The McMNC for 1997: University of Nebraska



AP Top 10: Final Record -- Key Bowl Results

1. Michigan: 12-0-0 -- W, Rose, 21-16
2. Nebraska: 13-0-0 -- W, Orange, 42-17
3. Florida State: 11-1-0 -- W, Sugar, 31-14
4. Florida: 10-2-0 -- W, Citrus, 21-6
5. UCLA: 10-2-0 -- W, Cotton, 29-23
6. North Carolina: 11-1-0 -- W, Gator, 42-3
7. Tennessee: 11-2-0 -- L, Orange, 17-42
8. Kansas State: 11-1-0 -- W, Fiesta, 35-18
9. Washington State: 10-2-0 -- L, Rose, 16-21
10. Georgia: 10-2-0 -- W, Outback, 33-6

Three teams under consideration this year: Michigan, Nebraska and
Florida State. For the second year in a row, FSU went into their final
regular season game undefeated. This year, Florida beat them by three
in the Swamp. It comes down to FSU's SOS rating (57%) to keep them in
this discussion -- especially because they beat Ohio State in their
bowl game by more points (17) than Michigan beat them in a home game
(6).

So let's start with the Seminoles: they beat unranked 6-5 USC on the
road by seven points to start the season, they beat they beat unranked
7-5 Clemson on the road by seven points, they beat AP #25 Georgia Tech
(7-5) in a 38-0 shutout at home, they beat unranked 7-4 Virginia by 26
points on the road, they beat unranked 6-5 North Carolina State by 13
points at home, they beat #6 North Carolina by 17 points on the road,
and they beat AP #12 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Losing to #4 by
three points on the road is the only blemish, but it will depend on
the SOS ratings for Nebraska and Michigan. Beating only three ranked
teams, however, will hurt the Seminoles.

Nebraska has an SOS rating of 50%, which is passable. Perhaps what we
all remember about the Huskers in 1997 is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0FnFFjp1Ns.
But Nebraska beat AP #18 Washington (8-4) by 13 points on the road,
they beat #8 Kansas State (11-1) by 30 points at home, they beat
unranked 6-5 Texas Tech at home in a 29-0 whitewashing, they beat AP
#23 Missouri (7-5) by seven points on the road, they beat AP #20 Texas
A&M (9-4)by 39 points in the Big XII title game, and they beat #7
Tennessee by 25 points in the Orange Bowl. Not quite as impressive as
the 1995 team, but very good nonetheless. When you beat five ranked
teams by an average of 22 points each, you're doing something right.
They beat six winning teams overall on the year.

Last but not least, Michigan returned to prominence with a 52% SOS
rating. The Wolverines beat unranked 7-6 Notre Dame by seven points at
home, they beat unranked 7-5 Iowa at home by four points, they beat
unranked 7-5 Michigan State by 16 points on the road, they beat AP #16
Penn State (9-3) on the road by 26 points, they beat unranked 8-5
Wisconsin on the road by ten points, they beat AP #12 Ohio State
(10-3) home by six points, and they beat #9 Washington State in the
Rose Bowl by five points. They beat three ranked teams on the season
by an average of 12 points each. They beat seven winning teams in
1997.

Overall, Florida State's SOS isn't enough to overcome their one loss.
They needed to be above 60% to have a shot, basically.

So, of course, it's Michigan versus Nebraska. Their game results
against ranked teams are almost virtual opposites: Nebraska pounded
every ranked team they played but one, while Michigan squeaked by
every ranked team they played but one. But Nebraska played more ranked
teams, and their bowl win was significantly more impressive.

Michigan has the SOS edge, but it's primarily based on those unranked
teams above, while the Cornhuskers played a more top-heavy schedule.
What hurts Nebraska's SOS are games against 2-9 Akron, 2-9 Baylor and
1-10 Iowa State. Dragging down the Wolverine SOS are 2-9 Baylor, 2-9
Indiana and 3-9 Minnesota. Eliminate these dwellers, and the SOS
ratings are relatively even.

Common opponents helps us here, too, perhaps? Both teams played
Colorado and Baylor: Nebraska beat Baylor on the road by 28 and
Colorado on the road by three points, while Michigan beat the Bears by
35 points at home and the Buffaloes by 24 points at home. The
Wolverines get an edge here, although beating Colorado in Boulder in
late November is a tougher challenge than beating them in Ann Arbor in
September.

In the end, Nebraska is going to win this comparison for two reasons:
1) They beat better opponents by bigger margins. In fact, they beat 13
teams by an average of 30.2 points per game in 1997, while Michigan
beat 12 teams by an average of 17.3 points per game. Considering their
SOS ratings were so comparable, this is a distinct edge for the
Huskers when you consider how they dominated ranked teams while
Michigan merely scraped by ranked teams; 2) With everything on the
line in their bowl games, the Huskers beat the one-loss, SEC-champion
Volunteers (then-#3) by 25 points in a game that was never close,
while the Wolverines beat the one-loss, Pac-10 champions (then-#7) by
five points in a game that went down to the wire and ended on a
controversial clock judgment (in favor of the Wolverines).

Bottom line? The Huskers beat a better team more convincingly when it
mattered most.

McMNC Revisions
1. Nebraska
2. Michigan
3. Florida State
4. Kansas State
5. North Carolina

RUNNING SCORECARD:
Penn State: +1977, +1981, =1982, =1986, +1994
USC: -1962, =1967, +1969, =1972, +1978, +1979
Tennessee: +1938, +1942, +1950, -1951
Washington: +1960, +1991
Georgia Tech: +1952, +1990
Pittsburgh: +1936, -1937, =1976, +1980
UCLA: +1965
Arkansas: +1964
Mississippi: +1962
Iowa: +1956
Illinois: +1951
Purdue: +1943
Stanford: +1940
California: +1937
Florida: =1996
BYU: =1984
Syracuse: =1959
LSU: =1958
Texas A&M: =1939
Auburn: -1957, +1983
Georgia: +1946, -1980
Michigan State: -1952, +1953
Michigan: +1947, =1948, -1997
Ohio State: -1942, +1944, =1954, =1968
Nebraska: =1970, =1971, -1994, =1995, +1997
Oklahoma: +1949, -1950, =1955, -1956, +1957, =1975, =1986
TCU: -1938
Maryland: -1953
Clemson: -1981
Colorado: -1990
Florida State: -1993
Texas: =1963, -1969
Army: -1944, -1945
Miami-FL: -1983, =1987, =1989, -1991
Minnesota: -1936, -1940, =1941, -1960
Alabama: +1945, =1961, -1964, -1965, -1978, -1979, =1992
Notre Dame: -1943, -1946, -1947, -1949, =1966, =1973, -1977, =1988,
+1993
.