- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Exactly 20 years after one, the very idea of a “Game of the Century” sounds so, well, last century now.

Maybe because these days, it’s seems like there’s one on TV every week. And maybe it’s not all hype.

By any measure, college football has never been bigger: the number of fans, teams, dollars rolling in, bowl games; take your pick. But two decades later, it’s still open to debate whether the game ever had a better afternoon than on Nov. 13, 1993.

So rewind the tape _ check that, go to YouTube _ and check out the highlights from then-No. 1 Florida State at No. 2 Notre Dame. The Seminoles arrived with two dozen future NFL draft picks, soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, and a deserving coach, Bobby Bowden, still chasing his first national championship. If you bought what Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz was selling, all the Irish had was their mystique.

“Perfect seasons at stake, a game in a perfect place, a collision in history,” Bob Costas said as NBC came on the air.

But soon after the football went up, Notre Dame raced out to a 24-7 lead. The Irish scored their first touchdown on an improbable 32-yard reverse by Adrian Jarrell, a part-time receiver and full-time punter making his first rushing attempt of the season, and just the third of his career. Full-time safety Jeff Burris ran for two more.

“I thought we had it under control a few times,” Holtz recalled ruefully. “But that’s what makes great fights. They kept getting up off the ground.”

Out of timeouts, but back within 31-24, Ward marched FSU down to the Notre Dame 14 with three seconds left. Flushed from the pocket on the final play, he rolled left and took dead aim at the left corner of the end zone.

“It’s sounds funny now,” Irish cornerback Shawn Wooden said. “But they’d scored on a tipped pass just before that, so on the sidelines, coach was yelling at the defense, `quit trying to intercept it! Just knock the ball down.’”

Wooden did exactly that _ at the goal line.

“Knocked away!” announcer Charlie Jones howled a heartbeat later. “The ghost of Knute Rockne is living! And he is smiling!”

But not for long.

The following week, Notre Dame was caught looking ahead and lost its last regular-season game, at home, to 19th-ranked Boston College. Florida State went unbeaten the rest of the way, and all the other dominoes in their path to a title game toppled just right.

“What do I remember,” Bowden asked. “One is how poor ole’ Charlie Ward was running for his life all afternoon.

“The other thing,” he chuckled softly, “is that we lost that battle but won the war.”

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