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The 25 Most Successful College Football Programs Of The BCS Era

Where does your team stack up?

The BCS Era has officially come and gone, college football fans. Can I get hallelujah? What was once the most controversial and talked about computer system in the country is now nothing more than a memory. Humans are relevant in college football once more.

From 1998-2013, the BCS standings determined the two teams that would play in the BCS National Championship Game. Over those 16 years, we witnessed numerous programs rise and fall. The below list was compiled to celebrate the 25 most successful teams of the era.

The ranking system we used weights both regular season and postseason success. The point breakdown is as follows:

Point Breakdown:

BCS National Championship Win: 20 Points
BCS National Championship Loss: 15 Points
BCS Bowl Win: 10 Points
BCS Bowl Loss: 8 Points
BCS Bowls: Orange, Fiesta, Rose, Sugar

Second Tier Bowl Win: 8 Points
Second Tier Bowl Loss: 6 Points
Second Tier Bowls: Capital One (Citrus), Cotton, Chick-fil-A (Peach), Outback

Third Tier Bowl Win: 6 Points
Third Tier Bowl Loss: 4 Points
Third Tier Bowls: Alamo, Sun, Buffalo Wild Wings (Insight), Gator, Russell Athletic (Champs Sports), Holiday

Fourth Tier Bowl Win: 4 Points
Fourth Tier Bowl Loss: 2 Points
Fourth Tier Bowl: The Rest

Each Regular Season Win: 1/2 Point

For the sake of this list, vacated wins/losses have been ignored. If the game was played on the field, it counts in our rankings.

The 25 Most Successful Teams of the BCS Era

25. Iowa - 120.5 points

The Hawkeyes have been a consistent bowl team since the BCS began, and have two BCS bowls to their name - a 2002 Orange Bowl loss to USC, and a 2009 Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech. Iowa is 6-5 in bowl games under Kirk Ferentz, who took over the program prior to the 1999 season.

24. Penn State - 126.5 points

Penn State’s numbers are a bit hurt by the recent bowl ban, as recently departed head coach Bill O’Brien had the Nittany Lions at the required win totals in each of his two years in Happy Valley. Under Joe Paterno, Penn State traveled to two BCS games, a 2006 Orange Bowl win over Florida State and fellow coaching legend Bobby Bowden, and the 2009 Rose Bowl in which the Lions lost to USC.

T-22. Notre Dame - 128 points

Notre Dame has been no stranger to the postseason in the BCS era. The Irish have made trips to 11 bowls during the time period, including four BCS bowls, but results in those games have been very mixed, at best. The Irish have only won three bowls since 1998, and are 0-4 in BCS games, losing in blowout fashion in an Orange Bowl, two Fiesta Bowls, and last year’s BCS National Championship Game.

T-22. Georgia Tech - 128 points

Few teams have been as consistent in the BCS era as Georgia Tech. Since the beginning of this bowl system, Tech has been coached by three different men—George O’Leary, Chan Gailey, and Paul Johnson—and have made a bowl in each of those seasons. The issue is success in these bowls when opposing teams have almost a month to prepare, as the Yellow Jackets have an uninspiring 5-11 bowl record in that time period.

21. TCU - 130 points

The Horned Frogs recently joined the Big 12, but they are perhaps best known as one of the powerhouse midmajors to crash the BCS party a few times as a Mountain West squad. The Frogs have 14 bowl berths in the BCS era, with nine total wins, and a 1-1 record in BCS games. This year’s Frogs team was the first to miss a bowl game since 2004.

20. West Virginia - 131 points

2013 was West Virginia’s first bowl-less season since 2001, the first year of the Rich Rodriguez era. The Mountaineers haven’t always met the high expectations of the WVU fanbase, especially under Bill Stewart, but the program has been very consistent. The Mountaineers won all three of the BCS bowls they made, and finished 6-7 overall in bowl games in the BCS era.

19. Clemson - 138 points

Clemson is currently riding high when it comes to bowl success, with two of its biggest wins in recent memory coming in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl over LSU, and this winter’s Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State. The two wins have helped wash the taste of 2012’s bad 77-30 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia out of the mouths of Clemson fans.

18. Boise State - 142 points

Boise State made its mark with a victory in one of the greatest BCS bowls ever. The Broncos won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl over Big 12 power Oklahoma 43-42 by completing a number of wild trick plays down the stretch, including a game winning “Statue of Liberty” play for a touchdown. The Broncos boast a very strong 9-5 bowl record since the 1998-99 season, including two Fiesta Bowl wins.

The 25 Most Successful Teams of the BCS Era: 17-11

Back To Start: Here's How We Calculated The Numbers

17. Tennessee - 147 points

The Tennessee Volunteers started off the BCS era with a bang -- taking home the hardware from the National Championship after defeating Florida State in 1998. But since, the Volunteers are just 3-7 in bowl games with their only victories coming in 2002, 2005 and 2008. UT closed the era with back-to-back-to-back losing seasons - not exactly what Volunteer fans were hoping for after such a hot start.

16. Nebraska - 157 points

The Cornhuskers played in 14 bowl games over the 16-year BCS span, winning seven of them. The latest victory came against the Georgia Bulldogs in this year’s Gator Bowl, but the game the Huskers really want back is the 2001 Rose Bowl loss to Miami (FL) that doubled as the BCS title matchup. While the team has reached three consecutive January bowl games, fans haven't always been on coach Bo Pelini's side.

15. Michigan - 164 points

Michigan, just like Nebraska, had 14 bowl appearances in the 16 year span, winning six of the contests. While the era wasn't as successful as many Wolverines fans would have liked, they did put together six double-digit win seasons and five BCS bowl appearances. Still, UM never played for a national title, which can't sit well with the school's supporters.

14. Miami - 165 points

It's hard to believe that with all of the firepower Miami (FL) had in the early 2000s, the program would wind up so far down this list. The Hurricanes started out the BCS era with four straight bowl wins, one of which was for a national title, but lost the Fiesta Bowl (also a BCS championship game) in 2003 to Ohio State. The team had 13 total bowl appearances throughout the 16-year BCS span, winning seven of them. What won’t sit well with Hurricane fans is how Miami finished the BCS era - four straight losses in bowl games. 

13. Oregon - 167.5 points

The Oregon Ducks reached the postseason in every year except one (2004) during the era, while tallying nine (six in a row) double-digit win seasons. The most notable bowl was easily the 2010 BCS National Championship Game against Auburn, which the Ducks lost, 22-19, but the program also appeared in four other BCS bowl games. Since the BCS title loss, Oregon has won its last three bowl games.

12. Auburn - 169.5 points

The Auburn Tigers have one of the most impressive resumes of the BCS era, despite actually missing out on the postseason four times. The Tigers played for two BCS titles, winning the championship in 2010-2011 against Oregon and losing it in 2013-2014 against Florida State. They also finished 13-0 with a Sugar Bowl victory in 2004, but were not recognized as champions by the BCS system.

11. Wisconsin - 169.5 points

Wisconsin won the first two Rose Bowl games of the BCS era, but also lost three of the last four. The team had 15 total bowl appearances, winning seven of them. The Badgers could never seem to propel themselves into national championship consideration despite seven double-digit victory seasons and five BCS bowl appearances.

The 25 Most Successful Teams of the BCS Era: 10-1

Back To Start: Here's How We Calculated The Numbers

10.USC - 173.5 points

From 2002-2008, the Trojans actually played in seven straight BCS bowl games. The only one they lost? The 2006 Rose Bowl to Vince Young's Texas squad, which was also the BCS National Championship Game. In the 16-year span, USC won eight bowl games, lost four, was banned for two, and didn't qualify for two. The Trojans posted double-digit victories in nine seasons during the era.

9. Georgia - 174 points

How could Georgia, a program that never reached the BCS National Championship Game, be ranked so high on this list? Consistency. Georgia reached the postseason in every year during the BCS era, notching 11 wins in the process - the most in all of college football. At the same time, the Bulldogs have only reached three BCS bowls - all being the Sugar Bowl. Mark Richt built a program that competed every year, but could never quite get over the hump into the elite.

8. Alabama - 181.5 points

Alabama won the most BCS championships during the era (three), but actually failed to win any other BCS games in the entire 16-year span. In fact, until the 2005 season, the Tide had won just one bowl game since 1998. Prior to Nick Saban's tenure in Tuscaloosa, Alabama notched double-digit victories twice in the era. Saban's Tide, however, have racked up over ten wins in six of his seven years. 

7. Virginia Tech - 183.5 points

Virginia Tech, like USC, reached a bowl game in every season during the BCS era. In their first eight years in the ACC, the Hokies tallied double-digit wins - a crazy impressive stat. While VT lost in its only appearance playing for a BCS title (1999 season to Florida State), the school put together one of the most impressive overall campaigns of the time frame. The past two seasons were a bit of a dropoff from what Hokies fans have come to expect.

6. Texas - 193 points

Oddly enough, Mack Brown's coaching tenure was the entirety of the BCS era - he got the job with the Longhorns in 1998 and was forced out at the end of the 2013 season. Brown's crowning achievement was the 2005-2006 BCS title win over USC, but he accomplished much more in his time. The Longhorns were ranked in the top ten at the end of the season six times, to go along with 10 bowl wins in 15 tries. UT only suffered one losing season (2010) in the era.

5. LSU - 209.5 points

Until the 2011-2012 BCS National Championship Game, LSU was 4-0 in BCS bowls, with two BCS titles to show for it. While Alabama won that star-studded matchup and subsequently took over the reins in the SEC West, the Tigers were still arguably (see below) the most successful Southeastern Conference team during the era. LSU also outscored its bowl opponents by a combined 127 points.

4. Florida - 210.5 points

Florida appeared in seven BCS games, winning five and losing two along the way. The Gators won two BCS national titles - in the 2006 and 2008 seasons - defeating two schools that are, ironically, ahead of them on this list. This past season was actually the only year that UF did not reach the postseason in the entire era - the program had reached a bowl game in each of the previous 22 years. Overall, the school went 8-7 in bowl games, though five of those losses came before 2005.

3. Ohio State - 215 points

If it weren't for the 2012 bowl ban, during a season in which the Buckeyes went 12-0 and almost certainly would have been playing in the BCS bowl, OSU would probably have checked in at No. 1 on our list. In 16 seasons, the Bucks played in 10 BCS bowls, winning six and losing four. While OSU lost two consecutive BCS title games in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, the program did win a championship in 2002 after beating Miami (FL) in an epic finale. While SEC fans may scoff at the Buckeyes being this high on the list, it's hard to deny that they have been as consistent as any school in the nation.

2. Florida State - 217.5 points

Despite a "down" period from 2006 until 2011, during which FSU still racked up five bowl wins, FSU checks in at No. 2 on our list. Winning two national titles - in 1999 and 2013 - certainly helped the Seminoles' cause, as did the fact that they played in eight BCS games during the era. FSU played in the postseason every single season (going 10-6), notching over 10 wins in seven different seasons. But the Noles weren't quite the best BCS team of them all...

1. Oklahoma - 223.5 points

Other than Boise State, which played in a much less competitive conference than the Big 12, Oklahoma tallied the most regular season victories of any program in the nation. The Sooners won one national title (in 2000) and totaled a ridiculous 12 seasons with double-digit victories. They played in nine BCS bowl games, including this past season's Sugar Bowl, in which they upset heavily-favored Alabama. While coach Bob Stoops may have only won one championship in his time in Norman, he's had the Sooners in contention almost every season during the era. Boomer Sooner indeed.

The 25 Most Successful Teams of the BCS Era: Back To Start

Back To Start: Here's How We Calculated The Numbers