Top all-time BCS bridesmaids 

November, 16, 2010

Welcome back to another edition of Three Downs & Punt, where every week we trudge toward the orange first down marker but never quite get there.

A quick Heidi-ho to reader "Heidi B in Birmingham" who was so kind as to send along this email about last week's blog: "For you to suggest that LSU might sneak into the BCS title game is irresponsible and should cause you to have your college football writer's license taken away."

I hear you, Heidi. But I'll never bother to turn it in because the line down at the CFB DMV is way too long.

To the plays!

First Down: Top 6 All-Time BCS Bridesmaids

No one has any idea how this BCS jigsaw puzzle will fall into place over the next three weeks, no matter how long they've been covering this sport and no matter what we think might happen on paper (with the obvious exception of Heidi from Birmingham).

But there is one fact we know for certain: Someone's getting left out. There will likely be an undefeated bridesmaid, worthy of a title game berth but headed elsewhere, be it Boise, TCU, or less likely, Oregon or Auburn.

Sadly, we are used to it. And so are all of the schools I just listed. Since the BCS was introduced in 1998, the stack of those stuck outside in the snow is nearly as high and as prestigious as the list of the chosen few who were invited to feast indoors. Who exactly am I talking about? Funny you should ask. I have a six-pack (plus one bonus team) in mind.

6. 2006 - Michigan
Regular season
: 11-1

Because Ohio State lost -- and lost big, 41-14 -- it's easy to forget now that most fans didn't even want Florida to be in the game. They wanted Michigan, which spent the final six weeks of the regular season ranked behind Ohio State in the AP Poll. The Wolverines' lone loss was a 42-39 classic in Columbus, Ohio, a game so good that the following week the pollsters kept Michigan at No. 2, as did the BCS. But when one-loss Florida defeated Arkansas in the SEC title game, the Gators leaped into the second slot and into the BCS title game. Michigan settled for the Rose Bowl, where they were romped by one-loss USC, whom Florida also leapfrogged.

Honorable mention to Boise State, which arrived on the national scene in '06 with a 12-0 record, but in retrospect let's be glad it was sent to the Fiesta Bowl to play Oklahoma and provide us with one of the greatest games in college football history.

5. 2000 - Miami and Washington
Regular season
: Both 10-1

No one had any argument with the first team in the BCS title game, 12-0 Big 12 champion Oklahoma. It was the opponent that drew a little fire, 11-1 ACC Champion Florida State. Most of that flak came from the 11-1 Canes, which had defeated the Noles during the regular season and was ranked ahead of them in the AP and Coaches' polls. Their lone loss had come to ... wait for it ... Washington, which was also 11-1. Washington's only loss came to sixth-ranked Oregon on Sept. 30.

Miami stomped Florida in the Sugar Bowl, while the Huskies defeated Purdue, 34-24, in the Rose Bowl. They finished second and third, respectively, in the final AP poll, while FSU, which lost a snoozer 13-2 game to Oklahoma, dropped to fifth.

4. 1999 - Nebraska