The pinnacle of success for any football team is to win a national championship. But, for the 667 football teams that participate at the NCAA levels of the sport, there are just four national championships to go around.
For the rest of the hundreds of schools that don’t go on to claim the ultimate prize in their respective divisions, there has to be some other motivation to keep them striving for excellence. Over the next week, Sports Unbiased is awarding state championships for the 2014-15 college football season for all 50 states.
All 667 schools are eligible for the prize in their home state, bragging rights through a long offseason until the 2015-16 season commences and hope renews for every fan base. This year 31 FBS schools won their state championship, while a dozen FCS schools took the title. That left seven other slots for Division II and Division III schools, either because of a dearth of Division I schools in the state or an exemplary level of excellence that couldn’t go unrewarded.
Monday we covered the first 15 schools of our comprehensive look. Tuesday we took a look at schools 26 through 35. On Wednesday we named the bottom of the top 25. Yesterday we evaluated teams six through 15, and now we conclude our week-long look at the champions of each state with the uppermost echelon of our end-of-season rankings.
After a long week of looking at state champions from around the United States, we come to the cream of the crop. These teams all dominated their seasons, winning more than just their respective state championships. Each one of these five schools all won a conference title in one of the Power Five conferences, and all five played in either the first-ever FBS-level College Football Playoff or one of the affiliated New Year’s Six bowl games. None of these names will come as a shock, recognizable even to casual fans of the college gridiron. Thanks for tuning in this week, and enjoy as we wrap up our list with a look at the best state champions of 2014-15.
5. Florida (Florida State Seminoles/FBS)
Nobody was really going to challenge the defending national champions for supremacy in the Sunshine State. Two teams got a direct chance to knock Florida State off its pedestal, and both Miami and Florida nearly pulled off the feat. But the Gators were just good enough to go bowling… and bad enough to get head coach Will Muschamp fired. The Hurricanes ended the season on a four-game losing streak to finish with a losing record. And UCF couldn’t reclaim the magic that propelled them to the Fiesta Bowl last season.
Ultimately the crown was always going to be Florida State’s to wear. Sure, their 29-game winning streak ended against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, and the Seminoles were never as dominant as last season’s BCS championship crew. Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston was nowhere near as good as he was in 2013, and the team as a whole was younger than the last BCS champion crew. But Florida State was still better than any other team in their state this year. Jimbo Fisher’s crew survived to take the ACC title in a close championship game against Georgia Tech, and they entered the College Football Playoff as the only undefeated team in the FBS.