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ESPN Releases Top 25 Games of the 2013 College Football Season

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The 2013 football season provided quite a few memorable moments and games. The Mississippi State Bulldogs had their share of games, but none ended up cracking ESPN's list.

Kevin C. Cox

ESPN recently released its list of top 25 games of the 2013 football season to be aired on ESPNU starting July 21.  While some teams and games seemed like a no-brainer to make a list (hello, Auburn), some games may be surprising to many who did not see the games. Of the 25 games, no Mississippi State made the contest, and in fact, the Bulldogs joined only Arkansas, Kentucky and Florida as SEC teams not having a game make the list.

In all when the list came out, only two Mississippi State contests seemed like they had a shot at making the list.  While the Bulldogs' contests against Bowling Green and Kentucky ended up being very close, those were far from exciting. However, two close contests, the Egg Bowl and the game against Auburn should have had strong consideration for making the list.

Here is how those two games measured up against the games on the list using two things most of the game had in common:

1. Scoring: The lowest score for a team on this list was the 20 points scored by Stanford against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.  In fact of the 50 team scores on the list, 43 of the teams went over 30 points. With a combined score of 44 points, the Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers would have tied the Rose Bowl, which was won 24-20 by Michigan State over Stanford, for the lowest point total on the list.  The Egg Bowl, with a combined 27 points, would have had less points than all but four of the teams out of the 50 represented on the list.

When it comes down to it, most fans, especially more casual ones, find games that have a lot of scoring to be more exciting.  This will be doubly true if trying to get fans to tune into a game that has already been played.  At the end of the day, the perceived lack of scoring hurt both of these game from making the list.

2. Marquee Matchups: At the end of the day, most of the matchups on this list have a fair amount of sexiness to them.  For the most part, they either have storied programs, or upstart programs, or long standing rivalries. Only a few games on the list do not meet this idea: Colorado State vs. Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl, Fresno State vs. Rutgers, Fresno State vs. SMU, and Navy vs. San Jose State. UCF vs. Louisville and Oregon State vs. Utah also could fit in this list, but they are games that have more appeal than many might think.  The one thing those games with teams with less appeal had were lots of scoring with much of it coming late.

While Auburn is a team that can move the needle, at least in the southeast, they still do not match up on a national level like an Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State, or Oregon to name a few.  Mississippi State and Ole Miss fall into the same type of category in that they may be seen locally, but do not have a national level of appeal.

However, one thing both games had going for it that could have bumped them onto the list was a late, game-changing play.  Against Auburn, the Tigers scored a touchdown on an eleven yard pass from Nick Marshall to C.J. Uzomah with ten seconds left to play to take a 24-20 lead. Against Ole Miss, the game ended suddenly when Nickoe Whitley forced a fumble out of Bo Wallace as the Ole Miss quarterback appeared ready to find the end zone and set up a tying point after attempt to tie the contest in overtime.

Another factor that could have helped Mississippi State-Auburn make this list is that two quarterbacks used the game to emerge on the scene.  Nick Marshall finished the contest with 339 yards and two touchdowns.  Mississippi State's Dak Prescott threw for 213 yards and ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Other than the lack of scoring, the biggest reason I'd guess the Mississippi State-Auburn contest did not make the list is that it might have only been the third or fourth most exciting finish to an Auburn game of the season. The Tigers have three games in the top five of the list:  Alabama, Georgia, and the National Championship game against Florida State.  While one could argue the ending to the Mississippi State-Auburn game equalled that of the National Championship game, the game as a whole did not quite measure up, and in no way could the game measure up to the wacky endings to the Auburn-Georgia and Auburn-Alabama match ups.  It would have been hard for ESPN to make a list with four of the 25 games featuring Auburn, so even if that game would have been more deserving, and looking at the list, it probably was, ESPN did not have a way to do it.

If you are wondering, here is the list of the Top-25 college football games of 2013.

Top 5 College Football Games of 2013
(Order to be determined by fan vote)

· Auburn (34) vs. Alabama (28)

· Auburn (43) vs. Georgia (38)

· BCS Championship: Florida State (34) vs. Auburn (31)

· Ohio State (42) vs. Michigan (41)

· Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M (52) vs. Duke (48)

Top 25 College Football Games of 2013
(No. 25 - No. 6)
No. 25 Rose Bowl: Michigan State (24) vs. Stanford (20)
No. 24 New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State (48) vs. Washington State (45)
No. 23 Alabama (49) vs. Texas A&M (42)
No. 22 Fresno State (52) vs. Rutgers (51) (Overtime)
No. 21 Navy (58) vs. San Jose State (52) (Three Overtimes)
No. 20 Georgia (44) vs. LSU (41)
No. 19 Orange Bowl: Clemson (40) vs. Ohio State (35)
No. 18 Arizona State (32) vs. Wisconsin (30)
No. 17 Auburn (45) vs. Texas A&M (41)
No. 16 Oregon State (51) vs. Utah (48) (Overtime)
No. 15 Georgia (34) vs. Tennessee (31) (Overtime)
No. 14 Penn State (43) vs. Michigan (40) (Four Overtimes)
No. 13 Notre Dame (38) vs. Navy (34)
No. 12 Rutgers (55) vs. SMU (52) (Overtime)
No. 11 Ole Miss (39) vs. Vanderbilt (35)
No. 10 Oklahoma (33) vs. Oklahoma State (24)
No. 9 Big Ten Championship: Michigan State (34) vs. Ohio State (24)
No. 8 UCF (38) vs. Louisville (35)
No. 7 South Carolina (27) vs. Missouri (24) (Two Overtimes)
No. 6 Oregon (36) vs. Oregon State (35)