- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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With all due respect to Famous Jameis and his fantastic Florida State team of 2013, the best team to come out of the Sunshine State during the BCS era was years ahead of the Seminoles' time.
While this past Noles team displayed a juggernaut offense, a Heisman Trophy winner in Jameis Winston and a bone-crushing defense, the complete BCS package came in the form of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, who trailed only twice all season. This historic Hurricanes team was rarely challenged and ended the season with a commanding 37-14 win over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.
This Miami team wasn't just the greatest team of the BCS era, some believe it's college football's greatest team ever.
On the season, Miami outscored its opponents 512-117, including 236-72 against five teams that were ranked at the time they played. In back-to-back games against Syracuse and Washington, the Canes produced the biggest two-game margins of victory against a pair of ranked teams in college football history (124-7).
No, coach Larry Coker didn't have a Heisman winner on his team, but he coached 17 future first-round draft picks and 38 total draft picks. Of the 22 starters in that Nebraska shellacking, 11 of the 18 who were drafted went in the first round. There were a handful of All-Americans on this team and six national awards finalists. The size, speed, strength and athleticism that this team showed was rivaled by just about no one that season. Its swagger and style paid homage to 1980s Canes teams, but this team brought its own sort of dominating edge that made it a true force.
With offensive studs such as Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey and Bryant McKinnie, it's no surprise that the Canes pounded their opponents with 42.7 points per game and 5,475 yards on the season. With scary defensive talent like Ed Reed, Phillip Buchanon, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Jerome McDougle and Mike Rumph, you can understand why opponents struggled to score 9.8 points per game, were sacked 42 times and turned it over 48 times.
Say what you will about the fact that the game was different back then and that Miami played in the Big East, but the Canes dominated the hand they were dealt. They started the season with a 33-7 win at Penn State, ended Florida State's 54-game home unbeaten streak (49-27) and closed the season with four straight wins over ranked opponents (only one was within 23 points).
The average rank for total offense by Miami's opponents was 65, while the average total defense rank for its opponents was 48. The Canes also played five defenses and three offenses that ranked in the top 30 nationally.
Yes, players are built differently, the game is faster, the schemes are different and the seasons are longer. But when you look at the talent and domination (on both sides of the ball) from the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, there's no question they deserve to sit at No. 1 when it comes to the BCS era's best teams.
2004 USC: Some argue that this team is actually better than 2001 Miami. There's certainly a case to be made when you look at the fact that the Trojans became the second team to start and finish the year as the No. 1 team in the AP poll. Like the Canes, they dominated all season, outscoring opponents by an average score of 38.2-13 and crushing Oklahoma 55-19 in the BCS title game.
2009 Alabama: A year after losing to a Florida team that was close to making this list as well, the Crimson Tide went undefeated and pummeled No. 1 Florida in the SEC title game. Led by Heisman winner Mark Ingram and the nation's No. 2 defense, the Tide cruised to Nick Saban's first national title at Alabama without a blemish on their record.