In contrast to the 1990 and 1991 seasons on MNC Wednesday, the two teams at the top of the pyramid did not split a mythical national champion in 1994. Leave it to us to settle the debate once and for all, although one school did sweep the five governing bodies (AP, FWAA, UPI, USA-CNN, USA-NFF). Go figure … will we decide the same?

Read on to find out!

The 1994 MNC: Split titles were never a good idea, especially with data to parse

Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results:

1. Nebraska: 13-0-0 — W, Orange, 24-17
2. Penn State: 12-0-0 — W, Rose, 38-20
3. Colorado: 11-1-0 — W, Fiesta, 41-24
4. Florida State: 10-1-1 — W, Sugar, 23-17
5. Alabama: 12-1-0 — W, Citrus, 24-17
6. Miami-FL: 10-2-0 — L, Orange, 17-24
7. Florida: 10-2-1 — L, Sugar, 17-23
8. Texas A&M: 10-0-1 — NONE (probation)
9. Auburn: 9-1-1 — NONE (probation)
10. Utah: 10-2-0 — W, Freedom, 16-13

The Cornhuskers and the Nittany Lions both are finalists, of course, although it was Nebraska that got the sentimental vote from basically everyone, in support of Head Coach Tom Osborne. But we have no room for sentiment here, so the numbers below will decide it all.

The Buffaloes are out, since they lost to the Cornhuskers to finish second in the conference. The Seminoles may have an outside shot, depending on SOS, since their blemishes (loss to Miami-FL, tie against Florida) were not damaging. The Crimson Tide had been 11-0 before losing the SEC Championship Game to the Gators by one point, so they’re out, too.

Any schools not listed here getting a crack this time out? Not at all, so that leaves us with three teams this year to assess overall. Here are their respective SOS ratings, after analyzing all the information above:

  • Florida State: 12 Division I-A opponents, 6.48 SOS rating, 10th of 107
  • Nebraska: 13 Division I-A opponents, 2.26 SOS rating, 40th
  • Penn State: 12 Division I-A opponents, 6.76 SOS rating, 8th

Well, what we see here is a completely blown vote by the media and the “experts” at the time. Even the Seminoles leap ahead of the Cornhuskers here, with their two blemishes easily overcome by a vastly superior SOS. This means the Nittany Lions, hands down, win our MNC nod—and even the SRS rated Penn State No. 1 by a whopping 4-plus points on a neutral field over the next-best team (Florida, incidentally).

Nebraska rated out fourth in the SRS, more than 5 points behind the Nittany Lions. So everyone got it really wrong in 1994, bringing us one step closer to the chaos known as the Bowl Championship Series. This is Penn State’s third title in our analyses, and it is the first one that wasn’t also voted upon by the Associated Press.

Congratulations to the 1994 Penn State Nittany Lions, the mythical national champion!

Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.