Mel Kiper Archive

Tuesday, March 8

'71 'Huskers pace all-time top 25

August 2002: During my "Weekend GameDay" show on ESPN Radio, college football analyst Beano Cook and I have been discussing which teams are the greatest in college football history. After careful research and reflection, I've made my choices for the all-time top 25, which appear below. And for another opinion, check out Beano's top 25:

1. Nebraska 1971
Bob Devaney's 'Huskers allowed an average of just eight points per game and culminated a 13-0 season with a 38-6 victory over Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

2. USC 1972
Led by Anthony Davis, Sam Cunningham, Lynn Swann and Richard Wood, the Trojans averaged nearly 40 points per game and were never behind in the second half of any game.

3. Nebraska 1995
A complete football team. The 'Huskers held opponents to 13 or fewer points in seven games and scored 50 or more points in six games.

4. Notre Dame 1947
Over a two-year period, the Irish never trailed in a football game, even though they had a tie with Army in '46.

5. Army 1945
Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were spectacular.

6. Ohio State 1968
QB Rex Kern led the Buckeyes to the national championship.

7. Miami (Fla.) 2001
Five NFL first-rounders and an unbeaten season speak for themselves.

8. Army 1944
The Cadets outscored opponents 504-35 as Earl "Red" Blaik won his first national title during an 18-year Army career in which he had a 121-33-10 record.

9. Notre Dame 1988
Lou Holtz assembled an incredible talent base.

10. Florida State 1999
Bobby Bowden's greatest team.

11. USC 1932
Despite losing three All-Americans to graduation, the Trojans shut out eight opponents, allowing just 13 points in 10 games.

12. Oklahoma 1956
Led by Tommy McDonald, Clendon Thomas and Jerry Tubbs, the Sooners shut out six opponents on their way to a 10-0 record.

13. USC 1962
John McKay built the foundation of a national powerhouse with his first of five national championship teams.

14. Alabama 1961
Led by Billy Neighbors, Lee Roy Jordan and Pat Trammell, the Tide outscored opponents 297-25 and won the first of six national championships under Bear Bryant.

15. Michigan 1948
Led by Bump Elliott, the Wolverines won five of their nine games by shutouts.

16. Pittsburgh 1976
Johnny Majors, Matt Cavanaugh and Tony Dorsett led the Panthers to a national title.

17. Florida 1996
While they lost to Florida State at Tallahassee by a field goal, the Danny Wuerffel-led Gators exacted revenge against the Seminoles in the national championship game, winning 52-20. They also faced the toughest schedule in the country and went 9-0 in the SEC, outscoring conference opponents by an average of 31 points per game.

18. Notre Dame 1930
Knute Rockne capped his brilliant Hall of Fame career with his best team.

19. Oklahoma 1974
A team of stars, led by the Selmon brothers, RB Joe Washington, QB Steve Davis, WR Tinker Owens, LB Rod Shoate and DB Randy Hughes. The Sooners allowed an average of just 7.4 points per game, and the offense averaged 43 points per game.

20. TCU 1938
The Davey O'Brien-led Horned Frogs went 11-0 and outscored their opponents 269-60. They never trailed except briefly in the Sugar Bowl.

21. Notre Dame 1924
The "Four Horsemen" -- QB Harry Stuhldreher, LHB Jim Crowley, FB Elmer Layden and RHB Don Miller -- led the way.

22. Oklahoma 2000
The Sooners went 13-0, beat Texas 63-14 and Nebraska 31-14 and had huge road victories over Kansas State and Texas A&M. They defeated Florida State 13-2 to capture the national championship.

23. Texas 1969
Darrell Royal's Longhorns, led by OT Bob McKay, WR Cotton Speyrer, RB Steve Worster and QB James Street, won the national championship in the 100th year of college football.

24. Notre Dame 1919
In Rockne's second season, the Irish, led by legendary George Gipp, rolled to a 9-0 record and outscored opponents 229-47.

25. Minnesota 1941
Bruce Smith won the first and only Heisman for the Golden Gophers, who posted three shutouts and held teams to seven points or less in every game but one.

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