1 Florida State vs. Notre Dame. Two unbeaten powerhouses, No. 1 and No. 2, meeting in mid-November with the innocent hype only the college game can provide. And then an upset, as the Irish sedated the favored Seminoles for three quarters and hung on for a 31-24 palpitator. Why, it was the Game of the Century -- for one week, until Notre Dame lost to Boston College on that game's last play. F.S.U. was restored to the top of the polls, to face undefeated, uninspiring Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day. But once again the champ of college football will be decided by writers and coaches, not by the players. Attention, NCAA: This is a sport, not a beauty contest. Play-offs, puh-lease!
2 Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe Former champ Holyfield was supposed to be too small, too old, too darned nice to regain his heavyweight title against Bowe. In their furious November bout, the only advantage Evander had was a huge heart. A comeback of class.
3 The N.F.L. vs. Sominex Pro football has become the 60-yd. game as conservative teams trudge (one-two- three, kick) between the red zones. Teams settle for wussy little field goals (up 47% this year) instead of going for big manly touchdowns (up only 12%). And once again the behemoth National Conference is headed for lopsided victory in another Stupor Bowl. So why would the Fox network want to pay $1.58 billion for four years of this No-Fun League?
4 Mitch Williams vs. the Strike Zone ( The Wild Thing's eccentric fast ball had helped the Philadelphia Phillies beat the superior Atlanta Braves in the play-offs, but in the World Series against Toronto, he lost all sense of navigation and blew two crucial games. The closer has closed in Philly: he was abruptly traded to Houston.
5 Steffi Graff vs. the Ghost of Monica Seles With Wimbledon, French and U.S. Open victories, Fraulein Forehand had her best year. And still people wondered: What if Seles had not been stabbed on the court by a man who said he did it to help Steffi be No. 1? (He was later convicted but sentenced to only two years' probation.)
6 Chinese Women Runners vs. Vegetarians Wang Junxia and her teammates shattered world records in the 10,000 meters, 3,000 meters and 1,500 meters at the Chinese National Games in Beijing. Their coach credited their success in part to a diet spiced with gourmet dried worms.
7 Michael Jordan vs. Himself The wonder warrior led his Chicago Bulls to a three-peat N.B.A. title. He conquered Madison Avenue with his megawatt smile. He battled the press over inquiries into his high-stakes gambling. But after his father's murder this summer, Jordan decided he'd had enough of fighting. His retirement stunned the hoop world and left a vacancy for the top spot in sport stardom.
8 England vs. France When the World Cup comes to the U.S. in 1994, this is the vaunted matchup that won't take place; both teams got eliminated in trials. Americans will still be treated to a summer clinic in the world's most popular sport -- without the criminal antics of Britain's soccer hooligans.
9 Leon Lett vs. His Brain From showboat to goat: in the Super Bowl the defensive star's premature TD celebration cost his Dallas Cowboys a touchdown. On Thanksgiving the Cowboys lost to Miami because Lett couldn't keep his hands off a loose ball. This hotdog keeps ending up a wiener.