Heyden Kudelko – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – As Mustang football fans inch closer to watching the college football national championship, it’s a good time for a quick, opinionated look back on the best and worst national college football champions.
The College football National Championship is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2023, in Houston, Texas.
Two of the top four teams in the country will compete for the national title. As the date comes closer and closer, Mustangs have looked back at some of the best and worst championship victors.
#3 Worst – 2004 University of South California (USC) Trojans
Despite the many recruiting violations that have tainted the ‘04 Trojans, the USC campaign ended with a thrashing of Oklahoma 55-19. Although this USC team was dominant on the field it is the only major college football champion to have its title revoked.
USC had both its national championship win and win over rival University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) removed after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) discovered numerous recruiting violations that made star running back and Heisman winner Reggie Bush ineligible to play. Many also believe undefeated and SEC champion Auburn deserved a shot at the ‘04 title instead of USC as they finished third in the polls behind the Trojans and missed out on a chance to play in the national title.
#2 Worst – 1984 Brigham Young University Cougars (BYU)
Before the computer-generated polls and committee led debates over the top teams in college football, it was simply decided by the Associated Press (AP). BYU skipped their way into winning a National Championship by playing virtually no challenging opponents.
The controversial win by the Cougars changed the college football landscape as the NCAA formed the Bowl Coalition in 1991. BYU’s lack of real competition and the questionable quality and skill of the team puts them towards the bottom of list of National Champions.
#1 Worst – 1990 Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffs opened the season with a tie against eighth-ranked Tennessee and then later a loss to Illinois. Although the season started off rough the mighty Buffaloes would not lose another game knocking off top 25 opponents and rivals Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington. Eventually Colorado found themselves facing off against number one Notre Dame who they beat to claim the National Title.
The main controversy with this team is a normal regular season game against the Missouri Tigers, where Colorado found themselves down in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.
The referee’s mistake gave an extra down or opportunity for Colorado to score. Dubbed the Fifth Down Game, many have questioned whether Colorado should still have a Championship due to an obvious officiating blunder, as Colorado would never have been in the hunt for a title and instead Georgia Tech or Miami should have claimed the Championship victory.
#3 Best – 2018 Clemson Tigers
Freshman Trevor Lawrence’s stellar performance in big games and consistent play all season led the Tigers to a perfect 15-win season. There were some close calls though, such as barely beating unranked Texas A&M and Syracuse.
Despite those minor setbacks early in the season the Tigers offensive backfield aided by Sophomore Travis Etienne, who had his best season scoring 26 touchdowns on the ground, allowed the Tigers to claim a national title and an undefeated season.
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#2 Best – 2019 Louisiana State University Tigers
The amount of NFL talent on the 2019 Tigers is absurd. Joe Burrow set NCAA records ablaze throwing for an unprecedented 60 passing touchdowns most of which were hauled in by star receivers Justin Jefferson and Jamaar Chase.
LSU dominated their opponents, ranking first among all college teams in scoring, averaging 48.4 points per game. LSU also steamrolled ranked teams such as Texas, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson to win the title.
#1 Best – 2001 Miami Hurricanes
A team loaded with talent that has become etched in college football history. After being snubbed of a BCS appearance the year before to Florida State who got beat by Oklahoma in the Championship Game, Miami entered the year with a new head coach and an ascertainment. Miami decided in the pre-season to go undefeated and that’s exactly what they did.
With talented players such as Ken Dorsey behind center, and future hall of famer Ed Reed terrorizing opposing offenses, the Hurricanes waltzed to an undefeated season beating not only rival Florida State, but also five other ranked teams. After beating Nebraska convincingly 34-17 Miami got their long-awaited title holding opponents to an NCAA best 9.8 points per game.