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Mauch on Sports: Somebody has to be the worst

Somewhere in the world practices the best doctor. The best lawyer is also practicing, probably on a groundbreaking case.

By the way, I’ve never understood why they are said to be practicing. Isn’t practice something you do in preparation for something? Personally, I’d rather the doctor or lawyer be finished with practicing and get down to being good before tending to my needs.

But I digress. For every best of something in the world, there is a worst of the same thing. Therefore, someone just walked out of the worst doctor in the world’s office. Someone else, likely unjustly behind bars, paid a lot of money to be misrepresented in court by someone even worse than the stuttering attorney in “My Cousin Vinnie.”

So, when someone throws around the term “best ever” like a peanut vendor at a baseball game, I tend to suggest tapping the brakes. Same is true with the phrase “Game of the Century,” which, by the way, is already set to have a new one crowned as such even as the most recent, LSU over Alabama 46-41, is still at the front of our mental lobes.

But it does get one to thinking (at least this one). Just as with everything else, if there indeed a greatest game ever – in this case college football – there must also be a worst game ever.

And what do you know? A little research dug up not one, but the six worst college football games of all time, at least in this writer’s opinion, one of which I was even in attendance.

Why six? Is it really worth breaking a tie for something this bad?

These games are so flawed they make the Dallas Cowboys look like the Green Bay Packers.

Here they are, in descending order:

6. Oklahoma 77, Texas A&M 0, 2003 – Sure, there have been games with more lopsided scores (though not many), but take into consideration that Oklahoma did not even score in the fourth quarter. The Sooners could easily have topped the century mark that day. But the real highlight was an A&M defender performing a celebration dance after a sack late in the game with his team behind by 11 touchdowns.

5. Florida State 24, Wichita State 0, 1969 – I wouldn’t trust these guys to carry a letter to the mailbox. While the score might seem typical, the game was anything but. The teams combined for a record 17 lost fumbles, 10 by Wichita State and seven by Florida State.

4. North Carolina State 13, Virginia 0, 1944 – The Wolfpack remain (and will likely do so) the only team ever to win a game without registering a first down and with the fewest yards ever for a victor (10). They recovered two fumbles in the end zone. Little-known fact: This was also the least known victory in history as everyone was too ashamed to claim it.

3. Iowa 6, Penn State 4, 2004 – Two field goals defeated two safeties, and one of the safeties was intentional. There’s a rumor those in attendance still suffer from a permanent case of narcolepsy.

2. Houston 95, SMU 21, 1989 – I actually was in attendance at this game, writing a column for a newspaper in the Houston area. It featured an SMU team in its first season after two years in hiatus via the only death penalty handed out by the NCAA against one of the highest-powered offenses in NCAA football history. By halftime Houston quarterback Andre Ware had more than 500 passing yards and six touchdowns. The Cougars ended with over 1,000 total yards. SMU started 17 freshmen. Most memorable, though, was the Cougars mascot doing pushups for each point after each UH score. He finished the game with 682.

1. Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland 0, 1916 – Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t around to irritate John Heisman back then. In the ultimate payback, Heisman’s Georgia Tech Engineers (now Yellowjackets) posted the most lopsided score in football history. Heisman was angry after Cumberland soundly defeated Tech in baseball earlier in the year using ringers. Cumberland had disbanded its football program, but Heisman wouldn’t let them out of the contract. Cumberland scrambled and put together a team on short notice, but Tech showed no mercy, scoring at least 42 points in each quarter.

There will be more “Games of the Century,” without question. In the meantime, keep your eyes out for the next candidate for “worst game of all time.” And if you’re lucky – or unlucky – enough to be in attendance, absorb the historical moment – assuming the person next to you stays awake to wake you up.

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