16. Boston College 37 #9 USC 31 – September 13, 2014
People have forgotten what an impressive win this was for Boston College. The Pac 12 was considered the best or second best conference in college football in 2014, and this USC team finished 9-4 and in the top 25. They entered this game in the top 10, and Boston College ran for a whopping 452 yards in the 37-31 win. Boston College QB Tyler Murphy was unstoppable in this one.
17. Pittsburgh 42 Penn State 39 – September 10, 2016
At the time this Pittsburgh win over Penn State looked like a nice rivalry win, and not that much else. As the year progressed it became one of the best non-conference wins of the 2016 season. Penn State went on to win the Big 10 Championship and just miss the playoffs, but they couldn’t beat the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt RB James Conner had 117 yards on the ground.
18. Clemson 38 #21 Auburn 24 – September 17, 2011
This was the game that began Clemson’s march from unranked team to an 8-0 start and a top 10 ranking. Auburn was the defending national champion and was on a 17 game winning streak. The final score was closer than it really was. This was Dabo Swinney’s first really noteworthy non-conference win at Clemson, and led to a 10 win season. It was the Tigers first 10 win season in more than 20 years.
19. #14 Florida State 27 #10 Florida 2 – November 29, 2015
Florida came into this game with Florida State 10-1, SEC East Champions, and were playing in the Swamp. They were no match for Florida State. Dalvin Cook ran wild in the 4th quarter, and FSU proved that despite the Gators gaudy record how much separated and continues to separate the two programs.
20. Miami 21 #12 Florida 16 – September 7, 2013
It was the day Dabo Swinney flashed the U.
Dabo: “How about that ACC? Spunky little old league?” Then he makes “The U” sign as he walks out.
— Greg Wallace (@gc_wallace) September 7, 2013
ACC teams beating SEC teams is fairly common place now, but back in early 2013 it was a big deal as the ACC desperately fought for football respect. Clemson beat a big SEC opponent on this same day, that you’ll see on this list later. It was one of Al Golden’s biggest wins during his tenure at Miami.