The matchup between Tulane and Temple in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 1935 marked the first Sugar Bowl. An undefeated Temple squad jumped out to a 14-0 lead – before Tulane stormed back and scored 20 unanswered en route to a six-point victory. Tulane’s home stadium stood as the site for the game until 1975 – when the transition was made to the Louisiana Superdome.
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1979 - The Bear beats Penn State and Joe Paterno
This iconic matchup featured No. 2 Alabama going up against top-ranked Penn State. The immense theatre was enhanced even further by the coaching matchup between coaching legends Paul “Bear” Bryant and Joe Paterno. In what was regarded as one of the most physical, grueling Sugar Bowls, Alabama defeated Penn State, 14-7. Alabama’s defense stonewalled the Nittany Lions on four attempts inside the Crimson Tide’s 8-yard line in the fourth quarter. A goal-line stop by Alabama linebacker Barry Krauss proved to be the difference.
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1981 - Freshman star leads UGA to the national title
Buoyed by the brilliance of running back Herschel Walker, Georgia won its first National Championship – defeating Notre Dame, 17-10. The Fighting Irish struggled immensely when it came to special teams. One of their field goals was blocked, and the inability to field a kickoff between returners Ty Barber and Jim Stone led to Georgia recovering deep in opposing territory. A late fourth-quarter stand by the Georgia defense ultimately clinched the victory for the Bulldogs. Walker finished with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 36 carries.
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1988 - Syracuse and Auburn tie
In one of the most bizarre bowl games in history, an undefeated Syracuse team tied Auburn by a score of 16-16. Down three with one second left at the 13-yard line, Auburn elected to kick a field goal – essentially conceding any chance at winning the contest. Overtime rules didn’t enter the equation in the college game until 1996. As such, a tie was the result in this affair. Upset at how the game ultimately ended, a Syracuse radio station mailed Auburn head coach Pat Dye 2,000 ties – which were then auctioned off for charity. This marked the first tie in the 54-year history of the Sugar Bowl.
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1993 - Alabama wins national title over Miami
Both the Crimson Tide and the Hurricanes entered this game undefeated as Alabama had just won the inaugural SEC Championship game. Bama needed only 13 passing yards to defeat the Canes by a 34-13 margin. Miami QB Gino Torretta - the Heisman Trophy winner following the 1992 regular season - threw for 278 yards but was held to one TD pass and threw a pick-six.
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2000 - Florida State withstands Vick/Virginia Tech's best shot
Both undefeated, the Seminoles and Hokies played for the national title in the game. The stage wasn't too big for Tech freshman QB Michael Vick, who had a coming out party with a dazzling combo of runs and passes. Despite Vick's best effort, FSU QB Chris Weinke threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns - 163 yards and two touchdowns went to game MVP Peter Warrick alone. Florida State eventually pulled away 46-29 to win the 1999 national title.
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2004 - LSU wins the national title over Oklahoma
Nick Saban's final game as Tiger coach ended with BCS National Title following a 21-14 win over the Sooners. A defensive contest all the way, MVP Justin Vincent had only 117 yards rushing and one touchdown in the game. The Tigers held OU to 154 yards of total offense and the game was all but sealed following Marcus Spears' 20-yard interception return for a touchdown.
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2006 - West Virginia shocks Georgia in Atlanta
Due to Hurricane Katrina, this game was played in Atlanta, making it virtually a home game for the SEC champion and double-digit favorite Bulldogs. The Mountaineers played without head coach Rich Rodriguez, who had left for Michigan, but still managed to come away with a 38-35 victory. WVU running back Steve Slaton won MVP honors after running for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Interim coach Bill Stewart was named permanent head coach following the performance.
2015 - Ohio State defeats Alabama to advance to the title game
The Tide entered the game as a double-digit favorite, however Ohio State's third-string quarterback Cardale Jones helped keep the Tide's defense honest while running back Ezekiel Elliott torched Alabama's defense with 230 yards on the ground. The Buckeyes won 42-35 on their way to the national title game.