10 Most Hyped Teams in College Football History

Many teams have appeared as unstoppable as Alabama does this year

With its two top-flight quarterbacks and four straight blowout victories, Alabama seems like an unstoppable force. The coverage has gotten so hyperbolic that head coach Nick Saban has asked sportswriters to cover the team’s flaws.

 

Many teams over the years have been in the same position as Alabama where they were loaded with talent and throttled the majority of their opponents. Sometimes, reality comes up and hits hyperbole right in the mouth. Other times, the team truly lives up to the ballyhoo. Here are the 10 teams that had one of those experiences.

 

10. 1995 Florida Gators

Preseason Ranking: No. 5

Finished: 12-1, losing to Nebraska 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

This is the only team on this list to never hold the top ranking, but that is only because defending champion Nebraska started the season ahead of Florida. The Gators beat all of their regular season opponents by more than 10 points and made the cover of Sports Illustrated when it came back from a 16-point deficit to blow out Tennessee. The run screeched to a halt with an epic beatdown by the Huskers in the Fiesta Bowl.

 

9. 1977 Texas Longhorns

Preseason Ranking: Unranked

Finished: 11-1, losing to Texas 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 5

The Longhorns went 5-5-1 in 1976 mainly because junior running back Earl Campbell was battling injuries. In 1977, they looked unstoppable, as Campbell averaged 6.5 yards a carry en route to winning the Heisman Trophy and Texas sported a defense that gave up an average of 10 points a game during the regular season. But in the Cotton Bowl, neither Campbell nor the defense could overcome six turnovers and the top-ranked Longhorns lost 38-10 to a Joe Montana-led Notre Dame squad.

 

8. 1986 Miami Hurricanes

Preseason Ranking: No. 3

Finished: 11-1, losing to Penn State 14-10 in the Fiesta Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

Miami beat top-ranked Oklahoma in the fourth game of the season, moved to the top spot, and dominated the rest of its regular season opponents. The Hurricanes arrived in Tempe wearing combat fatigues to face No. 2 Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl as seven-point favorites. But the Nittany Lions put together a defensive scheme that forced seven turnovers, including five interceptions of Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, and came away with the national title.

 

7. 1993 Florida State Seminoles

Preseason Ranking: No. 1

Finished: 12-1, beating Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Led by Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, the Seminoles beat their first nine opponents by at least two touchdowns and it looked like the stars were aligning for Bobby Bowden’s first national championship. They were upset by No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, but got the top ranking back after the Irish lost to Boston College the next week. They then won their final games and secured Bowden’s first national title.

 

6. 1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Preseason Ranking: No. 6

Finished: 9-0-1, beating USC 51-0 final regular season game

Final Ranking: No. 1

The Irish moved into the top spot after a 38-0 drubbing of Oklahoma and kept it for the rest of the season. What helped add to this team’s allure was that the hype was juxtaposed with the excitement surrounding second-ranked and defending national champion Michigan State. When the two teams finally met in November, they played to a legendary 10-10 tie and kept their spots in the rankings.

 

5. 2003 Oklahoma Sooners

Preseason Ranking: No. 1

Finished: 12-2, losing to LSU in 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 3

Oklahoma beat all but two of its regular season opponents by more than 20 points. Included in that list of whippings was a 77-0 massacre of Texas A&M on national television. Then in the Big 12 Championship, the Sooners' coronation as one of the greatest college football teams of all time quickly ended when Kansas State beat them 35-7. However, the 2003 season was a bit of a mess and Oklahoma still got a shot at the national title, where it lost to LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

 

4. 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Preseason Ranking: No. 1

Finished: 12-1, losing to Miami (Fla.) 31-30 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

Nicknamed “The Scoring Explosion,” the Cornhuskers' offense sported quarterback Turner Gill, receiver Irving Fryar, and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mike Rozier. They averaged more than 400 rushing yards alone and scored 654 points for the season. Nebraska entered the Orange Bowl as an 11-point favorite over Miami, but the Hurricanes pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

 

3. 1945 Army Cadets

Preseason Ranking: N/A (the Associated Press did not issue rankings until the third week of the season)

Finished: 9-0, beating Navy 32-13 in the final regular season game

Final Ranking: No. 1

When the sportswriters issued their rankings in the third week of the season, defending national champion Army topped the list. With a backfield led by back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, the Cadets won their final five games against No. 19 Duke, Villanova, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 6 Penn, and No. 2 Navy by a combined score of 195-26. If this happened in the era of television and the Internet, this team’s run right after victory in World War II would be the most hyped of all time.

 

2. 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Preseason Ranking: No. 2

Finished: 13-0, beating Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The defending national champion Huskers took the top spot after the first week of the season and beat all but one of their opponents by at least 24 points. The one opponent that played them close was second-ranked Oklahoma, whom Nebraska beat 35-31 on Thanksgiving Day in one of the greatest college football games ever played.

 

1. 2001 Miami Hurricanes

Preseason Ranking: No. 2

Finished: 12-0, beating Nebraska 37-14 in the Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The Hurricanes garnered the No. 1 ranking after the first game and went on to beat all of their opponents by an average of 32.9 points. With 38 NFL draft picks, the 2001 Miami squad is widely regarded by college football fans and writers as the greatest of all time. Anyone who did not give team its proper ballyhoo during the 2001 season has made up for it in the years that followed.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

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