- Brian Fremeau, ESPN Insider
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 we expect the College Football Playoff committee to take into account, as well.
For this analysis, results that played out on the field are counted, regardless of whether victories were later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. (*Because of 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 Pac-12 teams from the BCS era:
1. 2004 USC Trojans (13-0)
These Trojans measure as the best team of the BCS era across all conferences, a dominant team that would later have to vacate its final two victories and the championship crown thanks to NCAA sanctions. USC won games by an average of 23 points per game against the 13th-toughest schedule according to the FEI ratings. Four Trojans opponents ranked among the FEI top 15 at the end of the year, and USC dropped those four teams by a cumulative score of 147-56. The BCS championship win over Oklahoma was the biggest blowout of the era.
The USC defense allowed only 80.5 rushing yards per game and tallied 48 sacks on the year, tops in the nation in both measures. Running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush combined for 2011 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns on the ground, and Bush chipped in 509 receiving yards out of the backfield, as well.
Which Pac-12 teams were the best in the BCS era? Brian Fremeau uses his projection system to find out. The 2004 USC Trojans top the list.