Bama looks to turn the tide of history with third consecutive title
hat's past is prologue, which is a sense of déjà vu across the college football landscape. Suffice to say, we've come a long way since the first college football game, Princeton vs. Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869. (Rutgers won 6-4.) Yes, Harvard and Tufts fans, we see you in the back; that game was played six years later -- but did more closely resemble today's game ...
Ah yes, today's game -- the tailgating, the pregame rituals, the traditions:
The 2013 FBS season kicks off Aug. 29, and Alabama will look to hoist yet another crystal football in the wake of the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif.
Thumbing through the game's annals there is one thing that has never been done in the history of the Associated Press poll: win three consecutive national championships. (Apologies, Minnesota; the Gophers were the last team to win three titles in a row but the 1934-35 championships were of the CFRA, HAF, NCF varieties.)
Eleven times a school has won back-to-back AP national championships. Minnesota was the first, in 1940-41, and the list is a who's who of college football, including Army, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska and USC.
However, the previous 10 are 0-fer; Alabama will again take its hacks -- third time's a charm? -- beginning Aug. 31, when the Tide buckles up against Virginia Tech.
Alabama’s schedule includes two teams in the preseason top 25 -- No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 12 LSU. Opponents Virginia Tech and Ole Miss are among teams that received votes in the preseason poll.
The last time the preseason No. 1 went on to win the national championship was 2004, when USC sat atop the polls for all 16 weeks. Seven times the preseason No. 1 has failed to be ranked in the final AP poll, most recently last season when USC finished 7-6.
This is the third time Alabama has been the preseason team-to-beat. In 1966, Bama was the two-time defending champion, went undefeated and untied and finished No. 3. In 1978, the Tide finished 11-1 and beat top-ranked Penn State in the Sugar Bowl to win the title.
So while a team from the SEC has won the past seven national championships, that's about the only recent history on top-ranked Alabama's side. ...
|1939||Texas A&M||1965||Alabama||1991||Miami (Fla.)|
|1942||Ohio State||1968||Ohio State||1994||Nebraska|
|1947||Notre Dame||1973||Notre Dame||1999||Florida State|
|1949||Notre Dame||1975||Oklahoma||2001||Miami (Fla.)|
|Bold denotes back-to-back national champions.|
(USC's 2004 title was vacated by the BCS after the NCAA rejected the school's appeal of sanctions levied as the result of an investigation that determined Reggie Bush received extra benefits. The AP title stands.)
|Minnesota||3-4-1 in 1939||1940 (8-0-0) and '41 (8-0-0)||5-4-0 in 1942||24-8-1|
|Already rolling in dynasty mode, Minnesota had been awarded the CFRA, HAF, NCF national championships in 1934 and '35 before winning the inaugural AP championship in '36. Then the Gophers suffered a three-year stretch in which the team was a combined 15-8-1. Lead by coach Bernie Bierman, Minnesota defeated five ranked teams -- including Michigan and Northwestern twice -- during its 1940-41 championships run.|
|Army||7-2-1 in 1943||1944 (9-0-0) and '45 (9-0-0)||9-0-1 in 1946||34-2-2|
|The Black Knights were ranked No. 1 for the final seven AP polls of the regular season, even after a 0-0 tie against Notre Dame on Nov 9, 1946. However, the final poll results had the Irish in the top spot. Army -- led by consensus All-Americans Doc Blanchard, the 1945 Heisman Trophy winner, and Glenn Davis, the '46 Heisman winner -- was 4-0-1 against ranked teams and out-scored those opponents 121-34.|
|Notre Dame||7-2-1 in 1945||1946 (8-0-1) and '47 (9-0-0)||9-0-1 in 1948||33-2-3|
|Following a two-year absence, Frank Leahy's return to the Irish sideline sparked a run of four consecutive undefeated seasons (36-0-2) and three AP titles between 1946-49. In 1948, Notre Dame was undefeated headed to USC for the season finale on Dec. 4; the Irish and Trojans tied 14-14. Michigan, which allowed a nation-leading 4.9 ppg, went undefeated in Bennie Oosterbaan's first year (9-0-0) to win the championship.|
|Oklahoma||10-0-0 in 1954||1955 (11-0-0) and '56 (10-0-0)||10-1-0 in 1957||41-1-0|
|The dynasty to which all others are compared, Bud Wilkinson's run between 1953-58 was a beauty: 60-3-1, three consecutive undefeated seasons, two national titles and a 4-0 mark in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners lost once between 1954-57 -- 7-0 against Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1957. OU's 47-game undefeated streak dated to a 7-7 tie against Pitt on Oct. 3, 1953. The Sooners' last loss was Sept. 26, 1953, 28-21 to ... yep, Notre Dame.|
|Alabama||9-2-0 in 1963||1964 (10-1-0) and '65 (9-1-1)||11-0-0 in 1966||39-4-1|
|Alabama is the only defending national champion to be undefeated and untied and not win the championship. In 1966, the Tide beat one ranked team -- No. 6 Nebraska, 34-7 in the Sugar Bowl -- and finished third. Meanwhile, No. 1 Notre Dame (9-0-1) was 3-0-1 against top-10 opponents. Michigan State, which tied Notre Dame in the "the game of the century" on Nov. 19, 1966, finished 9-0-1 and ranked No. 2.|
|Nebraska||9-2-0 in 1969||1970 (11-0-1) and '71 (13-0-0)||9-2-1 in 1972||42-4-1|
|The Huskers lost two of the first four games in 1969 then reeled off 32 consecutive games without a loss. Nebraska's only blemish during its title seasons was a 21-21 tie at third-ranked USC on Sept. 19, 1970. The Huskers were ninth in the first poll of 1970 and ascended to the top spot only in the final poll; they began the '71 season ranked No. 2. Preseason No. 1 in '72, Nebraska lost in Week 1 and tied, lost two of its final four games.|
|Oklahoma||10-0-1 in 1973||1974 (11-0-0) and '75 (11-1-0)||9-2-1 in 1976||41-3-2|
|The Sooners became the first team with a second crack at a three-peat. Oklahoma entered 1974 riding a streak of 18 games without a loss (only a 7-7 tie at top-ranked USC on Sept. 29, 1973, pocked its mark). OU beat two ranked teams in '74 en route to the first of back-to-back titles. In '75, Kansas beat top-ranked OU 23-3 on Nov. 8, before the Sooners defeated No. 18 Mizzou, No. 7 Nebraska and No. 5 Michigan (Orange Bowl).|
|Alabama||11-1-0 in 1977||1978 (11-1-0) and '79 (12-0-0)||10-2-0 in 1980||44-4-0|
|The Tide was rolling out in 1976; its three losses were the most in a season since 1970 (6-5-1). However, Alabama's fortunes turned in '77; 10 wins in a row raised expectations heading into 1978. A 24-14 loss to No. 7 USC on Sept. 23 knocked Bama from No. 1; the climb back to the top concluded with a 14-7 win against No. 1 Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama ran the table in '79, winning its fifth national title under Bear Bryant.|
|Nebraska||11-1-0 in 1993||1994 (13-0-0) and '95 (12-0-0)||11-2-0 in 1996||47-3-0|
|This list would be moot if the second-ranked Huskers had not lost to No. 1 Florida State 18-16 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1994 -- Nebraska's only loss between Sept. 4, 1993, and Sept. 21, 1996. Against FSU, Byron Bennett's 45-yard field-goal attempt with 0:01 on the clock was wide left. The "Unfinished Business" season of '94 netted Huskers coach Tom Osborne his first title, and Nebraska ran its win streak to 25 by sweeping the '95 campaign.|
|USC||11-2-0 in 2002||2003 (12-1-0) and '04 (13-0-0)||12-1-0 in 2005||48-4-0|
|In 2002, the Trojans lost two games by a combined 10 points. In 2003, the Trojans lost their fourth game, 34-31 at Cal, but rebounded and steamrolled through the final nine games, including a 28-14 victory against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. In 2004, USC's average margin of victory was 25.2 and whipped No. 2 Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for its second consecutive title. (USC vacated two wins in 2004 and 12 wins in '05.)|
|Alabama||10-3-0 in 2010||2011 (12-1-0) and '12 (13-1-0)||35-5-0|
|Since 2008, Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in 27 of 82 AP polls -- a whopping 33 percent. It is the definition of a modern-day dynasty, winning the national championship in 2009, 2011 and 2012. What remains to be seen is whether Nick Saban & Co. can finish the drill, so to speak. Ten times the two-time defending champion has taken a swing at a three-peat. Those teams are 0-10. Will the third time be the charm for Bama?|
|1938||Pittsburgh||8||Texas Christian||1977||Oklahoma||7||Notre Dame|
|1943||Notre Dame||1||1982||Pittsburgh||10||Penn State|
|1944||Notre Dame||9||Army||1983||Nebraska||2||Miami (Fla.)|
|1947||Notre Dame||1||1986||Oklahoma||3||Penn State|
|1948||Notre Dame||2||Michigan||1987||Oklahoma||3||Miami (Fla.)|
|1949||Michigan||7||Notre Dame||1988||Florida State||3||Notre Dame|
|1950||Notre Dame||NR||Oklahoma||1989||Michigan||7||Miami (Fla.)|
|1952||Michigan State||1||1991||Florida State||4||Miami (Fla.)|
|1953||Notre Dame||2||Maryland||1992||Miami (Fla.)||3||Alabama|
|1954||Notre Dame||4||Ohio State||1993||Florida State||1|
|1958||Ohio State||8||LSU||1997||Penn State||16||Michigan|
|1962||Ohio State||NR||USC||2001||Florida||3||Miami (Fla.)|
|1963||USC||NR||Texas||2002||Miami (Fla.)||2||Ohio State|
|1967||Notre Dame||5||USC||2006||Ohio State||2||Florida|
|Bold denotes preseason No. 1 that won the national championship.|