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Ranking the championship teams

Posted by cuorange on January 21, 2010

I’m not a huge believer in all-decade teams and the like, but in researching a post last week I wondered who the best team of the 2000’s was. I remember ’01 Miami and certainly ’05 Texas, but who was I leaving out, or better yet, who was I selling short because of some potential bias and maybe who was I giving a lot more credit than they deserved because of a) seeing them so much and b) how they won games.

So, I developed a formula (similar to the one I used last season in baseball to predict LSU over Texas) that would theoretically take out all my biases. This formula is based on the factors that lead to a national champion and the categories that are highly correlated to a NC are weighted as such.

Rank Team Score % of Perfection
1 2009 Alabama 549.7 94.27%
2 2001 Miami 544.7 93.41%
3 2007 LSU 541.4 92.85%
4 2004 USC 539.0 92.44%
5 2008 Florida 533.3 91.46%
6 2005 Texas 517.1 88.68%
7 2003 LSU 506.6 86.88%
8 2000 Oklahoma 494.4 84.79%
9 2006 Florida 490.2 84.07%
10 2002 Ohio State 451.5 77.43%

A perfect score would be 583.100.

The scores are heavily weighted towards defense, because that’s what wins championships. So, in general, better defensive teams will score higher than offensive powers.

Certainly a case can be made for 2001 Miami, but they were crushed by 2009 Alabama in two categories that accounted for most of the difference: Rush defense (2nd for Alabama, 40th for Miami) and turnovers lost (3rd for Alabama and 26th for Miami).

Texas circa 2005 is an interesting case. The Longhorns were 3rd in total offense (one of only two of the last 10 champions to be in the top 10 in total offense) and 10th in defense, but were 40th in passing offense, 33rd in rushing defense and 36th in turnovers lost. You can see how they would be down this list.

There’s not much arguing Ohio State’s 10th place standing among this group. The Buckeyes were 70th in total offense, 92nd in passing offense, 23rd in total defense and 95th in passing defense – easily the worst in those categories among the 10 champions.

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