NCF Nation: Joe Germaine
But before we move on as a 12-team league, let's look back at the best of a 10-team league.
On Wednesday, we looked at the best players. Thursday, it's the best teams.
We've listed 12 teams because that's the new magic number (Arizona fans, see if you can guess who came in 13th).
Again, no team before 1978 -- when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 -- was considered.
1. 1991 Washington: The Huskies finished 12-0 and split the national title with Miami.
Best player: Defensive tackle Steve Emtman won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award.
Point differential: Washington outscored its foes 495-115.
Best win: Whipped Michigan 34-14 in Rose Bowl. Wolverines finished ranked sixth.
Comment: Four wins over teams that finished ranked in the final top 25, including road victories at No. 15 Nebraska and at No. 8 California. Featured one of the great defenses in college football history, yielding just 9.2 points and 67.1 rushing yards per game. Eight Huskies earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.
2. 2004 USC: While the NCAA and BCS have nixed it in their own ways, the Trojans finished 13-0 and won the national title on the field.
Best player: Quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy.
Point differential: USC outscored its foes 496-169.
Best win: Crushed Oklahoma 55-19 in the national title game.
Comment: Basically a push for dominance with 1991 Washington. Beat four teams that finished ranked in the top 25, including the bludgeoning of Oklahoma. Eight Trojans earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.
3. 2003 USC: The Trojans finished 12-1 and split the national title with LSU. Their only loss came in triple overtime at California.
Best player: Receiver Mike Williams was a consensus All-American.
Point differential: 534-239.
Best win: The completely dominant 23-0 victory at then-No. 6 Auburn in the opener set the tone for the season -- and caused many Pac-10 fans to question how good these highly rated SEC teams really are.
Comment: The Trojans finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls but lost out playing in the BCS title game because of the computer polls. LSU fans have been thanking the computers for that glitch ever since.
4. 2005 USC: A 34-game winning streak came to an end with a nail-biting loss to Texas in the national title game. The Trojans finished 12-1.
Best player: Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy.
Point differential: 638-297.
Best win: The 34-31 win at Notre Dame -- the "Bush Push" game -- was one of the all-time greats.
Comment: Perhaps the best collection of offensive players in the history of college football: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett, Ryan Kalil, Sam Baker and Taitusi Lutui earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors. And don't forget LenDale White, Winston Justice, Steve Smith and Dominique Byrd.
5. 1978 USC: Finished 12-1 and split national title with Alabama. Lost to Arizona State, 20-7.
Best player: Charles White was a unanimous All-American.
Point differential: 318-153
Best win: A 24-14 win over the team that "claimed" the other half of the national title.
Comment: Split national title -- coaches liked the Trojans; AP the Crimson Tide -- despite a decisive 24-14 USC at Alabama. So much for head to head.
6. 1979 USC: Finished 11-0-1 and No. 2 behind Alabama. Tied Stanford 21-21.
Best player: Charles White won the Heisman Trophy.
Point differential: 389-171
Best win: The 17-16 win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, in which White ran for a record 247 yards, including the game-winning touchdown with just more than a minute remaining.
Comment: Team featured four future College Football Hall of Famers in White, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lot and Brad Budde. By the way, THAT undefeated, untied Alabama team was really, really good: Outscored foes 383-67. So no sour grapes on that one.
7. 2001 Oregon: The Ducks finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 in both polls. The only loss was 49-42 versus Stanford (a really, really weird game, if you recall).
Best player: Quarterback Joey Harrington finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Point differential: 412-256.
Best win: A 38-16 win over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl.
Comment: The Fiesta Bowl victory caused plenty of folks to bemoan the Nebraska-Miami matchup in the BCS title game, considering Colorado had blown out Nebraska the final weekend of the regular season. As for the Stanford loss, the typically straightforward AP noted the game had "everything but aliens landing on the Autzen Stadium turf."
8. 1984 Washington: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 behind BYU. Lost to USC ,16-7.
Best player: Defensive tackle Ron Holmes was a consensus All-American.
Point differential: 352-145
Best win: Shocked Oklahoma 28-17 in the Orange Bowl. Sooners finished ranked sixth.
Comment: A controversial season. Before the Orange Bowl, Sooners coach Barry Switzer lobbied hard for the winner to be declared the national champion. As it was, BYU won the national title after beating a bad Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. Does anyone believe BYU was better than the Huskies? No.
9. 2010 Oregon: The Ducks finished 12-1 and No. 3 in both polls, losing the national title game to Auburn.
Best player: Running back LaMichael James finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Point differential: 611-243
Best win: The Ducks handed Stanford its only loss, 52-31, after trailing 21-3 early. Cardinal finished ranked No. 4.
Comment: An innovative, exciting team to watch, one that played faster than perhaps any big-time college team in history.
10. 1996 Arizona State: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4 in both polls. Lost Rose Bowl -- and potential national championship -- to Ohio State, 20-17.
Best player: Quarterback Jake Plummer finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Point differential: 488-216
Best win: The Sun Devils trounced top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Nebraska, 19-0.
Comment: The Sun Devils lost one of the most dramatic Rose Bowls, when the swashbuckling Plummer was out-swashbuckled by Joe Germaine, who was raised in Arizona as an ASU fan.
11. 2000 Washington: The Huskies finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3, their only loss coming at No. 7 Oregon. They beat Purdue 34-24 in the Rose Bowl.
Best player: Marques Tuiasosopo finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Point differential: 387-270
Best win: Beat Miami, 34-29. Hurricanes finished ranked No. 2.
Comment: This is not the most talented team on the list. In fact, some have rated the 2000 Oregon State team -- see below -- ahead of the Huskies. And based on NFL results, the Beavers were more talented than the Huskies. But head to head matters, and the win over Miami is better than anything Oregon State did.
12. 2000 Oregon State: The Beavers finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4, their only loss a 33-30 decision at Washington, which finished ranked No. 3.
Best player: Running back Ken Simonton was first-team All-Pac-10.
Best win: Beat Oregon 23-13 in Civil War. Oregon finished ranked seventh in the coaches poll.
Comment: One or two more plays at Washington, and the Beavers would have played for the national title. And they, by the way, were more talented than the Oklahoma team that did win the title. Notable Beavers: Ken Simonton, Chad Ochocinco (the Chad Johnson), T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Gibson, DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Dennis Weathersby and Eric Manning. They spanked Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Feel free to disagree.
Oregon 44, Arizona 41, 2OT, 2009
With "College GameDay" on campus for the first time, Arizona fans stormed the field in celebration. Prematurely. And that set up a red ring of disappointment around the field at packed Arizona Stadium, when Jeremiah Masoli rallied the Ducks late for a tie in regulation and then a win in double-overtime. As it turned out, if the Wildcats had won, they would have gone to the school's first Rose Bowl. Masoli tied the game at 31-31 with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with six seconds left, capping a 15-play, 80-yard drive. Two plays before, he had converted an 8-yard pass on fourth-and-5. Masoli scored the game winner from 1-yard out in the second overtime. It was his sixth touchdown of the night -- three passing and three running. It may have been the best game of 2009.
Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17, Rose Bowl, 1997
So close to a national championship. The Sun Devils' 11-0 regular season included a 19-0 victory over defending national champion Nebraska, and they looked poised to win in Pasadena when Jake Plummer, on third-and-11, scrambled for a touchdown and 17-14 lead with 1:40 to play. But the Buckeyes weren't done. They drove 65 yards for the winning score, with David Boston hauling in a touchdown pass from five yards out with 19 seconds left. That pass was thrown by Ohio State's backup quarterback, Joe Germaine, who came off the bench to earn game MVP honors. Germaine was born and raised in Arizona and grew up rooting for ASU but opted to go to Ohio State because the Sun Devils coaches wanted him to play defensive back.
USC 23, California 17, 2004
Cal dominated the best USC team of the Pete Carroll era -- the Bears outgained the Trojans 424 yards to 205 -- but a comeback attempt fell short at the end. It was the Bears only regular season loss, despite quarterback Aaron Rodgers tying an NCAA record by completing 23 consecutive passes. Rodgers was nearly perfect until three throws missed from the USC 14-yard line in the final minute. Cal was undone by poor special teams play and three turnovers (versus one from USC). Making the defeat even more bitter: After a lobbying effort from Texas coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns eclipsed the Bears in the BCS standings and played in the Rose Bowl, which relegated Cal, which hadn't played in the Rose Bowl since 1959, to the Holiday Bowl, where they played without passion in an upset lost to Texas Tech.
Arizona 34, Oregon 24, 2007
It's hard to decide between the 49-42 loss to Stanford in 2001 -- the Ducks lone defeat that season -- or this one (the 2000 Civil War defeat also deserves note). The Stanford loss -- after leading 42-28 -- ended a 23-game winning streak and was the Ducks first home loss in four years. It also cost the Ducks a shot at the national title against Miami. At Arizona in 2007 on Thursday night on ESPN, the 8-1 Ducks were ranked No. 2 and quarterback Dennis Dixon was the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. They led 8-7 and were driving when Dixon blew out his knee (he'd first hurt it 12 days before versus Arizona State). Things mostly fell apart from there, in the game and over the final two games of the regular season. Here's the distinction: 2001 and its final No. 2 ranking still rate as the best season in program history. If Oregon had beaten Stanford, however, it would have played Miami in the Rose Bowl, the BCS title game, and that Hurricanes team was, well, awesome (in the real sense of the word). If the 2007 Ducks had won out and played LSU or Ohio State for the national title, their chances would have been very good to win the program's first national title. Instead, the season ended in major disappointment -- the Sun Bowl -- and an overwhelming sense of what might have been.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
My guess is this will be a heck of a conversation starter.
Thou art a villain!
Now and forever!
Who is Public Enemy No. 1 of your program? Who beat you, ruined you, annoyed you?
Here's a list.
But know that we are completely aware of this unavoidable fact: We only observe and speculate. You feel.
If you have additions, gripes or different takes, feel free to respond. We want to know who really gets your goat.
Current villain: John Mackovic. Mackovic went 10-19 before getting canned midway through the 2003 season after a player revolt. His prickly and pompous personality didn't go over well in Tucson and he left the program bereft of talent.
All-time villain: Frank Kush. Kush led Arizona State to national prominence and was 16-6 vs. the Wildcats, winning 13 of his final 15 matchups.
Current villain: Joe Germaine. The Ohio State quarterback, who played high school football in Mesa, Ariz., led a last-minute touchdown drive in the 1997 Rose Bowl, denying the previously unbeaten Sun Devils a share of the national title.
All-time villain: Kevin Rutledge. The former Sun Devils punter accused legendary coach Frank Kush of punching and harassing him and in 1979 sued the school for $1.1 million, which directly led to Kush's midseason termination.
Current villain: Mack Brown. The Texas coach vociferously -- and with little justification -- lobbied to be promoted in the national polls past California so the Longhorns could earn a BCS bowl berth. A number of voters listened, changed their voting patterns and denied the Bears their first Rose Bowl invitation since 1959. Dispirited, Cal sleepwalked through a Holiday Bowl loss to Texas Tech.
All-time villain: Tyrone Willingham. Willingham? Well, while Stanford's coach from 1995-2001, Willingham went 7-0 in Big Games. How can that not be incredibly annoying to Cal fans, even more so today, considering the trajectory of Willingham's coaching career?
Current villain: Dennis Dixon's ACL. Dixon looked like he was on his way to the Heisman Trophy and his Ducks to the national title game when his knee gave way with four games remaining in the 2007 season.
All-time villain: Washington. The hate between the schools started in 1948 when Washington broke ranks with the Northwest schools and voted California into the Rose Bowl instead of Oregon -- and convinced Montana to do the same -- after the Bears and Ducks tied for the best record in the conference.
Current villain: Larry Tripplett. In the 2000 game at Husky Stadium, the Washington defensive tackle caught Ken Simonton for a three-yard loss on second-and-1 from the Huskies 26-yard line with 42 seconds left and Washington leading 33-30. The Beavers mistakenly spiked the ball -- they had a time out left -- and then Ryan Cesca missed a 46-yard field goal to tie. It was the Beavers only loss of the season; they crushed Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. They would have played Oklahoma for the national title if they had prevailed.
All-time villain: 1971-1998. During that 28-year span, the Beavers never posted a winning record. What's more, they averaged just 2.32 wins a season. It's one of the great streaks of consistent losing in college football history.
Current villain: Jeff Tedford. Since Tedford took over at California, the Beavers have won six of the past seven Big Games.
All-time villain: Kevin Moen. Moen is the Cal player who ran through the Stanford band and knocked over trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the endzone to complete "The Play" in the 1982 Big Game.
Current villain: Pete Carroll. Honestly, does this need explanation? He's 7-1 vs. the Bruins since starting USC on its unprecedented run.
All-time villain: Bill Hayhoe. Though the Bruins' classic 1967 showdown with USC is most remembered for O.J. Simpson's 64-yard touchdown run, UCLA fans surely recall that kicker Zenon Andrusyshyn missed three field-goal attempts and an extra point in the 21-20 defeat. The 6-foot-8 Hayhoe blocked two of those field goals and the PAT. The Bruins entered the game ranked No. 1 and the defeat cost them a shot at the Rose Bowl and the national championship. USC went on the win both.
Current villain: The BCS. Who knows how many national titles USC would have won during Pete Carroll's tenure had a playoff been in place. Certainly more than two. Maybe as many as five. Moreover, the BCS has kept the Trojans out of the "national title" game a number of times, which has been a great boon to the SEC, which hasn't had to prove itself vs. the Trojans.
All-time villain: Lou Holtz. Holtz went 9-2 vs. USC while Notre Dame's coach, including the 1988 game when the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish whipped unbeaten No. 2-ranked USC 27-10 in the Coliseum. The Trojans then lost the Rose Bowl to Michigan, while Notre Dame went on to win the national title. Ouch.
Current villain: Tyrone Willingham. Tough call here between Willingham and Rick Neuheisel as to who Huskies fans blame the most for the program's current state. But our guess is memories of Neuheisel's victory in the 2001 Rose Bowl earns him a break, while the Willingham-led 0-12 disaster is still very, very fresh.
All-time villain: William Gerberding. While school president, he alienated highly respected and successful athletic director Mike Lude and then -- the whopper -- enraged revered football coach Don James, who resigned in 1993 because he felt Gerberding mishandled an NCAA and Pac-10 investigation into the football program. Gerberding also hired Barbara Hedges, whose leadership is often cited as the point A for the football program's downturn as well as the current sorry state of Husky Stadium.
Current villain: Bill Doba. Nicest guy in the world. Did a great job as Mike Price's defensive coordinator. Led a winning effort against Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. But the lack of talent on the Washington State roster in 2008 and at present falls almost entirely on him.
All-time villain: Rick Neuheisel. While Don James led a period of Washington dominance in the Apple Cup rivalry -- he was 13-5 vs. the Cougars -- there was always a grudging respect for James. Not so for Neuheisel, who went 4-0 vs. the Cougars and was reviled in Pullman. The unranked Huskies triple-overtime victory over the then-third-ranked Cougars in 2002 ended with Washington State fans littering the field with bottles and other trash.