150 Greatest National Champions: Top Ten
10. 2008 Florida (13-1)
All-Time Season Score: 28.9786
Key Season Score Element: 9 Quality Wins
Best Win: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Ole Miss 31, Florida 30
How incredible was the Florida season? It’s the only team outside of the College Football Playoff world to lose a game and still finish among the top 16 campaigns.
The 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss might have been disappointing, but it led to the Tim Tebow “promise” speech and a devastating run the rest of the way.
Outside of the misfire against the Rebels – which is what it was, with Tebow failing to connect with an open Percy Harvin in a few key moments – Florida beat everyone else by double-digits.
The nine Quality Wins – victories over teams that finished with winning records – were impressive, but the 611 points were a big deal, and there was only one Bad Win.
Closing with a flourish, Tebow and company came through late to beat a then unbeaten Alabama team in a fantastic SEC Championship, and then managed to take down Heisman winner Sam Bradford and the record-setting Oklahoma offense in a gutty 24-14 BCS Championship.
Wins (13): Hawaii (56-10), Miami (26-3), at Tennessee (30-6), at Arkansas (38-7), LSU (51-21), Kentucky (63-5), Georgia (49-10), at Vanderbilt (42-14), South Carolina (56-6), Citadel (70-19), at Florida State (45-15), Alabama (SEC Championship, 31-20), Oklahoma (BCS Championship, 24-14)
Losses (1): Ole Miss (31-30)
Quality Wins (9): Miami, LSU, Kentucky, Georgia, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, at Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma
Elite Wins (3): Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma
Bad Wins (1): Citadel
Points For: 611
Points Against: 181
9. 2005 Texas (13-0)
All-Time Season Score: 30.1400
Key Season Score Element: 439 point differential
Best Win: Texas 41, USC 38 (Rose Bowl)
Worst Game: Texas 40, at Texas A&M 29
USC might have been the big star coming into the 2005 season – it was the defending national champion – but Texas was primed and ready for a big run, too.
The 25-22 win at Ohio State in the second week of the season – that Buckeye team was a monster, only losing to the Longhorns and a Penn State team that finished 11-1 – set the tone for what was coming.
There were a few little moments here and there, but Texas ripped through the schedule, scoring 40 points or more against everyone but OSU, and with 11 of the first 12 games decided by 11 points or more.
Poor Colorado had a nice season with a Big 12 North title, but it was crushed by Texas by a combined score of 112-20.
The epic Vince Young performance against the Trojans in the Rose Bowl cemented the historic season for the power program, and was the win that boosted Texas into the top ten.
Wins (13): Louisiana (60-3), at Ohio State (25-22), Rice (51-10), at Missouri (51-20), Oklahoma (45-12, in Dallas), Colorado (42-17), Texas Tech (52-17), at Oklahoma State (47-28), at Baylor (62-0), Kansas (66-14), at Texas A&M, (40-29), Colorado (70-3, Big 12 Championship), USC (41-38, BCS Championship/Rose Bowl)
Losses (0): None
Quality Wins (9): Louisiana, at Ohio State, at Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas Tech, Kansas, Colorado (Big 12 Championship), USC
Elite Wins (2.5): at Ohio State, USC
Bad Wins (1): Rice
Points For: 652
Points Against: 213
8. 2009 Alabama (14-0)
All-Time Season Score: 30.100
Key Season Score Element: D allowed 164 points
Best Win: Alabama 37, Texas 21 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Alabama 12, Tennessee 10
It was the breakthrough moment for Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty, and it was his only unbeaten season.
The Tide took down ten teams that finished with winning records, but the Point Differential Score of 2.85 – the lowest by anyone in the top nine of the rankings and second lowest by anyone in the top 16 – turned out to keep them out of the top five.
At the highest end of games, though, they closed out with a bang, beating unbeaten defending national champion Florida 32-13 in the SEC Championship – making Tim Tebow cry – and knocking out Colt McCoy early to hand Texas its only loss 37-21 in the BCS Championship.
Along the way, an okay Tennessee team provided a push in a 12-10 Tide win, and Auburn put up a fight in a 26-21 loss. There weren’t too many problems against anyone else.
Wins (14): Virginia Tech (34-24 in Atlanta), FIU (40-14), North Texas (53-7), Arkansas (35-7), at Kentucky (38-20), at Ole Miss (22-3), South Carolina (20-6), Tennessee (12-10), LSU (24-15), at Mississippi State (31-3), UT-Chattanooga (45-0), at Auburn (26-21), Florida (32-13, SEC Championship), Texas 37-21 (BCS Championship)
Losses (0): None
Quality Wins (10): Virginia Tech, Arkansas, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU, at Auburn, Florida (SEC Championship), Texas (BCS Championship)
Elite Wins (3): Virginia Tech, Florida (SEC Championship), Texas (BCS Championship)
Bad Wins (3): FIU, North Texas, UT Chattanooga
Points For: 449
Points Against: 164
7. 2013 Florida State (14-0)
All-Time Season Score: 30.2800
Key Season Score Element: 723 points (most by any of the national champions)
Best Win: Florida State 34, Auburn 31 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Florida State 48, at Boston College 34
In terms of modern day total dominance, it’s hard to beat 2013 Florida State …
At least before the last BCS Championship ever.
It all started with a Monday night 41-13 win destruction over Pitt – coming with the official national introduction to eventual Heisman winner Jameis Winston. There wasn’t so much as a hiccup before getting to Pasadena.
Clemson was supposed to come out rocking at home, and it got its doors blown off 51-14.
Miami was in the midst of a decent season … 41-14.
In all, Florida State ended up whacking around eight teams that finished with winning records, the defense allowed seven points or fewer seven times, and the ACC Championship against Duke was a mere formality in a 45-7 blowout.
It took a fantastic comeback in the final moments to get by Auburn 34-31 to win the national title, but the 14 wins and 723 points – the next highest scoring all-time national champion was 1888 Yale with 694, and only 11 teams total scored more than 600 – made this the greatest season of the BCS era.
Wins (14): at Pitt (41-13), Nevada (62-7), Bethune-Cookman (54-6), at Boston College (48-34), Maryland (63-0), at Clemson (51-14), NC State (49-17), Miami (41-14), at Wake Forest (59-3), Syracuse (59-3), Idaho (80-14), at Florida (37-7), Duke (45-7, ACC Championship), Auburn (34-31, BCS Championship)
Losses (0): None
Quality Wins (8): at Pitt, at Boston College, Maryland, at Clemson, Miami, Syracuse, Duke, Auburn
Elite Wins (2.5): at Clemson, Auburn
Bad Wins (3): Bethune-Cookman, NC State, Idaho
Points For: 723
Points Against: 170
6. 2016 Clemson (14-1)
All-Time Season Score: 31.8633
Key Season Score Element: 11 Quality Wins
Best Win: Clemson 35, Alabama 31 (CFP National Championship)
Worst Game: Pitt 43, at Clemson 42
Remember that year when the ACC got all chirpy about being the best conference in college football? This was it – eight of the ACC teams on the slate finished with a winning record – and it helped build up Clemson’s resumé in one of the five greatest national championship seasons of all-time.
The Tigers started out on the road against a good Auburn team, and then had to get by a Troy squad that went 10-3 and pushed Clemson in a 30-24 loss.
There was a 42-36 struggle against Lamar Jackson and Louisville – at least in the final score -and it took a 24-17 overtime minor-miracle to get past NC State. Pitt – led by that Nathan Peterman’s five touchdown passes – pulled off a thrilling 43-42 win in Death Valley, and all of a sudden, Clemson didn’t appear to be ready for the big show.
And then it all kicked in.
Virginia Tech showed up in the ACC Championship, but after the Pitt loss, Clemson came up with three blowouts in the next four games, including a 31-0 stomping of Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Just when it seemed like Alabama was going to win yet another national title, Deshaun Watson led Clemson on a drive for the ages to pull out a 35-31 win.
Wins (14): at Auburn (19-13), Troy (30-24), South Carolina State (59-0), at Georgia Tech (26-7), Louisville (42-36), at Boston College (56-10), at Florida State (37-34), Syracuse (54-0), at Wake Forest (35-13), South Carolina (56-7), Virginia Tech (42-35, ACC Championship), Ohio State (31-0, Fiesta Bowl), Alabama (35-31, CFP National Championship)
Losses (1): Pitt (43-42)
Quality Wins (11): at Auburn, Troy, at Georgia Tech, Louisville, at Boston College, NC State, at Florida State, at Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Alabama
Elite Wins (3): at Florida State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State
Bad Wins (1): South Carolina State
Points For: 588
Points Against: 270