Washington Huskies tight end Quentin Moore (88) celebrates with tight end Jack Westover (37) and running back Dillon Johnson (7) after scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run against the Oregon Ducks in the second half of the Pac-12 Championship game at Allegiant Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the 2023 college football regular season is here. Hard to believe, right? Before the bowl games begin, this is a great time to take a look back at the season that was and remember the very best games.

Some of these games had a huge impact on who ended up in the College Football Playoff, some of them were the latest chapter in a long and heated rivalry, and some were simply two great teams slugging it out.

Here’s our list of the 10 best college football games from the 2023 season.

10. Notre Dame 21 – Duke 14

If you knew this was going to be one of the highlights of the college football season, you must be psychic. Coming into the game riding a 4-0 start, the Blue Devils were just seconds from pulling one of the biggest upsets in the program’s history. The teams were tied 13-13 when Notre Dame’s Audric Estime scampered for a 30-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds to go. Quarterback Sam Hartman passed to Rico Flores Jr. for the two-point conversion and the Irish held on for the hard-fought victory.

9. Ole Miss 55 – LSU 49

You knew before this game even started that it was going to be a shootout and fans were not disappointed. The two best offenses in the SEC went back and forth all night in a touchdown-fest. LSU fell behind early by two touchdowns but they battled back, eventually taking a 49-40 lead in the fourth quarter. However, that’s when the Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart went to work. Ole Miss scored two touchdowns to take a 55-49 lead. Quarterback Jayden Daniels almost led a Tigers comeback, but a last-second pass by Daniels was knocked away, preserving the Rebels’ victory.

8. Texas 33 – Kansas State 30 (OT)

In the third quarter of this thriller, the Texas Longhorns had a 27-14 lead over the Kansas State Wildcats. KSU started to chip away and a 45-yard field goal by Wildcats kicker Chris Tennant tied the game 30-30 with one second to go, sending the game into overtime. Texas would take the lead on a Bert Auburn 42-yard field, giving Kansas State the ball with a chance for the upset. Rather than kick a field goal to send the game to a second overtime, they went for the touchdown, falling short. It was a huge gut-check win for Texas, even more so now that they’re in the CFP.

7. Missouri 30 – Kansas State 27

Are you starting to notice a theme for Kansas State this season? The Wildcats were involved in yet another close game earlier this season that also came down to a last-second goal. KSU and Mizzou would trade punches all afternoon, with the Wildcats tying the game at 27-27 on a field goal with over five minutes to go. But Mizzou would drive down the field and get into field goal range so that Harrison Mevis could make a 61-yarder in the closing seconds to win the game.

6. Colorado 43 – Colorado State 35 (2OT)

The Colorado State Rams were well on their way to sending Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes to their first loss of the season. Leading 28-17 in the fourth quarter, the Rams had an opportunity to shut the door but decided not to step on their necks. That left the door wide open for the Buffs’ comeback. Colorado would score on a Shedeur Sanders’ 45-yard touchdown pass and got the two-point conversion to make it 28-28 and send the game into overtime. There, the Buffs would pull out the 43-35 win in double-overtime. While it was an impressive win for Coach Prime’s squad, it was their last one of the season.

5. Stanford 46 – Colorado 43 (2OT)

The Buffs were involved in another huge comeback, but this time they were on the losing end. Colorado looked as if they were on their way to an easy win over the Stanford Cardinal, leading 29-0 at the half, but that’s when the fun started. The Cardinal would make a furious comeback to tie the game at 43 apiece in the fourth quarter, sending it to overtime. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, the Cardinal would kick a field goal in the second OT to win, 46-43. Cardinal wide receiver Elic Ayomanor torched the Buffs for 294 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Michigan 30 – Ohio State 24

Not only was this the latest battle in one of the most storied rivalries in college football, but it pitted No. 2 vs. No. 3 for the right to play in the Big Ten Championship and, presumably, play in the CFP. Ohio State was also looking to end their two-game losing streak to Michigan. The Wolverines took the lead early and the Buckeyes spent the majority of the game trying to play catch up. They did make it interesting in the fourth quarter but Michigan would hold on for the victory. Despite ESPN’s College Football Index saying that the Buckeyes still had a chance of making the CFP, their dreams effectively ended that day. “We know what this game means to so many people, and so to come up short is certainly crushing,” said Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, who is now 0-3 vs. that team up north.

3. Washington 34 – Oregon 31

It’s disappointing that this was the final Pac-12 Championship game, but the game itself didn’t disappoint. With a shot in the College Football Playoff on the line, it was a back-and-forth affair between Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon signal-caller Bo Nix. Washington had taken a 29-18 lead in the third quarter, but Nix and the Ducks refused to go away. Nix threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Troy Franklin and converted the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 29-26. On their next possession, the Ducks took a 33-29 lead on a 10-yard run by Jordan James. However, Penix would throw an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:38 left to put UW back ahead 36-33. Nix drove the Ducks down for the game-tying field goal, but they missed as the game clock expired.

2. Oklahoma 34 – Texas 30

Another Red River Rivalry classic would come down to the closing seconds. This game had three lead changes and three ties and would come down to a game-winning drive in the closing seconds. Texas took a 30-27 lead on a Bert Auburn 47-yard field goal with 1:17 left. It was assumed that Oklahoma would try to kick a tying field goal of their own to go to overtime. However, quarterback Dillion Gabriel connected on a three-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left to lock up the huge victory. At the time this felt like a preview of the Big 12 Championship Game but the Sooners couldn’t get the job done, leaving the door open for Texas to advance.

1. Alabama 27 – Auburn 24

It might not have been for the SEC West crown, but the Iron Bowl took the No. 1 spot as the latest amazing finish in the rivalry’s history took place. The Crimson Tide seemed likely to make quick work of the Tigers early, but Auburn came to play. They took the lead on the highly favored Bama several times and ran the ball down their throat. The Tide hung around, however. Auburn led 24-20 late in the fourth quarter and had a chance to put the game away but the stout Alabama defense turned them back. The Tide got the ball back with only a couple of minutes left in the game. After driving down the field, things looked bleak for Bama thanks to several mistakes. The game came down to a long shot on 4th and 31. Somehow, QB Jalen Milroe found Isiah Bond in the back corner of the endzone for the shocking touchdown, not only garnering the win but saving Alabama’s chances to win the SEC (which they did) and make the College Football Playoff (which they did).

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.