Top 40 Teams in my Lifetime Part 3: 21-30

21. 2009 Alabama: Any of these Nick Saban Alabama teams could have been ranked higher. These teams are all talented loaded and this particular one had Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson at Running Back. Julio Jones was a star at Wide Receiver even though he only caught 43 passes in 2009. Rolando McClain was the star of the defense at Linebacker.

Most every championship team got lucky at some point during the season and this team’s moment came in October against Tennessee. 6-5, 365 Defensive Lineman Terrance Cody blocked a Volunteer Field Goal to preserve a close 12-10 win for the Crimson Tide.

The Iron Bowl in 2009 became known as ‘the Drive’ because of a late drive by Alabama to win the

game 26 to 21. Bama pounded Florida and Tim Tebow in the SEC Championship Game winning 32-13.

Alabama was undefeated and ranked #1 and faced #2 Texas in the Rose Bowl. Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy was injured in the Longhorns first drive of the game and they were stuck with true freshman Quarterback Garrett Gilbert who hadn’t really played since high school. Bama won 37-21 to finish the season 14-0.

22. 1983 Nebraska: This team did not win the national championship. They lost to Miami in the Orange Bowl when they failed on a two point conversion to win the game. They could have kicked the extra point and tied and still won the national championship, probably, but coach Tom Osborne decided to go for the win. But, this team was incredible and began the season ranked #1.

The Penn State Nittany Lions won the national championship in 1982 and the 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers opened the 1983 season by crushing Penn State in their opening game, 44-6. The game was not as close as the score. After slaughtering Wyoming, the Huskers scored 84 points against Minnesota. They stomped UCLA 42-10 in game 4. Then, they beat Syracuse 63 to 7.

In game 6, the Huskers had maybe their biggest challenge during the season with a close 14-10 win over Oklahoma State when Safety Bret Clark picked off a pass in the end zone to seal the victory.

They beat Missouri next, but only by 21 points. Colorado was no problem with the Huskers winning 69-19. Surprisingly, the Huskers had some problems with Kansas State before winning 51-25. The Huskers maintained their number 1 position, but down South, the Texas Longhorns were pushing hard.

The Cornhuskers put the threat of Texas to rest by pounding Iowa State 72 to 29. Then, they crushed Kansas 67 to 13. Nebraska had it’s hands full with old rival Oklahoma, but held on to win 28 to 21 to win the Big 8 title for the 3rd straight season.

The talk at the time had the 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers as possibly the best team of all time, but that was before they lost to Miami 30-31 in the Orange Bowl.

Nebraska Tailback Mike Rozier won the Heisman Trophy in 1983 while running for 2,148 yards and 29 Touchdowns. Rozier was also the Maxwell award winner and the national player of the year.

Offensive Lineman Dean Steinkuhler won both the Outland and the Lombardi awards. Rozier, Steinkuhler and WR Irving Fryar were 1st team All Americans and high NFL Draft Picks. Quarterback Turner Gill was 2nd team All American.

The 1983 Cornhuskers, while using a running offense, managed to score over 50 points in 7 games. They were one of the greatest teams of all time even if they did lose their last game.

23. 2003 USC: 52 guys on this roster went on to play at least a little in the NFL and this team was about as good as the 2004 and 2005 versions. The Trojans went into the very first game ranked #8 against one of the preseason favorites to win the national title in Auburn. The Tigers were favorites and the Trojans went in and just dominated them winning 23-0.

They did have one setback losing to California and Quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 3 Overtimes. But, they bounced back and crushed everyone else on their schedule and then beat 4th ranked Michigan in the Rose Bowl. USC shared the national championship with LSU that season.

24. 2002 Ohio State: The Buckeyes of 2002 were the first team in history to go 14-0 after a thrilling double Overtime win over Miami for the national championship. The 2001 Miami Hurricanes were ranked at #2 on this list and the 2002 team was almost as good and at times looked like the better team in this game. But, this loaded Buckeye team kept fighting and came out with a huge win.

Ohio States started the season ranked 13th, but after an impressive win over Texas Tech in game one they dropped down to 8th. During the season they beat the 10th ranked Washington State Cougars and then the 17th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. They also beat 19th ranked Minnesota and 12th ranked Michigan to earn the right to face Miami.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel and Running Back Maurice Clarett led the offense. Linebacker Matt

Wilhelm and Safety Mike Doss led the defense. There was a lot of young talent on this team like AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Nick Mangold.

25. 1993 Florida State: The Seminoles and Bobby Bowden’s first national championship. This team also featured the Seminoles first Heisman winner in Charlie Ward and plenty of other talent. The Noles were top ranked all season and they were 9-0 when they traveled to South Bend, Indiana and were beaten by the 2nd ranked Irish of Notre Dame in an incredibly exciting game. The Irish took over the top spot, but they were upset by Boston College and the Seminoles were back at number 1. They finished up with wins over 7th ranked Florida and 2nd ranked Nebraska and captured that ever elusive national title.

Besides Heisman Trophy winner Ward, this team had William Floyd, Tamarick Vanover, Derrick Brooks, Derrick Alexander, Clifton Abraham, Corey Sawyer and Devin Bush. Bobby Bowden’s first of 2 national championships.

26. 1983 Texas: The Longhorns of 1983 chased Nebraska all season long. In their opening game, they traveled to Auburn to play the Tigers with Bo Jackson and dominated the game. The score was 20-7, but it was not as close as that. This team did not have a good offense, but they made up for it with a really strong defense. In game 4, they beat chief rival Oklahoma knocking Sooner super sophomore Marcus Dupree out of football. In their 6th game, they got by 9th ranked SMU in Dallas.

They did whatever it took to win and won the SWC Championship and were ranked #2. In the Cotton Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs, it was more of the same with defense dominating until a dropped punt with time running out in their own territory gave the ball to the Bulldogs. Georgia scored late to win 10-9. The reason this team was great was the talent that it had. 16 guys were taken in the NFL Draft and 6 more signed free agent contracts even some back up players.

27. 1985 Oklahoma: Strangely, Troy Aikman was the starting Quarterback as the season started. Against Miami in game 4 which was a rare home loss for the Sooners, Aikman went down with a broken leg. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both the Sooners and Aikman as Troy would transfer to UCLA and play in an offense more suited for his talents. Jamelle Holloway took over the starting role and the Sooners excelled from that point. They beat #2 Nebraska convincingly and then beat 17th ranked Oklahoma State in their Bedlam game. In the Orange Bowl, this team beat top ranked Penn State convincingly to win the national title.

The Oklahoma defense was incredible led by Brian Bosworth at Linebacker and Tony Casillas at Nose Guard.

28. 1967 USC: National champions after beating UCLA in their crosstown rivalry and then with a win over Indiana in the Rose Bowl. The team was lead by Junior College transfer OJ Simpson and Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle Ron Yary, but they had plenty of other players on this team. 5 Trojans were picked in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft and 2 more in the 1969 Draft with OJ Simpson going with the 1st pick. The Trojans were 8-0 and ranked #1 when they traveled to Corvallis and lost in the rain and the mud to the Giant Killers of Oregon State, 0 to 3. They were 4th ranked the

following game when they took on top ranked UCLA and came out on top in the Game of the Century, 21-20.

After beating surprise Big 10 visitor, Indiana, in the Rose Bowl the Trojans won the national title and this team was loaded.

29. 1991 Miami: This team could be ranked much higher. Miami started the season at #3 and they beat Arkansas convincingly in Little Rock, Arkansas. The second week of the season, they beat 10th ranked Houston 40-10 and they were a solid #2 in the Polls. In game 5, still ranked #2, the Hurricanes had their hands full with 9th ranked Penn State before winning 26-20.

But, their toughest game came against their usual toughest opponent, the top ranked Seminoles of Florida State. Miami came out on top 17-16. Miami took over the top spot and barely squeezed by Boston College on the road before winning by 5 points.

Miami earned the Orange Bowl berth and dominated 11th ranked Nebraska, 22-0. Miami shared the national title with the Washington Huskies. Gino Torretta was their Quarterback, with excellent receivers Horace Copeland and Lamar Thomas. The defense was led by the Bermuda Triangle at Linebacker, Michael Barrow, Darrin Smith and Jessie Armstead.

Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson was a key reserve for them.

30. 1981 Clemson: Head coach Danny Ford and the Clemson Tigers won their only national title in 1981. Clemson was unranked when the season began but played their way to a ranking by beating 4th ranked Georgia and Herschel Walker in game three. Through 8 games they were undefeated and they were rated #2 in the nation when they went to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to play the 9th ranked Tar Heels and they barely won, 10-8. They won the ACC and received and Orange Bowl berth against 4th ranked Nebraska and the Tigers won 22-15 earning the championship.

The most famous member of this team was William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry of the 1985 Chicago Bears. But, they also had consensus All American Terry Kinard and Perry Tuttle.

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