With their 15th win of the college football season, the LSU Tigers finished the 2019 campaign as the undefeated national champions. But where do they rank in the history of undefeated college football teams who went on to with the title?
Not all undefeated teams win the NCAA National Championship and not all champs finished undefeated. In fact, since 2010, there have been just four teams to hold up the trophy without having a loss that season.
Should head coach Ed Orgeron and his Tigers be able to claim a seat at the table for one of the best after winning the College Football Playoff?
Best College Football Teams of All Time
Every fan is going to claim a different best team of all time. It is the same thing with the best players of all time. For example, where does Joe Burrow rank as all-time college players? However, everyone should know who the top team is.
There might be fans who don’t like it. Sorry, Alabama fans, but the Crimson Tide aren’t on this list. However, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise since they have only finished with one undefeated season without a loss and crowned champs since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.
Fans of the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions, Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes, Clemson Tigers, Minnesota Gophers and dozens of other football programs who may think you have a claim here: Sorry, you’e wrong.
All programs with an undefeated national champion are LSU, Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Miami, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan, Washington, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Penn State, BYU, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Southern California, Michigan State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Syracuse, Auburn, UCLA, Army, Minnesota, Texas A&M, and TCU.
6. 2005 Texas Longhorns
Not only did the Texas Longhorns have one of the best college football quarterbacks ever in 2005, they also brought down one of the best teams in the BCS National Championship Game. Vince Young was nothing short of amazing in the Rose Bowl against the two-time reigning national champions, the USC Trojans from Southern California, along with the Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
During the 2005 season, the Longhorns averaged 50.2 points per game and averaged a 33.8-point margin of victory. They beat four ranked teams that season, including three-point wins over the top-ranked Trojans and the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
5. 2013 Florida State Seminoles
The highest-scoring team in college football history, the Florida State Seminoles were extremely talented in all phases. Led by Jimbo Fisher and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the ‘Noles averaged 51.6 points per game while allowing just 12.1 points each contest. Averaging 39.5 points more than your opponents is just nuts.
The national champs from 2013 won five games over ranked opponents, including a 51-14 win over the third-ranked Clemson Tigers, a 41-14 win over the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes, and a 34-31 win over the Auburn Tigers in the BCS Championship.
4. 2019 LSU Tigers
Trying to control the recency bias that is engulfing the Internet, Coach O and the LSU Tigers did not have the best undefeated National Champions in history. They were insanely good, though, especially as an offense. Heisman winner Joe Burrow led a huge turn-around from last season for a program that has struggled to put up offensive numbers compared to their defense over the past decade.
In 15 games, LSU scored more points than any other team in college football history. This came against as impressive a schedule as possible. The Tigers averaged 48.4 points per game on their way to besting seven teams ranked inside the top-10 at some point during the season.
In the last three games of their season, the first in the SEC Championship Game and two in the College Football Playoff, they scored 142 points against three teams who were each ranked in the top four. Averaging 47 points against the best possible competition is legendary. If the defense hadn’t given up almost 22 points per game, I really would have considered putting them on the top of this list.
3. 2003 USC Trojans
Even though this title was technically vacated along with Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy, this is still one of the best teams to ever step out on a college football field. With the best player in the country at running back and the Heisman winner for the following year at quarterback in Leinart, USC was absolutely stacked.
The Trojans were great on both sides of the ball, averaging 38.2 points per game on offense and just 13 per game on defense. Their best game came against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl.
The Heisman Trophy winner from the previous season, Jason White, along with freshman running back Adrian Peterson, were absolutely destroyed in the BCS National Championship game by USC.
2. 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers
There quite a few Nebraska Cornhusker teams that could be mentioned as all-time greats, the 1995 team was superior while scoring 53.2 points per game and giving up just 14.5 in the Big 8 Conference.
Led by Tommie Frazier and Ahman Green, Nebraska destroyed every team they played with only one game finishing within three touchdowns. The closest game of their season came against Washington State, when they beat the Cougars, 35-21.
The Cornhuskers beat four teams ranked inside the top-10 by a combined score of 196-73, which included a 62-24 beatdown of the second-ranked Florida Gators in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship.
1. 2001 Miami Hurricanes
With the most loaded roster in college football history, the Miami Hurricanes in the early 2000s were nearly the perfect team. With Ken Dorsey, a two-time Heisman Finalist, at quarterback, their offense was one of the best in the country while averaging 42.7 points. But for as good as they were, with multiple future NFL stars riding the bench, it was the defense that made this team the best of all time.
With about as much talent as one coach could ask for, the ‘Canes allowed just 9.8 points per game in 2001 with eight of their 12 opponents scoring seven points or less. They began their season on the road against Penn State from the Big Ten, winning 33-7 and then beat the breaks off Rutgers, 66-0. They continued to beat up their Big East opponents over the course of the season as well as the 14th-ranked FSU Seminoles, 49-27.
During the final four matchups of the season — against four teams ranked inside the top-14 — Miami won by a combined score of 187-45. This included a 124-7 combined score against No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington before closing out the regular season against Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes also got a 37-14 win over the fourth-ranked Nebraska team led by Heisman winner Eric Crouch for the National Championship at the Rose Bowl.
This article was originally published January 16, 2020.