As the potential 2020 college football season gets closer, we’re catching up in real time on the best teams in the history of the Pacific-12 Conference. This was a special decade for the Conference of Champions, of course: Pac-12 Friday would never let this one get away.
Without delay, we’re off!
Honorable Mention: 2000 Washington Huskies (11-1)
A seven-point road loss against a ranked Oregon team is all that kept this team from perfection. This team was unfairly denied a spot in the Bowl Championship Series “title game” as well, starting a ridiculous trend of corruption that continues to this day. The Huskies capped their special season with an easy Rose Bowl win over Purdue, however.
10. 2001 Oregon Ducks (11-1)
Despite being ranked No. 2 in the country, the Ducks were snubbed for the BCS “title game” for a team that didn’t even win its conference (Nebraska). Oregon pounded Colorado—the team that beat the Cornhuskers to win the Big XII—in the Fiesta Bowl, nonetheless. A seven-point home loss to Stanford was the only blemish on the record.
9. 2000 Oregon State Beavers (11-1)
Even though this team lost to the above Huskies by three points on the road, it was a better team on paper—the Beavers beat four ranked teams by an average of more than two touchdowns each. The capper was a 41-9 win in the Fiesta Bowl over No. 10 Notre Dame, as Oregon State demonstrated the power of the conference emphatically.
8. 2007 USC Trojans (11-2)
Losing two conference games by a combined eight points was enough to keep these Trojans out of the BCS “title game” in favor of two-loss LSU, a team that had coughed up 93 combined points in its two losses. Either way, USC beat No. 13 Illinois in the Rose Bowl by 32 points to demonstrate the continued slighting of the Pac-10 by the fraudulent BCS.
7. 2006 USC Trojans (11-2)
An inexplicable 13-9 loss to UCLA in the regular-season finale kept this team out of the BCS title game, although the Trojans still finished No. 1 in the SRS rankings. The other loss was a two-point defeat to Oregon State. Playing the second-hardest schedule in the country, USC easily beat No. 3 Michigan in the Rose Bowl as well.
6. 2004 California Golden Bears (10-2)
In another ridiculous contrivance, this Cal team was robbed of the Rose Bowl by the fixing of the coaches poll by Big XII coaches. Its Holiday Bowl loss was meaningless to a heartbroken group of players. A six-point loss on the road to USC was the only black mark for these Bears, led by a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers.
5. 2008 USC Trojans (12-1)
Another team that was strangely not picked for the BCS “title game” … see a pattern here? USC suffered a six-point road loss at Oregon State in September, but otherwise, the Trojans were untouchable. They beat No. 5 Ohio State by 32 points and a ranked Oregon team by 34 points. A 38-24 Rose Bowl victory over No. 6 Penn State was the end result.
4. 2003 USC Trojans (12-1)
Yes, the Men of Troy owned the conference during the 2000s. Yet, this was the team that was ranked No. 1 in both polls—and still not picked for the BCS “title game” … uh huh. The only loss was a three-point road defeat against Cal and Rodgers. USC finished the season with an easy 28-14 victory over No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
3. 2002 USC Trojans (11-2)
This is the team that started the dynasty of the decade for USC. It finished No. 1 in SRS and No. 1 in schedule strength, playing a whopping nine ranked teams, losing twice by a total of 10 points in two road games against ranked squads (Kansas State and Washington State). The 38-17 blowout over No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl was special.
2. 2005 USC Trojans (12-1)
Perhaps if the officials had ever called holding against Texas in the Rose Bowl, this would have been another perfect season for USC. Alas, no whistles, and the Trojans came up short in their quest for a three-peat mythical national championship. This group scored more than 49 points a game and beat five ranked teams along the way.
1. 2004 USC Trojans (13-0)
With a 55-19 victory in the Orange Bowl over No. 2 Oklahoma, this may be the greatest football team in college football history. USC played only three ranked teams, but the Trojans beat them by a combined 80 points. The defense gave up just 13 points per game along the way, and USC went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.