12 best BCS bowl games of all-time

After 15 years of the BCS, here's CFN's ranking of all the big bowls.

See CFN's full rankings: Classics | Good Ones | Just Bowls | Snoozers | Disasters

It's been 15 years since the Big Ten and the then-Pac 10 relented and joined the bizarre exercise known as the BCS to form the system we have to deal with now, and we're only one year away from it all going bye-bye. Over the last decade-plus have been some of the greatest games in the history of college football, to go along with a slew of major clunkers. As the 2013 BCS season is about to kick in, here's the CFN ranking of all 63 BCS bowl games from 1999 to 2012 with the ones that rank among best battles ever.

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12. 2009 Fiesta Bowl

Texas 24, Ohio State 21
The defensive battle turned into a heart-stopping thriller over the final few minutes as Colt McCoy finished off a 78-yard drive in the final 1:42 with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Quan Cosby with 16 seconds to play.

Ohio State had taken the lead on a 15-yard Dan Herron scoring run with 2:05 to play as part of a Buckeye run of 15 straight fourth-quarter points after a rough third quarter. OSU slowed the game down in the first half on the way to a 6-3 lead, helped by an Anderson Russell interception to stop a late Texas drive, but the third quarter was all Texas as McCoy ran for a 14-yard score and hit Cosby for a seven-yard touchdown to cap off two long drives.

Ohio State's final shot to score was stopped by a Brian Orakpo sack and a broken up Hail Mary attempt.

Player of the Game
Texas QB Colt McCoy completed 41-of-59 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and he ran seven times for 27 yards and a score, and WR Quan Cosby caught 14 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.

Stat Leaders
Ohio State - Passing: Todd Boeckman, 5-11, 110 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Chris Wells, 16-106. Receiving: Brian Robiskie, 5-116
Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 41-59, 414 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Ogbonnaya, 11-42. Receiving: Quan Cosby, 14-171, 2 TD

11. 2012 Rose Bowl

Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
It was every bit the classic shootout that offense lovers were hoping for. Could Wisconsin stop Oregon's running game?

The answer was a resounding no, with the Ducks tearing off 345 yards and averaging 8.6 yards per carry. But Oregon couldn't shut down a Badger offense that came up with 508 yards and moved the ball at will. Two turnovers, including a magical fumble from WR Jared Abbrederis that sat on the turf just inches away from the sideline.

LaMichael James ran wild in Oregon's 2012 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

Even with the mistakes, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson got the offense cranked up in the final seconds, only to miss out on one final shot in the end zone after time ran out a fraction of a second before he was able to spike the ball to stop the clock.

Player of the Game
Oregon QB Darron Thomas completed 17-of-23 passes for 268 yards and three scores with a pick.

Bowl Notes
Oregon: The Ducks outgained the Badgers 345 rushing yards to 212 … LaMichael James ran 25 times for 159 yards and a score. … Lavasier Tuinei eight catches for 158 yards and two scores. … DeAnthony Thomas ran two times for 155 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 34 yards. … Safety John Boyett made 16 tackles with a half a sack. … LB Michael Clay made 13 tackles with two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

Wisconsin: The Badgers lost in fourth quarter time of possession 10:09 to 4:51. … Russell Wilson completed 19-of-25 passes for 296 yards and three scores, and he ran for a touchdown. … Montee Ball ran 32 times for 164 yards and a score, and caught four passes for 51 yards. … Nick Toon caught nine passes for 104 yards and a score. … Mike Taylor made 13 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble, and Chris Borland made 12 tackles with a sack and a fumble.

10. 2011 Sugar Bowl

Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
Ohio State had a 31-13 lead late in the third quarter, helped by a 43-yard Terrelle Pryor touchdown pass to DeVier Posey and a 15-yard throw to Dane Sanzenbacher, but had to hang on for dear life. Arkansas mounted a huge comeback with a 19-3 run from the end of the second half on.

Zach Hocker nailed three field goals and Ryan Mallett connected with Jarius Wright for a 22-yard score, and things got interesting late as a safety, taking OSU running back Dan Herron and pushing him back into the end zone, brought the Hogs within eight before Hocker's 47-yard shot with 8:55 to play made it a five-point game.

This TD grab by DeVier Posey was key for Ohio State in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

Mallett got his final chance closer than expected with a blocked punt putting the ball deep in Buckeye territory, but OSU's Solomon Thomas picked off a Mallett pass in the final seconds to seal the program's first bowl win over an SEC team.

Player of the Game
Ohio State DT Cameron Heyward made six tackles, a sack, and 3.5 tackles for loss and broke up two passes.

Stat Leaders
Arkansas – Passing: Ryan Mallett, 24-47, 277 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Knile Davis, 26-139 Receiving: Joe Adams, 9-120, 1 TD
Ohio State – Passing: Terrelle Pryor, 14-25, 221 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Terrelle Pryor, 15-115 Receiving: DeVier Posey, 3-70, 1 TD

Bowl Notes
Arkansas S Tramain Thomas led all defenders with 12 tackles and two forced fumbles … Arkansas punter Dylan Breeding kept Ohio State pinned deep all night long, averaging 43.7 yards per kick with four put inside the 20. … Arkansas dropped six passes. … Sacks: Ohio State 4 for 28 yards – Arkansas 0 for 0. … Combined fumbles: 5 – Lost Fumbles: 0 … Total yards: Ohio State 446 – Arkansas 402

9. 2005 Rose Bowl

Texas 38, Michigan 37
In a classic Rose Bowl, Dusty Mangum hit a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give Texas the win. Quarterback Vince Young stole the show, running for 192 yards and four touchdowns with dashes of 20, 60, 10 and 23 yards, each one more spectacular than the last. Young also threw for 180 yards and a score, connecting with David Thomas from 11 yards out in the second quarter.

But Michigan battled in the see-saw game as quarterback Chad Henne tied a Rose Bowl record with four touchdown passes -- three of which went to Braylon Edwards, who caught 10 passes for 118 yards.

Michigan, however, was only able to manage two Garrett Rivas field goals in the fourth quarter while Texas got two of Young's touchdown runs and the Mangum field goal to erase a 10-point third-quarter deficit. Michigan all-purpose star Steve Breaston set a Rose Bowl record with 315 total yards.

Player of the Game
Texas QB Vince Young completed 16 of 28 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He ran 21 times for 193 yards and four scores.

Stat Leaders
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 20-36, 245 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Mike Hart, 21-82. Receiving: Braylon Edwards, 10-118, 3 TD
Texas - Passing: Vince Young, 16-28, 180 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Vince Young, 21-192, 4 TD. Receiving: Bo Scaife, 5-68

8. 1999 Rose Bowl

Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31
Ron Dayne ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns, but it was the Wisconsin defense that came up with the big plays when needed.

With UCLA down 31-28 late, Cade McNown got picked off by Jamar Fletcher, who took the interception 46 yards for a Badgers touchdown. The Bruins got within seven on a field goal and had one final shot, but a fourth-down play was snuffed out on a sack by Wendell Bryant.

The shootout was the running game of the Badgers vs. the passing game of UCLA, with Wisconsin running for 343 yards and the Bruins throwing for 418. UCLA rolled through the air with wide receiver Freddie Mitchell connecting with Durrell Price for a 61-yard touchdown and McNown throwing scoring passes from 38 and 41 yards out.

But it was Dayne who controlled the action, especially early, with scoring runs from 54, 7, 10 and 22 yards out for all the Badger touchdowns. The two teams finished with a combined 1,035 yards of total offense.

Player of the Game
Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne ran 27 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns.

Stat Leaders
UCLA - Passing: Cade McNown, 19-34, 340 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jermaine Lewis, 10-50, 1 TD. Receiving: Danny Farmer, 7-142, 1 TD
Wisconsin - Passing: Mike Samuel, 9-17, 154 yds
Rushing: Ron Dayne, 27-246, 4 TD. Receiving: Nick Davis, 3-57

7. 2011 Rose Bowl

TCU 21, Wisconsin 19
TCU held on to win a thrilling Rose Bowl as LB Tank Carder tipped a two-point conversion attempt that almost certainly would've been completed to a wide open receiver. With only two minutes to play and with just one timeout left, Wisconsin tried the onside kick, but the Horned Frogs recovered and ran out the clock.

The two teams traded punches in the first half with Andy Dalton finding Bart Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown and running for a four-yard score, while the Badgers started off the scoring with a 30-yard Philip Welch field goal and added a 1-yard John Clay scoring run.

TCU's stellar defense stuffed the Badgers in the 2011 Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin owned the second quarter, holding on to the ball for 13:30, but appeared to lose track of time and settled for a Welch field goal to pull within one going into halftime.

TCU increased its lead to 21-13 on a 1-yard Luke Shivers run in the third, but the Badger defense stiffened up the rest of the way and the offense marched on a 10-play, 77-yard drive, culminating in a 5-yard Montee Ball touchdown run to set up the critical two-point attempt.

Player of the Game
TCU QB Andy Dalton completed 15-of-23 passes for 219 yards and a score, and he led the team with 28 rushing yards and a score on nine carries.

Stat Leaders
Wisconsin – Passing: Scott Tolzien, 12-21, 159 yds
Rushing: Montee Ball, 22-132, 1 TD Receiving: Lance Kendricks, 4-36
TCU – Passing: Andy Dalton, 15-23, 219 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Andy Dalton, 9-28, 1 TD Receiving: Jeremy Kerley, 6-58

Bowl Notes
TCU QB Andy Dalton completed 15-of-23 passes for 219 yards and a score, and he led the team with 28 rushing yards and a score on nine carries. TCU LB Tank Carder made six tackles with a sack, three tackles for loss, and batted down the two point conversion attempt that would've tied the game with two minutes to play. … TCU SS Colin Jones made a game-leading ten tackles with a sack and two broken up passes. … Wisconsin star DE J.J. Watt was held to three tackles and one broken up pass. … Time of possession: Wisconsin 36:35 – TCU 23:25 … Rushing yards: Wisconsin 226 – TCU 82 … Total offense: UW 385 – TCU 301.

6. 2011 BCS Championship

Auburn 22, Oregon 19
In a strange and thrilling game, Auburn capped off a seven-play, 73-yard drive with a walk-off, game-winning 19-yard field goal from Wes Byrum to win the national title. Auburn rolled up 519 yards of total offense, but it couldn't put the game away as Oregon's defense came up with just enough big stops to make up for an offense that was held to 75 yards rushing.

The Ducks took the first lead with a 26-yard Rob Beard field goal in the second quarter and answered a 35-yard Kodi Burns touchdown catch with an eight-play, 93-yard drive culminating in an 8-yard Darron Thomas pass to LaMichael James. The Ducks went for two and got it as Beard took the pitch for a score and an 11-7 lead.

Cam Newton capped an incredible season with a BCS title win in 2011.

Auburn took the lead into halftime on a stuff of James for a safety by Mike Blanc and followed up by a 30-yard Emory Blake touchdown catch for a 16-11 lead. A Byrum 28-yard field goal put the Tigers up eight early in the third, but the offense couldn't put the game away.

Oregon had its chances, but it struggled in the red zone including a goal line stand from Auburn late in the third after the Ducks had it first-and-goal from the one. Just when it seemed like Auburn was going to close, Oregon LB Casey Matthews forced a Cam Newton fumble in the final minutes, and the offense took advantage with James capping off the drive with a 2-yard shovel-pass catch for the score with 2:33 to play, and Thomas found Maehl for the two-point conversion and a tie game.

Auburn marched down the field without a problem with Michael Dyer rolling over a defender, getting up, and taking off for a 37-yard dash. Dyer rumbled down to the 1-yard line, Newton was stuffed on a sneak, and Byrum came on to hit the kick for the win.

Player of the Game
Auburn DT Nick Fairley made five tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, an a forced fumble.

Stat Leaders
Oregon – Passing: Darron Thomas, 27-40, 363 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: LaMichael James, 13-49 Receiving: Jeff Maehl, 9-133
Auburn – Passing: Cam Newton, 20-34, 265 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Michael Dyer, 22-143 Receiving: Terrell Zachery, 6-48

Bowl Notes
Total yards: Auburn 519 – Oregon 449 … Average yards per carry: Auburn 5.1 – Oregon 2.3 … Rushing yards: Auburn 254 – Oregon 75 … Oregon DE Kenny Rowe made nine tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and four tackles for loss. … LaMichael James only ran for 49 yards, but he caught four passes for 39 yards and two scores … Cam Newton ran 22 times for 64 yards … Auburn S Mike McNeill lead all defenders with 14 tackles with 12 solo stops … Auburn P Ryan Shoemaker kicked five times for a 40.4-yard average and put three inside the 20.

5. 2012 Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 OT
There were many shootouts played throughout this bowl season, but none were played at a higher level. Andrew Luck closed out his college career with a brilliant 27-of-31, 347-yard performance, but kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 35-yard game-winning attempt at the end of regulation and a 43-yarder in overtime.

Justin Blackmon (No. 81) scored three times in Oklahoma State's thrilling Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford.

Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp connected on a 22-yard field goal -- after head coach Mike Gundy chose to go for the field goal even after having the ball first-and-goal on the 1-yard line -- and came up with the improbable win.

As good as Luck was, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon was equally terrific with eight catches for 186 yards and three scores.

Player of the Game
Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon caught eight passes for 186 yards and three scores.

Bowl Notes
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys only committed one penalty. … Brandon Weeden completed 29-of-42 passes for 399 yards and three scores with a pick. … Joseph Randle ran ten times for 23 yards and a score.. …Alex Elkins made 12 tackles, all solo.

Stanford: The Cardinal outgained OSU 243 rushing yards to 13. … Andrew Luck completed 27-of-31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. … Stepfan Taylor ran 34 times for 177 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 21 yards. … Ty Montgomery caught seven passes for 120 yards and a score. … Jarek Lancaster and Delano Howell each made seven tackles.

4. 2000 Orange Bowl

Michigan 35, Alabama 34 OT
In a wild ending, Michigan got a 25-yard touchdown catch from Shawn Thompson in overtime, and Alabama appeared to answer on a 21-yard Antonio Carter catch, but Ryan Pflugner missed the extra point to give the Wolverines the win.

Michigan, who twice came back from 14-point deficits, had chances to win in regulation but lost a fumble on the Alabama 1-yard line and later, with time running out, got a 36-yard field goal attempt blocked. The Tide got three touchdown runs, coming from five, six, and 50 yards out, from Shaun Alexander, with the first two scores giving 'Bama a 14-0 lead, but Michigan always had an answer. Tom Brady threw for 369 yards, with David Terrell catching touchdown passes from 27, 57 and 20 yards out.

Amidst all the fireworks and all the drama were penalties, lots of them, with Alabama committing 18 for 132 yards and Michigan getting flagged 10 times for 115 yards.

Player of the Game
Michigan WR David Terrell caught 10 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns.

Stat Leaders
Alabama - Passing: Andrew Zow, 7-14, 86 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Shaun Alexander, 25-161, 3 TD. Receiving: Antonio Carter, 4-38, 1 TD
Michigan - Passing: Tom Brady, 34-46, 369 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Anthony Thomas, 18-40, 1 TD. Receiving: David Terrell, 10-150, 3 TD

Ian Johnson scores the two-point conversion that won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl for Boise State.

3. 2007 Fiesta Bowl

Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 OT
In one of the wildest, most exciting finishes in college football history, Boise State ran a trick play in overtime with backup wide receiver Vinny Parretta connecting with Derek Schouman for a 5-yard score on fourth down and then won it on a Statue of Liberty play, with Ian Johnson taking the ball from Jared Zabransky for the two-point conversion.

Oklahoma had to fight back to tie the game, getting a 5-yard Quentin Chaney touchdown catch with 1:26 to play. After penalties forced a third two-point conversion try, Paul Thompson found Juaquin Iglesias for the tie. On the next play from scrimmage, Zabransky was picked off by Marcus Walker for a 33-yard interception return for a score.

With under a minute to go, Boise State went 78 yards in five plays, converting on fourth-and-18 for a 35-yard score on a hook-and-lateral with Drisan James catching the ball and pitching it to Jerard Rabb, who took it for the score with seven seconds left in regulation.

Boise State dominated the first 57 minutes thanks to four OU turnovers, with a 27-yard Marty Tadman interception for a score and two first half touchdown grabs from James. OU fought back with 18 straight points including an 8-yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run. Peterson scored in overtime on OU's first play on a 25-yard run.

Player of the Game
Boise State QB Jared Zabransky completed 19 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.

Stat Leaders
Oklahoma - Passing: Paul Thompson, 19-32, 233 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Adrian Peterson, 20-77, 2 TD Receiving: Juaquin Iglesias, 6-120
Boise State - Passing: Jared Zabransky, 19-29, 262 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ian Johnson, 23-101, 1 TD Receiving: Derek Schouman, 8-72, 1 TD

2. 2006 Rose Bowl

Texas 41, USC 38
Texas came back from down 12 in the final 6:42 as Vince Young ran for a 17-yard score with 4:03 to play, the defense held USC's LenDale White on fourth down, and then Young led the offense on a 10-play, 56-yard drive culminating in an 8-yard touchdown run on fourth down for the win.

Vince Young runs in for the winning score in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

Young ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns, but the Trojans rushing attack was equal to the task with 209 yards led by White's 124 yards and three scores. The Trojans appeared to have it won after Reggie Bush dove for a 26-yard touchdown and Dwayne Jarrett caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but Young proved to be too much to stop. USC cranked out 574 yards of total offense, Texas 556.

Player of the Game
Texas QB Vince Young completed 30–of-40 passes for 267 yards and ran 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Stat Leaders
Texas - Passing: Vince Young, 30-40, 267 yds
Rushing: Vince Young, 19-200, 3 TD. Receiving: David Thomas, 10-88
USC - Passing: Matt Leinart, 29-40, 365 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: LenDale White, 20-124, 3 TD. Receiving: Dwayne Jarrett, 10-121, 1 TD

1. 2003 Fiesta Bowl … National Championship

Ohio State 31, Miami 24 2OT
In what can only be described as one of the greatest college football games of all-time, Ken Dorsey's fourth-and-goal pass in the second overtime fell short, and Ohio State won the national title.

In regulation, a punt return by Roscoe Parrish gave Miami great field position for Todd Sievers to hit a 40-yard field goal with :02 to play to put the game into overtime.

Craig Krenzel celebrates his overtime TD run against Miami in the 2003 national title game.

The Canes scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow on their first OT possession. Following a broken up pass in the end zone by Glenn Sharpe that would've given Miami the national title, the official called pass interference to give the Buckeyes new life. Craig Krenzel capitalized with a one-yard TD run.

Maurice Clarett scored on a five-yard touchdown run on the Buckeyes' possession in the second overtime for what would be the winning points. For the game, Krenzel and Clarett each ran for two touchdowns.

Player of the Game
Ohio State CB/WR Chris Gamble was on the field for over 100 plays and caught two passes for 69 yards. He also helped hold Miami WR Andre Johnson to four catches for 54 yards.

Stat Leaders
Miami - Passing: Ken Dorsey, 28-43, 296 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Willis McGahee, 20-67, 1 TD. Receiving: Kellen Winslow, 11-122, 1 TD
Ohio State - Passing: Craig Krenzel, 7-21, 122 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Craig Krenzel, 19-81, 2 TD. Receiving: Michael Jenkins, 4-45

See CFN's full rankings: Classics | Good Ones | Just Bowls | Snoozers | Disasters

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