In 2003, Oregon State put Cal on a very undesirable list. The Beavers upset the No. 2 Golden Bears on the day they had a chance to claim the No. 1 BCS ranking — thanks to the loss suffered by No. 1 LSU that same day — but the Bears couldn't follow through. They fell 31-28 to Oregon State. Here is a look at some other top-ranked teams that lost their chance at BCS glory by suffering a defeat late in the season ...
Hold on tight
The 2001 game between Tennessee and Florida was delayed because of the September 11th attacks — the two teams met later in the season. Timing wound up being crucial because the two teams were playing for their rightful place in the BCS. Tennessee, always fired up for conference foe Florida, had extra motivation with the chance to stop the No. 2 Gators from advancing to a BCS championship. That is what transpired — Tennessee won 34-32.
Tennessee reached this 2001 game with more than the SEC championship in their sights. Having already knocked off highly ranked Florida, the Vols had designs on grabbing their shot at a BCS championship game. But it was not in the cards for the Volunteers as the LSU Tigers won 31-20 and dashed Tennessee's BCS hopes.
Hit by Cyclones
Pundits and fans alike may have been looking beyond Oklahoma State's Nov. 18, 2011 matchup with Iowa State — the season-ending game with the Oklahoma Sooners was coming up. But the Cyclones made sure nobody would overlook them by playing Oklahoma State tough through two overtimes. Iowa State eventually came through with a win, 37-31, against the vaunted Oklahoma State offense, and theoretically crushed any chance the Cowboys had to make a BCS move.
The No. 1-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers needed to win this 2001 game against the Colorado Buffaloes to win the Big 12 and advance to the BCS championship game. Things didn't go as planned. Instead of beating Colorado and claiming an undisputed spot in the BCS championship, Nebraska lost the game and it wasn't close — the Buffaloes topped the 'Huskers 62-36. But, in a surprising turn of events, Nebraska wound up being chosen as the worthy team anyway — from a passel of one-loss teams — to play for the BCS championship. In that title game, the Huskers got whipped by Miami.
After years of waiting, Michigan fans finally saw the chance for their #2 Wolverines to get into the BCS championship game in 2006. Their arch-rival and the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes stood in their way. The game lived up to expectations of a showdown between the top two teams in the country, with Ohio State outlasting Michigan 42-39 in a thrilling victory.
USC-UCLA is one of the biggest crosstown rivalries in the nation. Things came to a head in 2006 when No. 2 USC — with their eyes on the BCS championship game — lost a season-ending game to unranked UCLA, 13-9. Judging by USC's dominance in their previous meeting, few expected the hapless Bruins to put up much of a fight. Not only did the Bruins fight, they knocked the Trojans down and stomped out USC's BCS dreams.
This 2003 game ratcheted up another notch the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State when the Wolverines spoiled the Buckeyes' shot at a chance to play for a second straight BCS championship. With so much at stake — the Big 10 championship and a BCS championship berth — the Wolverines' 35-21 win was as validating for Michigan as it was heartbreaking for Ohio State.
In 2003, the juggernaut Sooners rolled over virtually every obstacle in their path. The last bump in the road happened to be the No. 15 Kansas State Wildcats. Pundits looked at an Oklahoma win as a foregone conclusion — but that's not how Kansas State viewed things. The Wildcats rose up and punched the Sooners in the mouth ... to the tune of a 35-7 win.
There's always something special about an underdog beating a top-ranked opponent, especially if the opponent is the USC Trojans. In 2003, the Golden Bears were under the thumb of the Trojans, who were developing a stranglehold on the then-Pac 10. Cal came into the game as a heavy underdog but gave as good as they got from USC. Then quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the Bears to a thrilling triple-overtime win, 34-31, over Matt Leinart and the Trojans that knocked USC out of BCS championship discussions.
Gimme a hug!
This 2008 game is one of the most memorable in this Big 12 rivalry. No. 7 Texas Tech hung tough with No. 1 Texas throughout the game. It came down to the last play in the final seconds, with the Longhorns up 33-32 and the Red Raiders left with one last opportunity to score. Then-Red Raiders quarterback Graham Harrell saw his chance and threw a bomb to wideout Michael Crabtree who caught the pass and dodged defenders to get in the end zone with just one second left on the clock. Texas Tech emerged with a win that broke Longhorn hearts.