The USC mini-dynasty we have witnessed in the last 3 seasons is very similar to the Miami mini-dynasty that took place from 2000-2002. Both teams had the same starting quarterback for all 3 years of their mini-dynasty. Miami had Ken Dorsey and USC had Matt Leinart. Both teams lost early on in the first year of their run. Miami lost at Washington and USC lost at Cal. Both losses crippled their title hopes, but USC was able to rebound and win a share of the national title, while Miami was able to make a case for a #2 BCS ranking, but was ultimately denied. Both teams won titles in the 2nd year of their run, 2001 and 2004. Finally, both teams went undefeated in the third year of their run and lost in the BCS title game to underdogs. What I want to do is sift through the data and determine whose run is more impressive. First let’s start by examining all 6 separate seasons. Miami 2000
Points Scored: 506 42.2 per game
Points Allowed: 190 15.8 per game
Opponent’s Record: 80-51 .610
Miami played Division IAA McNeese St, and if we include their 8-4 record, then Miami’s opponent’s winning percentage goes up to .615 (88-55)
Record Against Winning Teams (excluding McNeese St.): Miami went 7-1 against teams with winning records, losing only at 11-1 Washington by 5 points. Miami beat West Virginia (7-5), Pittsburgh (7-5), Syracuse (6-5), and Boston College (7-5). However, the ‘Canes 3 most impressive wins were over Florida St. (11-1) by 3 points, Virginia Tech (11-1) by 20, and Florida (10-3) by 17 in the Sugar Bowl.
Road Record: 4-1
Miami’s only blemish was at Washington. The rest of their road schedule was relatively easy, with West Virginia representing their toughest road test the rest of the way.
Record in Close Games: 1-1
Miami only played in 2 games decided by 8 points or less. A mark of a great team is not winning the close ones, but avoiding them altogether.
Points Scored: 512 42.7 per game
Points Allowed: 117 9.8 per game
Opponent’s Record: 81-60 .574
Record Against Winning Teams: Miami went 8-0 against teams with winning records. They beat Pittsburgh (7-5), Troy (7-4), Florida St. (8-4), Boston College (8-4), Syracuse (10-3), Washington (8-4), Virginia Tech (8-4), and Nebraska (11-2). Miami didn’t really beat any great teams this season besides Nebraska, but they beat a large number of good ones.
Road Record: 5-0
4 of the 5 road games were against teams with winning records.
Record in Close Games: 1-0
Another testament to Miami’s greatness in 2001. They played only one close game, a 2 point win at Virginia Tech.
Points Scored: 527 40.5 per game
Points Allowed: 248 19.1 per game
Opponent’s Record: 91-64 .587
Miami played Division IAA Florida A&M, and if we include their 7-5 record, Miami’s winning percentage stays the same at .587 (98-69).
Record Against Winning Teams (excluding Florida A&M): Miami went 7-1 against teams with winning records with their only loss coming in the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio St. Miami beat Florida (8-5), Boston College (9-4), Florida State (9-5), West Virginia (9-4), Tennessee (8-5), Pittsburgh (9-4), and Virginia Tech (10-4). Again, no great wins but a lot of good ones.
Road Record: 6-0
3 of the road games were Florida, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Record in Close Games: 2-1
Miami beat Florida St. by 1, Pittsburgh by 7, and lost to Ohio St. by 7 in OT.
Points Scored: 534 41.1 per game
Points Allowed: 239 18.4 per game
Opponent’s Record: 85-79 .518
Record Against Winning Teams: The Trojans went 5-1 against winning teams. They defeated Auburn (8-5), Hawaii (9-5), Washington St. (10-3), Oregon St. (8-5), and Michigan (10-3) in the Rose Bowl. They lost to Cal (8-6). The Washington St. and Michigan wins are good, but nowhere near the caliber of wins Miami had in the first year of their mini-dynasty.
Road Record: 5-1
The Trojans best road win was Auburn.
Record in Close Games: 0-1
One sign of greatness, USC was only really challenged by Cal.
Points Scored: 496 38.2 per game
Points Allowed: 169 13 per game
Opponent’s Record: 82-70 .539
Record Against Winning Teams: The Trojans went 5-0 against winning teams. They beat Arizona St. (9-3) and Oregon St. (7-5). However, their most impressive wins were over Virginia Tech (10-3) in the season opener across the country in Landover, Maryland, at home against Cal (10-2) and of course the beat down of Oklahoma (12-1) in the Orange Bowl.
Road Record: 5-0
The Trojans best road win was Oregon State. All their other road games were against bad teams. However, the Virginia Tech win might as well be counted as a roadie.
Record in Close Games: 4-0
The Trojans struggles in 3 road games against bad to mediocre team. They beat Stanford (4-7) by 3, Oregon St. (7-5) by 8, and UCLA (6-6) by 5. They also beat a very good Cal team by 6 at home.
Points Scored: 638 49.1 per game
Points Allowed: 297 22.8 per game
Opponent’s Record: 88-65 .575
Record Against Winning Teams: The Trojans went 6-1 against winning teams. They defeated Arizona St. (7-5), Cal (8-4), Fresno St. (8-5), Notre Dame (9-3), Oregon (10-2) and one of the worst 10-win teams in recent memory (10-2) UCLA. They lost the Rose Bowl to Texas.
Road Record: 6-0
The Trojans best Oregon, Arizona St., Notre Dame, and Cal on the road.
Record in Close Games: 2-1
The Trojans beat Notre Dame by 3, Fresno St. by 8, and lost to Texas by 3.
The cumulative stats: Miami 2000-2002
W/L: 35-2 .946
Points Scored: 1545 41.8 per game
Points Allowed: 555 15 per game
Opponent’s Record: 252-175 .590
With McNeese St. and Florida A&M: 267-184 .592
Record Against Winning Teams: 22-2 .917
Road Record: 15-1 .938
Record in Close Games: 4-2 .667
W/L: 37-2 .949
Points Scored: 1668 42.8 per game
Points Allowed: 705 18.1 per game
Opponent’s Record: 255-214 .544
Record Against Winning Teams: 16-2 .889
Road Record: 17-1 .944 (includes the Virginia Tech game in Landover, Maryland)
Record in Close Games: 6-2 .750
I am inclined to say Miami’s 3-year run was more impressive. They had a better point differential against a more difficult schedule. They beat more winning teams. They played fewer close games, indicating they were more dominant. Miami’s 2 losses came to teams with a combined 25-1 record. Washington was 11-1 and Ohio St. was 14-0. USC’s 2 losses came to teams with a combined record of 21-6. Cal was only 8-6 and Texas was 13-0. In the end, the ‘bad’ loss to Cal probably seals the deal in Miami’s favor. Just because USC won 2 titles compared o Miami’s one shouldn’t automatically clinch it for them. When a 1-loss team wins the title, a lot of things have to happen. These things are not necessarily an indication this 1-loss team is better than other 1-loss teams from past years. The right teams have to lose. When Miami had 1 loss in 2000, they had a great argument to play for the national title instead of Florida St. (of course, Washington did too). Only Oklahoma was undefeated in 2000. USC was fortunate that every team had at least 1 loss in 2003. This enabled them to win a share of the national title. Miami was not so fortunate in 2000, and should not be penalized for that.