For all the fond memories of yesteryear, the final season when ties were allowed in college football – 1995 – was a reminder of why they went away.
The ties that season included a Pac-10 game that ended up deciding who went to the Rose Bowl; an ugly 3-3 snoozefest between Big Ten foes that was the final Division I game to finish tied; and a lower-level national title game that finished with co-champions and is believed to be the final college game to end deadlocked.
Here’s a look at three memorable ties from the final season before they were vanquished for good by a rules change that now provides both teams with chances to win in overtime:
Dec. 16, 1995. Central Washington 21, Findlay 21, NAIA Division II championship game: It’s inconceivable that a championship game could finish in a deadlock. But that’s what happened in the NAIA championship game.
“It was frustrating on both sides,” said then-Central Washington coach Jeff Zenisek, now a high school coach near Seattle. “It was like, `It’s not supposed to end like this.’ It just felt like, `Let’s go out into the parking lot and finish this thing.“’
The teams were aware the game could finish tied and in reality likely should have been decided in regulation. Down 14-0, Central Washington rallied behind quarterback Jon Kitna. His 7-yard touchdown pass to Todd Murray early in the fourth quarter pulled the Wildcats even at 21. But Central Washington missed a pair of field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, the last coming with 6 seconds left. Findlay took a knee on the final play rather than make a final desperation effort to provide a winner.
Nov. 25, 1995. Wisconsin 3, Illinois 3: The final Division I game to finish tied is a painful memory for former Wisconsin quarterback Darrell Bevell. Not so much for the result.
“It was the last game of my career and I ended up in the hospital with lacerated kidney,” Bevell said.
Bevell was injured late in the first half, sandwiched by Illinois’ Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy. He was thought to have bruised ribs and remained in the game. Bevell remembered aggravating the injury in the second half getting pulled down from behind. Unable to continue, Bevell left the game with 3 minutes remaining and the Badgers facing a third down. The Badgers fumbled on the next play and Illinois missed a long field goal in the final minute.
Oct. 28, 1995. Washington 21, USC 21: Washington was rolling toward a Pac-10 title. The Huskies were leading USC 21-0 headed to the fourth quarter and about to take complete control of the race for the Rose Bowl.
USC rallied with three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes, capped by Brad Otton’s 2-yard TD pass to Jimmy Williams with 33 seconds left. Because USC had a better non-conference record than Washington, the Trojans knew a tie was to their benefit and didn’t attempt to go for the 2-point conversion.
There were still three conference games left for both teams, but Washington lost the following week to Oregon – meaning when USC later lost to UCLA, the Trojans were still Rose Bowl bound.
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