Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics
Another college football season is in the books.
Alabama capped an unusual 2020 campaign on Monday night by handling Ohio State in the National Championship in Miami, 52-24. The victory gave the program its 18th national championship and sixth under head coach Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide put up a lot of points this season as did last season’s national champion LSU, who was the highest scoring team ever. In what will be a 2-part series, we’ll be looking back on title games where points were aplenty.
We go back to the inception of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998 where college football first formally pitted No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the title. The College Football Playoff began in 2014. Without further ado, here’s a look back on the five highest scoring national title games:
5. 2005 Orange Bowl (74)
(2) Oklahoma 19, (1) USC 55
Date: Jan. 4, 2005
Location: Miami, FL
Summary: The 19 points was the second-lowest total scored throughout the 2004 season by Oklahoma, but thanks to USC’s efforts, the 2005 Orange Bowl served as one of the highest scoring BCS title games ever. It was a record-setting night for USC, who claimed the AP national championship the year before. The 55 points was an Orange Bowl record. Quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart passed for 332 yards and an Orange Bowl record five touchdowns. USC wide receiver Steve Smith added seven receptions for 113 yards receiving and an Orange Bowl record three touchdown catches.
4. 2000 Sugar Bowl (75)
(2) Virginia Tech 29, (1) Florida State 46
Date: Jan. 4, 2000
Location: New Orleans, LA
Summary: Virginia Tech put up 503 yards, but a pair of special teams touchdowns made a big difference as Florida State became the first wire-to-wire No. 1 in the history of the AP Poll. FSU wide receiver Peter Warrick finished with 163 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns. Warrick also returned a punt for a score. FSU’s Chris Weinke passed for 329 yards in the win while Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick tallied 225 yards passing and 97 more rushing. The Hokies rallied from an early 21-point deficit to take a 29-28 lead into the final quarter, but Weinke threw two of his four touchdowns in the final period.
3. 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship (76)
(3) Ohio State 24, (1) Alabama 52
Date: Jan. 11, 2021
Location: Miami, FL
Summary: The Alabama offense capped a memorable season by putting on a show. The Crimson Tide finished with more than 600 yards of offense to win their sixth national title in 12 seasons. Quarterback Mac Jones finished with 464 yards passing and five touchdowns. Three of those scoring tosses went to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, who caught 12 passes for 215 yards. Running back Najee Harris added three total touchdowns. Ohio State was even with Alabama at 14 in the second quarter, but managed just a touchdown in the second half.
2. 2006 Rose Bowl (79)
(2) Texas 41, (1) USC 38
Date: Jan. 4, 2006
Location: Pasadena, CA
Summary: Regarded as one of the greatest college football games of all-time, Texas quarterback Vince Young accounted for 467 total yards and three rushing touchdowns, including two in the final 4:03 as the Longhorns stopped a USC 3-peat. The Trojans rallied from an early 9-point deficit and led by 12 in the final quarter. After scoring from 17 yards out, Young’s 8-yard touchdown run served as the game-winner with just 19 seconds remaining. LenDale White rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns for USC. Matt Leinart passed for 365 yards and a score in the loss.
1. 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship (85)
(2) Alabama 45, (1) Clemson 40
Date: Jan. 11, 2016
Location: Glendale, AZ
Summary: The highest scoring contest on the list saw Alabama and Clemson combine for 40 points in the final quarter. After tying the game at 24, Alabama used an onside kick and a long touchdown pass from Jake Coker to O.J. Howard to pull ahead for good. Following a Clemson field goal, Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to help seal the win for Alabama. Howard finished with 208 yards receiving and two touchdowns while Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry rushed for three scores. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for 405 yards to go with a team-high 73 yards rushing in the defeat. Watson threw four touchdowns, including two to Hunter Renfrow.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.
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