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Paul Newberry | The Associated Press | January 8, 2019

How Clemson compares with other recent dominant college football national champions

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There will never be a definitive answer to the greatest team in college football history.

That didn’t stop Clemson coach Dabo Swinney from lobbying for his squad.

The Tigers wrapped up the first 15-0 season by a major college football team Monday night with a dominating 44-16 victory over Alabama, the defending national champion and ranked No. 1 all season by The Associated Press.

MORE: Clemson dominates Alabama for the national title

“There was a lot of talk about the best ever all year long,” said Swinney, referring to Alabama. “We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt. We’re the first 15-0 team.”

Swinney was especially proud to knock off two of the nation’s most storied programs in the College Football Playoff.

“We beat Notre Dame and Alabama,” he said. “We left no doubt, and we walk off the field tonight as the first 15-0 team in college football history.”

MORE: National championship history

Clemson certainly joins the conversation with teams such as Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame powerhouses of the 1920s, the dominant Army teams of the 1940s and Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma dynasty of the 1950s. More recently, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1999 Florida State Seminoles, 2001 Miami Hurricanes and 2004 Southern Cal Trojans were unbeaten national champions considered among the best teams ever.

But the Tigers are the first team to win every game in the playoff era, which began during the 2014 season. They went 12-0 during the regular season, surviving close calls against Texas A&M (28-26) and Syracuse (27-23) but winning every other game by at least 20 points. Then, they routed Pittsburgh 42-10 for the Atlantic Coast Conference title, blew out Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl semifinal and handed coach Nick Saban the most lopsided loss of his Alabama tenure in the national championship game.

“They have a really good team.” Saban acknowledged.

In the mind of defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell, all those accomplishments push the Tigers ahead of everyone else.

“I feel like we’re the best team ever. We’re 15-0,” he said. “Most wins by a senior class and we beat the team that was considered the best team in the history of college football.”

Here is how Clemson compares with other undefeated and dominant teams since the Bowl Coalition era (1992 season):

Note: Statistics in bold represent a high among the group

Team '18 Clemson '04 Southern
California
'01 Miami '99 Florida State '95 Nebraska
Record 15-0 13-0 12-0 12-0 12-0
PPG 44.3 38.2 42.7 38.2 52.3
Points allowed 13.7 13.0 9.8 16.9 14.5
Offensive ypg 527.2 449.1 454.8 426.4 556.3
Passing ypg 279.0 279.3 250.2 302.9 156.5
Rushing ypg 248.2 177.4 204.6 123.5 399.8
Defensive ypg 276.7 271.1 270.9 304.6 294.1
Passing yards allowed 183.8 199.9 138.2 205.8 215.7
Rushing yards allowed 92.9 79.4 132.7 98.8 78.4
Record vs. Final AP Top 25 4-0 4-0 6-0 4-0 4-0
Passing leader Trevor Lawrence
3,280 yards
Matt Leinart
3,322 yards
Ken Dorsey
2,652 yards
Chris Weinke
3,103 yards
Tommie Frazier
1,362 yards
Rushing leader Travis Etienne
1,658 yards
LenDale White
1,103 yards

Clinton Portis
1,200 yards

Travis Minor
815 yards
Ahman Green
1,086 yards
Receiving leader Justyn Ross
1,000 yards
Dwayne Jarrett
849 yards
Andre Johnson
682 yards
Peter Warrick
934 yards
Clester Johnson
367 yards
Bowl games -Beat Notre Dame, 30-3
-Beat Alabama, 44-16
-Beat Oklahoma, 55-19 -Beat Nebraska, 37-14 -Beat Virginia Tech, 46-29 -Beat Florida, 62-24