It’s that time of the year. Temperatures are getting warmer; weather is getting more bland; Omaha has cleared out after the conclusion of college baseball; and, we are left counting down the days until college football returns (the 2019 college football season officially begins on Saturday, August 24th). Weather and college athletics are boring this time of the year so let’s take a look at 3 college football games that were heavily impacted by weather in the last 20 years, and rank them from greatest weather impact (GOLD) to heavy weather impact (BRONZE).
Mississippi State University vs. Texas A&M University: MSU and A&M met up in Shreveport, Louisiana in a bowl game to conclude the year 2000. This post-season meetup was before both teams were in the Southeastern Conference. At the time, A&M was still in the Big XII and MSU was in the SEC. Many dub this game the “Snow Bowl” New Year’s Eve. During warmups, snow begun to fall over northern Louisiana and the snow continued throughout the duration of the game. Several inches of snow fell on the city during the duration of the game; to make things worse (colder), the game went to overtime. While this made for a beautiful scene on television, the players, coaches, assistants and fans had to brave the winter elements of snow & temps in the 20s. Interestingly, the adverse weather did not keep the game low-scoring: 84 points were scored in this game! Given the type of weather (snow & cold) that impacted this game, the location of the game (far South), and the geographical locations of both teams (not common winter weather hotspots) this game is deserving of GOLD. (December 31st, 2000: MSU 43, A&M 41)
The University of Notre Dame vs. North Carolina State University: ND traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on NC State as Hurricane Matthew had its eyes set on the state of North Carolina. This game is known as the “Hurricane Game” due to Matthew’s impacts on the game. By the start of the game, extremely heavy rain was falling and winds were gusting over 40mph. Rain fell throughout the game making the field a nasty mess. Over 6″ of rain fell in Raleigh the day of the game. As you can imagine, the weather heavily impacted the game-plan–passing the ball was not an option in the rain & wind (less than 100 yards combined passing). This made for a low-scoring game: 13 points were scored in this game; ND only scored on a field goal! (October 8th, 2016: NCS 10, ND 3)
The University of Michigan vs. Indiana University: Indiana traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on the number 3-ranked Wolverines (is Michigan back?!). While snow is nothing unusual for Big 10 Country in November, the intensity of the snow was impressive by the end of the game. To make things worse, temps this day started out in the 60s (very warm for Ann Arbor in November) before quickly falling into the 30s. By the start of the game, light snow begun to fall. By the fourth quarter, the snow picked up in intensity and winds were gusting over 30mph. This dropped the visibility to near 0! The wind & snow didn’t seem to impact the offensive production too much: 30 points were scored in this Big 10 matchup! (November 19th, 2016: UM 20, Indiana 10)
What the heck, lets do a runner-up that includes a Florida school since Florida is prime recruiting grounds for college athletics.
West Virginia University vs. the University of South Florida: USF traveled to Morgantown to play WVU in December of 2008 in a game remembered as the Whiteout. While Morgantown is no stranger to winter weather in December, the people from south Florida were likely unprepared for cold temps–much less snow. Ironically, the fans planned the whiteout game (to wear all white attire) but the weather decided to join in on the whiteout and produce snow. Snow periodically fell throughout the game with temps in the 20s (Morgantown never got above freezing on this day–hopefully the couch burning kept fans warm). In 2008, both teams were part of the Big East before conference realignment sent WVU to the Big XII and USF to the American. The blustery and slick conditions kept this game low-scoring: a whopping 20 points were scored! This game doesn’t top the list because field crews were able to keep the field decently cleared. (December 6th, 2008: WVU 13, USF 7)
Christopher Nunley is Meteorologist on Firsthand Weather, Lecturer in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University (MSU), and a PhD Candidate (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) at MSU. He earned his M.S. in Applied Meteorology at MSU, was an Assistant Cross Country Coach and taught at the University of North Texas, and was a Broadcast Meteorologist at KTEN-TV (just north of Dallas, Texas). Christopher’s main focus lies within teaching and inspiring prospective meteorology students, atmospheric research to further our understanding of atmospheric processes, and forecasting and analyzing extreme weather events to help save lives!