Since the Associated Press preseason poll debuted in 1950, only two college football teams have gone wire-to-wire at No. 1 – Florida State in 1999 and USC in 2004.
FSU will try to repeat the feat this season, and its journey begins Saturday night against Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Seminoles are prohibitive favorites to repeat as champions, receiving 57 of a possible 60 first-place votes in the AP poll. If FSU successfully defends its title and goes unbeaten at 15-0, it will stretch its winning streak to 31 straight from 2012-14. Under these circumstances, will this year’s Seminoles rate among college football’s all-time greatest teams?
OSU coach Mike Gundy, who arrived in Stillwater as a freshman in 1986 and is entering his 24th season with the program, said Florida State is “as good as any team we’ve ever played, in my opinion.”
That’s a mouthful, given how many times Gundy has gone face-to-face against some particularly stout teams from Oklahoma (1986, 1987), Colorado (1989, 1990), Nebraska (1994, 1995) and Texas (2005, 2008, 2009) as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
From 1987-2000, Florida State set one of the most unfathomable NCAA records in history by finishing 14 straight seasons ranked in the top 5, a mark that likely will never be broken.
The Seminoles have won three national championships – 1993, 1999 and 2013.
- The 1993 team had Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and linebacker Derrick Brooks and led the nation in scoring offense and defense, with an average victory margin of 34 points.
- The 1999 team, with Peter Warrick, Travis Minor, Sabastian Janikowski and 2000 Heisman winner Chris Weinke, ran the table and never surrendered the No. 1 spot all season.
- The 2013 team often dominated, but also was tested. It survived a 48-34 test at Boston College on Sept. 28 and overcame a 21-3 second-quarter deficit against Auburn to win the national title game 34-31.
At the age of 19 years and 342 days, redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston last year became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in history. Winston will be out to become only the second repeat Heisman winner, joining Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1974-75).
FSU also has a habit of finishing each season strong, with an all-time postseason bowl record of 26-14-2 (.643) and an active streak of six straight victories.