Rank 'Em: Decade's Best Teams

Created: January 20, 2010, 10:33 AM

Were the 2001 Hurricanes the best team of the decade?

What was the best college football team of the past decade?

From Miami's "The U" squads in the beginning of the '00s, to Pete Carroll's heyday at USC in the middle of the decade, to the dominance of Florida and Alabama near the end, the 2000s have featured some top-flight squads. Some of these groups wouldn't look out of place on a "best team of all time" list.

Pat Forde has given his top ten teams of the past decade, but who do you think should be No. 1? Cast your vote now!

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Rank: Programs | Coaches | Games | Plays | Players

  • The Trojans became just the second wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll, finishing it off with that absolute crushing of the Sooners. The score was 38-10 at halftime for a USC team that combined dazzling offense (Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Deuce Latui) and brutal defense (Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Cody, Lofa Tatupu).
  • Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed -- those are just some of the future NFL stars who populated this Hurricanes roster. The surprise is not that the Hurricanes stomped their way through the season undefeated -- it's that they were prevented the next year from repeating.
  • With Vince Young in full flourish, the Longhorns scored 40 or more points in 12 of 13 games -- the only exception being a thrilling three-point win at Ohio State. That game also was the only time anyone came within single digits of the Horns until the title game, when they scored a major upset of two-time champion USC in the Rose Bowl in the Game of the Decade.
  • It took a superhuman Young to defeat this USC team, and he didn't get it done until the final 19 seconds. Even then, this was probably the most spectacular offense of the decade; it just didn't quite have a defense to match when paired against a great Texas team.
  • The first Heisman Trophy winner in school history (Mark Ingram) complemented one of the great defenses in school history as the Crimson Tide scored one of the landmark victories in school history (a stunning rout of Florida in the SEC championship game) and the heir to Bear (Nick Saban) made his mark in history as the first coach to win titles at two schools.
  • The Sooners' total destruction of Texas 63-14 marked the program's return to glory after a lean post-Switzer run, but they weren't done there. Oklahoma won five of its final six games while away from home to run the table, capped off with a suffocation of Florida State in the Orange Bowl to win the national title.
  • The Buckeyes never did fit the definition of dominating, with half their 14 victories coming by a touchdown or less. But they were at their very best when they had to be, playing a brilliant game to upset defending champion Miami 31-24 in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl to win the title.
  • This is the team that somehow lost to Ohio State, the only blemish on an overpowering two-year run for the Hurricanes in the latest (and so far last) incarnation of their dynasty. That defeat was marked by a late, highly controversial pass-interference flag in the end zone -- if the flag isn't thrown, the Canes would be the most recent repeat champions.
  • The OTHER team in 2004. The Tigers were the odd unbeaten left out of the BCS title-game matchup, forced to watch USC destroy Oklahoma while given no shot at the championship. But this was an excellent team, led by a backfield of future NFL starters (quarterback Jason Campbell and running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams) that was as talented as USCā??s that year.
  • The only blemish was a one-point loss to a Mississippi team that would go on to win the Cotton Bowl -- and that loss only gave Tim Tebow a chance to add to his lore with his famous postgame promise. There was NFL talent up and down the roster on Urban Meyer's finest team to date.