The best national championship game endings, ranked

0:59 | College Football
Clemson avenges last year's loss, wins national title
Tuesday January 10th, 2017

Clemson's 35–31 national championship victory over Alabama was epic: It featured a last–second touchdown, a double–digit comeback and three touchdowns in the last five minutes. 

Deshaun Watson's two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining sealed Clemson's first national championship in 35 years. 

But was it the best ending to a national title game ever?

College Football
Clemson topples Alabama to win national championship on last-second touchdown

We ranked the five best national championship game finishes ever. (PSA for all you millennials out there: The national title game debuted during the 1998 season.) Here's our scientifically accurate list, which you will definitely agree with wholeheartedly. 

5. Auburn 22, Oregon 19 (Jan. 10, 2011)

The game wasn't amazing on the whole. Oregon and Auburn were great offensive teams during the season, but the title game didn't feature many offensive fireworks, despite the presence of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. But the last three minutes were wild: Oregon scored and converted a two–point conversion with 2:33 remaining to tie the game at 19, but Auburn quickly marched down the field to set up Wes Bynum's game-winning 19-yard field goal. 

The finish loses some luster because the game-winning kick was, well, 19 yards. 

4. Florida State 34, Auburn 31 (Jan. 6, 2014)

The final few minutes of the last BCS National Championship Game in history were crazy. There were four lead changes in the last five minutes, including Jameis Winston's touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining to win the national title for the 'Noles. 

3. Ohio State 34, Miami (Fla.) 31 (2OT) (Jan. 3, 2003)

Easily the most controversial game in national championship history. Miami thought it had the game won in the first overtime, when a Craig Krenzel pass attempt on fourth down fell incomplete. But a late flag for pass interference rescued Ohio State. Here's an extremely dramatic YouTube video of the infamous play. 

If only Twitter were around for that moment. After Maurice Clarett's touchdown run put Ohio State up 31–24 in the second overtime, the Buckeyes stopped Miami on downs to seal their championship. 

2. Clemson 35, Alabama 31 (Jan. 9, 2017)

Three lead changes in the last five minutes. Deshaun Watson's touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left. Revenge for the previous year's championship game. On top of everything, Clemson iced the game with an onside kick on the last play. 

The fact that Nick Saban was the losing coach puts this game just ahead of Ohio State–Miami. 

1. Texas 41, USC 38 (Jan. 4, 2006)

Monday's national championship game was incredible, but it didn't surpass the Rose Bowl in 2006. USC–Texas, featuring all-time college greats like Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, may be the best college football game ever. The finish is what makes it so special. 

USC was up 38–26 with five minutes to play when Young took over. His touchdown run with 4:21 remaining brought the Longhorns to within five, and Texas stopped USC on 4th-and-2 from the Texas 45-yard–line with 2:13 remaining to get the ball back. 

Young drove Texas to USC's eight–yard–line with just a few seconds remaining, but USC's defense forced 4th-and-5. It seemed the Trojans, considered by some to be perhaps the best team ever, might hang on. Then this happened. 

Good luck topping that. 

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