Deeming an AFC Divisional round matchup the “Game of the Century” before it started would be hyperbole in almost any year. However, there were signs that the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills game would be excellent on Jan. 23, 2022. The Bills and Chiefs exceeded those expectations by playing a 42-36 overtime classic at Arrowhead Stadium.
The teams combined to score 25 points in the final two minutes and played relentlessly to reach the AFC title game. Much like when people make Super Bowl Bets, media and fans often try to identify games as classics before they happen. Some meet the hype, and others get lost to history.
I am trying to bet that these games produced mixed results at best.
Notre Dame wins title in a tie.
The No. 1 Fighting Irish met No. 2 Michigan State in East Lansing on Nov. 19, 1966. Notre Dame hadn’t won a National Championship in 17 years. Still, coach Ara Parseghian had the Fighting Irish undefeated going into a game late in the season with Michigan State, which was also undefeated.
The Fighting Irish wanted to protect its unbeaten record because Notre Dame didn’t play in bowl games from 1925 to 1970, so there would be no chance to do so in the postseason.
The Fighting Irish tied the score at ten on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Joe Azzaro. That would be the final score. Notre Dame had the ball last, receiving a punt on its 30-yard line with 1:24 remaining. However, Parseghian would choose to play for the tie, running the ball five out of six plays.
Fans were disappointed there was no definitive winner. However, Notre Dame got what it was looking for as the Fighting Irish were voted National Champions after the season.
Houston Scores Big Upset
When 7-foot-2 UCLA center Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, met up with Houston’s 6-foot-9 Elvin Hayes on Jan. 28, 1968, at the Astrodome, sparks were due to fly.
In the middle of their run as the kings of college basketball, the Bruins had eliminated Houston in the Final Four before capturing their third straight title the year before. When the two teams met in the next regular season, each got a $125,000 payout, which was much more than the $31,781 the teams were paid for making the 1968 tournament.
But the 1968 regular season matchup was everything people had been looking for. Abdul-Jabbar had one of the worst college performances of his career, shooting less than 50 percent for the field for only the second time in his college career. Houston led 46-43 at halftime before holding on for a 71-69 victory.
The Cougars’ win snapped a 47-game winning streak for UCLA. However, that year, the two teams’ rematch in the Final Four was a dud. The Bruins ran away with a 101-69 victory on the way to their fourth straight title game.
Game of Century didn’t linger beyond the result.
When No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan met in a college football battle on Nov. 18, 2006, there were a lot of reasons for billing it as a Game of the Century. Both teams were undefeated and considered so vital there was serious talk of whether the game was close to being a rematch in the BCS National Championship game.
The Buckeyes exploded for 21 points in the second quarter and used the momentum to score a 42-39 win. The Wolverines rallied late, cutting the deficit to three when Chad Henne threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker with 3:11 remaining. However, an ensuing onside kick was recovered by Ted Ginn Jr.
Ultimately, there wouldn’t be a rematch. Neither team impressed in their high-profile bowl games either. Ohio State got smashed 41-14 in the Fiesta Bowl, while Michigan also took a 32-18 thrashing from USC in the Rose Bowl.