The 25 Best College Football Teams of the 2010s: Nos. 20-16

By Nate Wilmot on April 3, 2020 at 8:27 am
Dec 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (11) celebrates after a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Re-Introduction

Yesterday we started counting down the top 26 teams of the 2010's and ran through #26 - 21 (Part 1). As reminder, the methodology uses a combination of S&P+ and WAR to generate a quantitative understanding of the FBS college football landscape from 2010 - 2019. 

Recap

  • 26. 2017 Penn State Nittany Lions
  • 25. 2014 Georgia Bulldogs
  • 24. 2012 Oregon Ducks
  • 23. 2011 LSU Tigers
  • 22. 2010 Oregon Ducks
  • 21. 2010 Alabama Crimson Tide

20. 2013 Oregon Ducks

This is the third and final time the Ducks make our list. Both systems agree that this was their best team (24th in S&P+ and 20th in WAR) even if the they finished 11–2. This Ducks team was quarterbacked by 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota who combined for 4,300 yards passing and rushing and 40 total touchdowns . They averaged 43.8 points per game (36th ranked of 1,263), 547.8 YPG (19th), and 7.29 YPP (22nd), combined with a top-150 defense by WAR standards. November losses at No. 6-Stanford (26-20) and a solid Arizona team (42-16) derailed their national title hopes.

The Ducks bounced back in 2014, making the first College Football Playoff. The crushed defending champion Florida State in the semifinal (59-20) before falling to Ohio State in the title game. Despite not winning a national title, Oregon is easily one of the strongest programs of the decade.

2013 Oregon Ducks

19. 2010 Boise State Broncos

The two advanced systems differ on the 2010 BSU team. S&P+ has them as the seventh best team for the year and 45th for the decade, while WAR has them as the 13th best team for the decade and second for the 2010 season. They opened as the No. 3 team in the AP poll after an undefeated 2009 campaign that ended with a 17–10 Fiesta Bowl win over TCU. In 2010, they faced the AP No. 13 Virginia Tech squad to start the season and escaped with a 33–30 victory behind three touchdown passes from Kellen Moore and 83 yards on 12 carries from Doug Martin. They won their next nine games by an average score of 49.5–7.8 before suffering their first loss in 24 games at No. 19 Nevada 34–31 in overtime. That Wolfpack squad was led by Colin Kaepernick and Rishard Matthews. During the season the Broncos were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country but, being a mid-major, the loss dropped them down to the Maaco Bowl where they handily beat Utah 26–3.

2010 Boise State

18. 2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Come after him, he’s a man. He was a 44-year old man when Mike Gundy coached Oklahoma State to a 12–1 record and a No. 3 spot in the final AP Poll. They averaged the sixth highest point total (48.7 PPG) and 13th best Offensive WAR Rating (OE) in the last 10 years. Brandon Weeden, only slightly younger than his head coach, Justin Blackmon, and Joseph Randle gave the Cowboys one of the most explosive offenses college football has seen. They also played in the Big 12, so were only able to field the 270th best defense by WAR. While they put up basketball numbers on offense, they stumbled against Iowa State, who finished 6-7, losing 37–31 in the week before Bedlam.

2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys

17. 2018 Georgia Bulldogs

Back to the SEC we go. The 2018 UGA team had championship aspirations. They lost a close game to Alabama in the national title game the year before after sneaking by Oklahoma in the third most exciting Rose Bowl ever. (PSU-USC 2017 and USC-UT 2006 are the top two and this is without argument). Georgia opened the season No. 3 but weren’t tested in the early part of the season with games vs. Austin Peay, South Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. The won those six games by an average 43–13 before heading to Baton Rouge to face the No. 13 LSU Tigers. Jake Fromm threw two picks, was sacked four times as the Tigers pulled the upset 36–16. UGA proceeded to win their last five regular season games to get the privilege of losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game (Justin Fields fake punt!) before falling to Texas (are they back?!?) in the Sugar Bowl.

2018 Georgia Bulldogs

16. 2014 Alabama Crimson Tide

S&P+ ranks the 2014 installment of the Tide as the fifth best team of the decade (with a percentile rating of 95) while WAR has them at 45th ranked (76%). This is one of the more disparate rankings in the series. For WAR, their offense ranks as 86th and their defense 83rd while S&P+ has them as the 39th best offense and 19th best defense. By Alabama standards, it was their second worst defense in terms of PPM-D (0.65) and third worst Defensive Ball Control, DBC (28.3). This combined with an average, again by Alabama standards, offense, pushes them down a bit in WAR.

Even with all of this said, the only regular season game they lost was at No. 11-Ole Miss by a score of 23–17. Following that loss, they then beat Arkansas by one before stomping Texas A&M by 59–0.

Alabama played Ohio State in the first college football playoff losing 42–35 in the semis.

2014 Alabama

Eleven down, fifteen to go with a couple of likely surprises in this set. Can a non-traditional power make the top 15 as Boise State and Oklahoma State did here? Where is Ohio State? Clemson? We'll find out soon.

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