College Football’s Top Five Thanksgiving Day Games

Regardless of where you live or what you believe, the constants of Thanksgiving Day are turkey, pie and football. We all know the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are the main games, but there is still a little bit of college football left to be played. Both the Texas/TCU and LSU/Texas A&M games start at 7:30 PM and if you can make it through them without slipping into a food coma, you’re a better person than I.

The Lions and Cowboys became permanent Thanksgiving Day fixtures in the mid-1960s, but whole regions of the country still enter the holiday more focused on their respective universities. This is college football’s rivalry weekend and while most of the games traditionally are now played on Friday and Saturday, some classics have been played on Thanksgiving Day. Here are the top five (Note: Before anyone blasts this article for missing a classic Iron Bowl, Backyard Brawl or Battle for the Golden Boot, double-check and make sure it wasn’t played on Black Friday).

5. November 26, 1953: Utah 33, Brigham Young 32 – Provo, Utah

To quote Joe Pesci in the “Lethal Weapon” movies, “Okay, okay, okay.” BYU was 2-7-1 and Utah was 8-2 and unranked. But this game was played on national television and showcased the aerial attack that the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) would come to be known for when the two schools joined it nine years later. Four times Utah took the lead and three times BYU tied them. The fourth attempt and outcome of the game ended on a botched snap on the extra point.

4. November 25, 1999: Mississippi State 23, Ole Miss 20 -€“ Starkville, Miss.

The ’99 Bulldogs had a habit of pulling out games in dramatic fashion. Mississippi State trailed 20-6 going into the 4th quarter, but rallied, as Quarterback Wayne Madkin threw a touchdown pass to C.J. Sirmones to tie the game with 27 seconds left. Faced with the proposition of going into overtime with a fired-up Mississippi State team, the Rebels tried a downfield pass, which was intercepted. Scott Westerfield kicked the game-winning field goal with four seconds left.

3. November 24, 2011: Texas 27, Texas A&M 25 -€“ College Station, Texas

In the last annual match-up between the two schools because of A&M’s departure to the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Aggies jumped out to a 16-7 halftime lead. The Longhorns went into the locker room, had its band thank A&M with a classy formation during its halftime performance and roared back with 17 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter. The Aggies kicked two field goals to take a 25-24 lead with 1:48 left in the game. Then Longhorn quarterback Case McCoy drove his team down the field and kicker Justin Tucker gave A&M a good ole Texas send-off by nailing a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

2. November 25, 1971: Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 24 -€“ Atlanta, Ga.

“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” is the greatest name of any college football rivalry and it was never more apparent than in this game. Georgia was 9-1, ranked in the top ten and on its way to the Gator Bowl, while Tech was 6-4. Yet records generally don’t matter in these types of games and the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 14-0 advantage. With less than four minutes to go, Tech led 24-21 and pulled together for a goal line stand, stopping Georgia quarterback Andy Johnson on 4th and 1. The Bulldogs picked themselves up off the canvas, stopped the Yellow Jackets and again drove down the field. This time, Johnson ran in for the win with 1:29 remaining. This game would be more widely remembered if it were not played on the same day as another game.

1. November 25, 1971: Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31 -€“ Norman, Okla.

Could it be anything else? It was billed as “The Game of the Century” and lived up to its hype. The Cornhuskers were ranked No. 1 and on their way to a second straight national title. The Sooners were No. 2 and finished the season averaging an NCAA-record 472 rushing yards per game behind its wishbone offense. Future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers kick-started the game with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and Nebraska jumped out to a 14-3 lead. Sooners quarterback Jack Mildren rushed for a touchdown and passed for another, and headed into the locker room with his team ahead 17-14 at halftime. The Cornhuskers went ahead 28-17, but the Sooners bounced back to take a 31-28 lead with minutes left. Nebraska then put together a dramatic drive and running back Jeff Kinney ran into the end zone for the winning score with two minutes to go.  So special is this game that even though Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten ended this rivalry, the two schools have scheduled a two-game series starting in 2021 to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Happy Thanksgiving! Safe travels to you this holiday season.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.