If the College Football Playoff had been around, these teams would've played in it
Each College Football Playoff brings programs left out in the cold. While we may tip a little bit out for Ohio State and UCF, it is important to remember how many problems the playoff has actually solved. There were many seasons where a team did literally everything it could for a national title and there just wasn’t a spot for them to play for it. As we remember the Buckeyes and the Knights, here are five more deserving teams that didn't get a shot at playing for a national championship.
5. West Virginia, 1993
The Mountaineers went 11-0 in dramatic fashion, beating five of their opponents by a total of 14 points. When the season ended, they were still behind unbeaten Nebraska and 11-1 Florida State, who got to play for the national title in the Orange Bowl. West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen made a passionate plea to move ahead of the Seminoles, but to no avail. Since Florida blew out West Virginia 41-7 in the Sugar Bowl, the beef is largely forgotten.
4. Auburn, 2004
With four future first-round draft picks on the roster, the Tigers started the season ranked 17thand went 13-0. The only problem was that USC and Oklahoma went undefeated too and started the season ranked higher. Therefore, they got to play for the national title while Auburn faced Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bow'. To make matters worse, the Trojans decimated the Sooners 55-19. If you have a friend who is insufferable on the subject of SEC dominance and roots for the conference in all bowl games, this is where that chip on the shoulder formed.
3. SMU, 1982
The Pony Express was the only team without a loss, its only mark being a 17-17 tie against a 9-2-1 Arkansas team. However, voters dropped the Mustangs in the polls because they were able to tie the game courtesy of a very questionable pass interference call. They never recovered and even though SMU beat No. 6 Pittsburgh in the Cotton Bowl, the Mustangs finished the season ranked second behind Penn State, who defeated No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl despite losing 42-21 to Alabama in October of that year. The controversy on this has dissipated because of SMU’s fall from grace, but when you compare these two schools today, the NCAA Death Penalty is not looking so bad.
2. Oklahoma State, 2011
The Cowboys' only blemish was a 37-31 double-overtime loss to a solid Iowa State team in Ames the day after their women’s basketball coach and assistant died in a plane crash. Nevertheless, the BCS scored Alabama and LSU higher even though the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide earlier that season. So Oklahoma State beat No. 4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and LSU and Bama played in a rematch, with the Tide becoming the first school to win a national championship without even winning its division.
1. Penn State, 1994
The Nittany Lions went undefeated with relative ease and so did Nebraska. However, this was still the era where Penn State was obligated to play in the Rose Bowl and Nebraska the Orange Bowl. When the dust settled, it became clear that voters in both polls weighed that Joe Paterno had two national titles and Tom Osborne had zero and awarded the championship to Nebraska.
— 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.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)