CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Ranking College Football Playoff & BCS Era 20 National Champions: No. 6, 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide
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. 6, Alabama Crimson Tide
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.
2009 Alabama Season
Alabama was about a quarter away from starting the dynasty a year early.
The 2008 team came up with a surprisingly amazing season, getting to the BCS No. 1 spot going into the SEC Championship vs. Florida. The Crimson Tide had the lead in the fourth, and then Tim Tebow happened, and then Utah happened in a clunker of a Sugar Bowl loss.
2009 was all about Florida – who brought back almost everyone from the team that won the national title – and it was all about the Heisman race between Tebow, Colt McCoy of Texas, and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma – whose teams were ranked 1-2-3 to start the year, respectively.
Alabama was expected to be solid, coming into the year No. 5 – USC was fourth in both polls – but being a wee bit disrespected seemed to matter.
After the way 2008 ended, this was a team on a mission.
Expected to be tested by No. 7 Virginia Tech to start the season, Bama ripped off a huge fourth quarter to come away with an emphatic 34-24 win.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma was upset by BYU and Bradford got hurt.
After rolling through Florida International and North Texas with ease, there weren’t any problems in SEC play, beating Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina with ease going 7-0. Most importantly, the Crimson Tide passed by unbeaten Texas to start out No. 2 in the first BCS standings.
Along the way, RB Mark Ingram was dominating, ripping through Ole Miss for 172 yards and South Carolina for 246.
Just as the season appeared to be cruising right along, Tennessee gave the Bama one of it’s biggest pushes of the year.
Neither offense worked, but Crimson Tide PK Leigh Tiffin hit four field goals and the defense held on for a tough 12-10 win.
LSU was a problem, but Ingram ran for 144 yards in a tough 24-15 win, followed up by easy wins over Mississippi State and Chattanooga.
Meanwhile, Florida was struggling. It was unbeaten and ranked No. 1, but it wasn’t easy with too many games turning into struggles.
In the end, the Auburn game probably didn’t matter. Alabama was going to play Florida for the SEC title no matter what, and a win would almost certainly mean a trip to the BCS Championship, but the team took care of business.
Auburn rolled out a 14-0 lead, but Alabama settled in, overcame a 21-14 second half deficit, and survived in a tough 26-21 fight, finished off with a Greg McElroy touchdown pass for the winning score.
Alabama was 12-0 for the second year in a row, but this time around vs. Florida, there wouldn’t be a problem.
The Crimson Tide played faster, tougher, and with more confidence, taking over in the second half helped by a Heisman-sealing performance from Ingram, who finished with 113 yards and three scores in the 32-13 win.
The defense made Tebow cry.
Texas did its part, getting to the Rose Bowl for the national title going 13-0 ranked No. 2.
McCoy got knocked out of the game early, and despite a late rally and a nice effort from Garrett Gilbert and the Longhorns, the game was over in the first quarter.
Alabama got Nick Saban his second national title with a 37-21 win, and the Tide haven’t stopped rolling ever since.
– Ingram deserved the Heisman, but it wasn’t without controversy. Stanford’s Toby Gerhart ran for more yards – 1,871 to 1,658 – and scored 28 times to 17. However, Ingram came up large in the biggest games other than Auburn, winning in an MVP sort of way.
However, the voting was air-tight, beating Gerhart 1,304 points to 1,276, with McCoy getting 1,145. Ingram got 207 first place votes, Gerhart 222, McCoy 203, and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh – who I voted for – 161.
– Alabama’s defense gave up two rushing touchdowns in the opening game against Virginia Tech, and allowed three more the rest of the way. That’s it. On the year, the run D allowed just 2.8 yards per carry.
– Somewhat shockingly, 2009 was the only unbeaten season so far of Nick Saban’s career. He came close with the 2016 team, but this 14-0 squad was it.
– The ten Quality Wins – wins over teams that finished with winning records – were the most by any team in the BCS era. The only three teams with more all won the College Football Playoff national title.
– Why so low on the list? The offense only came up with 449 points. The margin of victory was the lowest by anyone in the top eight.
Opponent Final Record in Parentheses
Sept. 5 Alabama 34, Virginia Tech 24 (10-3) (in Atlanta)
Sept. 12 Alabama 40, FIU 14 (3-9)
Sept. 19 Alabama 53, North Texas 7 (2-10)
Sept. 26 Alabama 35, Arkansas 7 (8-5)
Oct. 3 Alabama 38, at Kentucky 20 (7-6)
Oct. 10 Alabama 22, at Ole Miss 3 (9-4)
Oct. 17 Alabama 20, South Carolina 6 (7-6)
Oct. 24 Alabama 12, Tennessee 10 (7-6)
Nov. 7 Alabama 24, LSU 15 (9-4)
Nov. 14 Alabama 31, at Miss State 3 (5-7)
Nov. 21 Alabama 45, UT-Chattanooga 0 (FCS, 6-5)
Nov. 27 Alabama 26, at Auburn 21 (8-5)
Dec. 5 Alabama 32, Florida 13 (13-1)
Jan. 7 Alabama 37, Texas 21 (13-1)
CFN Historical Season Rankings Breakdown
Wins: 14 (Virginia Tech, FIU, North Texas, Arkansas, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn, SEC Championship vs. Florida, BCS Championship vs. Texas)
Quality Wins: 10 (Virginia Tech, Arkansas, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU,at Auburn, SEC Championship vs. Florida, BCS Championship vs. Texas)
Elite Wins: 2.5 (SEC Championship vs. Florida, BCS Championship vs. Texas)
Bad Wins: 3 (FIU, North Texas, Chattanooga)
Elite Losses: 0
Point Differential: Alabama 449, Opponents 164
Winning %: 1,000
TOTAL SCORE: 29.60
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.
Photo courtesy of University of Alabama
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell