Ranking every BCS finalist

The 2004 USC Trojans lead ranking of all 32 title participants of BCS era

Updated: January 6, 2014, 4:33 PM ET
By Brian Fremeau | ESPN Insider

Matt Leinart, Pete CarrollAP Photo/Chris O'MearaBest of the best? The Trojans of 2004 rank No. 1 in the BCS era.

It is the end of an era in college football. Florida State and Auburn will meet on Monday night in the VIZIO BCS National Championship, the final chapter in the 16-year history of the Bowl Championship Series. A new, four-team playoff system arrives next fall, and the field will be opened for more worthy teams to contend for a title.

The Seminoles' and Tigers' respective paths to the BCS title game were paved in dramatically different ways. Florida State dominated most of its opposition throughout the season and ascended to the top of the BCS standings while other top teams faltered. Auburn surged into the championship mix late in the year on the strength of two miracle finishes against Georgia and Alabama.

How does this year's matchup compare with championship games over the years? We ranked all 32 teams that reached the BCS championship game according to our opponent-adjusted FEI ratings* to find out where Florida State and Auburn fall heading into Monday night. Dominant victories against strong schedules were rewarded most in this analysis.

(*Due to the lack of available play-by-play and drive data, FEI ratings have been calculated only since 2003. For the 1998-2002 seasons, we produced an alternate set of ratings based on opponent-adjusted final scores. The alternate ratings have a 0.95 correlation with FEI. National title game performances were incorporated into this analysis for all teams other than 2013 FSU and 2013 Auburn, which had a projection subbed in.)

1. 2004 USC Trojans (13-0)
USC pummeled opponents all year, including a 55-19 demolition of Oklahoma in the title game, the biggest blowout in BCS championship game history. The Trojans later had to vacate two wins and the championship crown due to NCAA violations.


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Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com