USA Today Ranks 2002 Ohio State 15th Best BCS Champion

January 8, 2014 at 10:20a    by DJ Byrnes    
Props to Ohio State graphics.

Fire up the outrage machine, Buckeyes fans, because the 2002 national championship team has been dissed by USA Today. In a list ranking the BCS champions — in front of only 2007 LSU — the paper ranked the 2002 Ohio State team as 15th best of its era:

15. 2002 Ohio State (14-0): The Buckeyes didn't win pretty. OSU pulled out several late comebacks during the regular season and needed overtime to beat Miami (Fla.) to win the championship, but there's something to be said of a team with the mental toughness needed to win close game after close game.

Yes, there is something to be said about a team that beat one of the most talented teams in history in unarguably in a top two game of the BCS era: it deserves to be ranked higher than 15th.


CALPOPPY's picture


I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Unky Buck's picture

OSU_Alum_05 wins the interwebs today!


Stinson's picture

Honestly the best GIF I've ever seen.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

CALPOPPY's picture


Don't piss off Bert.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Unky Buck's picture

I'm inclined to say the Patrick Star is better than the Bert one.


CALPOPPY's picture

Pretty nice. Patrick Star looks scared while Bert looks pissed.
Ramzy should start a situational column for these GIFs.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Hovenaut's picture

Premium Content alert.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

VestedInterest's picture most recent trip thru A2 caught on camera.

Killer nuts's picture

Because beating arguably the best team in the BCS era proves nothing...

CALPOPPY's picture

This was going to be my response. I haven't looked but where was the 2001 Miami team ranked?

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Killer nuts's picture

They were ranked number 1 of course

CALPOPPY's picture

Thanks. After I responded, I went to look. I had already edited my response but it wasn't in time to change (got the error message about changing the comment).
Anyway, I am not going to get too worked up about some opinion from a writer. I do think it's funny that OSU beat Miami and isn't considered better than 15th (as you said). I guess Miami really dropped off that next year...or maybe they just didn't play Stanford football.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Humor.  We beat a better/more experienced version of the best team on the list and he has us next to last.  Humor.
Whats ironic is, didnt that Buckeye team start the season ranked around the same that year?  15 or 16 or something like that?  We won all of those games.  We'd win all of these too.  That team never lost and obviously never will.  So eat chit whoever made this "ranking."

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I think we started at 12

chicagobuckeye's picture

Ironically, he ranks their 2001 teams as the best. 

dubjayfootball90's picture

exactly. Just another ball washing bastard

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

CALPOPPY's picture

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

d5k's picture

Sample size 1.  I am perfectly fine with being one of the best and most meaningful upsets in the history of national championship games.  

jenks's picture

1. 2001 Miami (Fla.) (12-0): Best team of the BCS era? Yep. One of the most talented teams of all time? Yep. The 2001 Hurricanes were a team for the ages.

I see what he did there... wait, what?

costinjr's picture

The only logical scenario I can come up with is that USA Today employs 9 year olds?

Killer nuts's picture

It is pretty ridiculous to put any one loss teams ahead of the undefeated teams

d5k's picture

If I am not mistaken this is a list of the "best" teams not the "most accomplished" teams.  There is a difference between the two.  The pollsters do not always make this distinction and contradict themselves at times.

Killer nuts's picture

The only props I will give is that he kept the SEC out of the top 3

d5k's picture

You guys really think the team that needed a 4th and 1 hail mark to beat Purdue was one of the best teams of the last decade+?  That might've been the 3rd or 4th best Tressel-era team but it is still the most memorable season because of all the great finishes and the crystal ball.
The 2005 and 2006 teams were both statistically better but had heartbreaking losses rather than heart-stopping wins.  Results are meaningful emotionally but not always statistically.

jenks's picture

And wins mean more than losses

d5k's picture

Not always if you are trying to figure out who would be favored against who in a magical vacuum.  Whether a 40 yard field goal goes wide left or not does not tell you a ton about whether a team is good at football.

jenks's picture

It tells you that the kicker that made it is better than the kicker that didn't. And that the team with the kicker who made it and won is better than the team that missed it and lost.

d5k's picture

Uh, it does not do this at all.  That's like saying if a coin flipped heads that coin is better at flipping heads.

jenks's picture

A coin flip is random. Kicking a field goal is based, at least in part, on talent. I'll take Nugent in '02 over Pettrey.

andyb's picture

So what you are saying is that when a kicker makes a field goal that it's basically a coin flip?  OK

d5k's picture

It is logically similar to a coinflip of a coin with unequal probability.  Say probability of heads = 80% and probability of tails = 20% if that helps the example.  Maybe Nugent is 85% while Pettrey is 75% on a given kick.  The fact that the kick went through or not doesn't say definitively that the better team won.  Nugent and Pettrey could do a kicking contest and it would take a large sample size of kicks before you could safely determine who the better kicker even was.

jenks's picture

If the better team is more likely to win than lose, and we have two teams: 1 that won all of their games and beat one of the most talented cfb teams of all time; and 1 that didn't win all of it's games and got blown out in the one loss, I'm inclined to believe the former is the better team. I don't think that's a stretch.

d5k's picture

If that is all the information you have then your conclusion is more likely to be true than false but certainly not definitively so.  But we do have more information if you dig further into stats and talent of the players beyond win/loss.  I actually think the 2005 team at the end of the year against Notre Dame with Troy Smith starting his Heisman peak and with AJ Hawk et al still on the team might be the best Buckeye football team if you could take a team from any moment of the Tressel era.  The 2002 team won all their games with a combination of grit, talent and let's face it luck but I do not think it was a dominant team.

GregB's picture

They were pretty dominant when Clarett was healthy.  
Take away Cam for 4.5 games and see what Auburns record was.  Take away Jameis for 4.5 games and see what FSUs record was.  Take away Tebow for 4.5 games.....  take away Young ..... take away Bush...... take away Winslow.   The only teams that were not that reliant on one guy honestly were the Bama teams.
Id rank OSU a few places higher  than this guy (prob top ten) but I dont think they were a top five.
That being said Id like OSUs defense that year to keep every one of those teams below 17 points, and with a healthy Clarett that could be enough.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Sooo...basically you guys are reducing this issue to a...

Jack Fu's picture

No, D5K is right. Sporting events are essentially a weighted coinflip. Teams go into games with a probability of whether or not they will win (i.e., whether their side of the coin will be face-up), based on their quality and their opponents' quality. Then the game is the flip of the coin. But the human mind always tries to force narratives onto largely random events, so we attribute mystical qualities like "the will to win" and "wanting it more" to the team whose side of the coin happened to land face up. It's the basis of one of the most insightful XKCD comics of all-time.
I don't think it's an unreasonable opinion to say that, in a vacuum, the 2002 Buckeyes' general probability of the coinflip going in their favor was lower than other BCS champions. Hell, just like D5K, I think other Tressel-era teams had higher such probabilities. It just so happens that the 2002 team's coin landed in their favor 14 times, some when their probability of landing face-up was extremely high (SJSU, Indiana) and one in particular where it was pretty low (Miami). It doesn't necessarily mean they were a better team than others of the era, even others who might have lost a game. But it sure as hell was awesome as it was happening.

WC Buckeye's picture

I love this site.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

Oyster's picture

Who cares, and who will actually read it except those who are staying at a hotel today.

Hovenaut's picture

Thanks for stopping by, USAToday....

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

jacobv77's picture

He also rated the Alabama Lsu game number 4 which was the lowest ratings of a national championship by far so his opinion really means nothing. Even if I was not an osu fan I would rate the 2002 game number one for sure.

DJ Byrnes's picture

The only other game that's even arguably in the same league is Texas-USC. Obviously I'm biased to OSU-Miami but I can see arguments for Texas-USC.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

TilstheHun3's picture

Can't really comment on the Alabama vs. LSU game at #4 considering I didn't watch it, like many of you.

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?

Crumb's picture

There as no national champion that year. The teams tied 1-1 and there was no tiebreaker.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

schweinfurth.12's picture

I think you are missing the point of the article.  It is ranking the best BCS era teams, not games.  If you are going by games, the top three would be #1 OSU vs. Miami, #2 Texas vs. USC & #3 FSU vs Auburn.
I just find it funny that, as a BCS champion, Ohio State is ranked as a team for that season as low as they are.  The team we beat is #1 on the US TODAY article.  Talking heads just trying to fill the void of no more meaningful college football.

Matt F's picture

Funny how quickly these writers forget/change their perception of a team. Not only was this team loaded, but if we played currently and in the SEC (see Tigers, Auburn) and won the National Championship - we'd be a Team of Destiny!

johnny11's picture

Wow some people forget how many talented future NFL prospects Miami had on that team. It is one the biggest upsets of all time. With the win streak they had going and the perception of our team at that time. Talk about a slight on the authors part.

Stinson's picture

And if Miami would have beaten us in that game, they'd be in the top 5.

But they're not.

Because that 2002 team beat them...

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

buckeyepastor's picture

To me, 1998 Vols will always be #16 among 16 BCS champions.   I still believe, and will until the day I die, that the 1998 Buckeyes would have bested Tennessee by double digits in the tiltle game that year, given the opportunity.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

IBleedSandG's picture

#15, ey. False.

"You pick up the rifle and go as hard as you can possibly go."

hodge's picture

If Auburn would've beaten FSU, I guarantee they'd have been ranked higher than 15.  

d5k's picture

Probably incorrectly so.

rkylet83's picture

I think 2002-03 Ohio State is better than 2006-07 Florida, 2007-08 LSU, 2003-04 LSU and probably tied with 1998 Tennessee.  I really think they underrated this season's Florida State team, Coach Meyer's 2008 Florida Team and 2011 Alabama.  2011 Alabama and 2008 Florida were the best teams I'd seen in the BCS era.      

osu_chris's picture

I know both of those teams were loaded with talent, but they both suffered home losses in the regular season. I don't think the best teams of the era should have that blemish. Count me as someone who thinks the win-loss record matters too.

MordenoftheSith's picture

I would rather be the worst rated CHAMPION than the best rated runner-up!

If you only knew the POWER of the Dark Side.

GoBucksToledo's picture

Don't get me started...

BuckeyeAZOH's picture

Its funny our team beating arguably the best team ever in college football is perceieved as the 15th best team when they rank the year earlier team of miami as the best when there was more talent on the the team the year we played them. Also it really pisses me off when people say we needed overtime to beat them. If the officials would have gave chris gamble the catch he made on the sideline in regulation with 140 to go the game is over. Instead we punt and give up a return and go to overtime. Plus the bigten was much deeper and more competitve at the time. They are probably rankinf us based on perception now of the BIG.

Purple Raider

Go1Bucks's picture

Go Bucks!

Go Bucks!

Jack Fu's picture

Eh, I don't really have a problem with it. Statistically, the '02 Bucks don't hold up well compared to some of the other champions. Who cares? We still won the title that year.

TilstheHun3's picture

Hmmm... Paul Myerberg = Bert "Karma" Bielema

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?

ABrown07's picture

I guess I won't be reading USA Today any longer... How could they miss on this ranking? I'm not just saying that to be a homer but we went from pretty much obscurity to beating a team full of NFL talent and looking to repeat as national champ's, no big deal it happens every year

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

BuckeyeChief's picture

I read this yesterday; agreed with above posts saying that Miami 01 team was #1 but the team that beat them was #15. It is amazing how many people were pulling for us to win, then turned on us overnight.
FWIW, NY Post has that game highly ranked:


"Damn I miss El Guapo"

jameslee203's picture

JOKE!!!  Didn't every starter play in the NFL?  I don't think you can say that about many, if any, of the other teams.  They won close because Tress wanted to...  If all the Clarret BS didn't happen tOSU wins 2 in a row, changes history.

3cent's picture

No undefeated champ should be below a team with a loss. That behind said, I do believe OSU should be below all of the other unbeaten teams. 

Olemissbuckeye's picture

37 of 43 starters on the field that night were drafted. Nough said.

trock's picture

Here is my rankings.
1. Miami (2001)
2. Texas (2005)
3. USC (2004)
4. Alabama (2009)
5. Florida (2009)
6. Alabama (2011)
7. Florida (2006)
8. OSU (2002)
9. Alabama (2012)
10. Oklahoma (2000)
11. FSU (1999)
12. FSU (2013)
13. Tennessee (1998)
14. Auburn (2010)
15. LSU (2007)
16. LSU (2003)

toad1204's picture

Paul Myerberg in his element

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

carence's picture

I think these rankings are crap. I love how they try and diminish what the Buckeyes achieved in defeating Miami. They had 5 1st round draft pics playing.

d5k's picture

It's not who achieved the most it is who is the best team.

PittBuckeye's picture

Beating what was being talked about as the greatest college football team ever gets you ranked as #15. I see.
Scarlet colored glasses aside, I'd take that 02 team on a neutral field against plenty of those teams above them.

FROMTHE18's picture

That Miami team was arguably the best team in the BCS era. Had they won that game, they probably would be known as such. IMO, this ranking is bullshit. I think the 2002 team is top 8. Dat Defense....boom.

Bucks43201's picture

15th, eh? That's funny...because I'd rank USA Today  15th out of my top 10 newspapers.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

but there's something to be said of a team with the mental toughness needed to win close game after close game.

Apparently not much if you have them ranked 2nd to last.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Scott's picture

He was gracious enough to keep us on the list.

Class of 2008

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

How kind.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

BassDropper's picture

So I'm guessing Auburn would have been the worst if they ended up winning


Crumb's picture

That 2002 Defense was the best I've ever seen, as Matt Wilhelm said they were all heart and soul. And I'd take that team against any other team on this list. They just got it done, no matter who they played.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Deadly Nuts's picture

Hi, I'm Paul!


Bucks43201's picture

I'd bet Paul Myerberg never played a down in his life.
Also, no surprise that he's a former NY Times hack.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

And if Miami won the title game in 2002, where do you think they'd be ranked?  A lot higher than 15.  Chop off the 5 and you've most likely got it.  I know they pulled out some close wins in the regular season over some not so good teams, but the stigma of that goes away when you do the same thing to the best team that they could've done it to.

Class of 2010.

O-H I-O's picture

Did 2002 Miami had a lot of players from 2001 championship team, right?

Funny how 2001 Miami is at #1...this writer is so butthurt with the Buckeyes, it seems...seeing that 2007 LSU and 2006 Florida is all the way down at bottom 4.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

teddyballgame's picture

You just know Miami would have been ranked higher if they won.

cdub4's picture

2002 Miami was not as good as 2001 Miami. I see some people saying the 2002 version was jusr a better version of 2001, that is not how college football works. I woul rank 2002 OSU higher, maybe 10th. 2001 Miami, 2005 Texas, 2004 USC, 2008 Florida and 2011 Bama stand out to me