CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Ranking College Football Playoff & BCS Era 20 National Champions: No. 9, 2010 Auburn
How do the 20 national champions in the College Football Playoff & BCS rank based on how good their seasons were?
CFN, College Football Playoff & BCS Era National Champions Ranking: No. 9, 2010 Auburn
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, coincidentally starting in 1998 when the Bowl Championship Series era kicked off.
With the BCS, no matter how the teams got there, it was finally No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the national title – that wasn’t a given before – and eventually, it all morphed into the College Football Playoff starting in the 2014 season.
Based on the tried, true, tested and tweaked CFN Historical Season Ranking Formula (criteria breakdown at the bottom of all this), welcome to the ranking of all 20 national champions in the era.
This isn’t about who the most talented or the best national champions were since 1998 – that’s debatable. This is about who had the best and most impressive seasons – the more wins over great teams, the higher the score.
2010 Auburn Season
Out of the 20 national champions since 1998, this one was the stunner.
2000 Oklahoma was shocking, 2006 Florida came a wee bit out of left field, and 1998 Tennessee was a slight upset after starting out tenth in both polls, but they were nothing like 2010 Auburn when it came to expectations.
After an awful stint at Iowa State, head coach Gene Chizik was on a hot seat when he first got the job the year before – finishing 2009 with a 3-5 run didn’t help. However, he had a decent team returning, and he landed the biggest of JUCO recruiting prizes in quarterback Cam Newton.
Auburn was expected to be okay, ranked 22nd in the first AP poll and 23rd in the Coaches, but it was going to be an also-ran. Once again, it was supposed to be Alabama’s world as the preseason No. 1.
And then the Tigers crashed the party.
While there was a quarterback battle in the offseason, Newton stood out from the pack and made the job his, looking the part with 171 rushing yards in an easy win over Arkansas State to start the season, and following it up with a solid day in a 17-14 close-call win over Mississippi State.
This hardly looked like a team ready to go on a national title run, and it played even less like it in a tough 27-24 overtime win over a mediocre Clemson team. Newton struggled, but he and the defense came away with the win, and did it again the week after in a hard-fought 35-27 victory over South Carolina.
It might not have been pretty, but Auburn was 4-0.
The Tigers continued to grind, beating Kentucky 37-34 and LSU 24-17 to get to 8-0, while Newton started to play better and better.
Easy wins over Ole Miss, UT-Chattanooga and Georgia were overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Newton and the recruiting process coming out of Blinn College, but the team played like nothing was wrong. Auburn was 11-0 with a trip to Alabama to deal with.
This wasn’t the normal Crimson Tide team with two losses coming into the showdown, but they looked the part early with a dominant 24-0 lead. Cam came to the rescue, accounting for four touchdowns while the defense held firm, allowing just two field goals after the first quarter.
Auburn held on for the 28-27 win, and the momentum carried on from there with a 56-17 blowout of South Carolina in the SEC Championship. After flip-flopping with Oregon for the top spot in the BCS standings throughout most of the process, now the two would play for the national title.
Newton had problems early, but the defense did its part and Michael Dyer and the running game helped carry the offense in key parts.
Tied at 19 late, Auburn marched for a walk-off 19-yard field goal for the 22-19 win and the national title.
– Newton – even with the off-field recruiting allegations front-and-center in the discussion – won the Heisman with ease, completing 66% of his passes for 2,854 yards and 30 scores with seven picks, and running for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. He even caught a touchdown pass.
– Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn had the attack in high gear, with Dyer and Ontario McCalebb helping the cause for a ground game that finished with 3,987 yards and 41 scores.
– The defense had talent – DT Nick Fairley turned in a huge season – but only 2014 Ohio State came anywhere near 2010 Auburn when it came to points allowed among the 20 national champions.
18 of the champs didn’t allow more than 280, the 2014 Buckeyes gave up 330 in 15 games, and 2010 Auburn allowed 337 in 14 contests.
Opponent Final Record in Parentheses
Sept. 4 Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26 (4-8)
Sept. 9 Auburn 17, at Mississippi State (9-4)
Sept. 18 Auburn 27, Clemson 24 (6-7)
Sept. 25 Auburn 35, South Carolina 27 (9-5)
Oct. 2 Auburn 52, ULM 3 (5-7)
Oct. 9 Auburn 37, at Kentucky 34 (6-7)
Oct. 16 Auburn 65, Arkansas 43 (10-3)
Oct. 23 Auburn 24, LSU 17 (11-2)
Oct. 30 Auburn 51, at Ole Miss 31 (4-8)
Nov. 6 Auburn 51, UT Chattanooga 24 (FCS, 6-5)
Nov. 13 Auburn 49, Georgia 31 (6-7)
Nov. 26 Auburn 28, at Alabama 27 (10-3)
Dec. 4 Auburn 56, South Carolina 17 (9-5)
Jan. 10 Auburn 22, Oregon 19 (12-1)
CFN Historical Season Rankings Breakdown
Wins: 14 (Texas, Tech, Kent State, Washington State, Cincinnati, Indiana, at Northwestern, San Jose State, at Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota, at Purdue, at Illinois, Michigan, BCS Championship vs. Miami)
Quality Wins: 7 (Texas, Tech, Washington State, at Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota, at Purdue, Michigan, BCS Championship vs. Miami)
Elite Wins: 3.5 (BCS Championship vs. Oregon)
Bad Wins: 1
Elite Losses: 0
Point Differential: Auburn 557, Opponents 337
Winning %: 1.000
TOTAL SCORE: 27.650
The Season Formula’s Components
If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
If you lose, everything stinks. Each loss counts as -1.
3. Quality Wins
The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each Quality Win counts as 1.
4. Elite Wins
The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each Elite Win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5.
Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn’t added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game also gets counts as 1.
5. Bad Loss
The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a loss to an FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
6. Bad Win
The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a an FCS (D-IAA) team. Each win counts as -0.25
7. Elite Loss
The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
8. Point Differential
Points for minus points against divided by 100.
9. Winning Percentage
Created as a sort of tie-breaker, the winning % is added to the total score.
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell
Photo Credit: Florida Athletic Department