Power Ranking Every BCS National Championship Winner

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 8, 2014

Power Ranking Every BCS National Championship Winner

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    The Florida State Seminoles mounted a gutsy, last-minute drive to clip the Auburn Tigers 34-31 at the Rose Bowl, grabbing the final national title of the BCS era.

    With the College Football Playoff coming next year, it's time to take a look back in time at the 16 years of the BCS.

    From the first champion, Tennessee in 1998, to now, the BCS has brought some fond memories.

    Here and now, we'll rank them all.

    Teams are judged on the dominance displayed in their championship season, the toughness of their respective roads and their lasting legacy—including the impact of their players at the next level.

16. 2000 Oklahoma Sooners

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    Head Coach: Bob Stoops

    Final Record: 13-0

    The 2000 Oklahoma Sooners began their national title run at just No. 19 in the rankings, but they would earn their way to the championship.

    They topped six ranked teams, including three Top 10 foes. 

    One of this squad's crowning achievements was beating Kansas State and Nebraska in consecutive games while those teams were ranked No. 2 and No. 1, respectively. That sent OU to No. 1, where it would remain for the rest of the season.

    The Sooners topped the Wildcats again to win the Big 12 and clipped No. 3 Florida State 13-2 in a rather dull national title game.

    The biggest drawback of this squad was its lack of staying power. As LostLettermen.com detailed, safety Roy Williams was the only major contributor to have a long, successful NFL career.

15. 2006 Florida Gators

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    Head Coach: Urban Meyer

    Final Record: 13-1

    Florida was dominant in its national title win over Ohio State, but the team was nowhere near its full potential in 2006, which was just Urban Meyer's second year in Gainesville.

    The Gators were led by a senior quarterback Chris Leak, who waited until the final game of his long career to reach the lofty expectations he carried all along.

    After OSU's Ted Ginn returned the opening kick for a touchdown, Florida poured on 34 points to take a comfortable 34-14 halftime advantage. From there and behind an efficient performance from Leak, Florida cruised for a 41-14 victory.

    The Gators' star-in-the-making Tim Tebow ran and threw for scores. That would set them up for a run for success, though many of their best players were still young when this title was won.

14. 2007 LSU Tigers

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    Head Coach: Les Miles

    Final Record: 12-2

    LSU was the only two-loss champion of the BCS era, which is a major mark against this club.

    After falling to Kentucky and Arkansas during the regular season, the Tigers only sneaked into the national title when West Virginia and Missouri collapsed to close the year.

    They used a big second quarter and four touchdown passes from Matt Flynn to keep OSU at arm's length and claim the national title, 38-24.

    Several members of this squad would go on to successful NFL careers, but it lacked the star power (like JaMarcus Russell, LaRon Landry and Dwayne Bowe) that made other LSU teams of the era better, even though they lacked the national title ring.

13. 2003 LSU Tigers

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    Head Coach: Nick Saban

    Final Record: 13-1

    Earlier this year, the 2003 LSU national title team had a reunion in Baton Rouge when the Tigers took on Florida in October.

    The esteemed guest list featured head coach Nick Saban, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, as well as several NFL players.

    Of course, Saban, Muschamp and Fisher were too busy coaching teams not named LSU to make the party. Well, Muschamp was actually in the building, but as Florida's head coach, he had other business on his mind, per Matthew Harris of The Advocate:

    They contacted me, but I’m worried about that 2013 LSU team, not the 2003 one.

    It’ll be good to see those guys on the field a little bit. It was a special group. We had a bunch of guys go play on Sunday, but we had a bunch of successful people, whether they’re teachers, whether they’re in the business world. They’ve all done an outstanding job and it was a lot of fun.

    That LSU team's only loss came to Florida at Tiger Stadium. However, LSU had little trouble rebounding, as it won out and beat Oklahoma 21-14 for the national title.

    The 2003 LSU squad's legacy will be defined by its coaching tree, as well as future NFL'ers LaRon Landry, Joseph Addai, Devery Henderson and Marcus Spears.  

12. 1998 Tennessee Volunteers

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    Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer

    Final Record: 13-0

    Only in the BCS can Tee Martin be considered a better quarterback than Peyton Manning.

    Manning failed to guide the Volunteers to a national title, but the year after he left for the NFL, Martin succeeded where he couldn't.

    The Vols began the season at No. 10 with a major test against No. 5 Florida in just their second game, and right away Martin did something Manning couldn't: He beat the Gators. From there, UT cruised through SEC play and topped Mississippi State to take the conference crown.

    The Vols topped Florida State, which would win the title next season, 23-16 to win the first BCS title.

    Phillip Fulmer's squad featured several future NFL stars, including running back Jamal Lewis, defensive tackle Shaun Ellis and linebacker Al Wilson.

    The Billingsley Report, one of the six BCS computers, ranks this squad as the No. 3 team in college football history.

11. 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Head Coach: Jim Tressel

    Final Record: 14-0

    No one gave Ohio State a chance going into its Fiesta Bowl date with defending national champion Miami.

    With the BCS crown on the line, the Hurricanes were 12-point favorites and had infamously already planned a postgame party.

    However, OSU crashed that party better than Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson ever could, topping the Hurricanes 31-24 in overtime.

    But the Bucks were more than just a team of destiny—they had talent to back it up. OSU had an elite running back in Maurice Clarett. Off-field issues would sour his legacy, but he was great at the collegiate level. So too were Chris Gamble, Michael Jenkins, Mike Doss, A.J. Hawk and several other '02 Buckeyes.

    The team also featured current Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio as its defensive coordinator.

    This Ohio State team gave the BCS era one of its biggest upsets and one of the most thrilling national title games.

10. 1999 Florida State Seminoles

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    Head Coach: Bobby Bowden

    Final Record: 12-0

    In one of the most electric national title games of the BCS Era, Florida State claimed its crown in a thrilling shootout against Michael Vick and Virginia Tech.

    The Seminoles opened up a large lead early, only to see Vick and VT surge to notch a brief 29-28 advantage. Then, FSU stormed back, owning the fourth quarter in a 46-29 victory.

    In winning the national title, the 'Noles completed a season in which they never moved off the No. 1 ranking from preseason to postseason.

    They were led by Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and several dangerous receivers, including Peter Warrick, Laveranues Coles and Anquan Boldin.

    Billingsley ranks this squad as the fifth-best team in history. This team might not have had a lasting presence at the next level, but it was dominant for its time and beat a formidable opponent to take the title.

9. 2010 Auburn Tigers

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    Head Coach: Gene Chizik

    Final Record: 14-0

    The 2010 Auburn Tigers are the last team to have made it through SEC play and claim the national title with a perfect 14-0 record.

    Expectations were low for Auburn, as it entered the season ranked No. 22. A little-known junior college transfer Cam Newton started at quarterback in his first year with the Tigers.

    That little-known JUCO transfer ended up being one of the best players in not just the BCS era but in college football history. He carried AU to several thrilling wins, including one over LSU and a remarkable comeback against Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

    He won the Heisman Trophy by a massive margin, taking 651 more first-place votes than second-place finisher Andrew Luck.

    Auburn's BCS matchup with Oregon wasn't the high-scoring affair it was expected to be, but the Tigers escaped with a 22-19 win on a last-second field goal.

    Newton, running back Michael Dyer and defensive tackle Nick Fairley made Auburn great, although it lacked the depth of several other BCS champions.

8. 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Head Coach: Nick Saban

    Final Record: 13-1

    With so many losses from its national title-winning squad in 2011, Alabama was expected to experience a dip in overall talent.

    Even after sending off an exceptional draft class, 'Bama started the season at No. 2 and eradicated Michigan to start the year.

    From there, it was the Tide's title to lose—and they lost it. After spending two months at No. 1, Alabama fell to Texas A&M and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

    However, with some outside help, Alabama made it back to the national title game and, like in 2011, left no doubt that it was No. 1. Nick Saban's squad destroyed an overmatched Notre Dame team, 42-14.

    Like the other Alabama teams of recent years, this one rode talent, discipline and physicality to the top—though this wasn't the most talented, disciplined or physical Tuscaloosa team of the BCS age.

7. 2013 Florida State Seminoles

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    Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher

    Final Record: 14-0

    After several seasons of falling short of expectations, Florida State rightfully had its skeptics heading into 2013.

    The Seminoles began the season outside of the Top 10 with a new quarterback in freshman Jameis Winston.

    He brought his share of hype and lived up to the billing. By season's end, he was hoisting the Heisman after FSU had blown out almost every one of its opponents.

    The 'Noles threw and landed haymakers all season without facing a dangerous counterpunch until the national title game against Auburn. The Tigers came armed with an offense that could actually keep up and even push the pace against FSU.

    It looked like the 'Noles were doomed against the Tigers, but Winston calmly led a late drive to give FSU the crystal football.

    It wasn't just Winston, however. FSU was loaded with talent on both sides of the ball—as evidenced by the average margin of victory: 39.5 points.

    Without even seeing how the team pans out at the professional level, the 'Noles are looking like one of the BCS era's best. Going forward, the standing of this squad could improve greatly.

6. 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Head Coach: Nick Saban

    Final Record: 14-0

    Only three champions in the BCS era were able to run through an SEC schedule unblemished and claim the crystal football.

    This Alabama team might have been the best one—the Billingsley Report rates it as the best team in college football history. It also might be Nick Saban's best team thus far.

    It stands as his only undefeated champion and brought his only Heisman Trophy winner: Mark Ingram. Backing him up was future Heisman finalist Trent Richardson. It also fielded arguably the best receiver whom Saban has coached in Julio Jones.

    On defense, 'Bama was deep and very talented, led by Rolando McClain, Terrence Cody, Dont'a Hightower and Mark Barron.

    As with every Tide team of the era, several future stars were waiting in the wings. It's tough to compare Saban's championship squads, as they seem to improve over time.

    However, the first title he won in Tuscaloosa was a special one, and the unblemished record goes a long way toward this squad's prestige.

5. 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Head Coach: Nick Saban

    Final Record: 12-1

    Ranking the 2011 Alabama club is a puzzling affair. The Crimson Tide, unlike their 2009 counterparts, lost a game—and they didn't even win the SEC crown.

    However, they made up for their one lossa 9-6 heartbreaker to LSUby crushing that same Tigers squad 21-0 in a national title-game rematch.

    'Bama left no doubt that it was the champion that year thanks to its incredible defense. And it is that defense—the best of its kind in the BCS era—that makes this team one of the greatest ever.

    The Tide allowed just 8.2 points per game behind stars Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick and others. Several other big-name defenders (C.J. Mosley, Dee Milliner, Vinnie Sunseri) just played backup roles, as UA didn't allow more than 21 points per game all season.

    The offense, which featured a young AJ McCarron, as well as Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, wasn't quite as prolific as the one from 2009. However, the top-notch defense leveled the playing field. And its competition, namely that extremely talented LSU team, puts it over the top.

    Looking at the total package, this club has left an outstanding legacy that will only grow with time.

4. 2005 Texas Longhorns

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    Head Coach: Mack Brown

    Final Record: 13-0

    Boasting perhaps the best offense of any team on this list, the 2005 Texas Longhorns were one of the funnest teams to watch in the BCS era.

    With Vince Young at quarterback, the 'Horns averaged more than 500 yards and 50 points per game.

    He led them all the way to the national title game, where they were faced with the daunting task of taking down defending champ USC.

    But thanks to some late heroics, Young led UT back from a 12-point deficit in the final five minutes. He tallied 467 total yards in the game and punched in two late rushing scores, including one with 19 seconds left in the game, to give Texas the victory.

    In beating perhaps the best non-champion of the era, this Texas team is one of the greatest champions of the age of the computer.

3. 2008 Florida Gators

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    Head Coach: Urban Meyer

    Final Record: 13-1

    The 2008 Florida Gators had a little bit of everything that makes teams elite.

    They had strong coaching: Urban Meyer and future BCS head coaches Charlie Strong and Dan Mullen. They had young talent, represented by freshmen Will Hill, Janoris Jenkins and Jeff Demps.

    The squad was strong on the offensive line, where it was led by Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, and on defense, where it had Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden and Carlos Dunlap.

    It also had a lights-out playmaker in Percy Harvin, but most importantly, UF had the best player in college football that season: Tim Tebow. In winning the Heisman Trophy, he had one of the most impressive individual seasons in history.

    Florida dropped one game to Ole Miss early in the season, and Tebow gave his now-infamous "Promise" speech. After that defeat and monologue, UF steamrolled through the SEC, topped Alabama to win the conference title and used a late Tebow-powered surge to top Oklahoma 24-14 and claim the national crown.

    This was Florida's best team of the BCS era. With Tebow and a nasty supporting cast, the Gators could compete with any team in college football history.

2. 2004 USC Trojans

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    Head Coach: Pete Carroll

    Final Record: 13-0 (Two wins, including national title, later vacated).

    USC's national title was later vacated, but that doesn't detract from the dominance it displayed in its day or its success at the next level.

    The Trojans annihilated Oklahoma 55-19 for the biggest title-game blowout in BCS history.

    USC claimed the Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, as well as the next year's winner, Reggie Bush. Outside of that duo, the Trojans had a wealth of talent across the board.

    Among the many future pros on the roster were Clay Matthews, Ryan Kalil, Steve Smith and Lofa Tatupu. The Trojans nearly rode that talent to another national title but were shocked by Vince Young and Texas for the 2005 crown.

    Even with its legacy tarnished, this USC squad will be viewed as one of the best in history.

1. 2001 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes

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    Head Coach: Larry Coker

    Final Record: 12-0

    When mentioning this team, it's tough to know where to start.

    Miami (Fla.) crushed Nebraska to win the national title and was dominant on both sides of the ball. The 2001 Hurricanes allowed double-digit points just four times all season.

    The team featured 38 future NFL draft picks, perhaps the best stable of running backs (Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Najeh Davenport) in college football history and talent at almost every position.

    The 'Canes boasted two elite tight ends (Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow Jr.), one of the best receivers of the era (Andre Johnson), a formidable offensive line and several outstanding defenders (Jon Vilma, Ed Reed and others).

    The U had so much young talent and depth (including Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor), it could have split its team in two, and both halves would still have been good.

    Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post is just one of several pundits to make the case for this squad as being the best in college football history.

    Looking at the team's 17 future first-round draft picks, he and those in that field of thought have a point.