelling game, even for casual fans because there was so much on the line. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's unforgettable. Here are my top five exciting finishes with a Championship on the line…
1) 2006 Rose Bowl -- Two undefeated teams, Texas and USC, squared off in an offensive shootout. Matt Leinart took a break from partying to help USC come back from a halftime deficit, but Vince Young marched Texas down the field. On fourth down with the clock running out, he ran the ball in for the winning score and the BCS trophy.
2) 1983 NCAA Championship -- Twenty-five years ago, the NC State Wolfpack sparred with Houston in the NCAA Title game. The well-known Phi Slamma Jamma dunking fraternity at Houston was favored against State, who'd finished the year in the middle of the ACC, but a last-second dunk by Lorenzo Charles pushed NC State into the history books.
3) Game 7, 1991 World Series -- No, not just because this involved my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Four of the seven games in this series went down to the final at bat, and in the deciding game seven, Minnesota's Gene Larkin blooped a hit in the bottom of the tenth to score Dan Gladden and break a 0-0 tie, giving the Twins the Series championship. (P.S.: Kent Hrbek cheated.)
4) Super Bowl XXXIV -- The Rams and Titans each finished the season with 13-3 records. Kurt Warner and Steve McNair led their respective franchises to the title game. With the Super Bowl on the line and the Titans down by a score, McNair hit Kevin Dyson with a short pass near the end zone. Dyson stretched for the goal line and was tackled one yard shy of the goal line by (who?) Mike Jones as time ran out and the Rams won.
5) Game 7, 1988 NBA Finals -- The Lakers and Pistons had played a hard-fought six games, including Isiah Thomas's legendary game six (Zeke had 43 points and 8 assists despite a badly sprained ankle). In game seven, the Lakers overcame a halftime deficit, only to see the Pistons cut it to one before ultimately falling short. James Worthy finished this game with 37 points, 16 boards and 10 assists.
What was the most exciting finish to a championship game? Let us know below…
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
This may be a little biased as I do live in Canada but I think the Blue Jays 1993 championship over the Phillies was a better finish then the Twins/Braves finish in 90'. A whole country rose to its feets and partied all night long when after Joe Carter took Mitch Williams deep.
What about the Champions league final in 1999 wen Man u were losing 1-0 to bayern munich wit about 3minutes to go(actual 3mins clock doesnt stop) nd teddy sheringham nd ole soljskar both scored 2 win it 4 united was epic
1999 National Championship- Connecticut 77 Duke 74. UConn wins a thriller that comes down to the final play. Super Bowl 36- Patriots 20 Rams 17 Pats Vinatieri FG as time expires. 2001 World Series- D-Backs upset Yankees on Gonzalez flare, Yanks win three amazing games in Bronx after 9/11
Boise State vs. Oklahoma--David vs. Goliath--BSU looses the game they deserved to win on a late interception touchdown...that is until they hook-and-ladder their way into overtime as time expires and then statue of liberty themselves a 1 point victory. I'm a fan of neither team, but it was the most entertaining game I've ever seen. [I guess it doesn't quite fit "title" game status, but there's so much arbitration in choosing which two-loss team plays for the national championship that there really is no true "title" game in college football most years.]
1986 National Championship PSU vs. Miami. To this day the most watched college football game ever has to be on this list. Heisman quarterback Vinny Testaverde leading the heavily favored Hurricanes down the feild with less than a minute to go and the Nattany Lions pick the Heisman for the 5th time to win the game.
Most people do not count this game as one of the classics, but the 94 Orange Bowl between Florida St and Nebraska had one of the most exciting finishes I can remember.At the end of one of the most controversial and worst officiated title games ever, Nebraska(a huge underdog) had made a couple of big plays to get in position for a field goal on the last play of the game, after the officials screwed around for five minutes trying to figure out where to spot the ball and get the Florida St players off of the field. Nebraska shanked the field goal, but what a wild and crazy finish to a wild and crazy championship game.
I'm going to echo the OSU/Miami game as superior to the UT/USC game. The media seems to have a love affair with that game. Yes, it was a hell of a finish. But OSU/Miami had it all. It had the two undefeated teams, plus the david v goliath mentality. It had amazing plays, such as Clarett's strip of sean taylor after an interception, and controversial palys, the pass intereference. It had unsung heros, such as craig krenzel, and star power, such as dorsey and mcGahee. And it all came down to a goal line stand from one of the greatest defensive units (as a unit, not individuals) ever. I was there, and those last four plays was the most intense series of football I have ever witnessed. That, my friend, was down-to-the-wire.
Kent Hrbek did not Cheat, he is simply one with nature, which is cleary shown on his TV Show Kent Hrbek Outdoors. O, and any Twins fan that owns the 1991 Worlds Series Video knows that we had the power of Chuck Knoblauch's sisters, who had the some wicked late 80's early 90's haircuts.
1997 world series game 7. extra innings marlins over the indians. craig counsell scores on a base hit up the middle just past the glove of the pitcher by a young edgar renteria to give livan hernandez the mvp
Yes. Hrbek cheated. No amount of Prairie Home Companion shows can cover up the stain upon Minnesota, home of the World Champion Cheaters and their most valuable cheater, Hrbek. I'll cheer on the Gophers. I will cross-country ski with Minnesotans. I will give heartfelt sympathy to the families of the victims of the bridge collapse. But, I will hold Hrbek accountable for cheating and demand the same from any and all Twins fans. The stain will never wash out. Do you hear, Minnesota?
am i the only one who thinks the ND?USC matchup in '05 defintely belongs on this list it came down to the last seconds of 9ND upseting 1USC and Matt Leinart was stopped at the goal line but Reggie Bush pushed him over illegaly
OSU Miami game over Texas and USC?? Ohio State won that game due to one of the most questionable calls ever in a situation like that, that game was crap and no i am not a miami fan, VY vs the almighty USC going down to the wire will be remembered as one of the greatest college football games ever
2006 UCLA vs. USC Battle for L.A. USC enters the game with hopes of going to the national title. 3rd down at the end of the 4th quarter, and trailing 13-9 on the UCLA 19 yard line, USC's John David Booty is picked off by UCLA's Eric McNeal. UCLA not only prevents USC from another shot at the National Title, they keep USC from tying their own record of 8 consecutive wins against cross-town rival in one of the most epic Battle-for-Los Angeles games. Final score UCLA 13 USC 9.
What about the catch - Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. Or the Drive that Joe Montana lead against Cinncinati in the super bowel, or even John Elway leading the game wining drive in the AFC championship game against the Browns
Directed toward 'Anonymouse' with the prairie home companion statement. In my opinion Hrbek did NOT cheat, Gant just needed to beef up like old Hrby. Looks like the boys in Midwest will always push around ya Southern Belles. O in the words of Nelson Muntz, Ha Ha.
"Kansas looked over matched by Memphis for much of the night"? What game was Mr. Whitaker watching? Memphis owned the last part of the second half until the collapse, but it was Kansas had their runs as well. Evenly played game overall.
Ohio State vs. Miami is the greatest championship game ever. People only look at the controvery and they don't look at the fact that Ohio State outplayed Miami in every facet of the game. Ohio State made so many clutch plays.
Minnesota hears you...and understands that you are not very bright. This blog is regarding "down-to-the-wire title games" where in no way did Hrbek cheat. Therefore, let your bitterness go and find some place to take a few breaths and relax. Maybe the Prarie Home Companion would be good for you. '91 Series is by far the greatest title game!!!
The 1960 World Series was the best finish to a baseball Championship. As a kid it was the first time I saw an entire world series. The favorite to win were the NY Yankees. The upstart Pittsburgh Pirates were the classic underdogs. Game 7 went back and forth with both teams taking turns with the lead. Pirates won it with a dramatic home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Cubs can only dream of this kind of a finish.
What about the College World Series of '96... Down 8-7, LSU's Warren Morris hits a walk-off home run with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth to win the national championship over Miami. It still remains the only walk off home run to win the championship in college baseball history.
91 World Series by far! Extra-innings, complete game by Jack Morris, worst-to-first, am i missing anything? game 7 was surpassed in this series only by game 6. GO TWINS!! GREATEST WORLD SERIES OF ALL TIME!!
Hrbek cheated. The pitching in that game was sensational - Smoltz vs his boyhood idol - Jack Morris.
Lonnie Smith made a blunder, but the twinkies had their chances to win the game also. Considering the Braves had sucked so badly for so long before '91, it was a great series for Braves fans(twinkies had won the series a few years back - '87?).
Not a title game, per se, but the NLCS in '92 with the Braves down with two outs into the bottom of the 9th - Francisco Cabrera hits the single which (small-headed) Bonds has to field and throw home - Rafael belliard and Sid Bream (bad knees and all) racing around 3rd and sliding into home just before the throw to Spanky - Braves win 3-2. Pandemonium at the stadium that night. Still a great memory.
I know soccer isnt the most popular sport in the USA but a classic was played today in soccer. One of the best endings you will ever see in soccer. Go watch the highlights of the Bayern Munich-Getafe match UEFA cup match. Bayern Munich was down 1-0 and scored the tying goal in the 90 th minute. Then they were down 3-1 in overtime and came back to win the game.
2 overtimes in a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- enough said. OSU/Miami was a title game college football was waiting for and it delivered on the highest stage. OSU was a clear underdog and Miami was going for back-to-back national titles. Oh, and the game was decided in double overtime!
Texas over usc is easily the best game ever. Sure osu and miami was good, but c'mon it was too controversial. The only things that people will take from that game are when Mgahee got hurt (One of the worst injuries i've seen) and the 5 sec delay of the Back Judge reaching for his flag.
The Rose Bowl was truly an upset, do you remember how ESPN and everyone fell in love with usc having anointed them the greatest team ever!! Putting usc against the greatest teams in college football history. And nobody really even gave Texas a chance. But that was just fine for them, b/c man did they come to play. They held reggie in check for the most part, he turned the corner once on us and got a TD, Lendale gashed Texas over and over. VY took all that frustration out on usc, that he had after getting shafted by the Downtown athletic club. (He struck the Heisman pose with the crystal football!! GREATNESS!!) And lets not forget about the 4th and 2!! Texas's D came to play and proved it there, Michael Huff wasn't supposed to fill that gap, but he did!!! And it was huge, best game ever!!! Oh yea and then there was VY turning the corner for the game winning TD! Oh yea and when Leinart was asked after the game if he still thought usc was the best team...he had the nerve to say yes!?!?! LOL
The 1984 Orange Bowl where top ranked and undefeated Nebraska came all the way back from 17 pts down without a passing game, running the Fumblerooski for a TD along the way (incredible!), to finally tie the game with a last minute TD on 4th and 8 on the 24 yd line on an option pitch from QB Turner Gill to their backup I-back Jeff Smith (Heisman winner Mike Rozier got hurt midway through the game). All Tom Osborne had to do was kick the extra point to win the national championship but he chose to go for 2 and failed, losing 31-30.
That said, the 1983 NC State basketball team's run through the NCAA tournament capped off by the last second dunk was the most incredible unbelievable championship ever. You have to watch all their tournament games to fully appreciate how many times they came back from certain defeat to somehow pull out a victory. I'm still looking for a copy of their first round game vs. Pepperdine where they somehow managed to force OT down 6 pts with about 30 seconds left, a Pepperdine 85% FT shooter at the line for 2 FTs, and no 3-pt shot!
Last season's Rockies-Padres playoff game. Whether or not Holliday got a full touch of the plate isn't the issue -- the ump said he did (and I'm not a Rockies fan...). But it was truly a fantastic game that had the extra inning comeback and the continuing miracle run by the underdogs.
The 2006 AFC Divional Playoff game feat. the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. The Indianapolis Colts.
If you're a true Steelers' fan, or just a fan of football period, tell me you almost didn't have a heart-attack when Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line and Nick Harper almost ran it back for the touchdown.
Thank God for Ben Roethlisberger and his season-saving tackle.
Then, when Mike Vanderjagt lined up for the field goal to tie the game, it was all I could do not to keep screaming "MISS IT!!!"
And he did.
Seriously, though, that was a nail-biter for the ages. I really thought the Steelers were going to lose that game.