Best Teams Ever bracket: 2019 LSU takes down 1995 Nebraska as college football's best team

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Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! Check out the first round of voting herethe second round of voting here and the Final Four voting here. Check out the championship round voting here. Polls closed at noon ET on Tuesday.

The reigning national champions are champions once again. 

The 2019 LSU Tigers, the No. 3 seed in our Best Team Ever bracket, cruised past 2013 Florida State and 2009 Alabama to reach the semifinals, but had to get past the top two seeds in our tournament to be crowned the best college football team ever. 

Ed Orgeron’s boys did just that. 

The Tigers met the No. 2 seed, 2001 Miami, in the semifinals and earned 55 percent of the vote to pull off the upset over arguably the most talent-rich roster (17 future NFL first-round picks) in college football history. 

From there, LSU squared off against the No. 1 seed, the mighty 1995 Nebraska Huskers. The ‘95 Huskers, the most dominant of Tom Osborne’s three title teams, handily defeated the 2004 USC Trojans to advance to the championship round. 

The Huskers, long considered among college football’s all-time elite, took an early voting edge over LSU. But LSU made a late climb and took the lead by Tuesday morning. It was one of the closest votes of the entire tournament across all sports, but when the dust settled, LSU garnered 51 percent of the more than 38,000 votes cast.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron holds the trophy beside quarterback Joe Burrow, center, and safety Grant Delpit after a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. LSU won 42-25. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron holds the trophy beside quarterback Joe Burrow, center, and safety Grant Delpit after a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. LSU won 42-25. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Recency bias? Maybe, but numbers show how dominant LSU was

Could LSU’s victory be a product of recency bias? Of course. LSU’s historic title run is still fresh on our minds, especially compared to the teams from decades past it was stacked up against. 

At the same time, however, the numbers show that LSU’s 2019 run stacks up against any other in college football history.

The Tigers went a perfect 15-0 behind a historically prolific offense that was led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Along the way, LSU beat five teams that finished in the top eight of the final Associated Press Top 25. The Tigers knocked off No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Florida, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 8 Alabama before cruising past defending national champion No. 2 Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff national championship. 

The Clemson team LSU beat entered the national title game on a 29-game winning streak. LSU even fell behind 17-7 in the title game before storming back to win in emphatic fashion. 

The 2019 Tigers had a seemingly never-ending collection of accolades to stack alongside the 15-0 record and national championship trophy. Burrow won the Heisman by a historic landslide and ended up being responsible for more touchdowns in a season than any player in history. The 2019 Tigers scored the most points in the AP poll era (726), had the coach of the year (Orgeron), assistant coach of the year (co-offensive coordinator Joe Brady), Joe Moore Award winner (best offensive line), Biletnikoff Trophy winner (Ja’Marr Chase) and Jim Thorpe Award winner (Grant Delpit).

The epic numbers put up by LSU’s offense sometimes hid the struggles of the team’s defense. Late in the year, however, Dave Aranda’s unit tightened things up and proved a worthy complement to the team’s championship-level offense. They closed out the season by allowing only seven points to Texas A&M, 10 points to Georgia in the SEC title game, shutting down Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts in the CFP semifinals and overwhelming Clemson star Trevor Lawrence in the title game. 

This team will be looked back at with reverence for decades to come.

Joe Burrow’s historic season

The spectacular ascendance of Burrow really cannot be overstated. 

Burrow arrived at LSU after leaving Ohio State, where he was third on the depth chart. His first season as LSU’s starter was solid, but nothing special. Somehow, in a year’s time, he progressed into a mega-star who authored the best season by a quarterback in college football history. 

Burrow threw five touchdown passes against Clemson, giving him an NCAA-record 60 for the season. Additionally, his 5,671 passing yards rank third in FBS history and his 76.3 completion percentage is the second-best single-season mark of all-time. 

To sum up Burrow’s excellence, his 31-of-49 for 463 yards and five touchdowns in the title game actually marked his worst game of the season in terms of accuracy. And he did that against the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense. To that point in the season, Clemson allowed only 11.5 points per game. 

Burrow is now likely to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. And he’ll likely be joined by more than a dozen of his teammates at the next level.

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