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The Recent History of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the College Football Regular Season

With an eye toward No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa, here’s a look at the last 7 regular season college football meetings between No. 1 and No. 2.

Nov. 18, 2006 No. 1 Ohio State def. No. 2 Michigan 42-39

The Buckeyes won a memorable shootout the day after legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler died. There were 900 yards of total offense, each team had a running back rush for over 100 yards, and the game wasn’t decided until Ted Ginn recovered an onside kick attempt by the Wolverines after Chad Henne’s TD pass cut the game to 42-39 with two minutes left. Something to remember – a lot of people thought these two teams should have played in a rematch for the National title. But Ohio State wound up playing Florida instead, and in the game I think started the “SEC Speed” mantra, the Buckeyes got steamrolled, 41-14. The OSU offensive juggernaut could muster just 82 yards of total offense, and only lead 7-0 when Ted Ginn ran the opening kick back for a TD (he got hurt celebrating on the play). Smith, who had won the Heisman, was just 4-of-14 for 35 yards and was intercepted.

Sept. 9, 2006 No. 1 Ohio State def. No. 2 Texas 24-7

Early-season showdown was kind of boring. Troy Smith threw two TD passes – including one to Ted Ginn in the final minute of the first half – and Colt McCoy and Texas struggled. You probably remember these two standout backs from this game: Jamaal Charles (113 total yards) and Beanie Wells. Troy Smith went on to win the Heisman trophy.

Nov. 30, 1996 No. 2 Florida State def. No. 1 Florida 24-21

FSU’s stout defense – led by Daryl Bush, Peter Boulware, Andre Wadsworth, Sam Cowart and Samari Rolle – beat the hell out of Danny Wuerffel (he threw for 362 yards but completed less than 50 percent of his passes and was picked three times) and won at Doak Campbell.

Nov. 13, 1993 No. 2 Notre Dame def. No. 1 Florida State 31-24

Fondly remember watching this epic game in my basement. It was billed as the “Game of the Century” and Gameday made its first trip to South Bend. Lee Becton was Notre Dame’s workhorse running back who features prominently in the video below. Charlie Ward was the FSU QB who tried to rally the ‘Noles from a 14-point deficit in the final two minutes. Check out this incredible 4th and 20 TD pass to draw FSU within 7.

Ward’s last-gasp pass to tie the game was batted down, touching off an awesome celebration. Notre Dame appeared to be a lock for the National title game … except it gagged the following week at home to Glenn Foley and Boston College, 41-39. In that one, the Irish trailed by 21 with 11 minutes left but stormed back to take the lead. Listen to Tom Hammond scream as the Irish scored on 4th down with less than 90 seconds left:

Nov. 16, 1991 No. 2 Miami (Fla.) def. No. 1 Florida State 17-16

Still remember where I was watching this: my Uncle’s apartment in Baltimore. Nobody else seemed interested, but I was glued to the game. The QB matchup at the time was great: Gino Torretta vs. Casey Weldon. Three stars from the game that will jog the memory of anyone over the age of 30: FSU running back Amp Lee and Miami LBs Jesse Armstead and Michael Barrow. With less than :10 to play, FSU kicker Gerry Thomas missed a FG Wide Right. Bobby Bowden famously looked befuddled. Miami went on to win the National title. The following year, this series produced Wide Right II.

Sept. 16, 1989 No. 1 Notre Dame def. No. 2 Michigan 24-19

Look away, Michigan fans:

Rocket Ismail ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns and the Irish attempted just two passes – Tony Rice, the option QB was legendary – and Notre Dame won in Ann Arbor. Here’s what Bo said about Ismail: ‘That may be the fastest guy I’ve ever seen … He’s faster than the speed of sound.”

Nov. 26, 1988 No. 1 Notre Dame def. No. 2 USC 27-10

Tony Rice vs. Rodney Peete at the Coliseum. Rice threw a 55-yard TD pass to Rocket Ismail, and then Rice scampered around the end on the option for a 65-yard TD run and the Irish rolled.

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