Recently I read an article about the greatest college football national champions over the past 20 years. It got me to thinking over some of the better champions in both college and professional football over the last 20 years or so. Who were the best champions? How about we dive in with the five best from college over the last 20 years.
5. 2001 Miami Hurricanes. This was a loaded college football team. They went 12-0 and marched pretty easily to a national championship after throttling Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. They beat opponents by a 32.9 average and had 38 members of that roster go on to play in the NFL, 17 of those as first round selections. However, they are fifth because they played in the Big East and the Big East was a big of a cupcake for them at that time. Still, talented team.
4. 2013 Florida State Seminoles. As with most of these teams on the college list, very talented group of players. The Seminoles went 14-0 to win the last BCS Championship in 2013, led by future no. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. FSU won every game, sans the national championship, by at least 14 points and only gave up more than 20 points twice all season. They stomped no. 3 Clemson that season by 37 points on the road. What sets them back? They struggled against Auburn in the title game. Still, they had 23 players get picked in the NFL draft from that team, four going in the first round.
3. 2016 Clemson Tigers. The first of two one loss teams to be on the list. Yes, Clemson did drop a game but when you look at who they beat in the college football playoff, it makes up for it. The Tigers knew how to win close games, surviving a handful of one score contests on their way to the title. That title game against Alabama, the classic that it was with a last second touchdown. They had six players drafted in the 2017 draft, but sometimes it’s the entire body of work and not just talent.
2. 2005 Texas Longhorns. This was a team that had an all-time great quarterback in Vince Young. People forget how talented this kid was at college. Sans a road game against Ohio State, this Texas team blasted everyone they played that year. Then the all-timer against USC for the national title. Eighteen players from this team went on to the NFL. The last great Texas football team too.
1. 2008 Florida Gators. A one loss team, but they had the most recognizable quarterback in college football history who gave an all-time speech following that lone loss in Tim Tebow. This Gator team won most of their games pretty easily and shut down a fantastic Oklahoma offense in the National Championship game. Keep in mine their last three games were against top 25 teams, all of them were 10 plus point wins. They spanked the no. 4 team in LSU and no. 8 team in Georgia earlier in the season by 30 plus points. This team had around 20 NFL players on it, including Cam Newton as a back up quarterback.
The 2008 Gators outscored teams by over 30 points, had over 400 are first rounds, held teams to under 300 yards a game and five guys that could run the football in the spread offense. They had 26 interceptions on defense with five being returned for touchdowns. I would put this team against any other team in college football history and be okay with the 2008 Gators chances, even against the current Alabama programs.
Next time we’ll glance over some of the better Super Bowl champions of the past 20 years.