Best in (BCS) history
Ranking the top 10 teams in the BCS' five-year lifespan
Posted: Monday December 09, 2002 12:35 PM
By Stewart Mandel, CNNSI.com
Sunday’s pairings announcement brought to 40 the number of teams that will have competed in a BCS game the first five years of its existence.
Since ranking this year’s teams is now basically just for kicks and giggles, and given the enthusiastic response to last week’s silly list of the top conferences, why not one more silly list this week?
Here now, one man’s opinion of the top 10 BCS teams, 1998-2002:
1. Miami, 2001 (12-0): The crowning achievement thus far in a historic three-year run, these ‘Canes had it all: Balanced offense, dominating offensive and defensive lines, unmatched secondary. Eleven (so far) are now playing on Sundays.
2. Florida State, 1999 (12-0): The best player in college football that year, Peter Warrick, spearheaded an explosive offense, and the biggest weapon of all may have been K Sebastian Janikowski.
3. Ohio State, 1998 (11-1): It might seem wrong to rank them ahead of several teams that actually won titles, but c’mon -- Joe Germaine, David Boston, Andy Katzenmoyer. These guys were loaded, except, of course, at coach.
4. Oklahoma, 2000 (13-0): Truly an amazing season, one in which the Sooners throttled three higher-ranked teams in a row, then shut down an explosive FSU offense in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners till miss Josh Heupel.
5. Miami, 2002 (12-0 so far): The ‘Canes are every bit as talented as their predecessor, they’ve just shown more vulnerability. The beauty, of course, is unlike the four above them they can still move up.
6. Nebraska, 1999 (12-1): This was vintage Husker football, with Eric Crouch and Dan Alexander demoralizing defenses and the Brown brothers leading a true Blackshirt defense. They played their best football a little too late, though.
7. Tennessee, 1998 (13-0): How many teams could lose Jamal Lewis midseason and move on unscathed? They never particularly dazzled anyone, but they took care of business nonetheless, much like a certain team further down the list.
8. Virginia Tech, 1999 (11-1): The perception was they were a one-man team, but Michael Vick was more like the cherry on top of a really good sundae. Easy to forget, but they led Florida State after three quarters of the Sugar Bowl.
9. Oregon, 2001 (11-1): The Joey Harrington-led Ducks came up just short of playing for a national title. Two 1,000-yard rushers (Maurice Morris and Onterrio Smith) and a stout defense sure took Colorado by surprise.
10. Ohio State, 2002 (13-0 so far): Much like the ’98 Vols, these Buckeyes seem like the prototypical “team of destiny.” The defense hasn’t had a single bad game, and we could find out Jan. 3 just what a difference maker Maurice Clarett is.
P.S.: The five worst: 2000 Notre Dame, 2001 Illinois, 2002 Florida State, 2001 Maryland and 1998 Syracuse.
On to the real rankings -- which, by the way, barely changed from last week.
|College Football Power Rankings|
|| Miami (FL) Hurricanes (12-0)
No doubt, the Hurricanes had another great season, but it was also downright perplexing at times. How does a team ranked among the top 10 in the country in defense wind up in a 56-45 shootout? Oh yeah … trick play.
Next game: Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State.
|| Ohio St. Buckeyes (13-0)
The Buckeyes have to be licking their chops right now. Teams love to play the respect card, and I’d say being 13-0 and a double-digit underdog doesn’t go over too well. Whether it makes a difference is another story.
Next game: Fiesta Bowl vs. Miami
|| USC Trojans (10-2)
As part of a conference that loves to cry “East Coast bias,” the Trojans find themselves in the ideal situation to do something about it: Playing on the East Coast, against a top five team. Can’t wait to settle the Carson Palmer-Brad Banks thing, too.
Next game: Orange Bowl vs. Iowa.
|| Iowa Hawkeyes (11-1)
Let me assure you, Hawkeye fans, there is as much to do in Miami as in L.A., maybe more. South Beach on even a Tuesday night will be a tad more lively than your typical Iowa City weekend. The parade’s not as good, but who the heck cares?
Next game: Orange Bowl vs. USC.
|| Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)
It’s too bad for the Bulldogs they couldn’t draw USC or Iowa. They’ve had a wonderful season and would deserve to finish as high as No. 2 in the polls, but it would have been nice to see them face at least one team better than Alabama.
Next game: Sugar Bowl vs. Florida State.
|| Kansas St. Wildcats (10-2)
A little irony: Kansas State may have been squeezed out of the BCS by the Kansas State rule. They beat USC, finished with the same record and would surely travel better. What would have happened if the Trojans weren’t guaranteed?
Next game: Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State.
|| Oklahoma Sooners (11-2)
Whatever the Sooners did wrong against Oklahoma State seemed to go away pretty quick against Colorado. Granted, the Buffs are the world’s worst passing team, and it makes you wonder what Jason Gesser might do.
Next game: Rose Bowl vs. Washington State.
|| Washington St. Cougars (10-2)
Mike Price wouldn’t have cared if the Cougars were playing Oklahoma, Ohio State or Miami of Ohio. Just getting to the Rose Bowl means everything to a program like Wazzu, which has risen from mediocrity to go 20-4 the past two years.
Next game: Rose Bowl vs. Oklahoma.
|| Texas Longhorns (10-2)
Here’s a question: Why does the SEC keep sending its fourth- or fifth-best team to Dallas to get slaughtered by the Big 12’s second or third?
Next game: Cotton Bowl vs. LSU.
|| Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3)
Congratulations to Larry Johnson, Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year. Now, with all due respect to Mr. Johnson, why does Chevrolet get to give out said award and who exactly votes on it? Chevrolet customers? Salesmen? Mechanics?
Next game: Capital One Bowl vs. Auburn.
|| Alabama Crimson Tide (10-3)
Considering they’re missing that key element known as a coach, I considered dropping the Tide farther down. But then, considering how far back it appears Coach Fran began eyeing A&M, it’s highly possible they were playing without a coach all year.
Next game: Season over.
|| North Carolina St. Wolfpack (13)
Despite all that nifty Heisman propaganda his school sent out all year, poor Philip Rivers didn’t even make All-ACC quarterback, losing out to Virginia’s Matt Schaub. Good thing he’ll be coming back for his eighth year next season.
Next game: Gator Bowl vs. Notre Dame.
|| Michigan Wolverines (9-3)
If you’d told Wolverines fans before the season they’d be playing the Gators, they’d have thought it was the Fiesta. No such luck for Michigan, which ends its season in the state of Florida for, if you can believe this, the sixth time in seven years.
Next game: Outback Bowl vs. Florida.
|| West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3)
Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez lashed out at Notre Dame for hogging Big East bowl spots. Virginia’s Al Groh lashed out at the ACC for not protecting its second-place team. Is Charlotte the place for happy campers or what?
Next game: Continental Tire Bowl vs. Virginia.
|| Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2)
In his tirade, Rodriguez suggested that the Irish wouldn’t be able to finish second if they played in the Big East. Now them’s fighting words. Can’t we set up a 29th bowl just to let these two duke it out?
Next game: Gator Bowl vs. N.C. State.
|| Florida St. Seminoles (9-4)
The Teacher meets the Pupil -- again. Bobby Bowden better hope this one goes better than his last two against Chuck Amato. Meanwhile, Chris Rix would be wise to seek out old position coach Mark Richt before the game for a refresher course.
Next game: Sugar Bowl vs. Georgia.
CNNSI.com college sports writer Stewart Mandel will update his Power Rankings for the last time Jan. 4. They also serve as his ballot in the new Football Writers Association/Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll.