Monday, June 23

Follow-Up: The Final Countdown: BCS 1-84

It's been a week since we ranked the 84 BCS participants and there's one week until our first fantasy college football writeups are due. Perfect time for some inane followups on that massive post that our more sane readers are probably just finishing, eh?

Here's a few of the more interesting things from those rankings:


Miami's 2001 squad was arguably the greatest college football team of all time... in my opinion, only 1995 Nebraska is comparable among teams who have played since I've been following the sport.

Only one game was decided by less than 10 points - a 26-24 victory over Va Tech in Blacksburg. The Boston College game was also a good one, with the Canes leading just 12-7 in the fourth quarter. Among modern teams, only 1995 Nebraska dominated their schedule more intensely - their closest game was a 14 point victory over Washington State, which the Huskers lead 35-7 in the fourth quarter. (it was just one of two games where the opponent reached half of NU's points total - the other being a 49-25 victory over a Kansas State that lost just one other game) Other great teams like 2004 USC and 2005 Texas often found themselves in dogfights, even trailing at critical moments in games. Nobody was even able to do that much against these Hurricanes.

Miami's Depth Chart at the beginning of 2001:
Eventually, a record 28 of these players were drafted into the NFL, including a record 16 first-rounders. You'll recognize many as pro bowlers.

(regular season only -
Rush Offense: #21 (205 ypg, 5.33 ypc, 25 TD)
Pass Offense: #35 (250 ypg, 8.09 ypa, 57% comp, 24 TD, 9 INT, 143.09 rating (#15))
Total Offense: #8 (454 ypg, 6.57 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #3 (43.18 ppg)
Rush Defense: #40 (133 ypg, 3.12 ypc, 7 TD)
Pass Defense: #2 (138 ypg, 5.24 ypa, 44% comp, 5 TD, 27 INT, 75.60 rating (#1))
Total Defense: #6 (271 ypg, 3.93 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #1 (9.4 ppg)
Turnovers: #1 (18 fum rec, 27 INT, 10 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +26, +2.36/game)

These ridiculous statistics were compiled against the #18 regular season schedule in the country.

Offensively, they were too good at everything to appear statistically great at any one thing. They preferred to run with three future NFL running backs and a future NFL fullback, but had plenty of aerial talent with Dorsey, Davis, and Shockey.

Defensively the team looks lopsided; however, a 3.12 rushing average is actually good for a defense (typically in the #15-20 range). Teams just stopped passing the ball when they realized that for every TD they threw, they threw 5 INTs. I've never seen a statistic like that before -- which makes it not at all surprising that Mike Rumph, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Phillip Buchanon, and Antrel Rolle all went on to play pro ball. Indeed against Nebraska, the #1 rushing offense in the country by far in 2001, Miami proved that their rushing defense was very stout - just preferable to the interception factory that was their secondary. In reality, this is by far the best defense we have seen in the BCS era - you'd have to compare them to some of the historic Nebraska and Alabama defensive squads to find something comparable. (95 Nebraska's defense gives them a run for their money)

Miami's Pythagoeran Expectation was 95.98%, four percentage points higher than 2005 Texas and 2004 USC. 1999 Florida State (whom ESPN had as the #3 BCS champion -- ??) is a full ten percentage points below these Canes.

Oregon being ranked #2 in the polls and finishing #4 in the BCS was some combination of hilarity, absurdity, and insult - but this isn't even talked about outside of Eugene for this very reason. There's been maybe three teams in the last 25 years within spitting distance of how good this bunch was.


Do you remember the most controversial of the BCS' first five seasons? (ok, the BCS in 2000 was also pretty retarded) In summary, Nebraska and Miami were #1 and #2 as of Nov 19 as the nation's only two unbeatens (and BYU lol). Oklahoma, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, and Maryland all had 1 loss and were ranked in that order. What we saw next was a mini-preview of 2007, only without the #2 team (Miami was below Nebraska when both were unbeaten) losing.

11/23:Nebraska gets rolled by Colorado, 62-36

11/24:Oklahoma chokes against Oklahoma State, 16-13

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. The Dragon, 3. Texas, 4. Nebraska, 5. Oregon, 6. Tennessee

12/1:Florida loses 34-32 to Tennessee on a failed 2-point conversion.

Texas loses the Big 12 Championship to Colorado, 39-37. The score with Chris Simms in the game is 36-0 Buffs, and Major Applewhite only outscored CU 37-3 thanks to a questionable 15-yard penalty and a long field goal. Texas had previously beaten the Buffs 41-7.

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. Tennessee, 3. Nebraska, 4. Colorado, 5. Oregon, 6. Sexy Rexy

12/8:Tennessee loses the SEC Championship to LSU, 31-20. They had beaten LSU 26-18 earlier that season.

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. Nebraska, 3. Colorado, 4. Oregon, 5. Rexstacy

Most people think Oregon should have gone over Nebraska. They're probably right, but that's not really what we're here to discuss.

Who was the second-best team, even if not deserving to face Miami?

I mean, obviously the talent and level of performance of the team matters. Illinois and Maryland both finished the regular season 10-1, but their seasons were chalked full of unimpressive victories over pathetic opposition (illinois' most impressive against a 7-5 Ohio State squad, Maryland's against 8-5 Georgia Tech).


Rush Offense: #8 (229 ypg, 4.77 ypc, 27 TD)
Pass Offense: #70 (206 ypg, 7.95 ypa, 60% comp, 15 TD, 11 INT, 135.38 rating (#28))
Total Offense: #20 (434 ypg, 5.88 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #23 (33.0 ppg)
Rush Defense: #36 (129 ypg, 3.81 ypa, 15 TD)
Pass Defense: #71 (229 ypg, 3.93 ypa, 17 TD, 17 INT, 111.62 rating (#32))
Total Defense: #44 (357 ypg, 5.12 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #43 (23.3 ppg)
Turnovers: #57 (5 fum rec, 17 INT, 11 fum lost, 11 INT thrown, +0, +0/game)
Strength of Schedule: #2

Rush Offense: #85 (122 ypg, 4.15 ypc, 16 TD)
Pass Offense: #1 (405 ypg, 9.61 ypa, 64% comp, 43 TD, 13 INT, 170.07 rating (#1))
Total Offense: #2 (528 ypg, 7.36 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #2 (43.82 ppg)
Rush Defense: #12 (100 ypg, 3.17 ypa, 14 TD)
Pass Defense: #28 (190 ypg, 5.73 ypa, 55% comp, 5 TD, 12 INT, 101.17 rating (#13))
Total Defense: #9 (290 ypg, 4.48 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #5 (14.1 ppg)
Turnovers: #79 (10 fum rec, 12 INT, 13 fum lost, 13 INT thrown, -4, -.36/game)
Strength of Schedule: #19

Rush Offense: #62 (150 ypg, 3.54 ypc, 13 TD)
Pass Offense: #21 (275 ypg, 7.92 ypa, 55% comp, 24 TD, 14 INT, 135.12 rating (#30))
Total Offense: #27 (425 ypg, 5.51 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #26 (32.36 ppg)
Rush Defense: #56 (147 ypg, 3.91 ypa, 13 TD)
Pass Defense: #51 (215 ypg, 5.97 ypa, 49% comp, 16 TD, 18 INT, 103.07 rating (#15))
Total Defense: #50 (362 ypg, 4.92 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #31 (21.6 ppg)
Turnovers: #28 (8 fum rec, 18 INT, 7 fum lost, 14 INT thrown, +5, +.45/game)
Strength of Schedule: #37

Rush Offense: #11 (221 ypg, 4.62 ypc, 33)
Pass Offense: #57 (219 ypg, 6.96 ypa, 59% comp, 13 TD, 9 INT, 124.38 rating (#58))
Total Offense: #16 (440 ypg, 5.55 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #12 (35.45 ppg)
Rush Defense: #9 (91 ypg, 2.58 ypa, 5 TD)
Pass Defense: #82 (240 ypg, 6.65 ypa, 55% comp, 16 TD, 24 INT, 112.03 rating (#34))
Total Defense: #30 (331 ypg, 4.64 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #18 (19.1 ppg)
Turnovers: #4 (10 fum rec, 24 INT, 9 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +16, +1.45/game)
Strength of Schedule: #78

Rush Offense: #1 (315 ypg, 5.62 ypc, 47 TD)
Pass Offense: #110 (137 ypg, 8.23 ypa, 56% comp, 8 TD, 11 INT, 127.15 rating (#43))
Total Offense: #12 (451 ypg, 6.22 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #7 (37.42 ppg)
Rush Defense: #22 (117 ypg, 3.36 ypa, 14 TD)
Pass Defense: #9 (170 ypg, 5.17 ypa, 43% comp, 8 TD, 19 INT, 83.81 rating (#2))
Total Defense: #8 (287 ypg, 4.24 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #6 (15.8 ppg)
Turnovers: #55 (7 fum rec, 19 INT, 14 fum lost, 11 INT, +1, +.08/game)
Strength of Schedule: #14

Rush Offense: #25 (197 ypg, 5.17 ypc, 23 TD)
Pass Offense: #50 (234 ypg, 7.67 ypa, 58% comp, 24 TD, 5 INT, 143.02 rating (#16))
Total Offense: #22 (430 ypg, 6.29 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #19 (34.0 ppg)
Rush Defense: #28 (121 ypg, 3.49 ypa, 16 TD)
Pass Defense: #110 (285 ypg, 7.28 ypa, 50% comp, 14 TD, 18 INT, 113.81 rating (#39))
Total Defense: #81 (406 ypg, 5.50 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #33 (21.8 ppg)
Turnovers: #5 (7 fum rec, 18 INT, 6 fum lost, 5 INT, +14, +1.27/game)
Strength of Schedule: #31

Rush Offense: #57 (154 ypg, 4.08 ypc, 19 TD)
Pass Offense: #37 (248 ypg, 8.28 ypa, 64% comp, 22 TD, 9 INT, 148.60 rating (#9))
Total Offense: #42 (402 ypg, 5.94 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #35 (29.58 ppg)
Rush Defense: #3 (85 ypg, 2.67 ypa, 6 TD)
Pass Defense: #59 (218 ypg, 6.65 ypa, 53% comp, 17 TD, 12 INT, 117.28 rating (#48))
Total Defense: #13 (304 ypg, 4.68 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #21 (19.5 ppg)
Turnovers: #45 (9 fum rec, 12 INT, 9 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +3, +.25/game)
Strength of Schedule: #3

Rush Offense: #51 (162 ypg, 4.09 ypc, 28 TD)
Pass Offense: #34 (250 ypg, 7.32 ypa, 60% comp, 26 TD, 12 INT, 136.10 rating (#27))
Total Offense: #38 (413 ypg, 5.59 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #6 (39.17 ppg)Rush Defense: #6 (90 ypg, 2.79 ypa, 13 TD)
Pass Defense: #3 (147 ypg, 4.77 ypa, 51% comp, 6 TD, 15 INT, 88.00 rating (#4))
Total Defense: #1 (236 ypg, 3.76 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #3 (13.7 ppg)
Turnovers: #12 (13 fum rec, 15 INT, 5 fum lost, 12 INT, +11, +.92/game)
Strength of Schedule: #33
I want to point out that Simms threw 11 picks to Applewhite's 1. Fucking Chris Simms.

Three defenses ranked in the top ten: Florida, Nebraska, and Texas. Texas ranked in the top ten in every defensive category. On the other end of the spectrum, Colorado's defense ranked #43 in scoring to finish as the worst of the group. Illinois and Oregon were not in the top 30 - the Illini for general mediocrity and the Ducks for having one of the nation's worst pass defenses.

The same three teams ranked in the top ten for scoring offense. Florida held the nation's top passing offense, while Nebraska was the nations' top rushing attack. Texas ran a well-rounded pro-style attack, but actually didn't gain that many yards... they just didn't fumble (believe me Simms threw interceptions when it mattered) and converted well in the red zone. Maryland came in as the nation's #12 scoring offense but DEAR GOD AGAINST THE #78 SCHEDULE?? Tennessee was the only team here not to average at least 30 ppg.

Only Oregon and Maryland ranked in the top ten for turnover margin. Again, Maryland played against absolutely nobody. Surprisingly, Texas finished #12 averaging barely under +1/game. Florida was the only team here to finish with a negative turnover margin, although Colorado was dead even and Nebraska was just +1 for the entire season. Frankly, I am puzzled how offenses led by Joey Harrington and Chris Simms ranked so highly in turnover margin. Are the other college QBs really that bad?

Only Colorado and Tennessee had schedules ranking in the top ten. Nebraska's and Florida's ranked in the top 20. Maryland's was officially pathetic.

Pythagoeran Expectations:
Colorado: 67.81%
Florida: 91.98%
Illinois: 70.39%
Maryland: 79.10%
Nebraska: 86.53%
Oregon: 72.19%
Tennessee: 71.02%
Texas: 90.58%
Keep in mind SOS when looking at these. (hi, Maryland!)

The two strongest performers seem to be Florida and Texas. Texas was namely held back by the fact that a) they refused to start Applewhite over Simms and b) Mack Brown was their coach (see a). When I reflect back on that team, the only defense in the country as consistently dominant as Miami's and all the talent they had on offense, Texas probably would have been the #2 team in the country if only Applewhite had been the starter. Oh well, I guess you could say Brown made up for it when he actually let Vince Young start all 13 games in the 2005 season. Good job, Coach.

So that really does leave us with the Sex Cannon looking like a strong #2. I don't know how it happened, but The Dragon's team played great football in all but one or two games (I don't hold a close loss to another top 10 team with a key injury as necessarily damning in terms of rating their talent level). Their ten wins were all in convincing fashion, both losses could have gone either way... the loss to Tennessee is somewhat excusable although losing to Auburn is a bad loss.

Oregon is underrated by their pythagoeran, but remember that they had a lot of games where they barely got by. Blowing out Colorado was really the first time this team looked good since the first half of October. I don't know if they got bored or what, although the secondary was legitimately awful. The Dragon had wet dreams about going 10/10 for 800 yards against this group. Then again, the same numbers make Colorado look like the worst team of this bunch. I don't think that's too far off.

Speaking of which, Colorado was way overrated to even be included in the title game discussion. I have been saying this for years and am glad I finally got around to finding more reasons than the fact that they lost a home game to Fresno State and lost 41-7 to Texas to show exactly why they were left out of the title game. They properly belong closer to the Illinois/Maryland group than to the Sex Cannon.

We only talk about this, though, because when we were ranking the teams we became convinced that it's actually true. We didn't intentionally create controversial rankings, but at the same time didn't go out of our way to avoid them. In fact I'd feel a little disappointed if this list essentially read: title game winners, title game losers, other winners, other losers. The system isn't perfect, so, who'd it miss? We think 2001 Florida was one of the teams who gets really overlooked when talking about this season, although entirely of their own fault (see: 2 losses).

Not that it would have made much difference against the decade's top team.


Choosing the #1 team of the BCS was one of the easiest selections of the bunch, rivaled only by choosing the worst BCS team. #2, on the other hand, was a virtual deadlock. Both had ridiculous amounts of talent (over 20 players drafted). On one side, you had two Heisman winners. On the other side, probably the best player of the last decade. Both teams were stacked at all positions - dominant on both sides of the line, loaded with speed and playmaking ability at the skill positions. In the end, it came down to two conflicting arguments:

For 2004 USC: 05 Texas beat a defensively inferior USC team by 3 points. While all of the offensive players are a year less experienced, they also still have Norm Chow as offensive coordinator. Call the offensive changes a wash, and the difference between this Trojan defense and their 05 counterparts is the difference.

For 2005 Texas: 04 USC wasn't as offensively developed as their 05 counterparts, averaging 14 ppg less during the regular season. Even if only half of that translates onto the scoreboard, there's still no way Vince Young in his Rose Bowl form gets held under 31 by a college defense.

You can get more into it -- like, how does the 04 USC linebacker corps compare to 05 Ohio State's, a defense which perhaps had the recipe for slowing down VY? Or, how different specifically is LenDale White in 2004 vs 05, which is critical because Texas shut down Bush and Leinart in the first half of the Rose Bowl that was played, and it was White that cracked the shell and loosened the defense up for everyone else. Who wins the chess match between Chow and Chizik?

You can look at the statistics. Texas had the highest-scoring offense in BCS history at 50 ppg. While USC's offense had growing pains during the regular season, they did score the most points ever in a BCS championship game. USC never allowed 30 points in a game, averaging just 13. Texas allowed over 30 points just once - against the second highest-scoring offense in BCS history, which bumped their average to 16. Texas's pythagorean expectation was seven tenths of a percent point higher than USC's.

You could call it a deadlock, but here at leftfieldbluffs there are no ties. We don't award shared gold medals and there's damn sure not a shared silver. If they played 1001 games, somebody would win 501 no matter how evenly-matched the teams are. That's football. The quarter never lands on its side.

The deciding logic was seriously this:
Given the equality of the teams, we'd expect each to be in a position where they should win the game about 50% of the time. Maybe each team is winning a blowout 10% of the time, a close game 40% of the time. Who's more likely to make a comeback victory? I'll take the team with VY - a QB who can run away from the sack, pick up a 4th and 10 when all the receivers are covered, etc.

There you have it. Vince Young can escape Dallas Sartz's blitz on 4th and 10 with a buck o five to play to pick up a decisive first down. Matt Leinart gets sacked by Aaron Harris. That's the razor-thin difference.


For the purpose of this snippet, I'm going to define the "underdog" in the conference championship game as the team with more losses - ie, the team who would not be conference champion if it was awarded based on record like in the Pac 10. My method is to award based on conference record first, followed by overall record, then head to head. By this creteria, we had upset champions in:

1998 Big 12: Texas A&M (10-2, 7-1) defeats Kansas State (11-0, 8-0)
TAMU goes on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State.

2001 Big 12: Colorado (9-2, 7-1) defeats Texas (10-1, 7-1).
Colorado goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to Oregon.

2001 SEC: LSU (8-3, 5-3) defeats Tennessee (10-1, 7-1).
LSU goes on to defeat Illinois in the Sugar Bowl.

2003 Big 12: Kansas State (10-3, 6-2) defeats Oklahoma (12-0, 8-0).
Kansas State goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State.

2005 ACC: Florida State (7-4, 5-3) defeats Virginia Tech (10-1, 7-1).
Florida State goes on to lose the Orange Bowl to Penn State.

2006 ACC: Wake Forest (10-2, 6-2) defeats Georgia Tech (9-3, 7-1).
Wake Forest goes on to lose the Orange Bowl to Louisville.

2007 Big 12: Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2) defeats Missouri (11-1, 7-1).
Oklahoma goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia.

The upset "champions" went a combined 1-6 in their BCS games, with the lone victory against 2001 Illinois! From this, we can safely conclude that:
a) Conference championship games screw your conference.
b) The Big 12 is retarded. They catch a lot of flak for a sub-.500 BCS record (6-8)... the 0-4 record by these chumps who belonged in the Holiday Bowl isn't helping.
c) In fairness, the ACC championship kept Reggie Ball out of the BCS. However, this only serves to make up for the previous season's debacle known as the Orange Bowl.
d) Why are Big Ten fans clamoring so much for a Big Ten championship? Because Big Ten fans are also retarded.

Monday, June 16

College Football's Pythagorean Expectation

When we sat down to rank the 84 BCS teams, one of the more interesting tools Chris brought to the discussion was a team's Pythagorean Expectation. In baseball, this is widely used to derive a team's expected winning percentage based on their runs scored and runs allowed. It's frighteningly accurate - usually within 2 or 3 games of the team's actual win total.

Pythagorean Expectation on Winning Percentage = (PointsScored^2) / (PointsScored^2 + PointsAllowed^2)

The folks at ran some optimization and determined that, for baseball, an exponent of 1.83 actually produces the most accurate results. In basketball, an exponent of 14 (!!) is optimal. High exponents tend to fatten the tails of the expected winning percentages (ie, spread the distribution), and low exponents tend to fatten the middle (shrink the spread).

So this was something we looked at for the BCS teams when making those rankings, using both 2 and 1.83. Of course it wasn't the end-all-be-all, nor even one of the most important factors considered. It wasn't even a factor at all in the pre-groupings, only used to help order the teams within their smaller groups once those were created. Some of those early FSU teams received ridiculous scores by mercillessly blowing out opponents, and clearly we couldn't just put 00 FSU in the top 10 for example. There was the problem of how to weight games against I-AA opposition (we chose to count both points scored and points allowed at half their value in those games). And of course, the MLB has a 161-game season in which there isn't a horrible amount of fluctuation in the total points scored in a game (so all games are weighted roughly equally). College football teams play 12-14 games a season and may win 10-6 one week followed by 42-13 the next. This means that a) the formula is going to be a little less useful here and b) it's probably going to need re-optimizing.

Nonetheless, interesting findings included 2001 Miami having the highest score of and BCS team, most of our bottom 10 teams in fact being in the bottom 10, and 2005 Texas and 2004 USC being separated by a razor-thin margin (advantage Texas). If nothing else, it sparked an interest in pursuing this further.

Being a statistician, my first thought was why not find a least-squares estimate? For the 84 BCS teams, with I-AA games at half-weight, the optimal exponent wound up being 2.87. However, this only tests a range of teams that had winning percentages above .600 - often above .800 - and "at-large" teams who had impressive seasons (probably blowing lots of people out). It's not a representative sample of what goes on in college football, so its end product is not the most useful tool.

So this weekend I finally got around to looking at this for the entire NCAA division I-A. To save entry time, games against I-AA and below opposition is weighted equally with the other games (I'm not convinced it's going to greatly affect the exponent, and then I can just pull point totals off James Howell's page). I used all 119 teams for the 2005, 06, and 07 seasons for a total of 357 data points. Analysis on past data would, then, make the assumption that the distribution of scores is not changing significantly over time.

The final result is an optimal exponent of 2.15. This produces an estimate which, on average, predicts a team's winning percentage to be just half a percentage point higher than their true result! A t-test on the differentials showed that this is nowhere near significant - ie, the estimate is unbiased. The root mean square error was 9.223 - meaning that a lot of the differences between Pythagorean Expectations of similar-talent teams are not going to be able to prove anything statistically. Again that's due to the small sample size of each season, differences in schedule strengths, and vast disparities in team strengths (by that I mean, if 2001 Miami and that season's Duke team played 100 games, Miami would probably win all 100. Duke probably has less than a 1% chance of the upset. On the other hand if the World Series Champions played 100 against the worst MLB team, I'd be shocked if the champs won more than 70% of the games.) It's just not *as* good of a metric for this sport as it is for others.

Regarding distribution shape, the differentials had a negative skew of -.9696, far larger than the rejection criterion for normality. There was a Kurtosis of 6.0888 as well. Being an applied statistician, of course I know that the proscribed action is to ignore these and continue to treat the data as if it were normal, merely making a footnote that it is in fact not ;-)

Here are some sample results:
The 10 BCS champions, plus 2003 USC and 2004 Auburn, plus anybody else in our Top 10, and then our Bottom 10 to show how badly they suck in comparison
2001 Miami: 95.98%
----- This marks the line where if they played the entire season over, you would still lose less than one game -----
2003 LSU: 91.84% (I don't buy #2, but are we collectively underrating these guys? Remember they also got in over USC based on a strong SOS.)
2005 Texas: 91.72%
2004 USC: 91.01%
2004 Auburn: 90.39%
2000 Miami: 89.15%
2000 Oklahoma: 87.57%
1998 Tennessee: 85.48%
1999 Florida State: 85.19%
2002 Ohio State: 85.00%
2003 USC: 84.92%
2006 Florida: 84.50%
2005 USC: 83.81%
2002 Miami: 83.48%
2007 LSU: 80.59%
2005 Notre Dame: 70.41%
2000 Purdue: 68.41%
2006 Wake Forest: 67.49%
----- This marks the line where winning 4 nonconference games and going 4-4 in conference play would land you -----
2001 Illinois: 66.24%
2000 Notre Dame: 64.57%
2005 Florida State: 64.30%
2006 Notre Dame: 63.90%
2007 Illinois: 62.93%
1999 Stanford: 57.38%
2004 Pittsburgh: 56.46%

Anyway, you'll probably hear this term thrown around in some upcoming posts about the massive all-time BCS rankings we did, or some mid/late-season analysis of teams in 2008 and beyond. We'll be using the 2.15 exponent unless that gets revisited with a larger data set. Again, it's a useful statistic for comparing teams that you already believe are similar in strength - a measure of how strongly they've dominated the opposition, which of course is only meaningful when taken into account along with the quality of opposition they faced. It's certainly nothing definitive. It's also perhaps a measure of how "lucky" a team has been - if they should win 60% of their games but they're sitting pretty at 9-1, there's probably been some fortunate bounces/calls along the way.

Sunday, June 15

The Final Countdown: BCS 1-84

For those frequent followers (okay, the frequent follower – hi Mom!) of this blog, you could see this one coming from a mile away. Given that we’ve thrown enough words at the BCS to feed most of Africa (and parts of Asia), it was only a matter of time before we busted out this post.

In a way, this is entirely ESPN’s fault. We felt that by only ranking the BCS champions, they slighted their readership. After all, who wants to know only how good the champions were? It’s probably fair to say that 2005 USC and 2005 Texas could’ve beaten a few of the other national champions, and it’s probably fair to say 2007 LSU wasn’t the 10th-best BCS team ever. Heck, for that matter, how good were 2000 Washington, 2001 Oregon, 2004 Auburn, and all the other teams that had a shot at the title but got denied due to what amounts to general stupidity? And who was better, 2006 Boise State or 2006 Oklahoma? …oh, right. Either way, ESPN was no help, so we had to step in.

Now, because we apparently have nothing better to do with our time, we were faced with only one option: rank ‘em all. That’s right, we’re ranking all the BCS teams. Not all the champions, not all the teams who played in the championship game, not the most screwed teams, not the worst teams to set foot in a BCS stadium, all of them – from 2001 Miami to 2004 Pittsburgh. Because we can’t just do a straight ranking, we’re writing about the teams, too. Grab a snack, a 40, or both – this may take a while to read. All told, I think it’s coming in around 10,000 to 11,000 words.

1. 2001 Miami (12-0, 8-0, Big East Champions, National Champions)
We forget how good this team was, and that’s saying something. They only allowed 117 points over the entire season; in case that sounds like a lot, Miami scored 8 TDs on defense, so they made up for about half the points they allowed. One game was decided by fewer than 10 points (a 26-24 road win over VA Tech), little else was even interesting, especially not the national championship game. In beating #14 Syracuse and #12 Washington 59-0 and 65-7 in consecutive weeks, the team set a record for margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents. The amount of talent the ’01 Canes had was staggering; a total of 16 players were drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, with 28 being drafted in total. Their depth was outstanding: Jerome from Southeast Clinton Portis was backed up by Willis McGahee’s future broken ankle and Frank Gore, Jeremy Shockey by Kellen “Future Fucking Soldier” Winslow Jr, Willis Reed by Sean Taylor (…what? We’re not making jokes about the dead, not where I live). The combination of talent and dedication is the reason why it didn’t matter who the other team was in the 2001 BCS title game; they were going to get wrecked anyway. We’d be floored if we see a team this dominant in the next 20 years.

2. 2005 Texas (13-0, 9-0, Big 12 Champions, National Champions)
The difference between 2005 Texas and 2004 USC is something less than razor-thin; we were debating these teams for about half an hour to 45 minutes, and we probably could’ve kept on going. This ranking is as much homage to Young as it is to the entire team (edit: um, duh. We do a great job of nailing down the details here), who managed to overcome both pre-anointed USC and Mack Brown in the same game. Oh, and they wrecked Oklahoma for the first time in five years this season, too (which is when everyone kind of went “uh-oh, Vince might’ve really figured it out”). His broken-play ability may be the best we’ll see in 15-20 years, and I don’t think that’s really an exaggeration. On the other hand, you take a defense that’s great for single season standards (#4 scoring prior to facing USC) and pretty strong for any BCS team, throw in lots of speed at WR and RB, one of the top two offensive lines for the season… then throw in a once-in-a-generation athlete at QB, and this is what you get. We think this version of Vince Young was the best college player over the past 10 years.

3. 2004 USC (12-0, 8-0, Pac-10 Champions, National Champions)
We remember this team for a couple of reasons: 1) completely destroying the “Game of the Century” idea that everyone had built up between them and Oklahoma; 2) effectively killing the debate over whether or not Auburn should’ve been included in the title game. Sure, Auburn didn’t do themselves any favors, but everyone kind of just assumed USC would’ve wrecked them 42-21 or some such. USC had one of the staunchest defenses of the BCS era that really excelled at dominating your line and pressuring your backfield (Matt Leinart joke goes here [x]), and when Norm Chow had a month to prepare the attack for the holes specific to your defense (that joke could go here too), that was pretty much it. The offense had some early season issues adjusting to life without Mike Williams, but those were more than solved by midseason. Incidentally, this team may also be known for triggering Oklahoma’s BCS issues over the last five seasons, for which we can only say: thanks.

4. 2000 Miami (11-1, 8-0, Big East Champions)
Remember how dominant that 2001 Miami team was? This was the prototype of that team – about as talented, just a little bit less experienced. Their only loss was a 5-point setback early in the season to a very good Washington team played on the other side of the country, which was half indicative of how well Washington played and half of how much Dorsey choked in his first big road game (supposedly tripping on his offensive linemen’s feet twice, among other gaffes). They also beat eventual 2000 runner-up Florida State and were lucky enough with the scheduling to get to completely obliterate both Florida teams over the course of the season, wrecking Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Oh, and they also gave Virginia Tech (with Michael Vick, so they had an offense this year too) their only loss of the year in a game that surprisingly wasn’t even close. The question is: was this team better than an Oklahoma team who went undefeated and got the only BCS title hardware in Norman? The answer, as it turns out, is probably. Not even counting that the title game would’ve been played in the Orange Bowl, there’s also the whole Miami actually has an offense thing (supposedly Florida State did, but ….yeah. They’re still paying back the karma for that abortion) and then you’ve got to consider that by January they were basically 2001 Miami.

5. 2004 Auburn (13-0, 9-0, SEC Champions)
Quick: what do you do without a playoff and with three undefeated teams? The answer, apparently, is to leave the SEC champion out, for reasons which basically begin and end with “Oklahoma was ranked higher to begin with”. Not that Auburn would’ve done a whole lot better than Oklahoma against that particular USC squad, but it might not have been a total blowout, as the Tigers could at least play D (#1 points allowed defense in 2004, and a Thorpe winner at CB). Their tandem of running backs (Ronnie Brown, “Cadillac” Williams) have had more NFL success than many predicted, as has Jason Campbell, perhaps evidence that their offense was a bit underrated. Their game against VA Tech was a bit lackluster, but with the supposed #1 and #2 teams playing in a couple of days and rolling up a 16-0 lead on the Hokies, can you blame them?

6. 2005 USC (12-1, 8-0, Pac-10 Champions)
Undoubtedly the best team to play in the BCS before the game, the “Paper Champions of the BCS” Trojans really did have a fantastic team in 2005. Was the title hype a bit …well, premature? Yes, but arguably this is a team that was good enough to win the title in almost every other BCS season – and they were better at almost everything during the Rose Bowl. When you consider the number of broken plays they forced Texas into, it’s staggering ….oh, wait, isn’t that exactly what Young wanted? Oops. Still, if this team’s a year later they completely wreck everyone in 2006.

7. 2002 Ohio State (12-0, 8-0, Big 10 Champions, National Champions)
This team may be the blandest in the top 10, but damned if they weren’t effective. This team reminds us a lot of ’05 Texas in how they beat a predestined team (this time it was ’02 Miami), but unlike Texas, Ohio State relied more on flat execution than game-breaking ability. Their offense wasn’t spectacular, but it was effective enough; come to think of it, that’s a good way to describe Jim Tressel’s tenure there. (That and not losing to Michigan, JOHN.) Still, this was a team predicated on defense, with several plus athletes; ten starters on this defense were drafted into the NFL.

8. 2002 Miami (12-1, 8-0, Big East Champions)
Yeah, this team was excellent, and only a disputed pass interference call away from being back-to-back champions. While a number of key starters were missing from the 2001 wrecking ball (Portis, Shockey, Buchanon, Reed, McKinnie), the team was still loaded with talent at every position, but at times seemed less driven than the season before – such as allowing Virginia Tech (this was post-Michael Vick) to score 45 points in the season finale, or eking out a 1-point win over Florida State. Not that it’s their fault, but Miami probably never recovered from the double whammy of losing Butch Davis on the sidelines and Ed Reed on the field. Still, the team was mostly dominant during the regular season – more so than the bulk of teams on this list.

9. 1999 Florida State (12-0, 8-0, ACC Champions, National Champions)
As we get deeper into the rankings, it’s really staggering how much the ACC fell off after 2001, with three top-25 teams and the rest floating at 59 and below. However, this was the best of the FSU incarnations, with a healthy Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick back when he had talent. Travis Minor was a lot better in college, too, and they did an effective job stopping the proto-Vince Young (Michael Vick) in the title game, although arguably there wasn’t a whole lot else on that Virginia Tech team. This was also the last year Florida State beat both of their Florida-based rivals in the same season.

10. 2003 LSU (12-1, 8-1, SEC Champions, Disputed National Champions)
As long as we’re talking defensive talent, it’s worth talking about this incarnation of the Bayou Bengals, who did a good job of wrecking almost everyone in their path (losing only to Florida). Their 151 points allowed over the season was the 7th best among all BCS teams; this is doubly impressive when you remember that Matt Mauck (who?) was their starting QB. They did have a legitimate trio of running backs led by Justin Vincent who (for a season) looked like he was on the path to stardom. Bonus points: this team turned Nick Saban into a coaching hitman, which is really fun for the whole family.

11. 2000 Oklahoma (12-0, 8-0, Big 12 Champions, National Champions)
Yeah, we’re underrating this team – but here’s the problem: Josh Heupel was the starting QB. We do remember the offense being explosive, but we also remember that god-awful championship game, even though we have the therapy sessions to try and prove otherwise. 36 rushes + 62 yards + Heupel = title? Apparently. One of us really should go find the play-by-play of that game; for all ESPN’s talk of it being a great defensive struggle, we just remember missed open receivers and bad blocking. But the defense did shut Florida State out, and they did win a title. So they got that going for them.

12. 1998 Tennessee (12-0, 8-0, SEC Champions, National Champions)
The “huh? Oh, yeah” of BCS title winners, the Vols were written off for dead after Peyton Manning (5 losses in his college career – 4 to Florida, 1 to Memphis (????)), but Tee Martin kept on winning. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but also-rans UCLA, Ohio State, and Kansas State really couldn’t say that. Clint Stoerner can probably still get all the free beer he wants in Knoxville; sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

13. 2003 USC (12-1, 8-1, Pac-10 Champions, Disputed National Champions)
If we mentioned LSU, we had to talk about USC, right? This was the beginning of the USC lovefest, which culminated in them ending up 1st in both polls only to get screwed for Oklahoma – after they lost in the Big 12 title game. Not a good season all-around for the BCS, although in a great what-if, what happens to the BCS in 2004 if Michigan beats USC? We’ll never know, because a pissed-off USC beat their overmatched ass up and down the field. When the dust settled, USC picked up the last BCS-affiliated AP title.

14. 2006 Florida (12-1, 8-1, SEC Champions, National Champions)
This was probably one of the sweetest wins (non-Notre Dame affiliated edition) in BCS history. Unlike 2002 Ohio State or 2005 Texas, who played a close game over a heavily favored opponent before coming out on top, Florida basically spotted Ohio State a 7-point lead before kicking the Buckeyes’ teeth in to the tune of 41-7 in the last 59:45. This served as a coming-out party for Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, and Percy Harvin, who still scare the crap out of me and will continue to for years. Bonus points: this win shut Michigan fans up about a rematch, although USC kind of helped out there too.

15. 1998 Ohio State (11-1, 7-1, Big Ten co-Champions)
This was one of the more athletically frightening defenses Ohio State has fielded in the BCS era and arguably the most talented team Jim Tressel has ever had. Oh but wait, that’s the problem – this was a John Cooper-coached team, not Tressel’s, which pretty much explains a late season defeat at the hands of Michigan State as the Buckeyes looked ahead to Michigan (you see, back then it was Cooper choking to Michigan every season, and soon-to-be Llllloyd Carr was handing out the L’s rather than taking them). This was the team that modernized OSU’s offense, with outstanding balance between the run (Joe Montgomery, Michael Wiley) and pass (Joe Germaine, David “Steroids” Boston) as they showed the ability to play smash-mouth I-formation ball typical of the Big Ten or go to 4 receiver sets with equal success as they had surprising depth at WR for a college team. Really, if this team had been coached by Tressel, they may have been the first BCS champions and sitting in our top ten, because that’s certainly where their talent level is.

16. 1998 Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1, Big Ten co-Champions)
In 1998, if Ohio State was the new face of the Big Ten, Wisconsin represented the old school. (Too bad they never faced each other – you’re awesome, Jim Delany!) They played suffocating defense (#1 scoring in their season with 143 points allowed, holding 7 of 12 opponents to 7 or less) and pounding on your defense with Ron Dayne, arguably the top RB of the BCS era. By the time he was done playing for the Badgers, Dayne was the NCAA career rushing yards leader, tied the Rose Bowl record with four rushing TDs, and was one yard shy of the Rose Bowl rushing yards record basically because Barry Alvarez didn’t watch the stats and pulled his star when the offense went out one last time to run out the clock. The Badgers could win a low-scoring grind with Penn State then go and outscore UCLA in a shootout (although Jamar Fletcher’s late-game pick six was ultimately the difference), so despite the “three yards and a cloud of dust” approach to offense, the team was at least reasonably versatile.

17. 1999 Virginia Tech (11-1, 8-0, Big East Champions)
In running through the season 11-0, Virginia Tech held the nation’s #1 defense (116 points allowed pre-Sugar Bowl) and unquestionably the most electrifying player, Michael Vick. Few teams even managed to keep the scores respectable, although some of that can be attributed to the fact that nobody on their schedule other than FSU won more than 8 regular season games. Vick did get to prove his toughness leading a two-minute drill drive for a game winning FG at West Virginia. But when they played a team who could match them in talent, the inexperience showed. Mistakes in the first quarter gave Florida State a margin for error, and mistakes in the fourth quarter turned a 1-point lead into a 17-point loss. (And before anyone starts going on and on about the Big East being bad, this was back when they had everyone, so: don’t try.)

18. 2000 Florida State (11-2, 8-0, ACC Champions)
This was the season where Chris Weinke was good enough to win the Heisman before basically getting wrecked by Oklahoma. It’s almost entirely because of this that I loathe this team with the burning passion of a thousand suns, but Weinke was pretty good for a 28-year-old. Jamal Reynolds chipped in with the Lombardi Award – oh, and he had 12 sacks, too. Florida State really wrecked everyone that season, except for Miami (see above) and Oklahoma (see above). Their 26-21 win over Georgia Tech early in the year was puzzling, but other than that the scores were almost 2001 Florida-esque in their lopsidedness, up to and including a 30-7 win over SEC Champion Florida; that’s fitting.

19. 1999 Nebraska (12-1, 8-1, Big 12 Champions)
Eric Crouch takes some retroactive heat for the beating that was put on his school by Miami to close the 2001 season, but don’t let that overshadow his place as one of the great option QBs of the modern era and perhaps the last great power-option QB. The defense was strong if not spectacular, but really only Texas was able to stop the Husker attack – and in a rematch conference title game, the Blackshirts simply outperformed their Longhorn defensive counterparts. This of course set the stage for the Fiesta Bowl, a game James has already detailed the significance of, and a true display of the raw strength and power this team brought to the table.

20. 2002 USC (11-2, 7-1)
This season was an oddity for USC – they actually played Kansas State in a non-conference game! I have no idea how that happened; someone must’ve drugged Bill Snyder into thinking USC was San Diego St. or something. As a matter of fact, USC’s entire schedule was insane. Counting the Orange Bowl, they faced 12 winning teams and 11 bowl teams (although just a 3-8 bowl record, counting Iowa’s loss to USC). Even if you want to think of the 02 Pac 10 as comparable to the 07 Big 10 – mediocre across the board – they did also face a 9-win SEC team, 9-win and 11-win Big 12 teams, and an 11-win Big 10 team, going 3-1 in those games. They even faced a 10-win Notre Dame team! Okay, we’re just kidding about being able to count that. Still, that probably did keep the Irish out of a BCS bowl, so the country owes the Carson Palmer/Troy Polomalu-led squad a debt of gratitude for preventing yet another ND BCS debacle.

21. 2006 LSU (11-2, 6-2)
Shockingly, this team was actually more talented than their ’07 counterparts. The only difference is that ’07 was worse across the board, but this team was a PI call away from playing for the SEC title – and arguably playing for the national title. Of course, they would’ve still lost to Florida in the regular season and there’s no guarantee they beat Florida the second time around. On the plus side, had LSU won that second game against Florida we might’ve seen Ohio State-Michigan again… would we really want that?

22. 2006 Ohio State (12-1, 8-0, Big 10 Champions)
Excellent, stout defense, and Troy Smith was a pseudo-Vince Young (which is why I think he got the Heisman – the voters felt bad for whiffing in ’05)… but their problem was perimeter speed. Not a problem in the Big 10, but as Florida showed in the championship game, you might want to be able to get to the corner. Also: when Tim Tebow comes in the game, it’s a RUN! Jesus. Did anyone watch game tape?
Fun fact: Ohio State is now 0-2 in BCS Championship games (once they actually designated a separate game for that). Fun fact #2: Ted Ginn’s ankle was sprained by his own teammates’ celebration after his return TD. Fun Fact #3: Ohio owes $2.4MM in property taxes to the state of Florida after the 2007 calendar year.

23. 2001 Florida (10-2, 6-2)
This offense was the height of the Spurrier-led “Fun-N-Gun” attack (alternatively, this was the year when they ran the score up the most: you make the call), and they did a great job of wrecking most teams in their path. When you play in the SEC and only get held under 30 twice, that’s just absurd. Unfortunately one such game was an ugly 3-point loss to Auburn, and the Gators lost on a failed two-point conversion against a very strong Tennessee team in which UF played without their starting RB, Earnest Graham. They would’ve ranked higher than this*, but the fact they were led by a QB whose nickname was “Sexy Rexy” knocks them down 10 spots.
*Note to Oregon fans: we’re not saying they should’ve played in the title game**, two losses negates that. We’re just saying they were probably the second-best team in the country that year. Have a nice day!
** Of course, since UF wasn’t in the championship game, we got to see them wreck a completely overmatched Maryland team. The Dragon came off the bench to lead 6 straight TD drives, and by TD drives I mean 65 yard bombs on the first play. They’d be longer, but Maryland’s punter struggled to kick the ball much past midfield, and even then, Rexy ran back to the end zone before unleashing it just in case there were any questions. How does he get benched for missing curfew anyway? Everybody knows curfew and short passes are for pussies.
*** Fuck it, I’m moving them up. The Dragon would destroy Jason White and Chris Weinke, on or off the field. That, and The Dragon didn’t use 15 years of eligibility.

24. 2004 Oklahoma (11-1, 9-0, Big 12 Champions)
If you’re wondering “how badly does whiffing a title game do for your overall BCS ranking?”, here’s your answer: a lot. An excellent regular season (coupled with the Jason White bandwagon going into overdrive – really, he wasn’t that good) goes for naught when it looks like you didn’t prepare for the title game. You could make an argument that 2003 was really the turning point for Oklahoma in the BCS (2-0 before then, 0-4 after then), but we figured it was an aberration – up until their loss to Boise State. Oops. Speaking of bandwagons, does anyone know if they were able to rescue all the survivors from the Jason White bandwagon careening off a cliff?

25. 1998 Florida State (11-2, 7-1, ACC Champions)
This was the first of three straight years we’d see FSU in the championship game, and like the 3rd year it was controversial and they stunk up the field. Sure, it’s not their fault their 26-year-old QB slipped on the ice in a parking lot. (No really, that happened to somebody that bowl season but I can’t say 100% that it was Weinke… it might have been one of OSU’s receivers. But it’s funnier if we just assume it was the FSU QB whose absence from the Fiesta Bowl absolutely doomed his team’s offense, so for the purposes of this blog Chris Weinke slipped on a patch of ice outside the local supermarket.) How is a 26-year old playing on his sophomore year of eligibility in college? Does that mean he played high school ball at age 24? What a jerk… yeah, I’m sure it feels great to kick some kid’s ass in sports because you’re 8 years older than him. Come to think of it, that’s what I was doing when I was 17, and it does feel good thankyouverymuch. (Note: Brandon Coutu would use the Weinke path to success at Georgia less than 10 years later, which was fitting, because Coutu was also 26 back in 1998.)

26. 2007 LSU (12-2, 7-2, SEC Champions, National Champions)
On one hand, nobody could beat this team in 60 minutes… but on the other, they lost to freaking Kentucky, which is damn near inexcusable. Still, this was an excellent defensive team even with a hobbled* Glenn Dorsey up front. I don’t think there was a team in 2007 that could’ve dealt with a healthy LSU defense, which is the key here; the losses to Kentucky and Arkansas were fueled in part by guys playing at way less than optimal – and even with that, it took 3 OT. The other key is, of course, a 2007 team. Man, last year sucked.
*I’ve never seen a player take as many uncalled cheap shots as Dorsey saw. Seriously.

27. 2001 Oregon (12-1, 8-1, Pac-10 Champions)
Yes, Oregon should’ve been in the title game. Yes, they did wreck Colorado in their consolation game. But Joey Harrington would’ve been lit up like a Christmas tree against the Miami defense; on some level we wonder if Oregon should be thankful they got to say what-if. We’re not sure anyone would want to face that Miami team, although if anyone could’ve not looked like total idiots against them, it’s these guys. (By the way, that’s the textbook definition of “damning with faint praise” right there.)

28. 2007 Georgia (11-2, 6-2)
How does this team compare to the other at-large selections in BCS history? Depends on which part of the season you look at; up to the Tennessee game, that team would be low-80’s on this list. But after that …. for all Chris’s outright dismissals of Georgia’s chances of playing in the title game, they might’ve been the second-best team in 2007 come BCS time. Unfortunately for them, all the games count – and we do remember that egg against South Carolina, as much as we remember the dismantling of Florida, Auburn, and Hawaii.

29. 2003 Oklahoma (12-2, 8-1, Big 12 runner up)
Can an assistant really make all the difference? If you don’t think so, then allow me to describe the Oklahoma Sooners with DC Mike Stoops versus what they’ve been like after he took over at Arizona. In his full four seasons with OU, the Sooners compiled a 3-1 bowl record including 2-0 in the BCS with a national championship in which they basically pitched a shutout. In their three bowl victories they allowed a total of 19 points! (in their last three BCS losses, they’ve given up 146) Oklahoma was big and bad, the second BCS mini-dynasty after FSU, and this really culminated in 2003, when their 12-0 start was so utterly dominant that they were being called the greatest team of all-time. In just two games without their genius DC, the Sooner defense surrendered 56 points to lose both the conference and national title games. Funny how the seemingly smallest thing can bring it all crashing down. Nonetheless, the raw amount of talent on this defense allowed them to keep the Sugar Bowl respectable, even if Jason White was chucking interceptions in preparation for next year’s blowout loss to USC.

30. 2002 Georgia (13-1, 8-1, SEC Champions)
Ever wonder how good Georgia would be with an offense? Look no further than this team. The 4th-ranked defense is familiar but one of the most efficient QB’s (David Greene) in the country, and an offense that actually topped 30 ppg, allowed this particular team to win 13 games. On that note, they are probably one of the most forgotten 1-loss teams from the BCS era.

31. 2004 Texas (11-1, 7-1)
On paper you might think this offense would be more explosive than the 05 version – all the same players, plus Cedric Benson to bring a power presence to the running game. Then you remember, Vince Young still couldn’t pass the ball in 2004. (off topic: my personal favorite VY highlight comes from the 2004 season, when he throws a pass that’s intercepted by a Kansas linebacker, then promptly goes and lays out the LB with a violent tackle as he tries to run it back. A year later when he slams a USC safety to the turf en route to the end zone, you had to see it coming.) Not that it mattered for the most part, as Texas proved against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Michigan that they could outscore you if need be. The defense was average – perhaps slightly above average – for BCS team standards, led by an excellent secondary and LB Derrick Johnson who would set a NCAA record for fumbles forced by literally punching the ball out of running backs’ hands mid-tackle. The knocks on this team were shoddy kick coverage (see Rose Bowl) and the fact that VY still hadn’t learned to change/ignore/laugh hysterically, then change all plays that came into the huddle (see shutout loss to OU).

32. 2005 Ohio State (10-2, 7-1)
Although it was early in the season in their home stadium, this defense and the linebackers in particular get credit for being the only team in 2005 to effectively neutralize Vince Young – holding the Longhorns to 25 points when their next-lowest points total was 40 in a rivalry game Texas didn’t really show up for but won anyway. Sure the fact that VY was a little overconfident in his raw athletic ability helped – the QB threw two picks while literally being dragged to the ground (slowly, and from a standstill) by linebackers (fuck it he’s going deep), but that’s still more than anyone else could say. Heck, half the teams out there didn’t even have linebackers seemingly capable of sacking VY. Unfortunately the Ohio State offense, with all its speed and great WRs (Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn) didn’t gel until mid-November, and by then they’d already lost games to Texas and Penn State despite solid defensive turnouts in both games. By the end of the season they were playing like the #3 team in the country and probably in the 15-25 range of this list, but hey all the games count and we can’t ignore the offensive performances against Texas, Penn State, and yes even San Diego State.

33. 2001 Nebraska (11-2, 7-1)
Nebraska was basically a strong team who saved their worst four quarters of football for next-to-last, then played against possibly the best team of all-time in their final outing. By this time, Eric Crouch had developed into an outstanding player who wasn’t so much doomed by the Heisman curse as he was by the “your team is playing against a vastly superior opponent, the likes of which is seen once every 10-20 years… good luck, have fun!” curse. A victory over an Oklahoma team who really should have finished 12-1 (but upsets do happen, especially in rivalry games) showed that they were still strong enough to compete, but weren’t as fast as teams like Oregon, Florida, or, obviously, Miami. Admittedly, the title game would’ve been even more of a blowout had Miami not held secret tryouts for their fans to play the second half of the Rose Bowl.

34. 2005 Penn State (11-1, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
Penn State had a fearsome defense that was led by its LB crew, but really was great across the board including a secondary that had three picks in the 06 NFL draft. Like 2003 LSU, they’re another defense where you wonder how ridiculous their numbers would have been if the team had an offense capable of controlling the game with long drives. Speaking of, the offense basically featured a solid RB (Tony Hunt) and a QB who played like he thought he was a RB (Michael Robinson… whose brutal ramming of a MN safety on a red zone run might still be up on youtube). When Hunt got injured in the Orange Bowl, the team showed their complete lack of depth and one-dimensionality all at the same time, getting involved in an ugly affair.

35. 2000 Washington (11-1, 7-1, Pac 10 Champions)
Washington was a team that simply found ways to win – whether that’s an early season victories over the Miami Hurricanes and Oregon State Beavers, or squeaking past Stanford and Arizona near the end of the season. Marques Tuiasosopo seems like exactly the kind of guy you want running your offense, except that his efficiency rating was actually in the bottom half of starting QBs and he averaged a rather pedestrian 3.4 ypc as a dual-threat. The defense was a shade above average in scoring as well. The Huskies may have had the strongest argument for inclusion in the BCS compared to all of the other 1-loss teams, but their performances from mid-October on convinced few that they were actually one of the two best teams in the country. (or, y’know, EASTCOASTBIAS)

36. 2005 West Virginia (11-1, 7-0, Big East Champions)
This team also doubles as the Big East’s coming out party. It’s tough to overstate what ’04 Pittsburgh did to this conference’s reputation, but it was about three steps below the shitter. Sure, they went undefeated in the Big East, but they lost to the only *real* team they played in the regular season in Virginia Tech. Who the hell are these guys, anyway? This was the proto-Slaton and White team; both started as freshmen – predictably, they struggled early in the season before pouring it on at the end. Those 382 yards the ‘Eers rushed for in the Sugar Bowl were 155 more than Georgia had allowed in any game all season. They averaged more than a yard per carry higher than the 2nd-best rushing attack the ‘Dogs had allowed all year. So yeah, this team was pretty good.

37. 2006 USC (11-2, 7-2, Pac 10 Champions)
I will forever be grateful for this team – thank god it kicked Michigan’s teeth in otherwise we’d never be hearing the end of it. Since that happened before the national title game, we didn’t get subjected to a week of “Michigan should’ve been there!” stories ….okay, ANOTHER week of them. So thank you, John David Booty. Thank you, Chauncey Washington. Thank you, [7 guys on defense whose names I’ve all forgotten]. A nation thanks you. But you get no slack for losing to UCLA, sorry.

38. 2007 Ohio State (11-2, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
Once again, Ohio State had one of the best statistical defenses in the NCAA, and once again, they were lit up like a Grateful Dead concert by a speedy SEC opponent. The main differences between 2006 and 2007 were: a) Todd Boeckman replaced Troy Smith b) no Ted Ginn c) they lost a regular season game and d) okay, the championship game was good for longer than 15 seconds. The latter may be more due to 07 LSU not being as good as 06 Florida, but hey. To their credit, this team did have a generally solid defense and one of the nation’s top RBs.

39. 2006 Boise State (13-0, 8-0, WAC Champions)
Yes, everyone remembers the Statue of Liberty…. and the proposal. We may not remember they averaged nearly 40 points a game. We remember Ian Johnson ran for over 1,700 yards, but we may forget Jered Zabransky had a 23/6 ratio to go with his 2,500 yards passing. We remember the fantastic Fiesta Bowl, but this team was damn good before they got there, and beat a damn talented Oklahoma team.

40. 2006 Oklahoma (11-3, 8-1, Big 12 Champions)
Entering the season, Oklahoma was supposed to win the conference title and contend for the national – and then they lost QB Rhett Bomar and had to start a converted WR in his place. Around late October the move ended up working, but that was too little too late. Of course, you can’t mention their three losses without some Sooner fan bringing up the complete beauty absolute robbery that happened at Oregon – but hey, it took both horrible officiating AND the Sooners playing like ass in the closing minutes for that shocker to happen. OU then used a five turnover deficit to lose to Texas, before going on a tear to impressively reclaim the Big 12 and a spot in the BCS. Of course we recall what happened there, but losing an overtime game on some mind-boggling trick plays isn’t quite enough to drop them out of the top half of the BCS teams.

41. 2004 Utah (12-0, 8-0, MWC Champions)
Why couldn’t this team have played a team with a pulse? Was that too much to ask? Apparently it was, as Utah’s present for rolling all their opponents by at least 14 was to play Pittsburgh. Oh boy. This was the pre-Florida Urban Meyer team of glory, thrusting him into the national spotlight; in a way, these guys are indirectly responsible for Tim Tebow and directly responsible for the 49ers being complete idiots. As awesome as Alex Smith was in college, they had one hell of a system going there.

42. 2000 Oregon State (11-1, 7-1)
The offense featured Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh, and in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame you saw what such a tandem of receivers is capable of doing to a college defense. However, their own defense seemed to show up about every other week – you either broke 30 against them or didn’t break 10 – and overall their play was just inconsistent. Still consistent enough to finish 11-1 with a sole loss to title contender Washington (and with a victory over 10-2 rival Oregon to boot), but really the performance seems about par for a list of BCS teams. They also had Jonathan Smith, who miraculously retained eligibility despite being 400 years old ...and a zombie. (This trick was later copied by Brandon Coutu.)

43. 2002 Oklahoma (12-2, 7-2, Big 12 Champions)
From 2000-04, Oklahoma averaged 12 wins a season and played for three national titles, winning one – an impressive little streak there. This squad was right in the middle of that five season stretch, and could be said to be average for greatness. OU had two inexplicable losses (A&M, Ok State) under the helm of Nate Hybl (aka the trivia answer between Josh Heupel and Jason White, who we now know played at OU only because they needed someone whose last name was easier to spell), but had enough raw talent around him to pull of impressive wins over Texas, Colorado, and of course their Rose Bowl beatdown of Washington State.

44. 2007 West Virginia (11-2, 5-2, Big East Champions)
Left for dead after Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan before the Fiesta Bowl, these guys responded by wrecking Oklahoma (in what’s now become a yearly tradition). Shockingly, this was the most explosive Mountaineer offense (39.6 PPG) of the last few years, although the defense wasn’t anything spectacular. Then again, it didn’t have to be; between Owen Schmidt, Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine (the fastest of these guys), who the hell was going to stop them …well, other than Pittsburgh. Way to spit the bit. Random tidbit: they averaged 8.95 ypc against Oklahoma. Seriously.

45. 2007 USC (11-2, 7-2, Pac 10 Champions)
At the end of the day, they had a fantastic offense and a solid defense. Losing to Dennis-Dixon-clad Oregon is perfectly okay, especially on the road; 2007 was so wacky it wouldn’t be a death knell. But …Stanford? Really? Come on, we can only suspend disbelief so much. They did wreck Arizona State pretty handily, so that’s a plus.

46. 2003 Michigan (10-3, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
Moving Marlin Jackson from CB to FS cost the Wolverines their best cover corner and revitalized the secondary – improving the unit from #69 in 2002 to #15 in 2003. Sometimes asymmetric depth does funny things like that. This move, and the play of Chris Perry and Braylon Edwards, allowed Michigan to beat Ohio State for the only time under Jim Tressel and to win their first Big 10 title since the 1997 co-national champion season. USC made them look average in that Rose Bowl, but USC has had a habit of doing that to opponents for about six years now. Even then, if Edwards doesn’t drop a would-be long TD pass on the Wolverines’ opening drive, maybe this team had just enough talent to hope for a small miracle.

47. 2003 Miami (11-2, 6-1, Big East Champions)
Contrary to popular belief, the Miami mini-dynasty didn’t really collapse following their loss to Ohio State, and only a midseason stumble against VA Tech followed by a disastrous offensive performance against Tennessee prevented the Canes from joining the BCS’s most convoluted title discussion. These guys were fucking soldiers, with the exception of Brock Berlin. What a loser.

48. 1998 UCLA (10-2, 8-0, Pac 10 Champions)
Dear god, this team could throw the ball. Granted, that’s about all they could do as the defense finished in the bottom 20, allowing 340 points which is almost unheard of for a team who was unbeaten and the leading title contender in December. They were 10-0 and scored 45 points against Miami, problem was that they gave up 49. Then they gave up 38 to a very offensively one-dimensional Wisconsin team. Still, when you force the #1 defense in the country to give up three times their average… well, at least you’re good on that side of the ball.

49. 1998 Florida (10-2, 7-1)
Statistically, this was both the worst offense and the best defense Steve Spurrier had in his final nine seasons with the Gators. The Dragon had yet to arrive on campus, so their options were limited.

50. 2005 Georgia (10-3, 7-2, SEC Champions)
The Georgia Stonehands did a pretty good job throughout the regular season, except for blowing back-to-back games against Florida and Auburn. Shockingly, this was the only season where Mohammed Massaquoi didn’t drop a ton of passes, making him the go-to receiver by default. Even gifted with a virtual home game for the Sugar Bowl, these guys couldn’t stop West Virginia from rolling them in the first half.

51. 2006 Michigan (11-2, 7-1)
We were really happy when USC figured out that Michigan absolutely could not stop the pass (hello, watch the Ohio State game film?) and shredded the Wolverines in the second half of the Rose Bowl. This was a team who relied a little too heavily on the run, was a little slow in adapting to the opposition, and basically squandered a good amount of talent in losing the only two games of the season that really mattered. Growing up as an Ohio State fan during the John Cooper years, I feel their pain. But had they beat USC, they totally should’ve played Ohio State again for the title. REMATCH

52. 2000 Florida (10-3, 8-1, SEC Champions)
“Ball State? MTSU? Fuck it, I’m going deep. Those bitches can’t keep up with the Dragon. I don’t even know where the fuck those hick-ass schools are and I’ll still fuck all their cheerleaders during halftime.”
“Oh, Tennessee? Rocky Top this, bitches. You can’t handle the Dragon.”
“Kentucky? Maybe I’ll toss some nice little slant screens against these little shits. Who the fuck am I kidding? They can’t handle Jabar. Fuck it, I’m hitting Gaffney on an 80-yard out. What the fuck are you going to do about that?”
“LSU? Bitches can’t handle this shit. I’ll fucking go deep all day here and hit their cheerleaders at halftime, if you know what I mean. And fuck it, you know what I mean. I’m going deep.”
“Auburn? You think you can tame the Dragon? Fuck no you can’t tame the Dragon. I’ve got a Tiger too; ask your girlfriend about that shit. Twice.”
“Shit, Vanderbilt and South Carolina totally aren’t worth going deep on. Bitches are ugly and shitty. I’ll just throw 10-yard slants all day against these bitches. Fooled you, didn’t I? Yeah, that’s right, I’m throwing the bomb and nothing but the bomb. And I’m making all your coeds wet with excitement. The Dragon’s just that good.”
“Georgia’s a rivalry game; they’ve got a good secondary. Everyone’s been covered short all game. Fuck it, I’m going deep.”

53. 2007 Oklahoma (11-3, 7-2, Big 12 Champions)
Oklahoma wasn’t supposed to have a great season following Adrian Peterson’s departure to the NFL, but to the surprise of many they started out 4-0 outscoring opponents 246-47. Though they’d go on to defeat Texas once and Missouri twice, they couldn’t keep it up all season. Ultimately, their downfall was the inconsistency you’d expect from a team lead by a freshman QB. Bradford really takes a lot of the blame for their wtf loss to Colorado, and he needed to step the offense up when it became obvious that West Virginia’s offense was too fast to be contained in the Fiesta Bowl.

54. 2003 Ohio State (11-2, 6-2)
Even without Maurice Clarrett and half of their championship defense, OSU was in position to contend for the 2003 national title going into their game against Michigan. Ah, familiar story. Of course, unlike the mid 90s, this was a team that overachieved for most of the season and when they lost to the Wolverines, you couldn’t be that surprised. The defense then shut down KSU’s option attack (which had baffled Oklahoma) and showed enough dominance on both lines to be a testament to their place among the middle tier of BCS teams.

55. 2007 Kansas (12-1, 7-1)
Unfortunately, even after winning the Orange Bowl, it’s still tough to get a feel for how good this team was. Todd Reesing was incredibly efficient and Talib was legitimately one of the top cover corners in the NCAA, but they basically played against two good teams all season – Missouri handling the Jayhawks without difficulty and Virginia Tech being a team tailor-made to be the perfect matchup to allow KU to steal a BCS bowl victory (can’t score many points, prone to turnovers, terrible coaching). This feels about right. And yes, Missouri would be above them if they actually made the BCS – way to go, Orange Bowl selection committee!

56. 2006 Louisville (12-1, 6-1, Big East Champions)
Led by a high-powered offense and a better-than-expected defense, Louisville ended up winning the Big East thanks to both of the other conference contenders (West Virginia, Rutgers) losing an additional conference game. Their prize was getting to play an overmatched Wake Forest team in the No-Doz Bowl. This is back when we all thought Brian Brohm was the shit, Michael Bush was injured, and the Cardinals were still throwing up 5+ TDs a game. Good times.

57. 2002 Washington State (10-3, 7-1, Pac 10 Champions)
Much as I want to rip on the Cougs for being the last team to lose to Oklahoma in the BCS, they did have to face the national champs and a USC team who was equally talented as the Buckeyes – oh yeah, and they beat those Trojans. That’s three legitimately good BCS opponents on the schedule. Alright, alright – THEY LOST TO OKLAHOMA WTF?? There, I said it.

58. 2004 Virginia Tech (10-3, 7-1, ACC Champions)
VT did have the misfortune of facing the #3 and #5-ranked teams on this list. Yikes! Against USC, the Hokies nearly pulled off the upset in the season-opener due to USC’s early offensive growing pains… were it not for numerous illegal formation issues and what was probably a phantom offensive PI. Then again, the 10-minute collapse in the middle of the second half also sealed their fate. And against Auburn, don’t let the score fool you it was over at 16-0. Still, when we get beyond that, we see a team who had one of the nation’s best defenses and an experienced, mobile QB in Randall. Slightly below average for BCS-goers, but not terrible.

59. 2003 Florida State (10-3, 7-1, ACC Champions)
This was one of those nice teams that ended up being really easy to classify: they lost to anyone with a pulse. Yes, they beat 10-3 Maryland, but that Maryland team beat …..uh…. Clemson? Yeah, Clemson. Of course, that was more than Florida State could say, since Clemson beat them by 16. On the plus side, they did go 10-1 (7-1) against teams not named Miami, even though that was a Miami team that obviously wasn’t as good as previous versions.

60. 1999 Tennessee (9-3, 6-2)
In some ways, they really weren’t that much below the championship team from the season before. Their most challenging/lucky wins in 98 turned into two heartbreaking losses in 99 – Florida and Arkansas. However, getting thoroughly dominated by a Nebraska team who basically said “hey, we’re going to run between the tackles – stop us if you can” is indicative of some real defensive issues.

61. 1999 Michigan (10-2, 6-2)
The Tom Brady (who?)-led Wolverines were surprisingly average on offense, but they found ways to beat three 10-win BCS conference teams including a thrilling Orange Bowl win over Alabama that featured two comebacks from 14 points down. The magic was there but the skill and supporting cast weren’t – not for this group of teams’ standards anyway.

62. 1999 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
Ron Dayne broke the NCAA rushing record this season and finished #2 on the year behind LaDainian Tomlinson by 16 yards, who faced vastly inferior competition. The stingy defense finished #5 in scoring average and this was basically a lesser version of the 98 Badgers team.

63. 1999 Alabama (10-3, 8-1, SEC Champions)
I cheated and looked up statistics for this team before trying to remember who played for them… and found out, I’ve never heard of any of these guys (Shaun Alexander never existed in LFB world). The Tide had a terrible offense and a slightly above-average defense, and they nearly beat Tom Brady but missed a freaking PAT. That’s all I’ve got.

64. 2001 LSU (10-3, 6-3, SEC Champions)
Remember the days of Rohan Davey? It’s cool, I don’t either. In reality, they may have been the 3rd-best team in the SEC this season behind SEXY REXY’s Gators and a Tennessee team who split games with them. Oh and they lost to Mississippi! No, I don’t care if the Rebs did have Eli Manning, you’re not supposed to do that if you want to crack the top 50. Scoring 47 on Illinois doesn’t count for much, since it’s technically the best defensive performance the Illini have ever had in a BCS bowl.

65. 2004 Michigan (9-3, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
The only things this team actually accomplished were to beat Iowa, which by now everybody knew was more impressive on paper than in reality, and to give Texas a good game in their bowl. The latter was more related to the matchup of a horrible kick coverage unit going up against Steve Breaston than anything else. Losses to Ohio State and Texas aren’t bad, but we also remember that they were beaten by a very mediocre Notre Dame squad.

66. 2003 Kansas State (11-4, 7-2, Big 12 Champions)
This team encapsulates the argument against conference championship games. KSU lost a nonconference game to Marshall, who wasn’t very good by this point in time. They lost Big 12 games to Texas and Oklahoma State. They padded their schedule with not one but two I-AA opponents. Oklahoma massacred both Texas and OK State, destroyed a Pac 10 opponent and beat Alabama on the road, and were sitting at (12-0, 8-0) to KSU’s (10-3, 6-2) going into November. Even Texas was (9-2, 7-1) – better than KSU on both counts and with a head-to-head victory. But KSU got to clean their entire slate and win a completely undeserving Big 12 title by upsetting Oklahoma on Dec 6. One win negated an entire season of mediocrity. Naturally, they went on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State, only making the score close when the Buckeyes stopped caring in the 4th quarter. On the plus side, Kansas State had already paid off the karma this built for them back in 1998 and 1999.

67. 2001 Colorado (10-3, Big 12 Champions)
Yes, we’re putting a national title contender this low on the list. Why? Two reasons: 1) they got shitcanned by Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl (losing by 22 to a team that had to bribe teams to lose by more than 10) and 2) Mack Brown gift-wrapping the Big 12 championship. (Aside for one M. Brown: DON’T PLAY CHRIS FUCKING SIMMS. HE SUCKS. WHEN YOU BEAT A TEAM 41-7, THEY’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO STOP THAT QB, SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL USE HIM.) So yes, Colorado did win the Big 12 title, but just because you win a conference championship doesn’t mean you’re a good team (see: ACC, 2001-present).

68. 2007 Virginia Tech (11-3, 8-1, ACC Champions)
When another conference champion beats your conference champion 48-7, you’ve got to have doubts about your BCS game. Virginia Tech was massacred at the hands of LSU, and that really signified the gap between the passably decent and the actually talented teams. (Seriously, this was a bad year.) This was apparent in the year’s first three BCS bowls, settled by an average of 27 points. VT had an evenly fought game with Kansas, which is why they rank just a little below Kansas here. The Hokies featured one of the best defenses in the NCAA, but their offense was basically Brandon Ore rushing against 9-men fronts behind a mediocre line. When you consider that Reggie Ball Sean Glennon was such a bad QB that Tyrod Taylor’s redshirt was burned halfway through the second game in meaningless crunch time that tells you how truly bad Glennon was. Oh but it gets better – Taylor eventually lost the starting spot back to Glennon. Go figure that the VT offense gave Kansas the points they needed to win the Orange Bowl. As a bonus, this team completed the triumvirate of losses you really want to avoid when they blew a 10-0 lead over Boston College in the final four minutes by playing prevent defense – giving them a blowout loss, a choke loss, and a loss against a completely unproven opponent. Great job, Coach Beamer.

69. 2007 Hawaii (13-1, 8-0, WAC Champions)
Led by a high-powered offense and a complete inability to field an offensive or defensive line large enough to compete on the mainland, Hawaii bombed their way to a 13-0 record and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. After watching Georgia wreck them without blitzing, “bombed” sure seems like the right word for them, right?

70. 1998 Texas A&M (11-3, 8-1, Big 12 Champions)
Texas A&M was known as a comeback team – winning 5 games in the second half, but I think what really happened was that teams got bored playing against them and went home early. A team based on their “Wrecking Crew” defense, the Aggies surrendered at least 20 points against every team they faced with at least 9 wins (five) but hey, they did manage to shut out a sub-.500 Oklahoma team and hold Louisiana Tech to 6. The offense never broke 40 once, not even against pathetic North Texas, Baylor, or Kansas, and actually they broke 30 just twice all season. Basically this is the story of a team getting lucky just enough times in the regular season to qualify for a conference championship game, then having a combination of getting lucky plus having your opponent stop playing at halftime (way to shit all over yourself, Kansas State) so that you could play in a bowl where – get this – your opponent stops playing offense after the first quarter but still wins.

71. 2002 Iowa (11-2, 8-0)
Notice that they were 8-0 in conference play but not Big 10 champions (they were technically co-champs, but Ohio State was given the automatic bid and… oh yeah, Ohio State didn’t lose a nonconference game to a .500 team, so we know who the real B-10 champs were). To their credit, they did squeak past Miami… the other Miami… by 5 points in a game that the Big Ten actually apologized to the Redhawks team for the officiating afterwards. One might think they got screwed but in reality they got saved from being massacred by a vastly superior OSU team. Their consolation was a record good enough to earn them a trip to the Orange Bowl where they were massacred by a vastly superior USC team. But hey, when your conference has all of its power consolidated into two teams, and you don’t play against the other, you too can win 11 games!

72. 2002 Florida State (9-5, 7-1, ACC Champions)
In a testament to the collapse of the ACC, this team managed to go 2-4 out of conference, including a loss to 7-6 Louisville back when they were still a C-USA team.

73. 1998 Syracuse (8-4, 7-1, Big East Champions)
They had Donovan McNabb, which was unquestionably the best part of this team. Unfortunately, they couldn’t clone him enough to make it worthwhile, ending up getting destroyed by a Florida team who wasn’t spectacular but sure seemed it after this game. As above, the 1-3 record is a testament to the state of the Big East in 1998, but in fairness two of those losses were to national champs Tennessee and a pretty good Florida team (#49).

74. 2001 Maryland (10-2, 7-1, ACC Champions)
Witness the prototype of the new ACC Champion – bad offense, weak schedule, completely decimated in bowl games by a vastly superior opponent. We didn’t realize what we were getting into at the time.

75. 2005 Notre Dame (9-3, 3-0 Armed Forces Division)
You’re going to hate me for bringing this up, but I can’t be the only one to remember that god-awful abomination that Brady Quinn’s sister was wearing during this game, right? (Hey, since she was sleeping with AJ Hawk, do you think they got any playbook information? You think it would’ve actually mattered?) She really should’ve known better, and not only from a fashion standpoint. As for the game, it was the predictable Notre-Dame-gets-in-because-they’re-Notre-Dame-and-then-gets-killed game. Not a whole lot to see here, although this is probably indirectly responsible for spawning the “Ohio State Best Team EVAR” crap in 2006. Let this be a lesson for you: beating Notre Dame in a BCS game does not guarantee you a title next year. Bonus points: this was the best BCS team from either Indiana or Illinois.

76. 2001 Illinois (10-2, 7-1, Big 10 Champions)
This was the best Illinois team of the BCS era. That really sums it up. Well, that and Kurt Kittner, who went on to a wildly successful NFL career ….oh. Too soon?

77. 2006 Wake Forest (11-3, 7-2, ACC Champions)
This team was the offensive equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. They lost their starting QB and starting RB in the first two games of the season and still won the ACC title before Louisville felt pity on them and played down to their level in the Orange Bowl. Put another way: in 2006, the ACC had a conference champion who was playing without their starting backfield, and to win the conference championship, they had to go through … Reggie Ball. A! C! C!

78. 2007 Illinois (9-4, 6-2)
Rashard Mendenhall + ? = holy god this team shouldn’t have been in the BCS. We hate you, Rose Bowl Selection Committee; Missouri wasn’t good enough for you, huh? (Bonus points: taking a bus to LAX on New Year’s Day and seeing all the depressed Illinois fans. Really, they should’ve known better; just because you beat Ohio State in a trap game doesn’t mean you’re any good. Missouri called off the dogs when they played you.)

79. 2000 Purdue (8-4, 6-2, Big 10 Champions)
When we make fun of the Big 10, it’s for shitty teams like this – teams that somehow avoid playing anyone with talent, lose to better in-conference teams but get lucky when they lose to other teams, then proceed to get mauled by teams making their only Rose Bowl appearance in the last decade. Purdue, this is why we mock you.

80. 2000 Notre Dame (9-3, beat nobody of consequence)
I know, it’s hard to realize, but this was the first team to get completely played off the field by a good-but-not-great Oregon State team with way more team speed. If you close your eyes and imagine really carefully, you can still see Oregon State returning a pick for a TD. Oregon State forgot to cash in their BCS title ticket for beating Notre Dame, I guess – don’t know what happened to them next year.

81. 2006 Notre Dame (10-3, beat nobody of consequence)
This might’ve been the most fun I’ve ever had watching someone just get completely fucked up, as Notre Dame had no way to deal with LSU at all, especially with LSU playing a de facto home game. They sneaked in on name and reputation alone, which got them about as far as you’d expect once the game actually started. Wonder if Brady Quinn still has nightmares about this one. Of course, LSU did go on to win a title, but as we’ve seen above, that wasn’t guaranteed. Apparently you just get the title shot, not the actual title.

82. 2005 Florida State (8-5, 6-3, ACC Champions)
The poster child for the “Conference Championship Games Should Be Killed” argument, Florida State lucked out and beat a superior Virginia Tech team. Their reward? Playing Penn State in the 2005 Special Olympics Orange Bowl. Dear God, that was terrible. Oh, and that VT team was a national title contender and had already beaten Florida State in the regular season, too. Yet another demerit: this game probably inflicted Jeffy Bowden on an unsuspecting nation for another 18 months.

83. 1999 Stanford (8-5, 7-1, Pac-10 Champions)
Let this be a lesson for you, Tom Hansen: it was a good idea to make sure everyone plays each other in football, too bad that was implemented in the Pac 10 just a few years too late to avoid this. This way, you avoid teams like this making the Rose Bowl over a 9-3 Oregon team they happened to avoid playing. You also avoid Stanford getting their skull caved in by Ron Dayne. We could throw out fancy statistics (418 points scored vs 364 allowed is among the worst of any BCS team, and basically means they were lucky to win 8 games), but it can be better phrased by noting that only 2004 Pittsburgh ranks lower, and they nearly got their conference’s BCS membership revoked. Speaking of which…

84. 2004 Pittsburgh (8-4, 4-2, Big East Champions)
This is why they play the games, right? This was a bad, bad year for the Big East; it was right after Miami and Virginia Tech bolted for the ACC but before they had added Louisville and South Florida, so every team had to play a ton of out-of-conference games. Adding to the problem is there wasn’t one team in the conference who was really that much better than everyone. Pittsburgh chose to offset the weak conference schedule by playing Ohio, Nebraska, Furman, Notre Dame, and South Florida (they still sucked back then) – of which, 6-6 Notre Dame was the only one who was both in division I-A and had a non-losing record. The end result? This crapbag of a team sneaks into the BCS and gets wrecked by Utah. Good show. (Also, it was really fun watching the ads for the BCS: #1 v. #2, #3 v. #5, #4 v. #7, and #6 v. #21. Uh….)

So ...that about sums it up. If you got this far, update your resume, because if you read this at work I can guarantee you somebody above you noticed, so trust me on this one.

Monday, June 9

It's Coming...

Chris: I missed the best line. It should've been: on June 9th, I predicted that Phile Steele's magazine would come out the next day. AND IT HAPPENED.
James: Well read this: on June 9th, I predict that I will read Phil Steele's magazine sometime in the next few weeks, and that I will make at least one "AND IT HAPPENED" joke afterwards.

The authoratative source on college football, prognostications, and summaries of accurate prognostications made in prior seasons by said author, comes out tomorrow.