If you could have attended any game in the history of college football, what would it be?

It’s Wednesday and that means that it’s time to pull your chair up to the roundtable as we discuss the world of college football. TSS Associate Editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join Kevin Causey and a rotating special guest in our weekly roundtables discussing all things college football.

Last week we continued our discussion about quarterbacks as we talked about first year starters and returning starters. We are deep into March Madness and college basketball history is being made before our eyes, so it’s a good time to stop and think about the history of college football. Joining us for this discussion is Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports.

Question: If you could have attended any game in the history of college football, what would it be?

Steven Lassan:

On Twitter @AthlonSteven

Several games came to mind when I first read this question, but I have to go with the 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC. Rivalry games like Auburn-Alabama in 2013 or Ohio State-Michigan in 2006 stand due to the overall passion and what was at stake during the regular season, but it’s difficult to pass on attending a national championship game.

The 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC featured some of college football’s top talent during the BCS era, including three Heisman finalists in Texas quarterback Vince Young and USC’s Matt Leinart (QB) and Reggie Bush (RB). And there was the subplot of USC going for back-to-back BCS Championships.

While the storylines and on-field talent was interesting enough, this game had everything you want in a national championship matchup. Both teams traded punches on the scoreboard, star talent delivered in the clutch and the game wasn’t decided until deep in the fourth quarter.

After both teams amassed over 500 yards of offense and averaged over seven yards per play, it was Young’s touchdown run with 19 seconds left on fourth down that propelled Texas to the national championship.

A rivalry game like Michigan-Ohio State or Auburn-Alabama might have a better overall fan atmosphere, but it’s hard to pick against attending USC-Texas with the talent that was in Pasadena that night, along with the entertaining game that transpired in the Rose Bowl.

Bart Doan:

On Twitter @TheCoachBart

I get to pick any game in history? If I have my druthers, we’re traveling back to the Cleveland era. As in Grover Cleveland, the sitting United States President in 1887 when Michigan and Notre Dame played their first game. Times were simpler back then (shoves off into easy chair with pipe, glass of scotch, and a book … one that’s made on paper). After all, Glenfiddich was first produced in ’87. May as well get a head start.

In all seriousness, going back to the mid 1950’s or anything like that isn’t going to show me something I’ve never seen. November 23, 1887 was the date of the game, but earlier in the year prior to that, Michigan stopped off on their TRAIN RIDE home from a previous game to teach interested Notre Dame students the current version of the game of football. It obviously took, we can say a good 128 years later.

The two schools rank #1 and #2 in both all time wins among current FBS teams and winning percentage, meaning not only have they played a lot of games, they’ve won a lot of games rather than lost them. There were other budding football programs either established or on the come at the time, but these two have stood the test of time and it’d be damn cool to see how that obsession all started.

William Harless and George DeHaven were Michigan players who wrote (a letter, in hand writing) to Notre Dame, where they had previously been students, and offered to teach them the game of football. That cold, sloppy (who would have it any other way) day, nearly 500 students reportedly showed up to watch Michigan’s players teach Notre Dame’s players the game of football and then they played before eating at the dining hall at Notre Dame and taking a CARRIAGE ride to the TRAIN STATION for the trip home to cheers and applause from Notre Dame fans.

Yeah, this is all dripping in nostalgia and we’re not even to the point in history when the forward pass did make it and football nearly didn’t out of danger (important to point out as we predict where the game will go with some of the concerns regarding injury … it survived widespread worry of danger with far less popularity than it has today).

For all the positivity and good will, it took only a year for Notre Dame to learn it enough to try to catch up to Michigan, and a fan base who wasn’t used to the team letting points by supposedly booed the Michigan players for giving up 10 to Notre Dame in two games in 1888. I’m pretty sure Michigan would sign up for all that right about now. And because of that, a hiatus was created betwixt the two friends after only a year.

Suffice to say, I think being at the birth of something that has seen two programs carry on through the generations and changes of the game would be something you’d never forget. Sort of like seeing the Eiffel Tower first being built. Which started the same year.

Kevin Causey:

On Twitter @CFBZ

For me this question is less about what was the greatest game in college football history and more about my individual fandom.

The game I would most want to go back and relive would be the 1981 Sugar Bowl that featured the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs and freshman sensation Herschel Walker taking on the 9-1-1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

I would definitely need my time machine to attend this game because I would much rather attend it as an adult than as the seven year old boy that I was at the time, especially because it was in New Orleans.

The game itself wasn’t a thing of beauty but just the thought of having a perfect season culminating in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in that era of football would be an amazing experience especially when you know that your team comes out on top.

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter @SectionTPJ

Without question, it would be the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Let’s be honest: this was easily the most exciting finish in college football history. After falling behind 28-10 in the third quarter, Oklahoma scored 25 unanswered points to take a 35-28 lead with less than two minutes to play. Considering how well the Sooner defense had played in the second half, it looked like Boise’s storybook season was going to come a disappointing end.

However, it didn’t end up that way. The Broncos converted an impossible 4th-and-18 situation on a hook-and-latter play that college football fans will talk about from now until the end of time. Boise would come up big again on fourth down in overtime, completing a halfback pass for a touchdown even though the Oklahoma defense had it played perfectly.

Of course, the best play was the last one of the contest, in which Ian Johnson waltzed into the end zone for the game-winning two point conversion.

In addition to the excitement and execution, what I liked most about this contest was that it stressed the importance of never giving up. Rather than hang their heads after falling behind by 18 points in the third quarter, the Sooners kept on fighting, and actually found themselves in a position to win the game at the end. Similarly, Jared Zabransky didn’t let a rough fourth quarter – including a pick six that could have been the deciding points – deter him from marching the Broncos into the end zone for the game-tying score.

This type of resiliency under pressure is why this game will be one that I will never forget… and why I wish I could have attended it in person.


Previous Roundtables

Which returning starter at QB will show the most improvement in 2015?

Which first year starter at QB is poised to have a breakout season?

Which non-Power 5 QB do you want as the face of your franchise?

Which Power 5 quarterback do you want as the face of your franchise?