Ranking the last 10 college football national champions

Ohio State Campus Celebrations Results In Arrests

How do the last 10 college football national champions stack up in a power ranking?

The first College Football Playoff National Champion has now been crowned, and the Ohio State Buckeyes took care of business to take home the trophy.

Like most champions, the Buckeyes had their flaws as well as some very strong points. Point to one Cardale Jones for the latter.

But how do this year's Buckeyes compare to the national champions for the last 10 years? I broke down all of them, looked at their schedules, their weaknesses and their strengths, and ranked them from 1-10.

Factors taken into consideration were strength of schedule, improvement through the season, non-conference schedules and Top 25 teams played in the regular season and conference championship games.

Obviously, these teams are all champions, and are all very good football teams, so these rankings aren't a way of saying that any of them are "bad teams", but rather my thoughts on how they rank against each other. Honestly, the difference between some of them is absolutely infinitesimal.

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Ranking the last 10 college football national champions

No. 10

2013-14: Florida State Seminoles (def. Auburn Tigers 34-31)

Overall Record: 14-0
Toughest Non-Conference Games:  Florida
Number of ranked opponents played: 4 (4-0)

Negatives: Excessively weak schedule, both conference and non. Jameis Winston going from unknown, to darling to biggest heel since Hollywood Hogan.

Selling Points: School record for single-season wins, and prolific looking offense. Jameis Winston was the catalyst and the biggest reason the team stayed undefeated.

Having to balance a 14-0 record against a schedule that contained Nevada, FCS Bethune-Cookman, Idaho and a very poor Florida Gators squad makes it tough to give a lot a credit to this FSU team. Jameis Winston took the college football world by storm from early on, and he never wavered in his ability to lead this team. However, it really didn’t look like they were challenged until the championship game against Auburn, in which a second half comeback was needed for the win.

No. 9

2007-08 LSU Tigers (def. Ohio State Buckeyes 38-24)

Overall Record: 12-2
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Virginia Tech
Number of ranked opponents played: 7 (6-1)

Negatives: One of the rare 2-loss teams to make a national championship game. Inconsistent play due to several coaching changes before season.

Selling Points: DT Glenn Dorsey on defense and QB Matt Flynn on offense, two players who kept LSU in the hunt all season. Very tough schedule, despite two losses, both in triple-overtime.

There are many who believe LSU didn’t belong in the national championship game that year, but this was the year of the upset and the “Curse of No. 2″, with no Power-5 teams going undefeated. The Tigers overcame a lot, and played with a lot of heart. They weren’t the most talented team, but never gave up on any game.

No. 8

2014-15: Ohio State Buckeyes (def. Oregon Ducks)

Overall Record: 14-1
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Virginia Tech
Number of ranked opponents played: 2 (2-0)

Negatives: Loss to weak Virginia Tech early in season. Very weak non-conference schedule. No ranked opponents played until 9th game of season.

Selling Points: 15 games played, including playoffs. Ability to win despite losing first and second string QBs before and during season. Dominating performance against No. 1 Alabama in national semifinal.

The first College Football Playoff National Champion had a tough road, and overcame a lot of adversity. However, a tougher regular season schedule may have kept them from even being in the top four at season’s end. An inexplicable loss to Virginia Tech really holds this team back from being considered one of the greatest.

No. 7

2011-12 Alabama Crimson Tide (def. LSU Tigers 21-0)

Overall Record: 12-1
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Penn State
Number of ranked opponents played: 4 (3-1)

Negatives: Championship game was a rematch of game against LSU in regular season. Very weak non-conference schedule. Most points allowed all season (21) was to FCS opponent Georgia Southern.

Selling Points: An absolutely dominating and crushing defense who pitched three shutouts, including national championship game. Eight members of team selected for NFL Draft.

This Alabama team may well have been the best that Nick Saban ever put on the field. The regular season loss to LSU in the “Game of the Century” was a boring defensive battle, marked by some coaching blunders on both sides. For defensive prowess alone, this team probably belongs in the top four, but will never live down being a team in the national championship game that didn’t win their division or conference.

No. 6

2006-07 Florida Gators (def. Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14)

Overall Record: 13-1
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Florida State
Number of ranked opponents played: 5 (4-1)

Negatives: Midseason loss to No. 11 Auburn marred perfect season, relatively weak SEC schedule with four opponents finishing at .500 or worse in conference play. Very weak non-conference schedule.

Selling Points: Urban Meyer’s first time in a national championship game is a win. Gator defense was very good that year, with 28 points being the most surrendered all season to No. 8 Arkansas.

This probably wasn’t the greatest Florida Gator team of all time, but they did an excellent job of stuffing what was supposed to be an unstoppable Ohio State offense in the championship game. This was QB Chris Leak’s senior season, and the Tim Tebow era was about to begin. The Gators were still getting accustomed to Urban Meyer on offense, but with that defense they had room for a learning curve.

No. 5

2012-13 Alabama Crimson Tide (def. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-14)

Overall Record: 13-1
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Michigan
Number of ranked opponents played: 5 (4-1)

Negatives: Loss to Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M, weak non-conference schedule, and lack of top ranked teams in regular season.

Selling Points: Defense led the nation in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense and ranked 7th in passing defense. One of the best SEC Championship games ever played against No. 3 Georgia.

Yet another dominating defensive squad who had a single-game lapse, this time against SEC newcomer Texas A&M. The defense shut out four opponents, including a 49-0 whitewashing of rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Offensively this was one of the more exciting Alabama teams to watch, and much of that came from running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.

No. 4

2010-11 Auburn Tigers (def. Oregon Ducks 22-19)

Overall Record: 14-0
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Clemson
Number of ranked opponents played: 5 (5-0)

Negatives: The constant cloud of the Cam Newton investigation and (ahem) results. Weak non-conference schedule. Inconsistent on defense.

Selling Points: Cam Newton, despite the allegations, was the best player in the nation with the Heisman Trophy to prove it. Gus Malzahn’s offense make head coach Gene Chizik look like a genius.

Again, a very weak non-conference schedule taints what was a great season for Auburn. It took overtime to beat a Clemson team they should have dominated at home, and they had several other close calls. Still, 14-0 isn’t easy to do, and they stopped a very powerful Oregon offense in the championship game.

No. 3

2009-10 Alabama Crimson Tide (def. Texas Longhorns 37-21)

Overall Record: 14-0
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Virginia Tech,
Number of ranked opponents played: 5 (5-0)

Negatives: If you had to throw anything negative about this Alabama team, it would be that they were pretty boring. Solid defense, unexciting but decent offense. Weak non-conference schedule, including FIU, North Texas and Chattanooga.

Selling Points: As unexciting as this team was to watch, they were also pretty damn good. Defensively they stack up with some of the best ever, and RB Mark Ingram brought home the first Heisman Trophy for the school. Full marks for running the table in 14 games.

This team was probably one of the best that Nick Saban has fielded, but then again, their level of competition wasn’t very high. Besides their weak non-conference schedule, the SEC slate wasn’t very tough either, with only one regular season conference foe ranked in the Top 10. Some even say that the SEC championship game against then No. 1 Florida was really a tougher game than the actual championship against Texas.

No. 2

2008-09 Florida Gators (def. Oklahoma Sooners 24-14)

Overall Record: 13-1
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Miami, Florida State
Number of ranked opponents played: 5 (5-0)

Negatives: Loss to very weak Ole Miss team marred what was a dominating season.

Selling Points: Loss to very weak Ole Miss team gave us Tim Tebow’s infamous “promise you” speech.

Absolutely a dominant defense who’s only slip-up was against Ole Miss. The Gators were physical and fast, and put opponents away early. Tim Tebow was as good as they come, and despite the ribbing, he was the leader of the team on and off the field. This Florida team was one loss away from being the greatest in a long time.

No. 1

2005-06 Texas Longhorns (def. USC Trojans 41-38)

Overall Record: 13-0
Toughest Non-Conference Games: Ohio State
Number of ranked opponents played: 4 (4-0)

Negatives: Hard to really find any flaws with this Longhorns team. This is when Vince Young was at his best, and Mack Brown did one of his best coaching jobs. Biggest downside to Texas that year was that they ran up the score on too many opponents.

Selling Points: NCAA record for points scored, started the season at No. 2 in the rankings and stayed there the entire year. 24 players from the 05-06 roster drafted into the NFL between 2006-2008.

Absolutely should be considered one of the most dominant teams from start to finish of a season and from top to bottom of a roster in the last 20 years. Greg Davis’ spread offense was run to perfection and Gene Chizik’s defense played in dominant fashion. This Texas team would probably beat any other team on this list.


Related links

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