#5 - South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
I've never seen a poorer coached defense. SD ran an extended QB play action (basically, QB fakes the handoff wide right and then sprints wide left) the whole damn game and Minnesota could not do a thing about it. 80 yards rushing plus 350 yards passing equals FCS quarterback Dante Warren having the game of his life. We learned so much during this game though, which is why it makes the list. We learned that Minnesota's defense was young, inexperienced, and lacked any football IQ. We figured out that Brewster was gone, gone, gone, it was just a matter of when. We saw Adam Weber show some of his big-time arm (three TD's, zero picks) and small-time decision making (two fumbles lost). Who would have thought then that Minnesota would be knocking off Iowa at seasons end?
#4 - Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 19
Wisky had BCS dreams (fulfilled, of course) and a Top 10 ranking. Arizona State had Steven Threet, former noodle armed Michigan QB, in the backfield. But we had already seen a Wisconsin team playing below its potential...and this game served as just another reminder how much work they needed to put in. Tolzien looked inaccurate while throwing low to his receivers and Wisky refused to finish drives with touchdowns, letting the Sun Devils stick around. This game also helped create the "Big Ten teams are failing miserably in the special teams department" meme and rightfully so. ASU had almost 300 yards off punt and kickoff returns. And of course Wisky survived, but we had seen the die cast for an incomplete Badger team that would give up a key punt return TD to Keshawn Martin in the loss to Sparty two weeks later.
#3 - Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24
In retrospect, these teams just weren't that good, something we knew but something that always gets lost when legendary programs match up. Notre Dame looked like it might be up for slowing Denard Robinson until D-Rob, who by the way is staying at Michigan, ran a harmless QB sprint to the right side of the line, picked up one block from a WR, and sprinted 87 yards to paydirt. Longest play in South Bend history and probably the one that everyone will remember from this game. The Heisman frontrunner sprinting untouched on the sacred dirt. Notre Dame took a late lead, only to have it wiped out by another Denard-led drive puncuated by another Denard rushing TD. Maybe the programs have faded, but the imagery of this day was pretty damn good.
#2 - Arizona 34, Iowa 27
All our Iowa readers are going to vacate this site if I keep rehashing what was surely one of the most disappointing teams in Iowa history. Get over it. When the #9 team in the nation goes into the desert and gets exposed in heart-breaking fashion, it's gotta be a memorable game. Iowa made enough mistakes to kill a small horse, probably a large one too, and Ricky Stanzi spent more time sitting on his ass than a 32 year old stoner living in his moms basement (my apologies for all of our readers who fit that description). But when Broderick Binns picked off Nick Foles and strolled into the endzone, the vicious comeback was complete. You know the rest of the story. Lesson? Practice in heat before going to play in the desert and try to work out offensive line kinks before the season starts.
#1 - Michigan State 34, Notre Dame 31
Ya'll are just going to remember the cutesy named fake field goal and Mark Dantonio's subsequent heart attack. Do not forget how many amazing catches the Irish had to make to stay in this game, how many great throws Dayne Christ made, and how the fake field goal somehow wasn't waived off for delay of game. I was so worn out from a day of tailgating that I actually fell asleep on my couch during OT, waking up just before Aaron Bates delivered a perfect strike to Charlie Gantt. My favorite part of the fake FG? It was supposed to be thrown to Le'Veon Bell, but he fell down along with two defenders, leaving Gantt wide open.