Last 10 Undefeated College Football Programs
The goal of any football team at any level is to win the championship of their respective league; also holds true in college football. That is the reason that the players suit up, the reason that coaches roam the sidelines, and the reason that fans buy tickets. They want to prove to themselves and everyone interested that they are in fact the best team. Sometimes in the process of trying to win it all, a team achieves what most think is unthinkable, they put together an undefeated season..
For a number of reasons, putting together an undefeated season in college football is one of the tougher things to accomplish. To go undefeated, a team has to play some of the best football possible, avoid key injury problems, and also get more than their share of good luck. Even great football teams have games where things don't go entirely their way. If an undefeated season is in the cards, these teams need to figure out how to win games when everything isn't going their way.
Here is a closer look at the ten most recent teams in NCAA Division I college football to finish the season undefeated:
- 1999 Florida State Seminoles
Under the direction of longtime head coach Bobby Bowden, the 1999 Florida State Seminoles finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record and the National Championship. The FSU team played five other teams that season that would go on to finish in the Top 20, but the closest game they had all year long was a 17-14 victory over unranked Clemson. Some of the well known players on that team are: quarterback Chris Weinke, running back Travis Minor, wide receiver Peter Warrick, nose tackle Corey Simon, and kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
- 1999 Marshall Thundering Herd
Though their perfect season didn't end up winning them a National Championship, the 1999 Marshall Football team did go undefeated in the same season as Florida State. One of the strange coincidences that occurred that season was the like FSU, Marshall also played Clemson and beat them by only three points, meaning that in 1999 Clemson University played both teams that would go on to be undefeated and lose to each one by just three points. The team also ended up winning the Motor City Bowl that year by beating BYU by a score of 21-3. The most recognizable name from that 1999 Marshall Football team is that of their quarterback Chad Pennington who would go on to play in the NFL.
- 2000 Oklahoma Sooners
In 2000, the National Champion was also undefeated as the Oklahoma Sooners went 13-0 and put together one of the most impressive seasons in college football history. The closest game the Sooners played in all season was in early November when they defeated the Texas A&M Aggies on the road by a score of 35-31. Oklahoma would win the Orange Bowl in Miami that season over #3 ranked Florida State, allowing FSU to only score with a safety, the final score being 13-2. Notable players from the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners teams include: quarterback Josh Heupel, wide receiver Mark Clayton, running back Quentin Griffin, and defensive back Roy Williams.
- 2001 Miami Hurricanes
The National Champion 2001 Miami Hurricanes dominated teams all year long, ending up going undefeated with a record of 12-0 and winning the Rose Bowl over Nebraska by a score of 37-14. The Hurricanes only played one game all season long that was decided by less than ten points and that was their second to last game on the road at Virginia Tech which they barely pulled out with a score of 26-24. Some of the notable starters for the Hurricanes that year include: quarterback Ken Dorsey, running back Clinton Portis, tight end Jeremy Shockey, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, wide receiver Andre Johnson, defensive end Jerome McDougle, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, safety Ed Reed, and cornerback Phillip Buchanon.
- 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes
With their 14-0 record, the Ohio State Buckeyes proved that they were not only one of the best teams that season, but were well deserving of the National Championship. The Buckeyes had a few close calls that season, beating Penn State by six points, beating Purdue by four points, and then beating Michigan by five points. An interesting fact is that the only time the 2002 Buckeyes were ranked number one during the 2002 season was after their January 1st Fiesta Bowl victory over the then number one ranked Miami Hurricanes. That Championship Game ended in double overtime. Some notable players from the 2002 Ohio State team: quarterback Craig Krenzel, running back Maurice Clarett, linebacker Matt Wilhelm, linebacker A.J. Hawk, and safety Mike Doss.
- 2004 USC Trojans
College football went through the entire 2003 season without an undefeated team, but that was fixed in 2004 when three teams did so, including the University of Southern California Trojans who went 13-0 and won the National Championship. The Trojans started the season off ranked number one and never saw any other ranking as they steamrolled their way through their schedule. Twice they held their opponents scoreless (Colorado State and the University of Washington) and in seven of their twelve games that year they scored more than forty points, including their 55-19 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the BCS National Championship Game. Some of the more famous players from the 2004 Trojan football team include: quarterback Matt Leinard, running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Steve Smith, wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, linebacker Lofa Tatupu, and running back LenDale White.
- 2004 Auburn Tigers
The 2004 Auburn Tigers were also undefeated, but did not win the National Championship. In their third game of the season, the Auburn football team barely escaped with a victory at home against the LSU Tigers by a score of 10-9. They would go on to win every game from there on out, including both the SEC Championship Game over the Tennessee Volunteers and the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech Hokies.
- 2004 Utah Utes
Shocking the nation and also ending up undefeated in 2004 were the Utah Utes. The Utes dominated their schedule by scoring more than forty points in nine of their eleven regular season games. They actually scored more than fifty points on four occasions, and even scored more than sixty points twice. They would go on to dominate their Fiesta Bowl appearance, defeating the University of Pittsburgh by a score of 35-7.
- 2006 Boise State Broncos
The 2006 Boise State football team was another team that the pollsters didn't quite know what to do with. They put together a fantastic year, going undefeated and showing themselves to be a dominant team. The fact that they were a small school that played in the WAC was held against them and many felt their final test in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners would prove that they weren't worthy of being included with the "big boys". The Broncos proved they were worthy by not only taking the Sooners to overtime, but in the beating them by a score of 43-42 to finish the season undefeated. The game included two plays that would go down as some of the most famous in college football history. The first was a 50-yard hook and ladder play that tied the game with seven seconds left. The second play was on a two point conversion for the win in overtime when the Broncos ran a play that was very similar to the classic Statue of Liberty play. Boise State finished the season as the only NCAA Division I football team without a loss, but did not win the National Championship.
- 2005 Texas Longhorns
The 2005 Texas Longhorns started their season off with a 60-3 victory over the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and never looked back. That was just one of the four games that year that the Longhorns scored more than sixty points in, the topper being a 70-3 victory over the University of Colorado in the Big 12 Championship Game. As dominant as they were, Texas would have two games that year decided by three points; the first came in week two of the schedule with a 25-22 victory over Ohio State and the second came in the National Championship Game with a 41-38 victory over the USC Trojans. The Trojans that year had been ranked number one all year long while the Longhorns had been ranked number two, it wasn't until that final victory that the Longhorns achieved their first number one ranking of the season. Some notable players from the 2005 Texas Longhorns team include: quarterback Vince Young, offensive tackle Justin Blalock, wide receiver Jordan Shipley, and cornerback Cedric Griffin.
While going undefeated is one of the best ways to try and win a college football National Championship, it doesn't always mean it will happen. It depends on a number of other factors including strength of schedule and what other teamís records are. There have been some great undefeated teams in college football history and as we can see from looking at just the last ten of them, each comes with their own interesting story and analysis.