As a final farewell to the BCS era, I used my opponent-adjusted FEI ratings to identify the five best individual team seasons in each of the Power Five conferences. The ratings reward dominant victories combined with strong competition, which are key elements that we expect the College Football Playoff committee to take into account as well.
(Note: 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.)
Here are the five best SEC teams from the BCS era:
1. 2008 Florida Gators (13-1)
The SEC claimed nine of the 16 championships during the BCS era, including one each by undefeated Alabama and Auburn teams in 2009 and 2010, respectively. So what pushes this one-loss team to the top over all others? The Gators lost 31-30 in late September to Ole Miss, then ripped off a dominant run down the stretch -- eight victories by at least 28 points apiece and three straight wins to end the season over teams ranked among the FEI top-10 by an average score of 33-16. Four opponents were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game -- Florida whipped them by an average margin of 23 points.
The Gators' defense and special teams contributed 149.5 points of field position value over the course of the year, more than 10 points per game. And the offense, led by Heisman finalist Tim Tebow (30 touchdowns, four interceptions), ranked third nationally in yards per play (7.1) and fourth in scoring.