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Ranking College Football's National Champions Since 1998

Where does Clemson rank among the national championship teams since the start of the BCS?

For the first time since 1981, the Clemson Tigers are the champions of college football. An epic victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against previously unbeaten Alabama has put Clemson firmly on top of the college football world, and justifiably so. But where do these Tigers rank compared to past national champions?

 

Related: Clemson Gets Revenge, Beats Alabama 35-31 to Claim College Football's 2016 National Championship

 

For the purposes of this updated ranking of top national championship teams, we will go back to the start of the BCS Championship Era in 1998 and roll right on up to the third season of the College Football Playoff. Here is how the champs stack up.

 

Note: Opponent’s ranking at time in parentheses

 

1. Miami, 2001 (12-0, 7-0 Big East)

Head Coach: Larry Coker

 

Since the dawn of the BCS Era, few teams have carried the amount of NFL talent on one roster the way the 2001 Miami Hurricanes did. Larry Coker stepped in as head coach following Butch Davis’ departure for the NFL, and he took over a program as locked and loaded that any coach would dream of running. The season started off with a dominating victory over Penn State, which set the tone for the championship run. Miami ripped through Florida State, avoided a letdown against Boston College and nipped Virginia Tech while blitzing through the rest of the schedule, which included victories against four top-15 teams before the BCS National Championship Game. Nebraska wiggled its way into the national championship game but was clearly out of its league against Miami in the Rose Bowl. Miami’s 37-14 victory over the Cornhuskers capped an undefeated season for the best national championship team of the era.

 

2001 Schedule:

Sept. 1: Miami 33, Penn State 7

Sept. 8: Miami 61, Rutgers 0

Sept. 27: Miami 43, Pitt 21

Oct. 6: Miami 38, Troy 7

Oct. 13: Miami 49, (14) Florida State 27

Oct. 25: Miami 45, West Virginia 3

Nov. 3: Miami 38, Temple 0

Nov. 10: Miami 18, Boston College 7

Nov. 17: Miami 59, (14) Syracuse 0

Nov. 24: Miami 65, (12) Washington 7

Dec. 1: Miami 26, (14) Virginia Tech 24

Jan. 3: Miami 37, (4) Nebraska 14

 

2. USC, 2004 (13-0, 8-0 Pac-10)

Head Coach: Pete Carroll

 

The Trojans had to settle for the rare split national title during the BCS years in 2003, but left no doubt about who the top team was in ’04. USC started the season as the No. 1 team in the country and never lost a grip on the top spot in the poll, picked up a Heisman Trophy season from quarterback Matt Leinart and saw the running duo of Reggie Bush and LenDale White give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares all season long. In all, this USC team, which destroyed Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for the national championship, saw 18 players get selected in either the first or second round of the NFL Draft and was absolutely loaded on offense, is arguably one of college football’s best in decades.

 

2004 Schedule:

Aug. 28: USC 24, Virginia Tech 13

Sept. 11: USC 49, Colorado State 0

Sept. 18: USC 42, BYU 10

Sept. 25: USC 31, Stanford 28

Oct: 9: USC 23, (7) Cal 17

Oct. 16: USC 45, (15) Arizona State 7

Oct. 23: USC 38, Washington 0

Oct. 30: USC 42, Washington State 12

Nov. 6: USC 28, Oregon State 20

Nov. 13: USC 49, Arizona 9

Nov. 27: USC 41, Notre Dame 10

Dec. 4: USC 29, UCLA 24

Jan. 4: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

 

3. Texas, 2005 (13-0, 8-0 Big 12)

Head Coach: Mack Brown

 

The 2005 season saw No. 1 USC and No. 2 Texas on a season-long collision course for the national championship. The two remained in the top two spots of the poll all season long, setting up the game for the ages in the Rose Bowl for the BCS National Championship. But before Texas could let Vince Young turn in a game legends are made of, the Longhorns first had to get through the regular season. An early victory over No. 4 Ohio State was later followed up with blowout wins over Oklahoma, No. 10 Texas Tech and rival Texas A&M before tearing up Colorado, 70-3, in the Big 12 Championship Game. In the national title clash with defending champion USC, Young did it all in leading Texas to the victory. This Texas team had four consensus All-Americans and went on to send 24 players through the NFL Draft, while beating perhaps the best team to not win a national title since 1998.

 

2005 Schedule:

Sept. 3: Texas 60, ULL 3

Sept. 10: Texas 25, (4) Ohio State 22

Sept. 17: Texas 51, Rice 10

Oct. 1: Texas 51, Missouri 20

Oct. 8: Texas 45, Oklahoma. 12

Oct. 15: Texas 42, (24) Colorado 17

Oct. 22: Texas 52, (10) Texas Tech 17

Oct. 29: Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28

Nov. 5: Texas 62, Baylor 0

Nov. 12: Texas 66, Kansas 14

Nov. 25: Texas 40, Texas A&M 29

Dec. 3: Texas 70, Colorado 3

Jan. 4: Texas 41, (1) USC 38

 

4. Florida State, 2013 (14-0, 8-0 ACC)

Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher

 

We are not so far removed from watching Florida State be the dominant force in college football. Jimbo Fisher’s best team since succeeding Bobby Bowden brought the Seminoles back to the national championship discussion with a dominant start to the year. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston got things started by jumping head first into the Heisman Trophy discussion after his debut performance on a Monday night at Pittsburgh, and it was off to the races from there. Florida State’s offense was filthy. The Florida State defense was nasty, holding opponents to 14 points or fewer 11 times before facing Duke in the ACC Championship Game. A win in Charlotte sent Florida State’s juggernaut squad off to Pasadena for a matchup with SEC champion Auburn. A 34-31 come-from-behind victory over the SEC champs (FSU was down 18 points at one point) provided the validation needed for Florida State’s perfect season and snapped the SEC’s winning streak in the BCS title game.

 

2013 Schedule:

Sept 2: Florida State 41, Pitt 13

Sept. 14: Florida State 62, Nevada 7

Sept. 21: Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6

Sept. 28: Florida State 48, Boston College 34

Oct. 5: Florida State 63, (25) Maryland 0

Oct. 19: Florida State 51, (3) Clemson 14

Oct. 26: Florida State 49, NC State 17

Nov. 2: Florida State 41, (7) Miami 14

Nov. 9: Florida State 59, Wake Forest 3

Nov. 16: Florida State 59, Syracuse 3

Nov. 23: Florida State 80, Idaho 14

Nov. 30: Florida State 37, Florida 7

Dec. 7: Florida State 45, (20) Duke 7

Jan. 6: Florida State 34, (2) Auburn 31

 

5. Alabama, 2009 (14-0, 8-0 SEC)

Head Coach: Nick Saban

 

Nick Saban was hired by Alabama to win and win big. It did not take long to deliver on that expectation. With Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram (the first Heisman winner in Alabama history) and steady Greg McElroy at quarterback, Alabama had the makings of a reliable offense, but it was Alabama’s defense that took the Crimson Tide to the next level. Alabama held three ranked SEC teams to fewer than 16 points on the way to Atlanta for a showdown with Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the No. 1 Florida Gators. This one was no match as Alabama squashed the Gators, 32-13, to advance to the national championship game, where it took out Texas quarterback Colt McCoy early on and never gave the Longhorns much of a chance. Alabama ended up sending 11 players through the first round of the NFL Draft in the years that followed.

 

2009 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Alabama 34, (7) Virginia Tech 24

Sept. 12: Alabama 40, FIU 14

Sept. 19: Alabama 53, North Texas 7

Sept. 26: Alabama 35, Arkansas 7

Oct. 3: Alabama 38, Kentucky 20

Oct. 10: Alabama 22, (20) Ole Miss 3

Oct. 17: Alabama 20, (22) South Carolina 6

Oct. 24: Alabama 12, Tennessee 10

Nov. 7: Alabama 24, (9) LSU 15

Nov. 14: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 3

Nov. 21: Alabama 45, UT-Chattanooga 0

Nov. 27: Alabama 26, Auburn 21

Dec. 5: Alabama 32, (1) Florida 13

Jan. 7: Alabama 37, (2) Texas 21

 

6. Florida, 2008 (13-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

 

Florida jumped out to a nice 3-0 start in 2008 with big victories over Hawaii, Miami and Tennessee, but Ole Miss stunned the Gators in the swamp in the fourth game of the season. From that point on, Florida was unbeatable. With Tim Tebow energizing the team with his leadership, Florida went on a tear with a decisive victory over Arkansas, a 30-point blowout of No. 4 LSU, a 39-point win over No. 10 Georgia, 50-point victory over No. 24 South Carolina, a 30-point thumping of No. 23 Florida State and then an 11-point triumph over No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Against No. 2 Oklahoma, Florida pulled away for a 24-14 victory to wrap up the national title.

 

2008 Schedule:

Aug. 30: Florida 56, Hawaii 10

Sept. 6: Florida 26, Miami 3

Sept. 20: Florida 30, Tennessee 6

Sept. 27: Ole Miss 31, Florida 30

Oct. 4: Florida 38, Arkansas 7

Oct. 11: Florida 51, (4) LSU 21

Oct. 25: Florida 63, Kentucky 5

Nov. 1: Florida 49, (8) Georgia 10

Nov. 8: Florida 42, Vanderbilt 14

Nov. 15: Florida 56, (24) South Carolina 6

Nov. 22: Florida 70, The Citadel 19

Nov. 29: Florida 45, (23) Florida State 15

Dec. 6: Florida 31, (1) Alabama 20

Jan. 8: Florida 24, (2) Oklahoma 14

 

7. Tennessee, 1998 (13-0, 8-0 SEC)

Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer

 

The first national champion of the BCS Era came one year after Peyton Manning moved on to bigger and better things in the NFL. Tee Martin took over as quarterback and Phillip Fulmer had plenty of talent around Martin to put together a strong season with a strong backfield with Travis Henry and Jamal Lewis and Peerless Price catching passes. The Vols’ defense held nine opponents to 18 points or fewer while racking up five wins against top 25 teams, including a confidence-boosting 20-17 victory over Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators. Paired up against Florida State in the BCS Championship Game, the Vols came out on top with a 23-16 win in the first BCS National Championship Game.

 

1998 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Tennessee 34, (17) Syracuse 33

Sept. 19: Tennessee 20, (2) Florida 17

Sept. 26: Tennessee 42, Houston 7

Oct. 3: Tennessee 17, Auburn 9

Oct. 10: Tennessee 22, (7) Georgia 3

Oct. 24: Tennessee 35, Alabama 18

Oct. 31: Tennessee 49, South Carolina 14

Nov. 7: Tennessee 37, UAB 13

Nov. 14: Tennessee 28, (10) Arkansas 24

Nov. 21: Tennessee 59, Kentucky 21

Nov. 28: Tennessee 41, Vanderbilt 0

Dec. 5: Tennessee 24, (23) Mississippi State 14

Jan. 4: Tennessee 23, (2) Florida State 16

 

8. Alabama, 2011 (12-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Nick Saban

 

Alabama took care of business left and right, whipping aside ranked opponents at ease – 27-11 vs. No. 23 Penn State, 38-14 vs. No. 14 Arkansas, 38-10 vs. No. 12 Florida – to remain on a collision course with division foe LSU. The much hyped Game of the Century between the top two teams in the country turned into a field goal extravaganza with Alabama coming up short, 9-6, in overtime in November. Little did we know at the time, these two teams would get a rare rematch in the BCS Championship Game despite Alabama not winning or playing for the SEC championship. Alabama, with a roster featuring nine first-round NFL Draft picks, would score their revenge in a big way by completely mastering LSU and keeping the Tigers from crossing the 50-yard line until the second half. This may have been Saban’s best defense.

 

2011 Schedule:

Sept. 3: Alabama 48, Kent State 7

Sept. 10: Alabama 27, (23) Penn State 11

Sept. 17: Alabama 41, North Texas 0

Sept. 24: Alabama 38, (14) Arkansas 14

Oct. 1: Alabama 38, (12) Florida 10

Oct. 8: Alabama 34, Vanderbilt 0

Oct. 15: Alabama 52, Ole Miss 7

Oct. 22: Alabama 37, Tennessee 6

Nov. 5: (1) LSU 9, Alabama 6

Nov. 12: Alabama 24, Mississippi State 7

Nov. 19: Alabama 45, Georgia Southern 21

Nov. 26: Alabama 42, Auburn 14

Jan. 9: Alabama 21, (1) LSU 0

 

9. Oklahoma, 2000 (13-0, 8-0 Big 12)

Head Coach: Bob Stoops

 

The revival of Oklahoma football hit full force in 2000 when the Sooners showed off a fully equipped offense with quarterback Josh Heupel and defense early on and scored major victories in October. Oklahoma’s key three-game stretch with wins over No. 11 Texas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 3 Nebraska came by a combined score of 135-59. The Sooners later handed Kansas State another loss in the Big 12 Championship Game to clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game against Florida State. Stoops’ defense shut down a potent FSU offense and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and scored a 13-2 victory for the national championship.

 

2000 Schedule:

Sept. 2: Oklahoma 55, UTEP 14

Sept. 9: Oklahoma 45, Arkansas State 7

Sept. 23: Oklahoma 42, Rice 17

Sept. 30: Oklahoma 34, Kansas 16

Oct. 7: Oklahoma 63, (11) Texas 14

Oct. 14: Oklahoma 41, (2) Kansas State 31

Oct. 28: Oklahoma 31, (3) Nebraska 14

Nov. 4: Oklahoma 56, Baylor 7

Nov. 11: Oklahoma 35, (23) Texas A&M 31

Nov. 18: Oklahoma 27, Texas Tech 13

Nov. 25: Oklahoma 12, Oklahoma State 7

Dec. 2: Oklahoma 27, (8) Kansas State 24

Jan. 3: Oklahoma 13, (3) Florida State 2

 

10. Florida State, 1999 (12-0, 8-0 ACC)

Head Coach: Bobby Bowden

 

With Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick on offense, few teams could handle Florida State’s offense. The Seminoles scored 40 points or more in each of their first five games, which included victories over No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 20 NC State. A 31-21 victory over No. 19 Miami helped push Florida State on its championship drive, and a season-ending victory over No. 4 Florida locked Bobby Bowden’s squad into the championship game, where it managed to outlast Virginia Tech quarterback Mike Vick in the Sugar Bowl for a 46-29 victory. This was Bowden’s second national championship team.

 

1999 Schedule:

Aug. 28: Florida State 41, Louisiana Tech 7

Sept. 11: Florida State 41, (10) Georgia Tech 35

Sept. 18: Florida State 42, (20) NC State 11

Sept. 25: Florida State 42, North Carolina 10

Oct. 2: Florida State 51, Duke 23

Oct. 9: Florida State 31, (19) Miami 21

Oct. 16: Florida State 33, Wake Forest 10

Oct. 23: Florida State 17, Clemson 10

Oct. 30: Florida State 35, Virginia 10

Nov. 13: Florida State 49, Maryland 10

Nov. 20: Florida State 30, (4) Florida 20

Jan. 4: Florida State 46, (2) Virginia Tech 29

 

11. Clemson, 2016 (14-1, 7-1 ACC)

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney

 

A year after coming so close to a perfect 15-0 record and ending a championship drought, Clemson rebounded to get back to the championship stage in the 2016 season and take down the Alabama team that blocked them a year ago. In the ultimate revenge game, Deshaun Watson came alive in the second half and the Tigers dug out of a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter to stun the defending champions on a last-second touchdown to Hunter Renfrow. Clemson also took down the season's Heisman Trophy winner (Lamar Jackson and No. 3 Louisville) to gain an edge in the ACC Atlantic Division, clipped No. 12 Florida State in Tallahassee by a field goal, held off No. 19 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game and shutout and demolished a one-loss No. 2 Ohio State, 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal game of the College Football Playoff. To top it all off, they put on a game for the ages against top-ranked Alabama as Dabo Swinney became the only active FBS head coach to own wins over each of his peers with a national championship ring already (Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops).

 

2016 Schedule:
Sept. 3: Clemson 19, Auburn 13
Sept. 10: Clemson 30, Troy 24
Sept. 17: Clemson 59, South Carolina State 0
Sept. 22: Clemson 26, Georgia Tech 7
Oct. 1: Clemson 42, (3) Louisville 36
Oct. 7: Clemson 56, Boston College 10
Oct. 15: Clemson 24, NC State 17 (OT)
Oct. 29: Clemson 37, (12) Florida State 34
Nov. 5: Clemson 54, Syracuse 0
Nov. 12: Pitt 43, Clemson 42
Nov. 19: Clemson 35, Wake Forest 13
Nov. 26: Clemson 56, South Carolina 7
Dec. 3: Clemson 42, (23) Virginia Tech 35
Dec. 31: Clemson 31, (3) Ohio State 0
Jan. 9: Clemson 35, (1) Alabama 31

 

12. Alabama, 2012 (13-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Nick Saban

 

Coming off a national championship season with a loaded roster once again, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide set the tone right out of the gate with a complete dismantling of No. 8 Michigan, 41-14, in Arlington. That was followed by two straight shutouts, including a 52-0 blasting of Arkansas. Everything was running smoothly for Alabama until a November afternoon when SEC newcomer Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel scored a wild upset in Tuscaloosa, but Alabama was one play away from avoiding the upset. Alabama remained in the national title hunt though and snuck back into the BCS Championship Game where it dominated and overpowered undefeated top-ranked Notre Dame, 42-14.

 

2012 Schedule:

Sept. 1: Alabama 41, (8) Michigan 14

Sept. 8: Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0

Sept. 15: Alabama 52, Arkansas 0

Sept. 22: Alabama 40, FAU 7

Sept. 29: Alabama 33, Ole Miss 14

Oct. 13: Alabama 42, Missouri 10

Oct. 20: Alabama 44, Tennessee 13

Oct. 27: Alabama 38, (13) Mississippi State 7

Nov. 3: Alabama 21, LSU 17

Nov. 10: (15) Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24

Nov. 17: Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0

Nov. 24: Alabama 49, Auburn 0

Dec. 1: Alabama 32, (3) Georgia 28

Jan. 7: Alabama 42, (1) Notre Dame 14

 

13. LSU, 2003 (13-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Nick Saban

 

Before Nick Saban arrived on the scene to return Alabama to its place among college football’s elite, Saban’s first job in the SEC ended with a bang. In 2003, Saban’s LSU Tigers led the nation in defense and allowed just 11 points per game. With Joseph Addai running the football and a steady passing attack, the Tigers made their case for the rightful title of national champion with victories over four ranked teams in SEC play and a BCS championship victory over Oklahoma. LSU settled for a share of the national title after the AP gave USC its No. 1 spot, but nobody in Baton Rouge is complaining.

 

2003 Schedule:

Aug. 30: LSU 49, UL Monroe 7

Sept. 6: LSU 59, Arizona 13

Sept. 13: LSU 35, Western Illinois 7

Sept. 20: LSU 17, (7) Georgia 10

Sept. 27: LSU 41, Mississippi State 6

Oct. 11: Florida 19, LSU 7

Oct. 18: LSU 33, South Carolina 7

Oct. 25: LSU 31, (17) Auburn 7

Nov. 1: LSU 49, Louisiana Tech 10

Nov. 15: LSU 27, Alabama 3

Nov. 22: LSU 17, (15) Ole Miss 14

Nov. 28: LSU 55, Arkansas 24

Dec. 6: LSU 34, (5) Georgia 13

Jan. 4: LSU 21, (3) Oklahoma 14

 

14. Auburn, 2010 (14-0, 8-0 SEC)

Head Coach: Gene Chizik

 

Auburn’s national championship run may have been a flash in the pan, but it was an incredible flash in the pan. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton towered over the competition and was unbeatable and unflappable, but he was not alone. Auburn was loaded on defense, led by Nick Fairley. Teams could score on Auburn’s defense, but the Tiger offense was ticking with Newton’s Heisman run. The highest-scoring Auburn team in school history put 65 points on No. 12 Arkansas and rallied from a deep hole in the Iron Bowl against Alabama before dropping 56 points on No. 18 South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn capped the 2010 season with a BCS Championship win over Chip Kelly and Oregon thanks in large part to Michael Dyer managing to defy gravity to keep a run alive.

 

2010 Schedule:

Sept. 4: Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26

Sept. 9: Auburn 17, Mississippi State 14

Sept. 18: Auburn 27, Clemson 24

Sept. 25: Auburn 35, (12) South Carolina 27

Oct. 2: Auburn 52, UL Monroe 3

Oct. 9: Auburn 37, Kentucky 34

Oct. 16: Auburn 65, (12) Arkansas 43

Oct. 23: Auburn 24, (6) LSU 17

Oct. 30: Auburn 51, Ole Miss 31

Nov. 6: Auburn 62, UT-Chattanooga 24

Nov. 13: Auburn 28, (9) Alabama 27

Dec. 4: Auburn 56, (18) South Carolina 17

Jan. 10: Auburn 22, (2) Oregon 19

 

15. Ohio State, 2002 (14-0, 8-0 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Jim Tressel

 

Today Ohio State is regularly in the national title mix, but it was not always that way. Jim Tressel changed the way we view Ohio State starting with the 2002 season. Fueled by freshman running back Maurice Clarett and a particularly strong defense, the Buckeyes rolled through their regular season schedule, which was highlighted along the way by a 25-7 victory over No. 10 Washington State, a 13-7 victory over No. 17 Penn State, a 34-3 win over No. 19 Minnesota and a 14-9 victory over No. 12 Michigan. That helped place Ohio State in the role of underdog against the defending national champions, the supremely talented No. 1 Miami Hurricanes, in a classic Fiesta Bowl overtime thriller. The game was not without controversy of course with a pass-interference call against the Hurricanes that is still intensely debated to this day, but Ohio State claimed the only BCS title by a Big Ten team nonetheless. This Ohio State team sent 14 players through the 2004 NFL Draft, in addition to five each in ’03 and ’05.

 

2002 Schedule:

Aug. 24: Ohio State 45, Texas Tech 21

Sept. 7: Ohio State 51, Kent State 17

Sept. 14: Ohio State 25, (10) Washington State 7

Sept. 21: Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 19

Sept. 28: Ohio State 45, Indiana 17

Oct. 5: Ohio State 27, Northwestern 16

Oct. 12: Ohio State 50, San Jose State 7

Oct. 19: Ohio State 19, Wisconsin 14

Oct. 26: Ohio State 13, (17) Penn State 7

Nov. 2: Ohio State 34, (19) Minnesota 3

Nov. 9: Ohio State 10, Purdue 6

Nov. 16: Ohio State 23, Illinois 16

Nov. 23: Ohio State 14, (12) Michigan 9

Jan. 3: Ohio State 31, (1) Miami 24

 

16. Ohio State, 2014 (14-1, 8-0 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

 

Ohio State’s most recent national championship managed to defy plenty of odds and naysayers. Of course, this also was the expectation when Ohio State hired Urban Meyer. After getting through a brief postseason ban and missing out on a Big Ten title the previous season, Meyer’s Buckeyes in 2014 were supposed to be one year away from competing for a national title. The preseason loss of Braxton Miller meant Ohio State had to work with a backup QB in J.T. Barrett for the majority of the season, and that inexperience may have cost Ohio State early on with a home loss to Virginia Tech. After the loss though, the Buckeyes went on a roll and scored their biggest wins at the perfect time. A 49-37 victory over No. 7 Michigan State thrust the Buckeyes back in the national title chase and a 59-0 blowout of No. 11 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game with Ezekiel Elliott and third-string QB Cardale Jones leading the way gave the Big Ten champs enough of a push to sneak past co-Big 12 champions Baylor and TCU for the fourth and final College Football Playoff spot. Ohio State then took out SEC champion Alabama and Nick Saban in the Sugar Bowl and pulled away from Pac-12 champion Oregon and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to lay claim to the first College Football Playoff national championship.

 

2014 schedule:

Aug. 30: Ohio State 34, Navy 17

Sept. 6: Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21

Sept. 13: Ohio State 66, Kent State 0

Sept. 27: Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28

Oct. 4: Ohio State 52, Maryland 24

Oct. 18: Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17

Oct. 25: Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (2OT)

Nov. 1: Ohio State 55, Illinois 14

Nov. 8: Ohio State 49, (7) Michigan State 37

Nov. 15: Ohio State 31, Minnesota 24

Nov. 22: Ohio State 42, Indiana 27

Nov. 29: Ohio State 42, Michigan 28

Dec. 6: Ohio State 59, (11) Wisconsin 0

Jan. 1: Ohio State 42, (1) Alabama 35

Jan. 12: Ohio State 42 (2) Oregon 20

 

17. Alabama, 2015 (14-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Nick Saban

 

The 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide grew from a losing experience the previous two seasons. Two years ago Alabama had been trounced by Oklahoma and in the first year of the College Football Playoff top-seeded Alabama was taken out by a red-hot Ohio State. In 2015, Alabama finished the job it could not do either of the previous two seasons. Despite an early loss to Ole Miss, Alabama used the best offensive line in the country to protect Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry and let the nation’s best front seven handle business on defense. Alabama racked up a big season-opening win against No. 20 Wisconsin in Arlington (35-17), destroyed No. 8 Georgia in Athens (38-10) and dismantled No. 4 LSU and derailed Leonard Fournette’s Heisman campaign while laying the final pieces of the track for Henry’s run. This time the Playoff would see a different ending with a complete manhandling of Big Ten champion Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl (38-0) and a thrilling 45-40 victory over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Clemson despite a performance for the ages from Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson. This win saw Nick Saban call a perfectly timed and executed onside kick to help seize the momentum and his Crimson Tide charges showed the ability to break big plays in the clutch to grab Saban’s fourth national title in seven years at Alabama. Saban is responsible for five of the national titles on this list.

 

2015 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Alabama 35, (20) Wisconsin 17

Sept. 12: Alabama 37, Middle Tennessee 10

Sept. 19: (15) Ole Miss 43, Alabama 37

Sept. 26: Alabama 34, UL Monroe 0

Oct. 3: Alabama 38, (8) Georgia 10

Oct. 10: Alabama 27, Arkansas 14

Oct. 17: Alabama 41, (9) Texas A&M 23

Oct. 24: Alabama 19, Tennessee 14

Nov. 7: Alabama 30, (4) LSU 16

Nov. 14: Alabama 31, (20) Mississippi State 6

Nov. 21: Alabama 56, Charleston Southern 6

Nov. 28: Alabama 29, Auburn 13

Dec. 5: Alabama 29, (18) Florida 15

Dec. 31: Alabama 38, (3) Michigan State 0

Jan. 11: Alabama 45, (1) Clemson 40

 

18. Florida, 2006 (13-1, 7-1 SEC)

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

 

The rise of the Tim Tebow hype train hit its stride in 2006, but the Gators had more to offer than just Tebow. Florida’s stacked defense with Derrick Harvey, Reggie Nelson and Jarvis Moss set the tone every time the Gators stepped on the field. The Gators were tripped up once during the regular season, by Auburn, but Florida scored victories over ranked Tennessee, LSU and Georgia to remain in the hunt for a national title shot. A victory over Florida State followed by a 38-28 win against No. 8 Arkansas placed Florida in the BCS Championship Game as a significant underdog against the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Gators’ defense treated Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith like a rag doll, sacking him five times and limiting him to just 35 yards through the air.

 

2006 Schedule:

Sept. 2: Florida 34, Southern Miss 7

Sept. 9: Florida 42, UCF 0

Sept. 16: Florida 21, (13) Tennessee 20

Sept. 23: Florida 26, Kentucky 7

Sept. 30: Florida 28, Alabama 13

Oct. 7: Florida 23, (9) LSU 10

Oct. 14: (11) Auburn 27, Florida 17

Oct. 28: Florida 21, (25) Georgia 14

Nov. 4: Florida 25, Vanderbilt 19

Nov. 11: Florida 17, South Carolina 16

Nov. 18: Florida 62, Western Carolina 0

Nov. 25: Florida 21, Florida State 14

Dec. 2: Florida 38, (8) Arkansas 28

Jan. 8: Florida 41, (1) Ohio State 14

 

19. LSU Tigers, 2007 (12-2, 6-2 SEC)

Head Coach: Les Miles

 

The 2007 LSU Tigers were the only national champion since the start of the BCS era to win a national title with two losses, but LSU more than made up for it with an impressive list of victories. That included a 48-7 shelling of No. 9 Virginia Tech and victories over No. 14 South Carolina, No. 7 Florida, No. 19 Auburn and No. 18 Alabama. The only losses suffered by LSU each came in triple overtime, against Kentucky and Arkansas. LSU still managed to sneak into the BCS Championship Game following an SEC title game victory over No. 15 Tennessee as chaos captivated the college football world. Against No. 1 Ohio State, LSU quarterback Matt Flynn tossed four touchdowns and the defense shut down the Buckeyes enough for a 38-24 national championship victory for Les Miles.

 

2007 Schedule:

Aug. 30: LSU 45, Mississippi State 0

Sept. 8: LSU 48, (9) Virginia Tech 7

Sept. 15: LSU 44, Middle Tennessee 0

Sept. 22: LSU 28, (14) South Carolina 16

Sept. 29: LSU 34, Tulane 9

Oct. 6: LSU 28, (7) Florida 24

Oct. 13: (18) Kentucky 43, LSU 37 (3 OT)

Oct. 20: LSU 30, (19) Auburn 24

Nov. 3: LSU 41, (18) Alabama 34

Nov. 10: LSU 58, Louisiana Tech 10

Nov. 17: LSU 41, Ole Miss 24

Nov. 23: Arkansas 50, LSU 48 (3 OT)

Dec. 1: LSU 21, (15) Tennessee 14

Jan. 7: LSU 38, (1) Ohio State 24

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

 

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

Event Date: 
Monday, January 9, 2017 - 23:25

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