Beginning in the fall of 1996, overtime rules were added to regular-season games in college football to settle ties after regulation.

But prior to that season, there was no free football after 60 minutes. Games simply ended in a draw.

In high-profile games, this meant rival trophies were left unclaimed that year and fans were left with no bragging rights to rest on until the next year.

INTO THE NIGHT: Here are the longest overtime games in college football history

In a few cases, the national championship hung in the balance thanks to a tie game.

Here are nine of the most impactful tie games in college football history:

Illinois 3, Wisconsin 3 (1995)

We start with the most recent page from the history books. Illinois was 5-5 entering the game and looking to end the 1995 season on a positive note with a win at Camp Randall. Wisconsin was 4-5-1 entering the game and looking to get back to .500 for the season and send their fans home with a winning feeling. Neither team got the satisfaction they were looking for and they now have a place in the history books as the last tie game in college football.

Washburn 0, Fairmount 0 (1905)

This tie game serves as maybe the most influential game on this list for one reason: the forward pass. Using experimental rules created just for this game, the first legal forward pass was thrown in a game. Thankfully, the rule became permanent and created the game we know and love today.

EXTRA TIME: How college football overtime works

No. 1 Texas 15, No. 3 Oklahoma 15 (1984)

The Red River Showdown became two teams navigating a flooded river in 1984 when Texas and Oklahoma met as top-ranked teams. Through the driving rain, Texas got out to a 10-0 lead at the half. But Oklahoma rallied in the second half to pull ahead 15-12. With 10 seconds remaining and trailing by a field goal, Texas took one last chance at the end zone before a field-goal attempt. Texas’ Todd Dodge appeared to be intercepted in the end zone, but officials ruled it incomplete. Texas subsequently kicked a field goal and the game ended in a tie.

Army 21, Navy 21 (1948)

It’s sometimes said by fans that if their team went winless, but beat their biggest rival, the season would be a success. In this case a push was a win for the Navy Midshipmen. They played the role of spoiler entering the game at 0-8 against an Army team that was 8-0. Ruining your rival’s perfect season and vindicating a long season of losses? Doesn’t get much better than that.

College Football: Memorable Army-Navy Games | High Five


California 0, Washington & Jefferson 0 (1922 Rose Bowl)

In 1922, the team from the PCC — now the Pac 12 Conference — was the undefeated California Bears. And their opponent was now NCAA Division III school Washington & Jefferson from Washington County in western Pennsylvania. A game that was expected to be heavily one-sided turned into W&J — playing with only 11 players — holding the top offensive team in the country to no points and almost pulling off one of the greatest upsets in Rose Bowl history.

MORE: The full incredible story behind the 1922 Rose Bowl

Washington & Jefferson Athletics
1922 Rose Bowl Washington and Jefferson


No. 4 Syracuse 16, No. 6 Auburn 16 (1988 Sugar Bowl)

The most controversial bowl game tie (to Syracuse fans) came in the 1988 Sugar Bowl. Instead of trying for a touchdown and the win at the end of regulation, Auburn’s Win Lyle kicked a 30-yard FG to tie the game with one second left, sending Syracuse fans home with a sour taste in their mouths.

BOWL TIES: The 24 bowl games which have ended in a tie