I'm sure someone has written this article, but I will find any excuse to look at some CFB history...so without further adieu, The Rivalry's Top 10 Programs of the 1990's, Part 1.
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#1 - Florida State
Overall Record: 109-13-1. Bowls: 8-2. National Championships: 2. Star Players: Charlie Ward (Heisman), Terrell Buckley (Thorpe), Marvin Jones (Butkus), Sebastian Janikowski (Groza), Peter Warrick, Warrick Dunn, Travis Minor, Casey Weldon, Derrick Brooks, Corey Simon, Peter Boulware, Andre Wadsworth. The Seminole's and Cornhuskers are of course, #1 and #2, and I had to choose FSU to edge the top spot. Not only did they play Miami and Florida (both Top 5 programs of the 1990's) every year, but the Bobby Bowden-led Seminoles won at least 10 games every year. Featuring one Heisman winner in Charlie Ward and about 55 stud NFL players, the Garnet and Gold featured a viciously fast defense and the occasional offensive superstar like Peter Warrick (who should have won the 1999 Heisman). When you turned on ABC and saw FSU playing you knew that somehow, no matter how much you willed the plucky underdog/Florida opponent to win, the Seminoles were coming out with a W...and that's the sign of a dominant program. Also, imagine the possibilities without the two Wide Right kicks. Soooo reasons for picking FSU over Nebraska: Harder schedule, better bowl record, more NFL players, 2-0 head to head record v Nebraska, 1 more national championship appearance.
#2 - Nebraska
Overall Record: 108-16-1. Bowls: 5-5. National Championships: 3. Star Players: Trev Alberts (Butkus), Grant Wistrom (Lombardi, Outland), Will Shields (Outland), Zach Wiegert (Outland), Tommy Frazier, Aaron Taylor, Ahman Green, Lawrence Phillips, Mike Brown, Ralph Brown, Dominic Raiola. In a decade where CFB was expanding and experimenting, going undefeated three times in 10 years is all the more impressive. Featuring the signature triple option and the best offensive line play of the decade, Nebraska roared through the mid to late ‘90's, winning 26 games in a row at one point. The 1995 team is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, with an offensive backfield of Green, Phillips, and Frazier chalking up blowout after blowout. Maybe the option was in its death throes, but Tom Osbourne rode the antiquated offense to almost unparalleled success.
#3 - Florida
Overall Record: 102-22-1. Bowls: 5-4. National Championships: 1. Star Players: Danny Wuerfful (Heisman), Lawrence Wright (Thorpe), Judd Davis (Groza), Chris Doering, Errict Rhett, Fred Taylor, Ike Hilliard, Jeff Mitchell, Alex Brown, Kevin Carter, Jevon Kearse, Fred Weary, Jason Odom, Ellis Johnson, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green. Spurrier's run and gun pulled one national title win and another NC appearance which ended in ugly defeat against Nebraska. The Gator's won six SEC titles and churned numerous NFL quarterbacks like Wuerfful, Rex Grossman, and Doug Johnson. Spurrier was known for running up the score, but his solid 4-7-1 record against 800 lb gorilla Florida State shows he was a big game coach too.
#4 - Miami (FL)
Overall Record: 92-27. Bowls: 5-3. National Championships: 1. Star Players: Gino Torretta (Heisman), Warren Sapp (Bednarik), Russell Maryland (Outland), Santana Moss, Edgerrin James, Michael Barrow, Ed Reed, Craig Erickson, Ray Lewis, Jesse Armstead. The best program of the 1980's sustained its dominance into the 1990's led by Torretta and incredibly talented defenders like Maryland and Sapp. The undefeated 1991 team only gave up 100 points, cementing Miami's reputation as the center of the college football universe for defensive standouts. The legend of the Florida athlete was furthered by the much-watched Miami/Florida State matchups that were intense matchups usually decided in the last two minutes. Unfortunately, the Hurricane program was becoming well known for its tragedies (Jerome Brown, Shane Curry) and the Hurricane's ran into a wall in 1997, when an unfathomable losing record stopped the Canes from making a bowl game.
#5 - Tennessee
Overall Record: 99-22-1. Bowls: 6-4. National Championships: 1. Star Players: Peyton Manning (Maxwell, O'Brien, Unitas), Heath Shuler, Donte Stallworth, Al Wilson, Tee Martin, Leonard Little, Marcus Nash, Peerless Price, Andy McCullough, Joey Kent, Trey Teague, Carl Pickens. Johnny Majors passed on the Vol program to Phillip Fulmer, who continued the winning ways in Knoxville. Fulmer won three SEC titles in the ‘90's and defeated a solid FSU team in 1998 to complete an undefeated season. Wide receivers flourished under both Majors and Fulmer, but Fulmer's masterful job of coaching in '98 gave CFB one its most surprising champions of the decade.