Greatest Comebacks in College Football History

Travis Normand
October 4, 2017

Some of the following information was originally incorporated within another post that I had made back in September of 2017. However, I have added to these lists and consider the information worthy of its own post. So, having said that, here are the greatest comebacks in college football history:

List 1: The winning team trailed by at least 30 points
before overcoming the deficit:

[1] 2006: Michigan State 41, Northwestern 38 – Deficit overcome: 35 points
[2] 2017: UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44 – Deficit overcome: 34 points
[3] 1984: Maryland 42, Miami 40 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 1989: Ohio State 41, Minnesota 37 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2006 Insight Bowl: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2016: Tulsa 48, Fresno State 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2015: TCU 47, Oregon 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[8] 1993: California 42, Oregon 41 – Deficit overcome: 30 points
[8] 2001 GMAC Bowl: Marshall 64, East Carolina 61 – Deficit overcome: 30 points

(The above list of games is courtesy of Matt Brown at SportsOnEarth.com)

List 2: The winning team trailed by at least 20 points
before overcoming the deficit:

[1] 2010: Kansas 52, Colorado 45 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[1] 1994: Florida 31, Florida State 31 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[1] 1992: Clemson 29, Virginia 28 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[2] 2000 Outback Bowl: Georgia 28, Purdue 25 – Deficit overcome: 25 points
[3] 1979 Cotton Bowl: Notre Dame 35, Houston 34 – Deficit overcome 22 points
[4] 2010: Auburn 28, Alabama 27 – Deficit overcome: 21 points
[5] 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M 52, Duke 48 – Deficit overcome: 21 points
[6] 1980 Holiday Bowl: BYU 46, SMU 45 – Deficit overcome: 20 points

I am still adding to these lists. If you know of a game that should be included, please let me know by posting in the comments below. I am sure there are some games from the 1800’s that have been entirely overlooked, but as I find them, I will include them. Also, all of the above-listed games are Division 1/FBS games. I have not yet researched the other divisions, but I am willing to include them. Again, if you know of a game from another division that should be included, just post it below in the comments and I will add it.

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Georgia Tech’s 222

Scoreboard from the 1916 Georgia Tech vs. Cumberland football game, Wikipedia.com

by Travis Normand
July 26, 2017

I have written about Georgia Tech’s historic 222-0 drubbing of Cumberland before (here and here), but for some reason I was thinking about it again today. I was wondering how the outcome of that game stacked up against other games and whether or not the outcome was truly an anomaly.

I set out to answer these questions and created this post to share what I found.

1916 Georgia Tech vs. Cumberland, 222-0:  According to Wikipedia.com, the 222-0 Georgia Tech (GT) victory was the most lopsided in the history of college football. However, how much more “lopsided” was this game than others? Well, again, according to Wikipedia.com:

  • Of the current Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, only (1) Arizona, (2) Bowling Green, (2) Georgia Tech, (3) Oklahoma, and (4) Tulsa have eclipsed 150 points in a single game.
  • Ignoring games from the early 1900s (and earlier), the Houston Cougars are the only Division I, FBS team to score 100 points against another FBS team in the last 50 years (they did it against Tulsa on November 3, 1968).
  • King College (now King University) in Tennessee scored 206 points against Lenoir in 1922.
  • St. Viator College (Illinois) scored 205 points against Lane Tech in 1916 (the same year as Georgia Tech’s 222 points against Cumberland). In fact, according to an article published in Sports Illustrated, the Georgia Tech vs. Cumberland game received no national publicity. The New York Times reported a new scoring record when St. Viator’s beat Lane Tech 205-0, which happened three weeks after Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland (Georgia Tech had to wait until 1917 before it was recognized as the nation’s top-scoring team). [FN1]
  • Yale defeated Dartmouth 113–0 on October 25, 1884 (in Hanover, New Hampshire). This is the first recorded incident of a team (1) scoring over 100 points in a game, and (2) scoring over 100 points while shutting out the other team. [FN2]
  • Four days after Yale’s defeat of Dartmouth, on October 29, 1884, Princeton outscored Lafayette 140-0. [FN3]
  • Another notable finding is that more often than not, when one team scores 100 points, the other team typically doesn’t score at all. However, in 1916 SMU scored an early field goal in its game against Rice. However, Rice made a “come back” and ended up winning the game 146-3.

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