Iconic college playoff performances from the last 10 years

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State

One or two landmark performances in college football can set up a future professional NFL star for life. Iconic performances can propel relative unknowns into the higher echelons of the sport, especially given that college football, in some areas, is just as popular as the big leagues, so players who have put in great individual displays can become superstars overnight.  

There is a vast audience for college football, underpinned by a colossal gambling market, and over the last decade, this market has swelled as more and more people own smartphones. The internet has become much cheaper and easy to access for millions of people all over America, resulting in more eyes on college football and more markets available for bettors. As American legislators have given more leeway for digital sportsbooks to operate, NFL betting and college football odds markets are two industries that have exploded in popularity, size and profitability, with no signs of slowing down. 

There have been some incredible displays from individual players over the last decade, which, again, helps to fuel the popularity of college football and the gambling markets that run alongside it. We’ve selected a few of our favorites for you to browse through today, and we’re sure you won’t be too surprised by some of our selections. 

Trevor Lawrence – Clemson vs Alabama, 2018 

The quarterback position is very much the Hollywood position out on the pitch, and more often than not, they’re the players who end up at the epicenter of the most explosive action. In 2018, Trevor Lawrence’s mesmerizing display of ability included two phenomenal touchdown passes and three touchdowns with zero interceptions – all while he was a true freshman. This didn’t go unnoticed, of course. It propelled Lawrence into the sport’s limelight, resulting in him being a number one pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021. 

Trevor is a perfect example of how one incredible, standout performance can put you on the map for the draft. His consistency levels were incredible but this game was a true breakout moment for him.  

Deshaun Watson – Clemson vs Alabama, 2017 

We’re unsure what inspires Clemson quarterbacks so much when facing off against Alabama. However, the sign of a truly phenomenal talent and player is someone who stands firm against the very best. Watson’s game-changing performance gave Clemson the added quality they needed to get past Alabama in a close-fought, 35-31 victory.  

It wasn’t just the stats, which were outrageous in their own right, that Watson posted in this game. The mentality he showed, his desire to win and the fact that he threw an incredible pinpoint pass for the last-second winning touchdown in what is regarded as one of the greatest college football games of all time landed Watson a place on our list today. Fast-forward to 2023 and Watson, a genuinely precocious talent, is one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, and not without good reason.  

Joe Burrow – Tigers vs Oklahoma, 2019 

If we’re talking outstanding playoff performances from the last decade, we need look no further than Joe Burrow’s unbelievable showing against Oklahoma. Although the two performances we have already touched on are of supreme quality, Joe Burrow’s level of display in this game was the best quarterback display in college football level for decades.  

Many analysts believe the seven touchdowns he orchestrated so masterfully, clocking over 500 offensive yards, is undoubtedly the best college playoff performance of all time. Burrow was so far ahead of the competition that he looked like an NFL superstar who had joined the college ranks for a game or two. For budding quarterbacks looking to educate themselves on what a top performer looks like, Burrow’s performance against Oklahoma should be the go-to video. 


The beauty of college football is that it often showcases the best unknown talent. When players hit the big leagues, they end up signing huge multimillion-dollar deals and endorsements, and for some players, it can become more about a brand image than the love of the game.  

However, at college level, it is often hungry players looking to stand out against their highly-talented counterparts, all looking for a chance to play in the NFL or get themselves high up the draft – and this combination can result in some genuinely magical performances. We only touched on some of the top players today, but there’s so much talent at college football level that we’ll see more of tomorrow’s superstars showcase their abilities over the next while. 

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