Greatest Comeback Games in College Football History


College football miracles. No matter our emotional investment in the game, there’s something truly magical about watching a team claw its way out of a 20+ point deficit to claim unlikely victory. From 60 yard hail mary’s to end zone interceptions, teams will always try to find a way, and sometimes miracles happen. We’re taking a look back in history at our top 5 comeback games in college football history. Enjoy!

BYU vs. SMU, 1980


SMU kicked off the 1980 Holiday Bowl with a commanding lead. Up 45-25 with 4 minutes to go, everything pointed to a Mustang victory. But Jim McMahon and the Cougars had another ending in mind. After a fast touchdown, onside kick recovery followed by another quick TD, BYU had cut the lead 45-39. After stopping SMU’s drive, the Cougars miraculously blocked the punt, and with only 13 seconds left, put it in the endzone for the victory. BYU fans forever refer to this night as the Miracle Bowl.

Clemson vs. Virginia, 1992


An unbeaten No. 10 Virginia team would have no problem taking care of the lower ranked Tigers, or so it seemed. Virginia racked up a 28 point lead over Clemson in the first half, but the tide would quickly turn post halftime. Led by quarterback Louis Solomon, the Tigers rallied to a 28-26 game, and kicker Nelson Welch secured a field goal for the win with only 55 seconds left on the clock, making it the biggest comeback in the program’s history.

Michigan State vs. Northwestern, 2006


What started out as an apparent Big Ten blowout ended as the largest comeback win in college football history. On a 4-game losing streak, Michigan State was down by 35 points in the middle of the third quarter, and all hopes of a Spartan victory were practically nonexistent. But then magic happened. Drew Stanton and gang completed a series of touchdowns, two Northwestern interceptions, a blocked punt, and a game-winning field goal with 13 seconds remaining on the game clock, all ending in a stunning 41-38 comeback win.

Auburn vs. Alabama, 2010


Defending national champs Alabama was hosting an 11-0 Auburn team, and was looking to end all national title hopes for its in-state rival. And when the Crimson Tide quickly secured a 24-0 lead, it looked like they would do just that. But quarterback Cam Newton was known for his impressive come-from-behind wins all season, and it seemed he saved the best for his biggest rival. Newton and the Tigers fought their way back to a nail-biting 28-27 win, and would go on to defeat Oregon in the BCS Championship.

Notre Dame vs. Houston, 1979


Joe Montana began his journey to stardom with his 1979 performance in a Cotton Bowl that would instantly go down in history. After Dallas was doused in ice after a huge winter storm, the cold weather affected Montana and the Fighting Irish. Houston was up 34-12 in the 4th quarter, and things were looking cold for Notre Dame. But when the game clock struck 7:37 in the final quarter, everything changed. After nabbing two touchdowns with two-point conversions, Montana and team stopped any effort by Houston to extend the lead. With only a minute left in play, Notre Dame fired down the field for a last-second touchdown and incredible comeback win.


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