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The 2000 college football season would have been a perfect year for a playoff

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And Washington probably wouldn't have been the slam-dunk No. 4 choice in a four-team playoff.

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The BCS had it pretty easy before 2000. In 1998, Tennessee was an obvious selection, and while selecting Florida State over one-loss Ohio State and Kansas State was a little bit iffy, both the Buckeyes and Wildcats had lost games they shouldn't later in the year. Maybe that shouldn't have given them cover, but it did. Meanwhile, in 1999, Florida State vs. Virginia Tech was both obvious and desired.

In 2000, though, things went awry. Miami beat FSU head to head, then one-loss FSU got the BCS nod over one-loss Miami. Then, as the final nail in the bad decision coffin, FSU lost to Oklahoma while Miami mauled Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Wrong decision!

I was curious, then, what my estimated S&P+ would have to say about this season. Because I'm a bit of a head-to-head hater -- you pick a champion/participant based on every week, not just one, and I think we overrate head-to-head because of that -- I at least understood how to somewhat justify FSU's selection. Whereas FSU lost to an excellent Miami team, Miami lost to a strong but not quite as excellent Washington team. FSU had the better loss and plenty of good wins, ergo...

But I really didn't have a feel for the quality of the two teams. Living in Big 12 country, Oklahoma's resurgence was the story of the season. Bob Stoops had inherited John Blake's leftovers and mixed in an aggressive, young, competitive coaching staff, and voila: national title. I knew FSU was excellent because the Seminoles returned so many players from the previous year's national title team, but Miami was resurgent, as well, and they happened to sneak up on me a bit.

The verdict: Yeah, Miami probably got screwed.

2000 Estimated S&P+ ratings

S&P+ Rk Team Record Est S&P+ Percentile Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
1 Miami-FL 11-1 27.3 99.37% 41.9 1 14.6 4
2 Florida State 11-2 25.2 98.92% 37.5 6 12.3 1
3 Oklahoma 13-0 22.9 98.16% 37.4 7 14.5 3
4 Virginia Tech 11-1 20.7 97.09% 41.9 2 21.1 29
5 Florida 10-3 20.7 97.04% 38.9 5 18.2 14
6 Nebraska 10-2 17.8 94.78% 40.3 3 22.6 39
7 Oregon State 11-1 17.2 94.22% 34.6 11 17.4 7
8 Kansas State 11-3 15.7 92.47% 36.9 8 21.1 30
9 Washington 11-1 14.9 91.33% 34.9 10 20.0 25
10 Michigan 9-3 12.5 87.39% 32.7 19 20.1 26
11 Texas A&M 7-5 12.0 86.37% 30.4 25 18.4 15
12 Ohio State 8-4 11.5 85.23% 28.7 37 17.3 6
13 Toledo 10-1 11.0 84.21% 28.6 38 17.6 8
14 South Carolina 8-4 10.6 83.30% 24.5 71 13.9 2
15 Notre Dame 9-3 10.5 83.16% 31.1 23 20.6 28
16 Mississippi State 8-4 10.5 83.00% 34.3 12 23.8 51
17 Oregon 10-2 10.3 82.74% 30.2 27 19.8 23
18 Georgia 8-4 10.2 82.48% 28.1 41 17.9 10
19 Texas 9-3 10.1 82.08% 33.7 15 23.7 48
20 Clemson 9-3 10.0 81.87% 33.7 14 23.8 50
21 Wisconsin 9-4 9.5 80.78% 27.5 44 18.0 11
22 TCU 10-2 9.5 80.76% 28.3 40 18.7 18
23 Syracuse 6-5 8.9 79.21% 27.4 45 18.5 16
24 Northwestern 8-4 8.8 78.97% 39.6 4 30.8 87
25 Purdue 8-4 8.8 78.87% 31.4 22 22.6 40
S&P+ Rk Team Record Est S&P+ Percentile Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
26 Georgia Tech 9-3 8.7 78.59% 30.3 26 21.6 34
27 Western Michigan 9-3 8.7 78.56% 24.3 74 15.6 5
28 Auburn 9-4 8.2 77.33% 26.4 52 18.2 13
29 Tennessee 8-4 7.6 75.71% 29.9 30 22.3 37
30 Southern Miss 8-4 7.6 75.62% 25.3 63 17.7 9
31 West Virginia 7-5 7.5 75.19% 33.8 13 26.3 66
32 East Carolina 8-4 7.3 74.65% 29.7 34 22.5 38
33 UCLA 6-6 7.0 73.92% 33.6 16 26.6 68
34 Arizona 5-6 7.0 73.86% 25.7 55 18.7 19
35 LSU 8-4 6.4 71.99% 25.7 56 19.3 20
36 Louisville 9-3 6.3 71.62% 31.4 21 25.1 60
37 Colorado 3-8 5.8 70.31% 27.3 46 21.4 33
38 Pittsburgh 7-5 5.4 68.98% 25.3 62 19.8 24
39 Boston College 7-5 5.3 68.59% 30.0 29 24.7 57
40 Stanford 5-6 5.2 68.18% 27.8 42 22.6 42
41 Iowa State 9-3 4.5 65.89% 30.0 28 25.5 63
42 UTEP 8-4 4.3 65.39% 32.0 20 27.7 72
43 Alabama 3-8 4.2 65.05% 23.6 78 19.3 21
44 Texas Tech 7-6 4.2 64.94% 25.4 59 21.2 31
45 Boise State 10-2 4.2 64.82% 36.4 9 32.2 95
46 Colorado State 10-2 3.8 63.73% 26.4 51 22.6 41
47 Michigan State 5-6 2.7 59.84% 20.8 90 18.1 12
48 Arizona State 6-6 2.6 59.26% 26.9 47 24.4 54
49 Northern Illinois 6-5 2.4 58.71% 33.2 18 30.8 86
50 Arkansas 6-6 2.1 57.44% 25.0 68 23.0 45
S&P+ Rk Team Record Est S&P+ Percentile Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
51 California 3-8 2.0 57.24% 25.6 57 23.6 47
52 Washington State 4-7 2.0 57.08% 29.9 31 27.9 74
53 Fresno State 7-5 1.9 56.89% 24.6 70 22.7 43
54 USC 5-7 1.7 56.24% 27.8 43 26.1 65
55 Ole Miss 7-5 1.4 55.18% 29.1 35 27.7 73
56 Marshall 8-5 1.3 54.63% 25.4 61 24.1 53
57 Virginia 6-6 0.4 51.51% 22.6 84 22.2 36
58 BYU 6-6 0.3 51.26% 24.7 69 24.4 55
59 Penn State 5-7 0.3 51.11% 23.3 82 23.0 46
60 New Mexico 5-7 0.1 50.25% 18.8 98 18.7 17
61 Iowa 3-9 0.0 50.16% 22.2 87 22.1 35
62 Air Force 9-3 -0.1 49.81% 30.6 24 30.7 85
63 Illinois 5-6 -0.1 49.64% 26.3 54 26.4 67
64 North Carolina 6-5 -0.1 49.47% 25.1 67 25.2 61
65 UAB 7-4 -0.3 49.08% 19.5 94 19.8 22
66 Minnesota 6-6 -0.3 49.02% 28.8 36 29.1 78
67 Cincinnati 7-5 -0.3 48.99% 23.7 76 24.0 52
68 NC State 8-4 -0.4 48.49% 29.7 33 30.2 82
69 Kansas 4-7 -0.7 47.32% 28.6 39 29.3 80
70 UNLV 8-5 -0.9 46.90% 24.4 72 25.2 62
71 Central Florida 7-4 -1.3 45.41% 26.4 53 27.7 71
72 Maryland 5-6 -1.4 44.92% 23.4 80 24.8 58
73 Ohio 7-4 -1.6 44.33% 23.4 79 25.0 59
74 San Jose State 7-5 -2.1 42.46% 29.8 32 31.9 94
75 Utah 4-7 -2.6 40.51% 18.6 99 21.2 32
S&P+ Rk Team Record Est S&P+ Percentile Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
76 Temple 4-7 -2.7 40.39% 21.0 89 23.7 49
77 Indiana 3-8 -2.7 40.38% 33.6 17 36.2 110
78 Oklahoma State 3-8 -3.7 36.67% 22.2 86 25.9 64
79 Missouri 3-8 -4.8 33.15% 24.3 75 29.1 77
80 Kentucky 2-9 -5.1 31.93% 26.4 50 31.6 90
81 San Diego State 3-8 -5.5 30.74% 17.3 103 22.8 44
82 Ball State 5-6 -5.6 30.32% 23.3 81 29.0 76
83 Akron 6-5 -6.1 28.92% 25.6 58 31.6 92
84 Rice 3-8 -6.2 28.56% 22.3 85 28.5 75
85 Vanderbilt 3-8 -6.7 27.13% 17.8 102 24.4 56
86 Memphis 4-7 -7.2 25.42% 13.2 112 20.5 27
87 Rutgers 3-8 -7.4 24.86% 25.2 65 32.6 96
88 Tulane 6-5 -8.1 23.09% 26.7 48 34.8 106
89 Idaho 5-6 -8.4 22.28% 26.6 49 34.9 107
90 New Mexico State 3-8 -8.6 21.70% 25.4 60 34.0 102
91 Miami-OH 6-5 -9.7 18.82% 20.5 91 30.2 83
92 Tulsa 5-7 -9.9 18.41% 16.8 106 26.6 70
93 Hawaii 3-9 -9.9 18.39% 23.7 77 33.5 100
94 Arkansas State 1-10 -9.9 18.22% 25.1 66 35.1 108
95 Houston 3-8 -10.1 17.78% 21.4 88 31.5 89
96 Middle Tennessee 6-5 -10.8 16.11% 24.4 73 35.2 109
97 Louisiana Tech 3-9 -11.0 15.72% 23.3 83 34.3 105
98 Utah State 5-6 -11.1 15.49% 25.3 64 36.4 112
99 Bowling Green 2-9 -11.4 14.95% 15.3 109 26.6 69
100 Eastern Michigan 3-8 -12.8 12.15% 19.0 97 31.8 93
S&P+ Rk Team Record Est S&P+ Percentile Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
101 Baylor 2-9 -13.1 11.60% 17.8 101 30.9 88
102 Duke 0-11 -13.3 11.24% 20.0 93 33.3 99
103 Army 1-10 -13.7 10.61% 20.3 92 33.9 101
104 Navy 1-10 -13.8 10.33% 19.1 96 33.0 98
105 Central Michigan 2-9 -14.1 9.97% 16.2 107 30.3 84
106 Wake Forest 2-9 -14.7 9.03% 18.0 100 32.7 97
107 SMU 3-9 -15.0 8.60% 14.7 110 29.6 81
108 North Texas 3-8 -16.9 6.13% 12.2 114 29.1 79
109 Wyoming 1-10 -17.2 5.82% 17.0 105 34.2 104
110 Nevada 2-10 -17.3 5.76% 19.4 95 36.6 113
111 Kent 1-10 -19.3 3.91% 12.3 113 31.6 91
112 UL-Lafayette 1-10 -22.1 2.21% 14.3 111 36.3 111
113 Connecticut 3-8 -22.7 1.91% 15.9 108 38.6 114
114 Buffalo 2-9 -23.3 1.67% 17.0 104 40.3 116
115 South Florida 7-4 -25.7 0.94% 8.3 116 34.1 103
116 UL-Monroe 1-10 -28.2 0.51% 10.8 115 39.0 115

...or not

Including the results of the bowls, Miami ranks ahead of both FSU and Oklahoma. However, if you remove the bowls from the equation, then the picture gets a little muddier. Here are the pre-bowl rankings:

1. Florida State (+27.2)
2. Miami (+25.8)
3. Oklahoma (+21.2)
4. Florida (+20.8)
5. Virginia Tech (+19.5)

The awesome bowl results pushed Miami over the top, but at the time of the selection, these ratings might have preferred FSU as well. Nothing can ever be easy, can it...

This was another perfect situation in which the BCS' biggest problem wasn't who it selected, it was that it could only select two teams to play in the game.

A Playoff selection would have been interesting

So we obviously know who would have taken three of the four Playoff bids that year. And we tend to assume one-loss Washington would have gotten the fourth spot. But Virginia Tech boasted Michael Vick and only a road loss to Miami. Frank Beamer's Hokies didn't have any big-name wins -- besides Miami, they played eight-win ECU and seven-win BC, WVU, Pitt, and UCF squads, and that's about it -- but had star power.

That would have been an interesting debate, especially since Washington actually only split the Pac-10 title with Oregon (to whom the Huskies lost) and Oregon State (whom they beat by three at home). The Huskies barely eked by 6-6 Arizona State (21-15), 5-6 Stanford (31-28), 5-6 Arizona (35-32), and 6-6 UCLA (35-28). I assume the Committee would have valued head-to-head results here and chosen Washington, but of the one-loss Pac-10 teams, Est. S&P+ actually preferred Oregon State, and it would have gone with the Hokies all the way.

Other thoughts

  • Hello, No. 4 offense Northwestern. This was the "Kevin Wilson and Randy Walker go all in on spread and tempo" year; the Wildcats scored 38 on Duke, 47 on Wisconsin, 37 on Michigan State, 52 on Indiana, 41 on Minnesota, 61 on Illinois, and of course, 54 on Michigan in the classic 54-51 win. Unfortunately, tempo got the best of the defense, which allowed 27 or more points eight times.
  • Oklahoma's offense fell off drastically when Josh Heupel's nagging shoulder injury took a toll late in the year. Heading into Thanksgiving, OU's offense ranked second behind only Virginia Tech's. It ended up falling to seventh after scoring just 12 points on Oklahoma State, 27 on Kansas State, and 13 on Florida State.
  • Gary Pinkel's last Toledo team would have been in line for the Group of Five's power bowl slot and, at 13th overall, would have had a tremendous shot at beating whoever it may have faced in that game (perhaps Oregon State?).
  • 7-4 USF second-to-last? Yep. This was the Bulls' transition year into FBS, and while they went 6-0 against FCS (then 1-AA) teams on their schedule, they lost four of five to FBS teams. They eked by UConn but got crushed by 2-9 Kentucky, 2-9 Baylor, and Middle Tennessee. So yeah, probably justifiable.
  • Alabama: 43rd. USC: 54th. That should never happen.

Next up: Full decade rankings for the 2000s.