The following is a list of historically significant college football games. Games included on this list are single college football games that have historical impact to the sport of college football.

Inclusion on this list requires games of significant historical "firsts" and/or otherwise significant impact to the sport itself, such as significant rules changes or initiation of long-standing ceremony. Historically significant games should be prominently discussed in major historical accounts of college football. Games that may be significant only to a particular team's fan base should not be listed here.

Games are listed in chronological order. The name of the winning team is bolded.

List of historically significant college football gamesEdit

Note: this list is incomplete. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
Game Home Visitor Location final score Notes
1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game Rutgers New Jersey (now Princeton) New Brunswick, New Jersey 6–4[1] Considered the first American football game ever played.
1872 Rutgers vs. Columbia football game Columbia Rutgers New York, New York 0–0 First football game to end with a tie score.[2]
1874 McGill vs. Harvard football game McGill Harvard Montreal, Quebec 0–3 Possibly the first college football game played outside the United States.[3]
1875 Tufts vs. Harvard football game Harvard Tufts Cambridge, Massachusetts 1–0 Considered the first modern style American football game ever played in the United States. Significant rule changes made it far more modern than previous games, including each side fielding 11 men at any given time, the ball was advanced by kicking or carrying it, and tackles of the ball carrier stopped play.[4]
1884 Dartmouth vs. Yale football game Yale Dartmouth Hanover, New Hampshire 113–0 First game where one team scored over 100 points; also the first time one team scored over 100 points and the opposing team was shut out.[5] The next week, Princeton outscored Lafayette by 140 to 0.[6]
1890 Navy vs. Army football game Army Navy West Point, New York 24–0 First Army–Navy Game
1892 Mercer vs. Georgia football game Georgia Mercer Athens, Georgia 50–0 First Deep South Football Game
1892 Wyoming Seminary vs. Mansfield State Normal football game Wyoming Seminary (high school) Mansfield State Normal Mansfield, Pennsylvania 0–0 (tie) First nighttime football game played under lights. Game ended at halftime.[7]
1893 Army vs. Navy football game Navy Army Annapolis, Maryland 6–4 First documented use of a football helmet by a player in a game. Midshipman Joseph M. Reeves had a crude leather helmet made by a local shoemaker/blacksmith and wore it in this game after being warned by doctors that he risked death if he continued to play football after suffering a kick to the head in an earlier game.
1895 Swarthmore vs. Penn football game Penn Swarthmore Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 40–0 First college football game played at Franklin Field, the oldest stadium still in use as a college football venue.
1896 Purdue vs. Minnesota football game Minnesota Purdue Minneapolis, Minnesota 14–0 First conference game of the newly formed Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, the oldest college athletic conference still in existence. More popularly known as the "Western Conference" at the time, and as the "Big Ten", currently.
1896 Michigan vs. Chicago football game Chicago Michigan Chicago, Illinois 7–6 First football game played indoors (Chicago Coliseum, Thanksgiving Day).
1897 Lehigh vs. Lafayette game Lafayette Lehigh Easton, Pennsylvania 34–0 The first game in the oldest uninterrupted college rivalry series: the schools have played at least once in every year since. The Princeton-Yale rivalry (1873) and Harvard–Yale football rivalry (1875) predate this one as continuing rivalries, but both series have gaps in play. Lehigh and Lafayette actually first played in 1884 and in every year through 1895, but there was no game in 1896 and so the uninterrupted rivalry begins in 1897.
1902 Tournament East-West football game Stanford Michigan Pasadena, California 0–49 First bowl game[8] The name of the game was changed to the Rose Bowl Game starting with the 1923 Rose Bowl when it moved to the newly constructed Rose Bowl Stadium.
1903 Little Brown Jug Game Minnesota Michigan Minneapolis, Minnesota 6–6 Origin of the Little Brown Jug, the first rivalry trophy in college football.
1905 Washburn vs. Fairmount football game Fairmount Washburn Wichita, Kansas 0–0 (tie) Game using several "experimental rules" that were tested before implementing major nationwide rules changes and the formation of the NCAA.[9] This game had the first "legal" forward pass for a college team.
1906 Saint Louis vs. Carroll football game Carroll (Wisconsin) Saint Louis Waukesha, Wisconsin First regular season game with the first legal forward pass.[10]
1907 Chicago vs. Illinois football game Illinois Chicago Champaign, Illinois 42–6 First game to have a halftime show featuring a marching band.[11]
1907 Bacardi Bowl Havana LSU Havana, Cuba 56–0 First college football bowl game played outside the United States.
1911 Kansas vs. Missouri football game Missouri Kansas Columbia, Missouri 3–3 First homecoming football game.[12] Game was "broadcasted" play-by-play over telegraph to at least 1,000 fans in Lawrence, Kansas.[13]
1916 Cumberland vs. Georgia Tech football game Georgia Tech Cumberland Atlanta, Georgia 222–0 Most lopsided victory in college football history.[14]
1921 West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh football game Pittsburgh West Virginia Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 21–13 First live radio broadcast of a college football game when Harold W. Arlin announced that year's Backyard Brawl played at Forbes Field on KDKA on October 8, 1921.[15]
1921 Centre vs. Harvard football game Harvard Centre Boston, Massachusetts 0–6 Widely considered one of the greatest upsets in college football history.[16]
1929 Rose Bowl California Georgia Tech Pasadena, California 7-8 Game is known for a "wrong way run" by Roy Riegels that resulted in a Georgia Tech safety. It is widely considered one of the biggest mistakes in football history.
1935 Notre Dame vs. Ohio State football game Ohio State Notre Dame Columbus, Ohio 13–18 The first generally accepted "Game of the Century" in college football. These were probably the top ranked teams in the nation, but there were no generally recognized polls at the time (AP began publishing its poll in 1936).
1937 Bacardi Bowl Villanova Auburn Havana, Cuba 7–7 First college football game played outside of the US where both contestants were US college football teams. The only Bacardi Bowl game in the series with this distinction.
1939 Waynesburg vs. Fordham football game Fordham Waynesburg New York, New York 34–7 First televised football game.[17]
1939 Nebraska vs. Kansas State football game Kansas State Nebraska Manhattan, Kansas 25–9 Second televised college football game, first televised homecoming game.[18][19]
1940 Cornell–Dartmouth football game Dartmouth Cornell Hanover, New Hampshire 3–0 (3–7) Game is known for an officiating error that resulted in a rare postgame reversal of the outcome. Cornell threw an incomplete pass on 4th and goal in the game's final seconds, seemingly ensuring a 3-0 shutout victory by Dartmouth. However, the referees inadvertently allowed Cornell to attempt a "fifth down" play on which Cornell scored an apparent game-winning touchdown. After the error was discovered during postgame film review, Cornell offered to forfeit the game. Dartmouth accepted, marking the only time that the outcome of a college football game was decided off the field.
1941 Oklahoma City vs. Youngstown State football game Youngstown State Oklahoma City Youngstown, Ohio 48–7 First use of the penalty flag by game officials.
1942 Rose Bowl Oregon State Duke Durham, North Carolina 20-16 The "Tobacco Rose Bowl", relocated to Duke Stadium due to security concerns about large public events on the Pacific Coast following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States declaration of war upon Japan just a few weeks prior to the game. It remains the only Rose Bowl game not played at either Tournament Park or Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
1943 Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game Michigan Notre Dame Ann Arbor, Michigan 12–35 First college football game between the #1 (Notre Dame) and #2 (Michigan) teams in the nation, as determined by the AP Poll (since its inception in 1936).[20]
1951 Drake vs. Oklahoma A&M football game Oklahoma A&M Drake Stillwater, Oklahoma 27–14 This game is best remembered for the Johnny Bright Incident, a racially motivated on-field attack by a white Oklahoma A&M player against Drake's black star Johnny Bright. The attack, in which Bright suffered a broken jaw, was immortalized in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of photographs. Its most lasting impact on the sport was NCAA rules changes regarding illegal blocking, plus NCAA mandates for more protective helmets, including face masks.
1952 Rose Bowl Illinois Stanford Pasadena, California 40–7 The first nationally televised college football game.
1952 TCU vs. Kansas football game Kansas TCU Lawrence, Kansas 13–0 The first nationally televised regular-season college football game.
1956 Sugar Bowl Georgia Tech Pittsburgh New Orleans, Louisiana 7–0 First African American player, Pitt's Bobby Grier, to break the color barrier in the segregated Deep South.[21]
1956 NAIA National Championship Montana State St. Joseph Little Rock, Arkansas 0–0 (tie) The NAIA organizes the first "national championship" college football game. The NCAA waited until 1973 for its Division II and III championship games and until 1978 for Division I-AA (FCS) championships. To this day, it has never sanctioned an official national championship in Division I-A/FBS football; the Bowl Championship Series, launched for the 1998 season, is not an official NCAA championship event.
1958 Tangerine Bowl (December) East Texas State Missouri Valley Orlando, Florida 28–7 The University at Buffalo Bulls decline the invitation to play in the game by a unanimous team vote after being informed that the two black players on the roster would not be allowed on the field. This was Buffalo's first bowl invitation and would prove to be their only bowl invitation for a half-century.
1962 Rose Bowl Minnesota UCLA Pasadena, California 21–3 First nationally televised college football game in color.[22]
1963 Rose Bowl USC Wisconsin Pasadena, California 42–37 First college football bowl game between the #1 (USC) and #2 (Wisconsin) teams in the nation, as determined by the AP[20] and UPI polls.
1963 Army vs. Navy football game Army Navy Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 15-21 First time any sports broadcast used instant replay.[23]
1968 Yale vs. Harvard football game Harvard Yale Allston, Massachusetts 29–29 Both teams entered their season-ending rivalry game undefeated and untied, with the Ivy League championship on the line. Down 22-0 in the first half, Harvard made an improbable comeback and tied the game — including 16 unaswered points in the final minute. The game is the subject of the documentatry film Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a reference to the notorious Harvard Crimson headline.
1969 Ole Miss vs. Alabama football game Alabama Ole Miss Birmingham, Alabama 33–32 First regular-season college football game nationally televised in prime time.[24]
1970 USC vs. Alabama football game Alabama USC Birmingham, Alabama 42–21 USC opened the season visiting the University of Alabama under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and became the first fully integrated team to play in the state of Alabama.[25] The game, scheduled by Bryant, resulted in a domineering 42–21 win by the Trojans. More importantly, all six touchdowns scored by USC team were by African-American players, two by USC running back Sam "Bam" Cunningham, against an all-white Crimson Tide team.[26] The game hastened the racial integration of football at Alabama and in the South.[27]
1978 Gator Bowl Clemson Ohio State Jacksonville, Florida 17–15 Ohio State coach Woody Hayes punches Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman on the sideline following an interception, inciting a bench-clearing brawl. Hayes is ejected from the game and fired the next day, ending his 33 year Hall of Fame coaching career.
1981 Texas A&I vs. UTEP football game UTEP Texas A&I El Paso, Texas 15–37 First ever win of a NCAA Division II team over a Division I-A opponent. The feat would only be replicated five more times (last occurring in 1997).
1982 California–Stanford football game California Stanford Berkeley, California 25–20 Game is well known for its final play, known simply as "The Play" - a kickoff return in which California used a series of laterals to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Thinking that the game was over, Stanford's marching band had come out onto the field before the play had concluded. The picture of California's Kevin Moen plowing into an oblivious Stanford trombone player upon scoring the game-winning touchdown remains one of the most iconic images in college football. "The Play" is recognized as one of the most memorable plays in college football history.[28] Stanford and California fans continue to dispute the results.
1984 Boston College–Miami (FL) football game Miami (FL) Boston College Miami, Florida 47–45 Game is known for a last-second Hail Mary pass from quarterback Doug Flutie to wide receiver Gerard Phelan to give Boston College the win.
1990 Colorado–Missouri football game Missouri Colorado Columbia, Missouri 33–31 Game is known for an officiating error that had far-reaching implications. On the game's final drive, the referees inadvertently allowed Colorado to attempt a "fifth down" play on which the Buffaloes scored the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Aided in part by the controversial victory, Colorado completed a 10-win season and was awarded the AP National Championship.
1992 SEC Championship Game Florida Alabama Birmingham, Alabama 28–21 First conference championship game in NCAA history.
1993 Florida State vs. Notre Dame football game Notre Dame Florida State South Bend, Indiana 31–24 First on-location broadcast of ESPN College GameDay which has since become a college football institution. The #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the visiting #1 Florida State Seminoles.
1995 Illinois vs. Wisconsin football game Illinois Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin 3–3 The last game to ever end in a tie in NCAA Division I-A football. The NCAA would begin overtime rules starting with the 1995 bowl season and 1996 regular season.
1995 Las Vegas Bowl Toledo Nevada Whitney, Nevada 40–37 First overtime game in NCAA Division I-A.[29]
1997 Linfield vs. Willamette football game Willamette Linfield Salem, Oregon 27–0 Kicker Liz Heaston becomes the first woman to play and score points in a college football game[30]
1998 Southern vs. Prairie View A&M football game Prairie View A&M Southern (LA) Beaumont, Texas 37–7[31] This was the final loss of the worst losing streak in college football (80 games). However, it also gained infamy from a brawl between the two schools' marching bands during the halftime show that resulted in the suspension of both bands by the conference for two games.[32]
1998 Big 12 Championship Game Texas A&M Kansas State St. Louis, Missouri 36–33 Kansas State entered the game ranked #1 in several polls. After the loss, Texas A&M received an automatic bid to the BCS bowl and Kansas State, although ranked #3 in the BCS, was sent to the Alamo Bowl. The game resulted in the BCS creating what it calls the "Kansas State Rule" to prevent highly ranked teams from not earning a BCS bowl game if they fail to win a conference championship.
1999 Fiesta Bowl Tennessee Florida State Tempe, Arizona 23–16 First Bowl Championship Series national championship game.
2001 Cumberland vs. Jacksonville State football game Jacksonville State Cumberland Jacksonville, Alabama 72–10 Ashley Martin becomes the first woman to play and score in a NCAA football game and the second woman to play and score in a college game in any division.[33]
2003 Stillman vs. West Alabama football game West Alabama Stillman Livingston, Alabama 24–17 Tonya Butler becomes the first woman to kick a field goal in a NCAA football game.[34][35]
2005 Fiesta Bowl Utah Pittsburgh Tempe, Arizona 35–7 First BCS bowl to feature a team from a conference without an automatic bid for its champion – a "non-Automatic Qualifying conference", or "non-AQ" (Utah, then in the Mountain West Conference), and the only BCS bowl to feature a non-AQ team prior to the relaxation of BCS selection rules in the 2006 season.
2007 Appalachian State vs. Michigan football game Michigan Appalachian State Ann Arbor, Michigan 32–34 First ever win for a NCAA Division I-AA/FCS team over a ranked Division I-A/FBS opponent.[36]
2007 Navy vs. North Texas football game[37] North Texas Navy Denton, Texas 62–74 Most points scored in a game involving D-IA/FBS opponents during the regulation four quarters of play since the NCAA began keeping records in 1937.[38]
2007 Trinity vs. Millsaps football game Millsaps Trinity Jackson, Mississippi 24–28 Commonly called "Lateralpalooza" - Trinity threw 15 laterals and scored a 60-yard touchdown to win a game against the Millsaps Majors as time expired in the game, producing "the longest play in college football history."[39]
2008 Sugar Bowl Georgia Hawaii New Orleans, Louisiana 41–10 The first win by an AQ team over a non-AQ team in a BCS-bowl.
2010 Music City Bowl Tennessee North Carolina Nashville, Tennessee 27–30 Led to the adoption of the 10 second run off rule.
2010 Fiesta Bowl TCU Boise State Glendale, Arizona 10–17 The first (and still, only) time two teams from non-AQ conferences played in a BCS bowl in the same season and the same game
2011 Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game Michigan Notre Dame Ann Arbor, Michigan 35–31 Largest regular-season single-game attendance in NCAA history, with 114,804. This game also happened to be the first night game ever played at Michigan Stadium.[40]
2011 Kilimanjaro Bowl Drake Mexico all stars Moshi, Tanzania 17–7 First college football game played on the African continent[41]
2013 Orange Bowl Florida State Northern Illinois Miami Gardens, Florida 31–10 First (and still only) time a one-loss team from a non-AQ conference played in a BCS Bowl

See alsoEdit


  1. DeLassus, David. "Princeton Yearly Results (1869)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  2. "1872 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Schedule and Results". Sports Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  3. DeLassus, David. "1874 - McGill (Canada) Results". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  4. Dupont, Kevin Paul (September 23, 2004). "Gridiron gridlock: Citing research, Tufts claims football history is on its side". The Boston Globe.
  5. DeLassus, David. "Yale Yearly Results (1880-1884)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  6. DeLassus, David. "Princeton Yearly Results (1880-1884)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  7. "Good Night". Washington Post. November 18, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  8. O'Sullivan, Dan (December 13, 2002). "Bowl Championship Series - 1902 - Michigan 49, Stanford 0". Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  9. "Ten Yard Rule a Failure". New York Times. December 26, 1905.
  10. Boyles, Bob and Guido, Paul, 50 Years of College Football, page 23, 2007
  11. "Marching Band History". University of Illinois. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  13. "100 years ago: Football fans enjoy mechanized reproduction of KU-MU game". Lawrence Journal-World. November 27, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  14. Davis, Parke H. (1916-10-15). "Yellow Jackets-Cumberland Score Was Record One; Tops the List According to Statistics Compiled Showing All Scores Past the Century Mark". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. pp. A3.
  15. Sciullo Jr, Sam, ed. (1991). 1991 Pitt Football: University of Pittsburgh Football Media Guide. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Sports Information Office. p. 116
  16. "ESPN ranks 1921 Centre-Harvard game among college football's greatest upsets".
  17. Beachler, Eddie (October 3, 1939). "Tech, Pitt, Dukes in Good Condition for Next Test". The Pittsburgh Press.,2909223&dq=fordham+football+waynesburg&hl=en. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  18. "Televised Game". Morning Chronicle (Manhattan, Kansas). October 28, 1939.
  19. Janssen, Mark (October 7, 2010). "Purple Pride vs. Big Red - 4-0 vs. 4-0". Kansas State Wildcats. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Games Where #1 Faced #2".
  21. Thamel, Pete (2006-01-01). "Grier Integrated a Game and Earned the World's Respect". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-10
  22. Historic Facts about the Rose Bowl Stadium
  23. Gelston, Dan (undated). "Army-Navy, Instant Replay, Tony Verna, 45 Years Later ...". The Associated Press (via blog (dated December 5, 2009) by Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  24. Maisel, Ivan (October 14, 2011). "Ole Miss-Alabama game still legendary". Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  25. Yaeger, Don; Sam Cunningham , John Papadakis (2006). Turning of the Tide: How One Game Changed the South. Center Street. ISBN 1-931722-94-3.
  26. Robbins, Lenn. "Trojans Have Horses". New York Post. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  27. Forde, Pat. "The Dash is off and running". Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  28. Schlabach, Mark (2007-08-21). "Michigan seniors ready to erase some dubious zeros". Retrieved 2007-09-01.
  29. Whiteside, Kelly (August 25, 2006). "Overtime system still excites coaches". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 24, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  30. Ley, Bob (October 15, 2000). "Page 2-Outside the Lines: Heather Sue Mercer suit". Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  31. DeLassus, David. "Coaching Records Game-by-Game, Greg Johnson (1998)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  32. "SWAC Suspends PVAMU and SU Marching Bands". September 21, 1998. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  33. "Martin first female to play, score in Division I". August 31, 2001. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  34. Carroll, Andrew (September 14, 2000). "UWA's Tonya Butler aims for NCAA history". The Tuscaloosa News: p. C1. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  35. Rosen, Karen (October 17, 2003). "Pioneer still gets her football kicks". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: p. 8D.
  36. Wetzel, Dan (2007-09-01). "Hail to the victors". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
  37. "Notre Dame's NCAA-record 43-game win streak over Navy ends". 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  38. Associated Press (2007-11-10). "Navy, N. Texas score most combined points in regulation FBS game". Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  39. "Video of the play". (The Disney Company). Archived from the original on 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  40. Associated Press (September 10, 2011). "Michigan scores with 2 seconds left, stuns Irish". Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  41. "Drake To Play First American Football Game In Africa". 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
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