Is Florida State the Best Team Ever?
By Matt Osborne
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The Seminoles completely dominate in every phase of the game, a fact which has ultimately led to them cruising their way to a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
With Saturday night’s thorough drubbing of the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Championship Game, the Florida State Seminoles are now on the brink of a truly remarkable accomplishment.
If you assume that I am talking about finishing the 2013 season as the undefeated national champions, you would be mistaken.
Naturally, putting the finishing touches on those feats would go down as a tremendous accomplishment, but this Seminoles team has a chance to do something even more special: go down as the greatest team in college football history.
Before you dismiss such a notion as a premature and reactionary response to their impressive ACC Championship Game victory, take a second to compare this Seminoles team to some of the greatest teams to come before them.
To this point, Florida State’s best team has to be the 1999 national championship group. Playing under legendary head coach Bowden, the ‘99 Seminoles finished as the only undefeated team in program history to this point.
Prior to its game against Virginia Tech for the national title, the ’99 Seminoles team had beaten four ranked opponents by an average of nearly two touchdowns per contest. The team was not immune to close calls, however, as it won four games by ten points or fewer.
That Florida State team, though talented, is generally not considered to be in the running for the distinction of the greatest team in college football history.
The two teams usually spearheading the debate for gridiron glory are the 2001 Miami Hurricanes and the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Just like the ’99 Seminoles, the 2001 Hurricanes played four ranked opponents before their title showdown against Nebraska in Pasadena. Miami proved to be an overwhelming force in those games as well, winning by an average margin of victory of 35.3 points.
The ’01 Hurricanes did have an extremely close call in the regular season finale against Virginia Tech, winning by just two points, but were only played within two touchdowns two other times all season.
As far as sheer dominance from a margin of victory standpoint is concerned, no team up until now has ever done it better than Tom Osborne’s 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Playing three top ten opponents prior to the final game of the season, Osborne’s squad won those pivotal contests by an average of over 28 points per game. When you factor in the Cornhuskers’ 62-24 romp of No. 2 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, Nebraska beat the four top ten teams it faced that season by 30.8 points per outing.
As impressive as the Cornhuskers’ dominance was against the nation’s elite teams that season, the ease with which Nebraska maneuvered through its schedule was equally as awe-inspiring.
The Cornhuskers were played within three touchdowns just once all season, a 35-21 victory over Washington State.
On the ’95 season, Nebraska averaged 53.2 points per game, while giving up just 14.5 points per contest, good for an average margin of victory of 38.7.
Now through 13 games this season, this Seminoles team certainly has the statistical backing to put this group in the discussion.
Led by probable Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Florida State’s offense is averaging an impressive 53 points per game, just two-tenths of a point behind the ’95 Cornhuskers. And much like those Cornhuskers, the Seminoles have frequently found their starters resting on the sideline very early in the second half.
The Seminoles have also been equally as dominant on defense, leading the country in scoring defense at 10.7 points per game.
Together, that gives Florida State an average margin of victory of just under 40 points per game.
In terms of playing tough competition, no team has done better leading up to a potential national title scenario than these Seminoles. Playing four games against ranked opponents, Florida State has unbelievably won those contests by an average of over 40 points per outing.
Also, like the ’95 Nebraska squad, Florida State has been played within three touchdowns just once all year, a 14 point victory on the road over Boston College.
This Florida State squad has proven time and time again that it has no glaring weakness. The Seminoles completely dominate in every phase of the game, a fact which has ultimately led to them cruising their way to a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
Obviously, the Seminoles will not really be in the discussion of being the greatest team in college football history unless they beat Auburn in Pasadena on January 6.
But if the Seminoles are able to win that game in comfortable fashion, it would be a mistake to allow a sense of nostalgia to keep you from including them in this historic debate.