BCS Rankings: How the Final Month of Every BCS Season Played Out

James Walker@BRJamesWalkerAnalyst IINovember 20, 2010

BCS Rankings: How the Final Month of Every BCS Season Played Out

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    Love it or hate it, the BCS is unique in its own right.  College football is the only sport to have a software program determine who plays at the end of the season for the National Championship.

    Arguably most fans of college football dislike the BCS and want it abolished as soon as possible.  Some, however, feel that the BCS allows tradition to dictate the outcome of the college football season and we should allow both humans and computers to dictate who plays for all the marbles at the end of the season.

    The BCS has had it's fair share of controversies over the years.  Undefeated teams being left out of the championship game, questions about the validity of the algorithms and computations that allow the computer to dictate who is ranked where, and questions about how the system is structured and written seem to be always in question. 

    Nevertheless, the BCS remains and is stronger than ever.  No matter what, the American Football Coaches Association is contractually bound to vote the winner of the BCS Championship Game as the National Champion, which guarantees that team at least a share of the National Champion.

    Let's take a historical look at the BCS since it's inception in 1998.

1998-1999 Season: Tennessee Volunteers Vs. FSU Seminoles

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    The first BCS title game was played in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 4, 1999.  The SEC Champions and No.1 team in the country Tennessee Volunteers (12-0) faced the ACC Champions and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (11-1).

    Tennessee won their first national championship since 1951 after defeating favored FSU 23-16.

    Not unlike any other BCS year, the first year was controversial.  Kansas State, which finished No. 3 in the final standings, was not invited to a BCS bowl game.  Ohio State (No. 4) and Florida (No. 8 with two losses) were invited instead.

    The road for the Vols was smoothly paved after a tough early schedule.  Their first game against No. 17 Syracuse was won as time expired when Kicker Jeff Hall hit a 27 yard field goal. 

    Then against the Gators in game two in Knoxville, the Vols took then No. 2 Florida into OT when the Vols struck first with a field goal on their first possession.  Then Florida attempted to tie the game when Kicker Collins Cooper missed sending Neyland Stadium into a mad frenzy.

    It was also the first season after Peyton Manning's departure to the NFL.

    Many feel that the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers was one of the greatest college football teams of all time.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Ricky Williams, Texas Longhorns.

1999-2000 Season: FSU Seminoles Vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    The 2000 Sugar Bowl was given the second BCS Championship Game as ACC Champion FSU faced then Big East Champion Virginia Tech. 

    Florida State was ranked No. 1 from start to finish this season, but it was the month of November that dictated the Seminoles opponent.  Penn State was ranked No. 2 when the first BCS poll was released, but they relinquished the spot when they lost to Minnesota 24-23 on November 1, 1999.  Tennessee would take over the No. 2 spot for one week but lost to Arkansas 28-24 on November 8. 

    Virginia Tech became the third school to become No. 2 in the BCS poll three weeks after the poll was released and held on all the way to the BCS Championship game.  The Hokies lost to FSU 46-29.

    FSU went start to finish ranked No. 1 in the nation.

    Again, Kansas State got passed over for a BCS bowl big this time for No. 8 Michigan.

    The 2000 Heisman Trophy winner: Ron Dayne, Wisconsin.

2000-2001 Season: Oklahoma Sooners Vs. FSU Seminoles

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    For the third season in a row, the FSU Seminoles made it to the BCS Championship game, but this time they faced the Oklahoma Sooners in the FedEx Orange Bowl.  FSU is to date the only program to make it to the BCS Championship game three times in a row.

    Coach Bob Stoops was in his second season as the Sooner's head coach.  During the same season, Stoops led Oklahoma past Texas to end a three year losing streak.

    The BCS title game was scrutinized big time.  Wisconsin had the same record as FSU, and was the only team to defeat both No. 2 Miami and No. 5 Oregon State.  Miami was the only team to defeat FSU during the regular season, had the same record as FSU but was also left out of the BCS title game.

    The Sooners defeated the Seminoles 13-2.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Chris Weinke, FSU.

2001-2002 Season: Miami Hurricanes Vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    The Miami Hurricanes made their return to the national championship spotlight when they went 12-0 under first year head coach Larry Coker.  Coker spent the last five years as Butch Davis' offensive coordinator.

    More controversy surrounded the BCS in 2001 when No. 4 Nebraska was selected to face the Canes when they didn't even compete in the Big 12 championship game.  To add insult to injury, the Cornhuskers lost to the Colorado Buffalos 62-36, but the BCS didn't take into account when the loss occurred.  Therefore, the BCS computers selected Nebraska over No. 2 Oregon.

    This would also be the season for endings.  Steve Spurrier would "retire" from the Florida Gators and end up coaching the Washington Redskins.  Florida State failed to win the ACC Championship for the first time since they joined the conference in 1991.

    Miami would go on to beat the Cornhuskers 37-14.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Eric Crouch, Nebraska.

2002-2003 Season: Miami Hurricanes Vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Miami returned to the BCS Championship game this time against the Ohio State Buckeyes.  With the Canes' 34-game winning streak on the line, second year head coach Jim Tressel lead his undefeated Buckeyes into the Fiesta Bowl.

    The underdog Buckeyes won in a controversial double-overtime game 31-24.  A slowly called pass interference call in the end zone gave Ohio State life when the Hurricanes had thought they won their second-straight BCS title.

    The annual controversy came courtesy of the Rose Bowl.  They were upset that for the first time the Big-10 champion did not play in Pasadena.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Carson Palmer, USC.

2003-2004 Season: Oklahoma Sooners Vs. LSU Tigers

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    This was the first season that a split-BCS champion was crowned.  At season end, three one-loss teams were left with only two spots available in the BCS title game.  USC, however, went on to play in the Rose Bowl to face Big-10 Champion Michigan and won 28-14.

    The Oklahoma Sooners started the season No. 1, and stayed their upon their arrival in the Sugar Bowl to face the LSU Tigers.  Arguably a home game for the Tigers, LSU under Nick Saban won the game 21-14.

    Plenty of other controversies surrounded the 2003 season: Three non-BCS teams also finished with one-loss, TCU, Boise State, and Miami of Ohio.  Texas was also affected by BCS controversy due to the Oklahoma Sooners.  Had the Sooners won the Big-12 championship, the Longhorns would have been one of the at-large teams.  Due to the loss, Kansas State won the Big-12 championship and the Sooners got the at-large bid.  No. 5 Texas was left out of the BCS and settled for the Holiday Bowl.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Jason White, Oklahoma.

2004-2005 Season: USC Trojans Vs. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Pete Carroll made his debut on college football's biggest stage during the 2004 season when USC faced Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.  When the game was over, there was little doubt that Carroll had arrived in fashion.  The final score: 55-19.

    That being said, there were several undefeated teams that felt deserving of a shot at the BCS title.  Auburn, Utah, and Boise State.  Of the three, the Auburn Tigers was the one BCS school, and for the first time the BCS was truly under fire from playoff advocates.

    Auburn defeated ACC Champion Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, and the first true BCS-Buster Utah defeated Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl.  Boise State, however, lost to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl.

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Matt Leinert, USC.

2005-2006 Season: USC Trojans Vs. Texas Longhorns

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    USC returned to the BCS title game to face the Vince Young led Texas Longhorns.  The Trojans were the favorites going in to the Rose Bowl, but it was the Longhorns that left Pasadena victorious 41-38.  USC began the season No. 1 and Texas No. 2, and both arrived in the BCS title game ranked the same.  It was the second year in a row that happened.

    It was also the first time in several seasons that controversy did not surround the selection of the two teams that played in the game.  It was also Texas' first consensus national championship since 1969 (they split the title in 1970).

    Heisman Trophy winner: Vacated (Guess who originally won it?)

2006-2007 Season: Florida Gators Vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    The 2006 season marked the 10th anniversary of the Florida Gators' national championship victory.  When Florida arrived in Glendale, Arizona to face No. 1 Ohio State for the BCS National Championship, they were ranked No. 2 and big-time underdogs.

    Major rule changes were commenced in 2006:

    • Teams could schedule 12 regular season games up from 11.
    • Players could only wear clear eye shields.  Previously tinted and orange-colored were allowed.
    • The kicking tee was lowered from two inches to one inch.
    • Halftime increased to 20 from 15 minutes.
    • On the kickoff, the game clock started when the ball was kicked.
    • The "excessive crowd noise" rule was abolished.
    • Instant replay was sanctioned and standardized.

    It was also the first time that the BCS Championship Game was played separately from the Rose, Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls.

    Florida's selection was a bit of a controversy due to the close game between Michigan and Ohio State to end the regular season. Ohio State won 42-39, and many called for a rematch in Glendale for the BCS National Championship. 

    However, UCLA defeated USC, and West Virginia beat Rutgers and the Florida Gators were elevated to No. 2 and a BCS title game birth.  They would go on to upset and embarrass the Buckeyes 41-14.

    Chris Leak, Florida's starting QB won the MVP award over Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, but it was the introduction of Florida's Tim Tebow that would have lasting effects over the college football world.

2007-2008 Season: LSU Tigers Vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    After being humiliated in the desert the previous season, the Ohio State Buckeyes returned to the BCS title game to face another SEC Champion—the LSU Tigers in the Louisiana Superdome.  Again, the LSU Tigers would have a de facto home field advantage not unlike in their 2003 championship season.

    For the first time since 2003, and only the second time in BCS history, no teams ended the season undefeated.

    LSU would go on to win the game 38-24. 

    This would also be the season of the upset.  Some of the more impressive ones:

    • Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32
    • South Florida 26, No. 17 Auburn 23
    • Kansas State 41, No. 7 Texas 21
    • Stanford 24, No. 2 USC 23
    • Oregon State 31, No. 2 Cal 28
    • Arkansas 50, No. 1 LSU 48 (3 OT)

    By November 10, 2007, nine teams ranked in the AP Top Five lost to unranked teams.

    The 2007 season would become known as the "Curse of the No. 2".

    The Heisman Trophy winner: Tim Tebow, Florida.

2008-2009 Season: Florida Gators Vs. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators returned to the BCS title game, but this time to face Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma Sooners.  Unfortunately for the Sooners, the Tebow factor and Heisman curse would derail the Sooners' chances.

    The BCS title game may be officially known as the Gators' third national championship, but unofficially it may be best known for Thom Brennaman's infamous quote regarding Tebow: "if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it."

    The mute button may have never been hit harder on the TV remote after that one.

    Thank God Florida won 24-14, or Thom may have had to be committed.

    Controversy? You bet.

    No. 10 Ohio State was given an at-large birth ahead of No. 9 Boise State.  See, the Broncos must be used to getting screwed by now.

2009-2010 Season: Alabama Crimson Tide Vs. Texas Longhorns

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    Many thought that Tim Tebow would lead his Florida Gators teammates to a third BCS title game in four seasons, but the Alabama Crimson Tide had other plans in mind.  After losing to Florida in the SEC Championship game the previous season, the Crimson Tide arrived in Atlanta seeking revenge on their rival Gators.

    When it was said and done, Alabama was on its way to Pasadena to face the Texas Longhorns, and a teary-eyed Tebow and the Florida Gators were sent packing and settled for a Sugar Bowl bid against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

    SEC dominance had taken hold of the FBS when Alabama defeated the Longhorns 37-21.

    Heisman Trophy winner: Mark Ingram, Alabama.