"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Do The Best College Football Teams of All Time Include the 2019 LSU Tigers National Championship Team? ABSOLUTELY

The question has been raised online about whether the current national champion 2019 season LSU Tigers are among the best college football teams of all time, and the answer is clearly a "yes", according to an analysis of yards per play ("ypp") stats for previous highly-rated national championship teams which we posted years ago at
The Best College Football Teams of All Time Can Be Narrowed Down Using NAYPPA - Net Average Yards Per Play Advantage.

Below is a comparison list of selected football seasons which shows -- in spite of the many changes that mark modern college football -- that NAYPPA (net average yards per play advantage, i.e. the difference between the ypp gained by a team's offense and the ypp allowed by the defense) has changed little over the decades in being an incomparable measure of a top team's football season dominance and ranking.

The best teams ever have a NAYPPA of +2.7 to +2.8.

2019 national champions LSU Tigers
+2.78 NAYPPA
LSU 7.89 ypp on offense and 5.11 ypp on defense = +2.78 ypp

Nebraska Cornhuskers 1995 season
(ranked by many as the top team ever)
+2.72 NAYPPA - In the regular season 7.2 yards per play on offense and 4.5 yards per play on defense, but that stat does not include the 1996 Fiesta Bowl in which the Huskers netted 629 yards on 83 plays = 7.6 yards per play while Florida netted 271 yards on 59 plays = 4.6 yards per play for a NAYPPA of 3.0, and that against the Nr. 2 team in the country. The Huskers punted once.
(According to our calculations, including the bowl game, the Huskers
gained 6748 yards on 938 plays = 7.19 ypp
and allowed 3506 yards on  785 plays = 4.47 ypp
i.e. +2.72.)

33 players from the Husker roster went on to play professional football.

"The 1995 Nebraska squad has been voted as the greatest college football team of all-time in many surveys, including the all-time Sagarin ratings.[39]"
Nebraska beat Michigan State (6-5-1 overall) 50-10, "the most one-sided defeat in the coaching career of Nick Saban, in his first season at East Lansing."
Nebraska beat Florida 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl. Florida won the national championship the following year.

As written at the Wikipedia:
"Due to their performance against Florida as well as beating 4 teams that finished in the top 10 by an average score of 49-18, their consistent dominance (smallest margin of victory was 14 points), their record setting offensive performance, and their statistically impressive defense throughout the season, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers are widely considered one of the greatest teams in college football history. The team set Division 1-A records by averaging 7.0 yards per rushing attempt and also by allowing zero quarterback sacks on the season. Noted for its strong special teams play, the team also connected on 13 of 16 field goal attempts, and it also tied an NCAA record by allowing only five punt returns (for a total of 12 yards) all season. The 1995 Huskers also averaged a victory margin of more than 38 points, the largest of any Division 1-A team since World War II, despite regularly resting their starters in the second halves of games. Averaging more than 53 points per game (including the bowl win), the team averaged 29.8 points per first half - a higher number than the per-game scoring average of many national champions, even including such modern champions as the 2006 Florida Gators, the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, and the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide. Analysts often make comparisons to other recent highly-regarded champions, such as the 2001 Miami Hurricanes and the 2004 USC Trojans[4]. Such comparisons, as noted by the experts themselves, are nearly impossible to make, as rankings vary from evaluation to evaluation. The 1994 and 1995 Nebraska teams, which went a combined 25-0, remain the only undefeated - as well as the only consensus - back-to-back national champions since Oklahoma in 1955 and 1956."

Oklahoma Sooners 1974 season
+2.81 NAYPPA - 6.23 yards per play on offense to 3.42 yards per play on defense (stats)

Miami Hurricanes 2001 season 
(ranked by some as the top team ever)
(ca. +2.8 NAYPPA with the Rose Bowl)
+2.7 NAYPPA - 6.6 yards per play on offense to 3.9 yards per play on defense.

Tennessee Volunteers 1998 season
+2.7 NAYPPA - 7.1 yards per play on offense to 4.4 yards per play on defense

It is really quite amazing that the NAYPPA stats for these teams, generally regarded as the best ever in college football history, are so close.