Ten fan bases most deserving of a national championship this season
By Andrew Holleran
The passion displayed by college football fans is one of the reasons why this sport is so great.
What if college football teams’ seasons were determined by how deserving their fan bases were of success (or failure)?
Which fan base deserves this the most?
We’re going to tell you what that’d be like.
There are roughly 13 teams remaining in the college football field with legitimate chances of making the College Football Playoff. The No. 14 team in the CFB Playoff Rankings is Michigan; the Wolverines have two losses and would need a lot of help making the playoff. The 13 teams ahead of Michigan are either undefeated or with one loss and, therefore, still have a real chance.
Out of those 13 teams, we’re ranking the top 10 fan bases of those teams in order of how deserving they are of a national title. Now, this is a subjective ranking, but we are taking a number of things into consideration when ranking the fan bases: the last time their team won a championship, the recent struggles they’ve had to endure, the passion they display on a weekly basis, etc.
So, here it is.
College Football’s 10 Fan Bases Most Deserving Of A National Title This Season.
Last National Championship: 2012
Why They’re Ranked Here: Look, no one is going to cry for Alabama fans. The Crimson Tide have won three national titles in the past six seasons, including consecutive ones in 2011-12. Heck, just last year, they were one win away from playing for the inaugural CFP championship. Point is, they certainly aren’t thirsting for a winner.
But there’s a couple of reasons why they make this list over programs such as Utah, Stanford and others. First of all, the intense pride Alabama fans have. They live, breath, eat and sweat Tide football. Secondly, because the SEC is regarded as the strongest conference, and the rivalries within it run deep, bragging rights are short-lived. Got a title or two under your belt? Okay, great, but there’s always competition on the recruiting trail or next season to look forward to. You can’t rest on your laurels if you’re Alabama or its fans. It’s why the Tide find themselves at No. 10 on our list.
Last National Championship: 2007
Why They’re Ranked Here: Take that final paragraph about Alabama fans and the SEC in general and that’s why LSU makes this list. The Tigers have won a pair of national championships (2003 and 2007) this century but their fans are pretty hungry for another.
The reason for their yearning? Since the Tigers’ last title, three SEC teams have won championships, including SEC West rivals Alabama and Auburn. Florida is the other program from the league to do so. We almost forgot. One of Alabama’s titles? Came at the hands of LSU back in January 2012. So pardon the purple-and-gold-clad men and women on the Bayou for being a bit restless.
Unfortunately, while LSU fans may be more deserving of a national title than their Alabama counterparts, it’s clear by the result of last weekend’s game which team is more of a true contender.
8. Ohio State
Last National Championship: 2014
Why They’re Ranked Here: The Buckeyes are the defending champions, and they haven’t lost a game in 14 months. Why are they No. 8 on this list you ask?
First of all, the passion of the Ohio State fan base rivals, and in some cases, surpasses that of SEC programs (ducks). The Buckeyes not only carry the mantle for their university and fans, but pretty much for an entire conference. They’ve been the lone, true national power in the Big Ten for much of this century. Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin have had their moments, but Ohio State has clearly held down the throne and defended the league’s honor against the ballyhooed SEC.
Speaking of the SEC, there’s some Buckeye fans still smarting over back-to-back BCS title game beat-downs at the hands of Florida and LSU. The scarlet and grey got some revenge in the form of a CFP semifinal win over Alabama last year, and consecutive national titles would be even more sweet.
7. Notre Dame
Last National Championship: 1988
Why They’re Ranked Here: Love them or loathe them, it’s doubtful any fan base on this list will stir up more feelings than Fighting Irish backers. They’re loud and proud and come from all corners of the United States. Notre Dame fans in their mid-40s have been fortunate enough to see multiple national championships for their beloved program. For many ND supporters over 60, a place at the top of college football seems like a birthright for the blue and gold.
Why are they No. 7 on this list? Well, despite all the history and tradition in South Bend, the team hasn’t finished at the top of the heap in nearly 30 years. There was a heartbreaking near-miss in 1993 (David Gordon, anyone?) and a shellacking in Sun Life Stadium at the hands of Alabama in the 2013 BCS Championship game. For much of the past two decades, this hasn’t been your father’s Notre Dame, and definitely not your grandfather’s.
One could make the case to bump the Irish up a couple of spots, but because the team elicits as much passionate hate as it does endearing love, seven seems like a solid spot.
Last National Championship: 1958
Why They’re Ranked Here: The Hawkeyes are the surprise team in this year’s CFP rankings. They are 9-0 and ranked fifth. An undefeated regular season is very much in play, and if Iowa reaches that benchmark and then wins the Big Ten Championship game, an improbable CFP berth will be theirs.
Iowa has certainly had some fine teams over the years. They’ve reached the No. 1 spot during the 1985 season and climbed as high as No. 3 in 2002. The program’s lone national championship is a shared one, thanks to a No. 1 ranking in the Football Writers Association of America poll in 1958. LSU finished atop the AP and Coaches’ polls that year.
This is a team that hasn’t had the consistent national profile as a lot of squads on this list. Right now, many Iowa fans appear to be exuding a “just happy to be here” vibe, but don’t underestimate this fan base’s passion and desire for a winner. There’s definitely a strong appetite for a national title in Iowa City and No. 6 seems a fine place to slot the Hawkeyes.
5. Michigan State
Last national championship: 1966
Why they’re ranked here: It’s been a while since the Spartans won a national championship. Almost 50 years, in fact. Michigan State’s fan base is a passionate one, though. The Spartans ranked No. 20 in the country in average attendance for 2014, packing Spartan Stadium every home Saturday in the fall. They’ve done the same this season and should once again rank near the top of the country in attendance.
Michigan State’s fans have had to endure some recent pain, too. This season, the Spartans lost a game in one of the most-heartbreaking fashions we’ve ever seen. Michigan State lost to Nebraska on a bad call by the officials at the end of the contest. They’ve also had to witness one of their top rivals, Ohio State, win a championship last season.
Mark Dantonio’s one of college football’s greatest men and he’s built Michigan State into a power. If there’s a “right way” to lead a college football program, Dantonio’s doing it. He – and his fans – deserve a championship.
Wouldn’t it be something if Michigan State could rebound from the loss to Nebraska to win this year’s national title?
Last national championship: 2000
Why they’re ranked here: A nickname, mainly. Bob Stoops, one of college football’s greatest coaches, has been referred to by many as “Big Game Bob.” It developed because of his early success but it’s been used as a mocking nickname in recent years. Stoops won the Sooners the national championship in his second season in Norman, Okla. It’s the only national title he’s won, though, despite appearing in the championship game four times.
The Sooners have had some seriously devastating losses – the three national title losses, the blowout loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl in 2013, this year’s loss to Texas.
Oklahoma fans deserve to get back to the top of the college football mountain. The Sooners consistently rank in the top 15 in the country in attendance. They’ve remained loyal to Stoops during some tough times – an 8-5 season in 2014, most recently – and are one of college football’s flagship fan bases. That’s why they’re ranked ahead of fan bases like Iowa and Michigan State – they’ve proven their worth to the sport more consistently.
3. Oklahoma State
Last national championship: Never.
Why they’re ranked here: The Cowboys, as stated above, have never, ever won a national championship. It’s time for one of the Midwest’s best fan bases to get that championship.
Oklahoma State’s been close a couple times – 2010 and ’11 were both 10-plus win seasons. But the Cowboys’ fans have yet to witness their Mike Gundy-led team really break through and get that title. Their fans deserve one, though.
Cowboys fans have had to witness their former coach, Les Miles, go on to achieve great success – and a national championship – at LSU. “Why can’t that happen at Oklahoma State?” they’re probably thinking. It can this season.
Being a fan of the second-best program in a football-crazed state is rough, too. Oklahoma State will never surpass Oklahoma in the big picture, but the Cowboys can be better this season. Their fans are slightly more deserving of a national title this year, too.
Last national championship: Never.
Why they’re ranked here: For most of the 20th century (and most of the first decade of the 21st century), the Bears were college football’s whipping boy. From 1995-2009, Baylor did not make a bowl game. As stated above, they’ve never won a national championship nor finished the season ranked in the top five.
Times are changing in Waco, Texas, though. Art Briles has built Baylor into one of the country’s best programs. The Bears have a Heisman Trophy winner (Robert Griffin III) and an awesome new stadium. The facilities have been upgraded, too. Baylor’s fans have to be thanked for some of this – they’re packing the seats every home Saturday in the fall and showing tremendous support for a program with little history on the national level.
They’re still angry about last season, too. Baylor had a strong case to make the College Football Playoff in 2014, but got jumped by Ohio State, which went on to win the national title. Briles has publicly voiced his opinion (he doesn’t like it) on what happened many times and his fans certainly share his thoughts.
Baylor fans deserve to have something good happen to the team they root for this season. That good thing should be a national title.
Last national championship: 1981
Why they’re ranked here: You’ve heard of “Clemsoning,” right? As much as Dabo Swinney has rightfully tried to get rid of that term in recent seasons, Clemsoning (losing games you shouldn’t, crushing your fans hopes in heartbreaking fashion) is something that happened far too often over the last 10 years. This fan base deserves to win something that will get rid of that term forever. That something is a national championship – no fan base deserves it more.
It’s been far too long since the Tigers won one, too. Clemson is one of the country’s premier programs – it’s got an awesome stadium, great uniforms, really solid history and has produced a ton of great talent. A 30-plus year stretch without a national championship is way too long for this fan base, which year in and year out puts the Tigers in the top 15 nationally in attendance.
A national championship by Clemson could result in Tigers’ fans rushing the field (they love to do that more than any other fan base) and some dancing from Dabo Swinney. If that doesn’t make Clemson’s fan base deserving of a national title, what does?
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