Who is the greatest team in each of the past 25 seasons of major college football?
A person could take the easy way out on that question and just say the program recognized as national champion was the greatest team for that season of college football.
With an eye toward the forgotten, the following slide show will highlight some of the great teams to take the field the past two and a half decades that had successful seasons but went without a berth into the national championship game in their respective years.
Who is the greatest team in each of the past 25 seasons of major college football?
Key Wins: Florida State, at Iowa, at Ohio State
The Wolverines jumped out to 9-0 with two wins over ranked opponents in the first two-and-a-half months of the season until dropping two of their last four against Minnesota and Arizona State in the Rose Bowl.
Key Wins: Virginia Tech, at Penn State, at Missouri
The then Orangemen capped of their first undefeated regular season since the 1959 season where Syracuse and the Auburn Tigers finished the Sugar Bowl in a 16-16 tie in New Orleans.
Key Wins: vs. Nebraska, Florida State, at Michigan
After the loss to the eventual national champions Notre Dame in October, the U went on a seven-game winning streak outscoring opponents by a combined score of 248-52 culminating with a 20-point win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Key Wins: at Michigan, Southern California, at Penn State
Notre Dame was only one game away from another undefeated season in South Bend, but the Hurricanes of Miami sent the Fighting Irish back home with a loss in the season finale. The Irish still scored an Orange Bowl win over Colorado on New Year's Day.
Key Wins: Kansas, at Pittsburgh, Boston College
In head coach Howard Schnellenberger's best season in Louisville, the Cardinals lost only once, to bowl-bound Southern Miss in Hattiesburg in late September, but defeated SEC power Alabama 34-7 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Key Wins: Georgia, Tennessee, vs. Colorado
After a 35-0 drumming by the Florida Gators on the second week of the season, the Crimson Tide rolled through the rest of the competition on their schedule that finished with Alabama being ranked in the top five and securing a Blockbuster Bowl victory at season's end.
Key Wins: Michigan State, at Northwestern, vs. Washington
In a season that featured three ties against rivals Notre Dame, Illinois and Ohio State, Michigan clinched their fifth consecutive Big Ten Championship in 1992 in addition to claiming another bowl victory after defeating another nine-win team in the Washington Huskies in 79th Rose Bowl.
Key Wins: at Michigan, Florida State, Texas A&M
There was no luck of the Irish on tap at the team's 1993 season finale against rival Boston College when the Eagles upset Lou Holtz and the then No. 1 Notre Dame effectively knocking them out of the national championship in the final moments of the season.
Key Wins: Oklahoma, at Texas, TCU
If it weren't for a midseason tie against last place SMU at the Alamodome, Texas A&M would have been a shoe-in for a shot at the 1994 national championship game in place of the Miami Hurricanes to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers at the 1995 Orange Bowl.
Key Wins: Nevada Twice
Besides the eventual national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers, Toledo was the only other team in major college football to finish the 1995 season undefeated as the Rockets won 11 of their 12 games with the blemish being a tie against Nevada in their first meeting of the season.
Key Wins: at Notre Dame, Penn State, at Iowa, vs. Arizona State
The Buckeyes got the nod over the Big Ten conference rival Northwestern for the league's berth into the Rose Bowl that turned out to be a barn burner as Ohio State was able to hold on for their first bowl win since 1974 against Jake Plummer and Arizona State in the waning seconds of the game in Pasadena.
Key Wins: at USC, Miami (FL), vs. Ohio State
The Seminoles were on route to a national championship game berth in 1997 but were upended by the rival Florida Gators in the season finale game at the Swamp, but Bobby Bowden and FSU rebounded to defeat Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
Key Wins: Navy, Louisville, BYU
Just like the Toledo Rockets of 1995, the Tulane Green Wave were the only undefeated team in major college football besides the national champion Tennessee Volunteers, but the team was not invited to the compete in the BCS as Conference USA was still a growing league in the top level of FBS.
Key Wins: Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas, vs. Tennessee
The Cornhuskers started the 1999 season with a six-game winning streak in addition to ending the season on a six-game winning streak. The problem with this is that Nebraska came back from a trip to Austin against the Longhorns in late October with a loss that dashed the team's chance of attending yet another national title game in the 1990s.
Key Wins: Florida State, Virginia Tech, vs. Florida
The Hurricanes defeated the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl after being shut out of playing for the 2000 national championship after Miami had been jumped over by Florida State, who they beat earlier in the season and ranked higher than at season's end.
Key Wins: Wisconsin, at Washington State, at UCLA, vs. Colorado
The Oregon Ducks secured the program's first Fiesta Bowl title along with seventh conference championship in 2001 marking the loss to Stanford at the Autzen Zoo being the only belmish on Mike Bellotti's best season in Eugene.
Key Wins: at Alabama, Tennessee, at Auburn, vs. Florida State
With most of the spotlight going to the Buckeyes and Hurricanes in 2002, Georgia were a very successful program in their own right that year as the Bulldogs won both the SEC East and league championship with the only letdown being a seven-point loss to Florida in Jacksonville.
Key Wins: Bowling Green Twice, Marshall, vs. Louisville
Before making an impact for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Rothelisberger almost led his alma mater , the Miami Redhawks, to a perfect season in his junior year scoring at least 33 points in each of the team's wins after a season opening loss at Iowa.
Key Wins: Texas A&M, North Carolina, BYU, Pittsburgh
Urban Meyer and the Utes were the first non-BCS program to break through into the one of the four season-ending bowl games and did it in grand style as Utah defeated the Big East champion Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Orange Bowl.
Key Wins: Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, vs. Florida State
After suffering through back-to-back losing seasons in Happy Valley, Joe Paterno and Penn State returned to their former glory as the Nittany Lions captured the Big Ten championship along with an Orange Bowl title with just a loss to Michigan standing in the way of a perfect season.
Key Wins: LSU, Florida, at Alabama, vs. Nebraska
The Tigers were unable to defend the home turf at Jordan-Haire Stadium as two loses against SEC rivals Arkansas and Georgia kept Auburn from making a push for a national championship relegating the team to a Cotton Bowl win over Nebraska in January 2007.
Key Wins: Miami (FL), vs. Texas, Missouri Twice
The Sooners were able to achieve another 11-win season in addition to the program's fifth Big 12 championship in eight years even with two road loses to Texas Tech and Colorado along with a Fiesta Bowl upset at the hands of a passionate West Virginia football team.
Key Wins: vs. Clemson, at Georgia, at LSU, Auburn
The second year of the Nick Saban regime started out great as the Crimson Tide ran through their regular season schedule undefeated until dropping the final two games on the season in the SEC Championship game against Florida and the Sugar Bowl against Utah, both games being blowouts respectively.
Key Wins: Oregon, TCU
After a regular season schedule that was a bit weak, Boise State capped 2009 with an impressive win over fellow BCS buster TCU in what would be the Broncos' second Fiesta Bowl championship in the span of three years after putting the program on the map in the upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Key Wins: Oregon State, at Utah, vs. Wisconsin
TCU was one of the most balanced teams in the country last season as the team captured the program's second straight undefeated season in addition to the yet another Mountain West Conference title as the Horned Frogs were the first team from non-BCS league to gain a berth to the Rose Bowl.