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College football in the 2000s: Oklahoma may have had the best team and the best program

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[puts on earphones] Yell away.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As I continue to work backwards into college football's history to do these year-in-review posts, I figure it would be fun to stop at the end of each decade and take stock. At SB Nation, I shared the top 10 programs of each decade (per my S&P+ percentile ratings), but I only shared the top 10 of each decade.

So now that I've worked back through 2000, let's pause and look at the decade as a whole. Now, obviously decade rankings are pretty arbitrary -- looking at 2000-09 doesn't really tell us anything more meaningful than look at 1996-2005 or 2004-13 or whatever. Still, we tend to cluster years and eras in this way, so it makes sense to look at it the ratings in this way.

We'll look at two lists below: the top 50 teams of the decade, and a full-scale ranking of all programs from the decade.

NOTE: If you want to keep yelling at me about how the 2008 Oklahoma team is overrated or how the 2001 Miami team is underrated, that's fine. Go for it. But it's well-covered territory. I understand your feelings on the matter, and they have been noted. Honestly, these ratings surprised me a bit, too. But realize this (and yes, I'm basically speaking to Miami fans right now):

1. We're basically talking about the difference between the 99.7 percentile and the 99.4 percentile. All of the teams at the top of this list were awesome and nearly indistinguishable from each other. Tiny strength of schedule differences and single-game brilliance/mediocrity ended up making the difference here.

2. These are not my opinions. This is just the output of a pretty good formula, designed to add context to the conversation ... and we don't have much context for any historical conversation without numbers.

3. 2001 Miami was the best team from 1996-04, nearly a decade. And 2000 Miami was second-best. So within that cycle of college football, this was still the best of the best.

50 Best Teams of the 2000s

Decade
Rk
Year Team Offense
Rank
(Year)
Defense
Rank
(Year)
S&P+ Rk Percentile
1 2008 Oklahoma 48.8 1 17.9 15 30.9 1 99.69%
2 2005 USC 50.1 1 20.4 27 29.7 1 99.67%
3 2008 Florida 43.3 3 12.7 5 30.6 2 99.66%
4 2005 Texas 44.0 2 14.7 5 29.3 2 99.63%
5 2001 Miami-FL 39.7 3 12.7 1 27.0 1 99.40%
6 2000 Miami-FL 41.9 1 14.6 4 27.3 1 99.37%
7 2008 USC 38.5 8 10.2 1 28.3 3 99.37%
8 2008 Texas 45.6 2 17.8 14 27.8 4 99.28%
9 2002 USC 40.1 1 14.1 4 26.1 1 99.18%
10 2005 Ohio State 37.7 6 12.4 2 25.4 3 98.95%
11 2004 USC 37.8 5 13.3 4 24.4 1 98.94%
12 2000 Florida State 37.5 6 12.3 1 25.2 2 98.92%
13 2009 Florida 36.4 6 11.3 5 25.0 1 98.91%
14 2001 Florida 42.1 1 17.7 12 24.4 2 98.86%
15 2007 West Virginia 40.9 4 16.9 9 24.1 1 98.67%
16 2009 Alabama 34.1 14 10.1 2 24.0 2 98.59%
17 2003 LSU 34.2 13 10.8 1 23.4 1 98.33%
18 2009 Texas 33.9 15 10.7 3 23.2 3 98.30%
19 2000 Oklahoma 37.4 7 14.5 3 22.9 3 98.16%
20 2007 LSU 37.5 13 14.8 3 22.6 2 98.11%
21 2003 USC 41.1 2 18.5 19 22.6 2 97.99%
22 2009 Virginia Tech 35.2 10 12.7 7 22.5 4 97.97%
23 2006 Florida 33.7 11 11.7 3 22.1 1 97.88%
24 2004 Oklahoma 36.5 7 15.1 10 21.3 2 97.79%
25 2007 Florida 47.0 1 25.2 52 21.8 3 97.72%
Decade
Rk
Year Team Offense
Rank
(Year)
Defense
Rank
(Year)
S&P+ Rk Percentile
26 2008 Penn State 38.7 7 15.9 9 22.9 5 97.72%
27 2006 Michigan 33.3 14 11.7 2 21.6 2 97.64%
28 2006 USC 34.2 9 12.6 4 21.6 3 97.62%
29 2003 Oklahoma 40.0 3 18.3 18 21.7 3 97.57%
30 2006 Ohio State 35.9 5 14.5 8 21.3 4 97.49%
31 2007 Ohio State 33.5 22 12.2 1 21.3 4 97.44%
32 2002 Miami-FL 39.5 3 18.4 19 21.1 2 97.42%
33 2000 Virginia Tech 41.9 2 21.1 29 20.7 4 97.09%
34 2000 Florida 38.9 5 18.2 14 20.7 5 97.04%
35 2004 Auburn 31.8 23 12.0 1 19.8 3 96.94%
36 2006 LSU 33.6 12 13.4 6 20.3 5 96.84%
37 2004 Miami-FL 33.9 14 14.7 7 19.2 4 96.54%
38 2005 Penn State 35.0 12 14.8 7 20.1 4 96.51%
39 2001 Tennessee 34.7 13 15.3 5 19.4 3 96.48%
40 2002 Oklahoma 36.8 4 17.3 13 19.6 3 96.43%
41 2008 Ohio State 33.2 17 12.5 4 20.7 6 96.37%
42 2004 California 35.9 10 16.9 15 19.0 5 96.32%
43 2009 TCU 34.3 13 14.6 10 19.7 5 96.29%
44 2005 Virginia Tech 32.1 26 12.3 1 19.8 5 96.27%
45 2006 Louisville 36.9 3 17.5 21 19.4 6 96.19%
46 2007 Oregon 39.5 8 20.2 19 19.3 5 96.12%
47 2003 Georgia 29.9 34 11.0 2 18.9 4 95.73%
48 2008 Alabama 32.3 25 12.5 3 19.8 7 95.71%
49 2009 Oklahoma 29.9 36 10.9 4 19.0 6 95.68%
50 2007 Oklahoma 39.8 6 21.3 28 18.5 6 95.36%

Only 9 national champions are in bold there because 2002 Ohio State ranked 60th. (You know, because these numbers haven't annoyed Miami fans enough recently...)

By my count, eight programs are represented at least three times in this list, accounting for 36 of the 50 teams by themselves: Oklahoma (7), USC (6), Florida (6), Miami (4), Ohio State (4), Texas (3), LSU (3), and Virginia Tech (3). But as you'll see below, Texas' extreme consistency still made the Longhorns perhaps the second-best program of the decade.

The 10 worst teams of the 2000s, by the way? 2004 Florida A&M (0.3%), 2000 ULM (0.5%), 2001 Arkansas State (0.8%), 2000 USF (0.9%), 2008 Idaho (1.0%), 2003 Arkansas State (1.4%), 2003 UTEP (1.5%), 2005 Buffalo (1.6%), 2000 Buffalo (1.7%), and 2009 NMSU (1.7%).

Ranking FBS programs by average S&P+ percentile rating

Team
Seasons
(2000s)
Avg Percentile Rk
Oklahoma 10 95.3% 1
Texas 10 93.3% 2
Florida 10 93.3% 3
Ohio State 10 91.2% 4
USC 10 89.3% 5
LSU 10 88.6% 6
Virginia Tech 10 88.3% 7
Georgia 10 85.8% 8
Miami-FL 10 83.4% 9
Tennessee 10 83.4% 10
Michigan 10 83.3% 11
Florida State 10 81.2% 12
Alabama 10 80.2% 13
Texas Tech 10 80.1% 14
Nebraska 10 80.0% 15
Oregon 10 78.8% 16
Auburn 10 78.5% 17
Penn State 10 78.2% 18
West Virginia 10 77.4% 19
Iowa 10 77.3% 20
Arkansas 10 77.2% 21
Oregon State 10 76.3% 22
Boise State 10 76.0% 23
South Carolina 10 74.9% 24
Wisconsin 10 74.2% 25
Team
Seasons
(2000s)
Avg Percentile Rk
Clemson 10 74.0% 26
Boston College 10 73.6% 27
Pittsburgh 10 73.1% 28
Georgia Tech 10 72.7% 29
Notre Dame 10 72.1% 30
TCU 10 69.9% 31
Purdue 10 68.0% 32
Utah 10 67.8% 33
California 10 67.7% 34
Oklahoma State 10 67.1% 35
UCLA 10 66.6% 36
Texas A&M 10 66.3% 37
Louisville 10 65.6% 38
Kansas State 10 64.6% 39
Virginia 10 64.5% 40
BYU 10 64.3% 41
Maryland 10 63.7% 42
Michigan State 10 63.5% 43
Missouri 10 62.3% 44
Cincinnati 10 61.5% 45
Colorado 10 61.3% 46
NC State 10 60.5% 47
Arizona State 10 60.4% 48
Minnesota 10 59.8% 49
Washington 10 58.6% 50
Team
Seasons
(2000s)
Avg Percentile Rk
Southern Miss 10 56.5% 51
South Florida 10 56.4% 52
Fresno State 10 54.8% 53
Washington State 10 54.6% 54
Arizona 10 54.4% 55
Stanford 10 53.7% 56
Ole Miss 10 53.6% 57
Kansas 10 53.2% 58
Wake Forest 10 52.9% 59
North Carolina 10 51.9% 60
Syracuse 10 49.7% 61
Colorado State 10 47.7% 62
Illinois 10 47.2% 63
East Carolina 10 46.5% 64
Kentucky 10 46.4% 65
Iowa State 10 46.3% 66
Northwestern 10 46.1% 67
Air Force 10 45.8% 68
Rutgers 10 44.4% 69
New Mexico 10 43.8% 70
Hawaii 10 43.2% 71
Marshall 10 43.1% 72
Bowling Green 10 41.5% 73
Mississippi State 10 41.4% 74
Toledo 10 40.3% 75
Connecticut 10 38.9% 76
Team
Seasons
(2000s)
Avg Percentile Rk
Northern Illinois 10 38.7% 77
Troy 9 37.3% 78
Tulsa 10 35.6% 79
Central Florida 10 35.3% 80
Houston 10 35.1% 81
Miami-OH 10 34.3% 82
Vanderbilt 10 34.0% 83
Indiana 10 33.7% 84
Baylor 10 31.7% 85
Nevada 10 31.0% 86
Memphis 10 30.9% 87
Wyoming 10 29.5% 88
UAB 10 28.8% 89
Western Michigan 10 28.1% 90
UNLV 10 28.1% 91
UTEP 10 27.7% 92
Louisiana Tech 10 26.6% 93
Navy 10 25.9% 94
Ball State 10 24.8% 95
San Diego State 10 24.7% 96
Central Michigan 10 24.5% 97
Temple 10 24.4% 98
Middle Tennessee 10 22.4% 99
Akron 10 21.7% 100
Team
Seasons
(2000s)
Avg Percentile Rk
Ohio 10 21.4% 101
Rice 10 20.8% 102
Tulane 10 18.4% 103
Duke 10 17.9% 104
Florida Atlantic 6 17.9% 105
Utah State 10 17.3% 106
North Texas 10 16.2% 107
SMU 10 15.5% 108
San Jose State 10 15.4% 109
Kent 10 13.4% 110
New Mexico State 10 12.5% 111
Buffalo 10 10.5% 112
Florida International 6 10.1% 113
Army 10 9.9% 114
UL-Lafayette 10 9.6% 115
Idaho 10 9.4% 116
Arkansas State 10 9.0% 117
UL-Monroe 10 9.0% 118
Eastern Michigan 10 7.0% 119
Western Kentucky 3 6.3% 120
Florida A&M 1 0.3% 121

Next up: a look at 1999.