CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Ranking College Football Playoff & BCS Era 20 National Champions: No. 11, 2012 Alabama
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. 11, 2012 Alabama
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.
2012 Alabama Season
Despite coming off a national title run in 2011, and even with a ton of talent returning, there were still several question marks about whether or not the 2012 Alabama team could get the job done again.
USC was the hot team coming into the season – ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll and third in the Coaches’ – while LSU was the No. 1 team in the Coaches’ Poll. Even so, Alabama was right there, ranked first in the AP and second in the Coaches’. Very quickly, though, the Crimson Tide would flex their muscle and take over the top spot with ease.
Brady Hoke’s Michigan team was expected to provide a challenge in the Bama season-opener in Arlington, Texas. One 41-14 Alabama win later, the season was off and running.
As always, the D was Alabama-dominant to start the season, allowing 14 points or fewer in each of the first eight games before getting by LSU 21-17 in Baton Rouge.
And then Johnny Manziel happened.
The LSU dogfight was supposed to be the landmine, and Alabama got past it alive. While Texas A&M was expected to be a tough follow-up, all the flash and dash from Manziel and the high-powered SEC newbie was supposed to be ground to a halt in Tuscaloosa.
Instead, Manziel and the Aggies got up 20-0 in the first quarter, and came up with a fourth quarter touchdown to take the lead for good in a 29-24 shocker.
The loss Bama to No. 4 in the BCS standings behind Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame, but there was still time to make amends.
How did the team respond to the loss? It walloped Auburn and Western Carolina by a combined score of 98-0 to move up to No. 2, thanks to losses by Kansas State and Oregon.
Georgia was deep in the hunt for the national title, too, ranked third in the BCS standings going into the SEC Championship – the winner would almost certainly be playing in Miami for it all. As it turned out, the national championship was decided in Atlanta.
With a 21-10 lead – highlighted by a blocked kick for a score – Georgia played like a team ready to make a statement, but Alabama roared back with 15 straight points to take the lead. It took an Amari Cooper fourth quarter touchdown catch, and last-gasp stand from the defense to come away with a thrilling 32-28 win and a trip to play unbeaten No. 1 Notre Dame for the national title.
Alabama’s offense roared out to a 35-0 lead, AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon each ran for over 100 yards, Amari Cooper scored twice, and the program had its third national title in four years.
– It was among the most dangerous offenses in the Nick Saban era. It scored 40 points or more in eight games, was explosive, pounding, and consistent. The 542 points were the most scored by any of the bottom 11 teams on this overall list.
– Amari Cooper was just a freshman, but he helped add another dimension to the attack, catching 58 passes for 999 yards and 11 scores, looking like the best Alabama receiver since Julio Jones.
– While the schedule had plenty of splash in terms of brand-name teams, it wasn’t all that hard until the end. Beating LSU at LSU was big, but Auburn was down, Michigan was overrated, and Ole Miss and Tennessee were mediocre. Beating Georgia and throttling Notre Dame, though, proved just how good the Tide were.
Opponent Final Record in Parentheses
Sept. 1 Alabama 41, Michigan 14 (8-5) (in Arlington)
Sept. 8 Alabama 35, WKU 0 (7-6)
Sept. 15 Alabama 52, at Arkansas 0 (4-8)
Sept. 22 Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7 (3-9)
Sept. 29 Alabama 33, Ole Miss 14 (7-6)
Oct. 13 Alabama 42, at Missouri 10 (5-7)
Oct. 20 Alabama 44, at Tennessee 13 (5-7)
Oct. 27 Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7 (8-5)
Nov. 3 Alabama 21, at LSU 17 (10-3)
Nov. 10 Texas A&M 29 (11-2), at Alabama 24
Nov. 17 Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0 (FCS, 1-10)
Nov. 24 Alabama 49, Auburn 0 (3-9)
Dec. 1 Alabama 32, Georgia 28 (12-2)
Jan. 7 Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14 (12-1)
CFN Historical Season Rankings Breakdown
Wins: 13 (Michigan, WKU, at Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, at Missouri, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at LSU, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC Championship vs. Georgia, BCS Championship vs. Notre Dame)
Losses: 1 (Texas A&M)
Quality Wins: 7 (Michigan, WKU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, at LSU, SEC Championship vs. Georgia, BCS Championship vs. Notre Dame)
Elite Wins: 3.5 (SEC Championship vs. Georgia, BCS Championship vs. Notre Dame)
Bad Wins: 3 (Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina, Auburn)
Elite Losses: 1 (Texas A&M)
Point Differential: Alabama 542, Opponents 153
Winning %: 0.923
TOTAL SCORE: 26.813
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