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The Most Surprising Upsets in College Football National Championship Game History

The Top 5 College Football National Championship Game Upsets

College football is known for its high intensity, rivalries, and passionate fans. Every year, the College Football National Championship Game brings together the two best teams in the country to battle it out for the title. While some games may seem like a formality, there have been several instances where the underdog has shocked the world. In this article, we will take a look at the top 5 upsets in College Football National Championship Game history.

1. Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (2017)

The Clemson Tigers, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, faced off against the powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 National Championship Game. Alabama was heavily favored, having won four of the previous seven championships. However, Clemson had other plans and staged a stunning comeback in the fourth quarter, winning the game 35-31. This victory marked Clemson’s first national championship in 35 years and ended Alabama’s dynasty.

Key Takeaway:

Never underestimate the power of determination and resilience. Clemson proved that no matter the odds, with the right mindset and effort, anything is possible.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Miami Hurricanes (2003)

In the 2003 National Championship Game, the Ohio State Buckeyes faced off against the star-studded Miami Hurricanes. Miami was riding a 34-game winning streak and was heavily favored to win the championship. However, Ohio State’s defense stepped up and held Miami’s offense in check, forcing them into several turnovers. The game went into double overtime, and the Buckeyes ultimately came out on top with a final score of 31-24.

Key Takeaway:

Never underestimate the power of a strong defense. In football, defense wins championships, and Ohio State’s performance showcased that.

3. Texas Longhorns vs. USC Trojans (2006)

The 2006 National Championship Game between the Texas Longhorns and the USC Trojans is considered one of the greatest college football games of all time. USC, led by Heisman-winning quarterback Reggie Bush, was aiming for their third straight national championship. However, Texas, led by quarterback Vince Young, had other plans. Young put on a performance for the ages, rushing for 200 yards and passing for 267 yards, including the game-winning touchdown with just 19 seconds left on the clock. Texas won the game 41-38 in a thrilling finish.

Key Takeaway:

Never count out a determined individual. Vince Young’s heroic performance against a dominant USC team showed that one player can make all the difference in the world.

4. Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (2018)

The 2018 National Championship Game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide was a matchup of two SEC powerhouses. Alabama was heavily favored, but Georgia came out swinging and took a commanding 13-0 lead at halftime. However, Alabama’s backup quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, entered the game in the second half and led the Tide to a thrilling comeback victory in overtime. The final score was 26-23 in favor of Alabama, and their victory showcased the depth and resilience of their team.

Key Takeaway:

Never underestimate the impact of a strong bench. Alabama’s decision to bring in their backup quarterback proved to be a game-changer, showing that preparation and depth can play a vital role in overcoming adversity.

5. Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (2007)

In the 2007 National Championship Game between the Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes, Ohio State was heavily favored to win. They were led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith and had won their previous 19 games. However, Florida’s fast and aggressive defense stifled Ohio State’s offense, holding them to just 82 passing yards. The Gators dominated the game, winning 41-14 and claiming their second national championship in school history.

Key Takeaway:

Never underestimate the power of an opportunistic defense. The Florida Gators’ ability to disrupt Ohio State’s offense and create turnovers played a crucial role in their victory.


College football has a rich history of upsets, and the National Championship Game is no exception. These top 5 upsets serve as a reminder that on any given day, the underdog can prevail over the favored team. Determination, resilience, strong defense, individual performances, and preparedness can all play a significant role in changing the outcome of the game. So the next time you watch a National Championship Game, keep in mind that anything can happen, and it’s the unpredictability that makes college football so exciting.

Written By

Dave Gallo is a pioneering sports analytics expert, renowned for his revolutionary work in AI-driven sports simulations, projections, and advanced statistical analysis. With a profound passion for sports and technology, he crafts cutting-edge computer models that accurately predict outcomes.

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