All-time Top 100 Teams?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A site called Football Outsiders has put forth a list of 100 all-time great teams. Obviously, comparison across distant eras is impossible, so it is wise to view these ratings as a rough estimate of how these teams would place in a fictional top 100.

Army placed two teams in the first two installments (100-81 & 80-61). The 1958 Army team earned mention at #96 and the 1950 Cadets clocked in at #70.

96. 1958 Army

Record: 8-0-1
Conference: Independent
Best Wins: def. Penn State (6-3-1) 26-0, def. Navy (6-3) 22-6
Blemishes: tied Pittsburgh (5-4-1) 14-14
Point Differential: +215 (264-49)

They were solid throughout portions of the 1960s and 1980s, but the Cadets of Army were last truly great in 1958. (Not coincidentally, it was also the final season for coach Earl "Red" Blaik.) Led by Heisman winner and Rhodes Scholar Pete Dawkins, who accomplished far more in one life than any reasonable person should, the Army offense averaged nearly 30 points per game. They took on seven teams who would finish .500 or better, and they were only truly challenged twice. They were tied at Pittsburgh and only won at Rice by a touchdown.

The Cadets' season started with a startlingly easy 45-8 win over what would be a 7-3 South Carolina team, followed by a 14-2 win at Notre Dame a couple of weeks later. Utilizing the "lonely end" formation and throwing often to a split end to loosen up defenses, Army whipped poor Virginia and Colgate teams by a combined 103-12, then took down Navy, 22-6, in the season finale. Blaik's final team was explosive on offense and as stingy as almost any defense in the country. They finished third in the country behind LSU and Iowa, one of whom will be featured later in this countdown.

. . .

70. 1950 Army

Record: 8-1
Conference: Independent
Best Wins: def. Michigan (6-3-1) 27-6, def. Penn State (5-3-1) 41-7
Blemishes: def. by Navy (3-6) 14-2
Point Differential: +227 (267-40)

Our second 1950 team of the day, Army also had to deal with tragedy. The cadets absolutely rolled through the first eight games of their schedule. Red Blaik's squad outscored opponents 265-26 along the way, with help from a young assistant named Vince Lombardi. They played five opponents with winning records (Colgate, Penn State, Michigan, Penn, Stanford) and defeated them by an average score of 26-5.

The final AP Poll of the season was released on November 27, before the annual Army-Navy game. Army had risen to No. 1 in mid-October, but they were passed, first by SMU, then Ohio State, and finally Oklahoma. They finished No. 2. As frustrating as this may have been, their emotions were tried much more heavily by late-November news that 1949 team captain Johnny Trent had been killed in action in Korea. This came after 1944 captain Tom Lombardo had died in action in September. The Cadets, wracked with emotion, understandably laid an egg in the Army-Navy game, losing 14-2, their first loss to the Midshipmen since 1943.

There are some great teams mentioned, and additional West Point teams are sure to appear in the upcoming installments.

I love this kind of list mainly because most of my favorite teams had tremendous success in seasons that have been long forgotten. It's a nice bullet list of some very interesting college football history, and of course it is a recommended read for all Unbalanced Line readers.



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