3 Jan 2002: Miami players celebrate during the Rose Bowl National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Miami won 37-14. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Najeh Davenport, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie and Joaquin Gonzalez on offense. Ed Reed, Phillip Buchanon, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Jerome McDougle, William Joseph and Mike Rumph on defense. And the best kicker in the country as well.
Six All-Americans. Thirteen
All-ACC'ers (D'oh!) All-Big Easters. Six first-round draft picks.
No. 1 Miami 59, No. 14 Syracuse 0.
No. 1 Miami 65, No. 12 Washington 7.
No. 1 Miami 37, No. 2 Nebraska 14.
When I unveiled last summer's Top 100 of the Last 100 Years list, there was a bit of outrage about the lack of recent teams. Teams like 1994 Penn State, 1995 Nebraska, 2005 Texas, 2009 Alabama, etc., did not grade out nearly as highly as we would have placed them with anecdotal evidence. And yet ... there was 2001 Miami, sitting at No. 6 overall.
This team was great in all the ways that you can be great. They allowed more than 14 points just three times. They scored fewer than 33 points just twice. They racked up 109 tackles for loss, picked off 27 passes and forced 26 fumbles. They played two games decided by less than 22 points. They were just about perfect.
The most amazing thing about this team? Look at the backups. Peruse the stats closely and check out who didn't see the field much. Frank Gore and Willis McGahee combined for barely 10 carries per game. Kellen Winslow, Jr., caught two passes. Sean Taylor had 23.0 tackles. Hell, Ed Reed didn't even return punts because Phillip Buchanon was so damn good at them (15.0 per return, two touchdowns).
Watching this team play, it was impossible not to see two, or three, or four national titles coming from this program at this time. And obviously they all but won a second the next season. But within five years, with no major sanctions, they were going 7-6, then 5-7, then 7-6 again. This team is why you appreciate perfection for simply being perfect and don't assume that perfection will last forever.
(By the way, the entire 2002 Rose Bowl is available on YouTube. Just start here and follow the path through all 14 parts.)