In blasting Notre Dame back to wintry South Bend, Alabama delivered one of the most dominant national title game performances ever and secured its status as a dynasty.
Since 1950, only two programs can claim three national championships (in the major polls) during a four-year span: Nebraska and Alabama. Whose run is more impressive? You decide.
Wins over Top 25 teams: 19
Wins over Top 10 teams: 12
Average scoring margin: 24.2
Wins decided by 7 points or less: Five
Losses: at South Carolina (2010), at LSU (’10), Auburn (’10), LSU (’11), Texas A&M (’12)
All-Americans: Mark Ingram (’09), Mike Johnson (’09), Terrence Cody (’09), Rolando McClain (‘09), Javier Arenas (’09), Leigh Tiffin (’09), Dont’a Hightower (’11), Mark Barron (’11), Trent Richardson (’11), Courtney Upshaw (’11), Dre Kirkpatrick (’11), Barrett Jones (’11, ’12), D.J. Fluker (’12), Chance Warmack (’12), C.J. Mosley (’12), Dee Milliner (’12)
Stroke of luck: It’s tempting to spotlight Nov. 17, 2012, when Oregon and Kansas State lost, giving Alabama a mulligan for its loss to Texas A&M. But let’s go with the 2010 BCS championship game. On Texas’ opening possession, Colt McCoy took a shot from Marcell Dareus inside the 10-yard line. The ‘Horns, who played the rest of the game with Garrett Gilbert at quarterback, trailed by only three in the fourth quarter before ‘Bama pulled away for a 37-21 win.
Point of contention: Did ‘Bama belong in the BCS championship game after the 2011 season? The Tide lost a regular-season overtime showdown against LSU and didn’t even play in the SEC championship game. But when Oklahoma State lost at Iowa State in mid-November, it opened the door for Alabama, who beat out OSU in the final BCS standings.
Signature stat: During a six-quarter stretch from the start of the 2012 BCS championship game to halftime of the ’13 title game, Alabama held LSU and Notre Dame scoreless. In three BCS championship games, the Tide outscored their opponents 100-35.
Best argument: The SEC. For ‘Bama to win three championships is one thing. But to do it in the most dominant conference in college football history is hard to fathom.
Wins over Top 25 teams: 17
Wins over Top 10 teams: 10
Average scoring margin: 30.1
Wins decided by 7 points or less: Four
Losses: at Arizona State (’96), Texas (’96)
All-Americans: Zach Wiegert (’94), Brendan Stai (’94), Ed Stewart (’94), Tommie Frazier (’95), Aaron Graham (’95), Jared Tomich (’95, ‘96), Aaron Taylor (’96, ‘97), Grant Wistrom (’96, ‘97), Jason Peter (’97)
Stroke of luck: Nebraska’s third championship trophy was on thin ice at Missouri on Nov. 8, 1997. But Scott Frost drove the Huskers 67 yards in 1:02. As time expired, he tried to connect with Shevin Wiggins over the middle. The ball was headed for the turf when Wiggins kicked it. Matt Davison dove and scooped it before it hit the ground. Touchdown. Nebraska won in overtime.
Point of contention: In 1994, Nebraska captured both trophies, even though Penn State finished 12-0 and held the No. 1 rankings in late-October. Then in ’97, NU entered the Orange Bowl ranked second in both polls. Ahman Green rushed for 200 yards, the Blackshirts harassed Peyton Manning and Nebraska won 42-17. Late that night, much to Michigan’s dismay, 32 of 62 coaches voted Nebraska No. 1.
Signature stat: The ’94 and ’97 teams were also perfect, but the ’95 team stands out historically. Not only did it beat four Top-10 teams by an average of 31 points, not only did it beat Florida by 38 in the Fiesta Bowl, only one team played those Huskers within 23 points — Washington State lost 35-21.
Best argument: Perfection. NU had three spotless seasons in a four-year span. Since 1970, only one program (Boise State) has even had two perfect seasons in four years (2006, ’09).