Non-AQ teams of the decade

January, 20, 2010
1/20/10
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The teams that shaped the nonautomatic qualifying portion of the decade can be credited with helping change the culture of college football. Without these teams, the non-AQs probably would not be granted as much access as they are today.

Here are the top teams of the past decade:

1. Utah, 2004: The Utes were the team that started the non-AQ movement into BCS games. They finished the season 12-0, including a win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

2. Boise State, 2006: The Broncos appear several times on this list, but this is the season that really put them on the map. The win over Oklahoma in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl made Boise State a household name.

3. Utah, 2008: The Utes will best be known for their domination of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and giving the Mountain West Conference and the non-AQs more credibility. The Utes also finished as the highest ranked non-AQ team.

[+] EnlargeKellen Moore
Kirby Lee/US PresswireKellen Moore had reason to celebrate after completing 23 of 39 passes for 211 yards in Boise State's victory over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
4. Boise State, 2009: Many believed the Oregon win at the beginning of the season was a fluke, but when the Broncos dominated TCU defensively in the Fiesta Bowl, they solidified themselves as one of the nation’s best, finishing No. 4 in the national rankings.

5. TCU, 2009: The Horned Frogs were a team many thought could play for a national title, but they faltered against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Still, TCU was the best non-AQ team for most of the season and finished with the most wins in school history.

6. Miami-Ohio, 2003: The RedHawks should be credited with kick starting BCS reform after finishing the season 13-1 and 10th in the AP poll. The RedHawks actually had one more win than national champion USC (12-1).

7. TCU, 2005: This season should have ended with TCU’s first BCS berth, but a loss to SMU stifled that. The Frogs defeated Oklahoma to start the year, but lost to SMU the next week. They finished 11-1 and 11th in the AP poll.

8. Toledo, 2000: The Rockets were known as the best team not to go to a bowl game. They finished 10-1 and defeated Penn State but never earned a postseason berth.

9. Boise State, 2002: With just one FBS season under their belts, the Broncos started building their dynasty in 2002 with a 12-1 season that featured a loss to Arkansas. The Broncos won the WAC and defeated Iowa State in the Humanitarian Bowl.

10. Northern Illinois, 2003: This was the Huskies dream season as they started the year with wins over ranked Maryland and Alabama teams and a win over Iowa State. However, they faltered twice and missed the postseason.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.

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