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Foul Shots: A look back at the BCS

The BCS, since its inception in 1998, has been a contentious and controversial system. Indeed, it will be replaced next season. Since this is the last year of the BCS, I would like to take a look back, and rank the five best teams to win college football’s national title.

1. 2001 University of Miami Hurricanes

It’s generally accepted that this is the greatest college football team of all time. This team was absolutely ridiculous. They went 12-0, and won their games by an average of 32.9 points, scoring 42.6 points per game. Are you kidding me? 17 players from the team were eventual first-round NFL draft selections. The players on the team have gone to an astounding 41 Pro Bowls, led by Ed Reed’s nine. Future all-pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork couldn’t even crack the starting lineup. Neither could fellow future NFL stars Sean Taylor or Antrel Rolle. Just looking at their running back corps might cause an NFL fan to feel weak at the knees. Starting was former Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins standout Clinton Portis, but the reserves were Willis McGahee and Frank Gore. They demolished the University of Nebraska in the national title game, 37-14. In 2006, ESPN ran a poll asking what was the greatest college football team of the past 50 years. Guess who won? The 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

2. 2011 University of Alabama Crimson Tide

While Miami was known more for its flashy offense (its defense was awesome too, though), this Alabama squad was possibly the finest defensive unit we’ve ever seen at the college level. Any time you only allow your opponents to score an average of 8 points and gain a puny average of 184 yards per game, you’re doing everything right on the defensive side of the ball. And the offense was nothing to sneeze at, either. Led by quarterback A.J. McCarron and running back Trent Richardson (not to mention a world-class offensive line), the Crimson Tide pounded their way to a shutout 21-0 victory over Louisiana State University in the title game.

3. 2004 University of Southern California Trojans

While this team has officially vacated their national title victory (thanks to improper benefits extended to star running back Reggie Bush), it still remains one of the best teams ever assembled. Finishing at an undefeated 13-0, the Trojans destroyed opponents to the tune of a 25-point margin of victory on average. They had two Heisman Trophy finalists in Bush (who won) and quarterback Matt Leinart (who won in 2003). I watched a lot of college football back then, mostly University of Notre Dame games. When Notre Dame played USC that year, and jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter, I was beyond excited. Upset, anyone? At least until the Trojans rolled off 38 straight points after that, ultimately winning 41-10. This team was a machine. They ended up beating the University of Oklahoma in the national title game 55-19, which also doubled as the largest margin of victory in a BCS title game.

4. 2005 University of Texas Longhorns

Two words: Vince Young. Four more words: 50.2 points per game. Margin of victory: 34 points. That’s not a misprint. This team gave us the most exciting BCS title game ever, beating USC 41-38, with Young scrambling into the end zone to put Texas ahead with less than a minute remaining. Young also passed for more than 3,000 yards while rushing for more than 1,000, which is an absolutely fantastic achievement. Sure, maybe Young didn’t turn into much in the NFL, but for one shining season, he turned the Texas Longhorns into the best team in the nation.

5. 2008 University of Florida Gators

This team was so, so fun to watch. Back when everyone was convinced Tim Tebow was a legitimate quarterback, the Gators offense positively strolled down the field every game. They scored 43.6 points per game, allowing just 12.9 points in return. The Gators topped Oklahoma in the BCS title game, 24-14.

So how do this year’s contestants (Florida State University and the University of Auburn) stack up with these heavyweights? Let’s take a look:

Florida State Seminoles (13-0). Average margin of victory: 42.3 points. Scoring offense: 53 points per game. Defense: allowing 10.7 points per game.

It’s kind of insane how Florida State’s closest game has been its 48-34 win over Boston College. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston will be a Heisman Trophy finalist, despite the fact that he went through a sexual assault investigation near the end of the year. I think FSU is just as good as any team I listed above. Unless Auburn can stop Jameis and the Seminoles, they’ll go down as definitely one of the top five BCS champions ever.

Auburn Tigers (12-1). Average margin of victory: 18.7 points. Scoring offense: 40.2 points per game. Defense: allowing 24 points per game.

If you think Auburn’s an underdog just based on these simple statistics, you’re probably right. Auburn had no small measure of luck play into their bid into the title game. Remember the “Miracle at Jordan-Hare”? Remember the 109-yard missed field goal return to beat Alabama as time expired a couple weeks ago? I don’t think Auburn is in the same class as Florida State. I think that Auburn’s defense isn’t good enough to keep Jameis and his boys from doing whatever they want for most of the game. Of course, I could be wrong. In fact, I hope I am. We could use another classic BCS title game, instead of something along the lines of USC drubbing Oklahoma by 36.

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