Who Was 1998’s Best? The1998 Group of 5 National Champion

For all of College Football’s long, wonderful history only one thing has remained constant; small schools do not get a chance at a national title.

No matter how good the team or how terrible the field is that season, a small school will never be given a chance at College Football’s ultimate prize, a National Championship.

This leaves few opportunities to recognize Mid-Major glory, but greatness deserves recognition and I’m here to give it to them in the only way they can get it. On a small college football blog.

To that end, I have created a scoring system to judge who deserves to be crowned Group of 5 National Champion. First up is the 2014 season.

Before we get into that, let me give you a rundown of the scoring system that will be used (opponent records and poll results are for end of season)

Base points: Win (+1) Lose (+0)

Environmental points: win on the road (+0.5) win over team that was .500 or better (+0.5) win over team with double digit wins (+1) beat FCS opponent (-0.5) beat Power conference opponent (+1)

Margin of victory points: shutout opponent (+1.5) 15-19 point victory (+0.5) 20-24 (+1) 25-29 (+1.5) 30-34 (+2) 35-39 (+2.5) 40-44 (+3) 45-49 (+3.5) 50-54 (+4) 55-59 (+4.5) 60-64 (+5) 65-69 (+5.5) 70-74 (+6) 75-79 (+6.5)

Upset wins: Win over Top 25 (+2) Top 15 (+3) Top 10 (+4) Top 5 (+5)

Multipliers (only for points previous to this) Against Power team (x1.5) Against ranked power team (x2)

Weekly poll points Top 25 (+1) Top 20 (+1.5) Top 15 (+2) Top 10 (+2.5) Top 5 (+3)

Accolade points Make conference title game (+1) Win conference (+3) Make bowl game (+1) Win bowl game (+2)

Final poll points (applied at end) Top 25 (+1.5) Top 20 (+2) Top 15 (+3) Top 10 (+3.75) Top 5 (+4.5)

—————————————————————————————————————————-

There will be 2 judgments of a team’s national championship candidacy, the first points earned through victories, margin of victory, and placement in the AP poll. The second will be an examination of each contender’s case with circumstances factored in, things even the best formula cannot measure.

It should also be noted the Big East shall be treated as a power conference even if Rutgers should invalidate that claim but we simply can not name Miami the best team in the Group of 5 without Manny Diaz planning cocaine-fueled vengeance.

Finally, a special thanks to College football reference for being quite possibly the best website on the internet and allowing for the ability to effectively determine a champion. Now dear reader let us find out which mid-major will become the 1998 RC Cola Group of 5 National Champion.

The first season to examine is the 1998 season. Notable highlights include Tulane going a perfect 12-0, a 7-5 Kentucky team making a New Years Bowl (Outback Bowl but ridiculous all the same), and Air Force staking their claim as the best military school since the government abolished the draft.

The three contenders for the crown are:

  • the Air Force Falcons (would beat 2018 Army)
  • the Marshall Thundering Herd (in their 2nd post division 1-AA (FCS) season)
  • the Tulane Green Wave (The first UCF)

Will Tulane capture the title as expected? Will we see the first legitimate military school national title? Or will we see the once in a lifetime achievement of a Chad Pennington-led team winning anything of note? Stay tuned for those answers after a word from our literal sugar daddy RC Cola.

We have something in common you and I.

Neither of us have ever tasted real glory, you in your raging desire to hear the words “Bowling Green: National Champions” and us in our eternal quest to be anything more than the bastard child of America’s soda family.

We can beat this you and I.

Coke, Pepsi and even Dr. Pepper have chosen the side of evil. But we will bring about a new day in America, a day where Ohio’s 7th best college football team will grace ESPN all while drinking RC Cola in a glorious celebration of their triumph over THE University of Southern Mississippi.

Trust us comrade, a new day is dawning on America, and you have chosen the right side.

Air Force

Week 1 Vs Wake Forest 42-0 +9.75
Week 2 At UNLV 52-10 +4.5
Week 3 Vs Colorado State 30-27 +1.5
Week 4 Rank: 23rd At TCU 34-35 +1
Week 5 Vs New Mexico 56-14 +4
Week 6 Vs Navy 49-7 +4
Week 7 IDLE +0
Week 8 Vs Tulsa 42-21 +2
Week 9 Vs SMU 31-7 +2
Week 10 Rank: 25th At Army 35-7 +4
Week 11 Rank: 23rd At Wyoming 10-3 +3
Week 12 Rank: 20th Vs Rice 22-16 +2.5
Week 13 Rank: 18th IDLE +1.5
Week 14 Rank: 17th (WAC Championship) BYU 20-13 +7
Bowl Rank: 16th (Oahu Classic) Washington 45-25 +10.5
Final Record: 12-1 Rank: 13th Points: 60.25

 

My colleagues here at Forgotten 5 love themselves some 2018 Army. I’m not here to argue against that amazing team. But I am here to directly counter them. I present you the 1998 Air Force Falcons: The best goddamn Military school season (post-draft) of all time.

At the conclusion of this series, I will give a direct in-depth comparison of these beautiful teams but until then I’ll have to be brief.

Air Force won four games by 42 points – while running the triple option – granted none of those four teams were anywhere resembling good. But when the defining trait of your offense is to run it so much that your opponent collapses on the field of a heart attack winning any game by 42 is a delight enjoyed by few.

That is not even factoring in their at the time top 25 barn burner with Wyoming or how they routed two “power conference” teams who were (including one who just 7 years earlier had been national champs).

Their only loss of the season came to a Landanian Tomlinson led TCU. I hope I don’t have to remind you that TCU LT was the closest thing we have seen to Jesus in a long time.

This Air Force team managed to only lose to them by one point. This was a very good Air Force team and to help illustrate that you see next an example that shows records are not everything.

Marshall

Week 1 At Akron 27-16 +1.5
Week 2 VS Troy 42-12 +3
Week 3 At South Carolina 24-21 +3.75
Week 4 At Eastern Michigan 26-23 +1.5
Week 5 VS Miami (Ohio) 31-17 +2.5
Week 6 At Ohio 30-23 +1.5
Week 7 Vs Kent State 42-7 +3.5
Week 8 VS Ball State 42-10 +3
Week 9 At Bowling Green 13-34 +0
Week 10 Vs Central Michigan 28-0 +4.5
Week 11 IDLE +0
Week 12 Vs Wofford 29-27 +0.5
Week 13 IDLE +0
Week 14 (MAC Championship) Toledo 23-17 +5.5
Bowl (Motor City Bowl) Louisville 48-29 +5
Final Record: 12-1 Rank: Unranked Points: 35.75

 

The 1998 Marshall Thundering Herd ran a gauntlet of shame. Facing a South Carolina team that would go 1-10, getting Iowa Stated by a 5-6 Bowling Green, and worst of all facing 2 Division 1-AA (FCS) could be forgiven.

But only beating the 1998 Wofford Terriers by 2 at home is unforgivable.

In a year that gave us the original UCF and the best post-draft military school season ever Marshall is even more of a waste of space. No matter the highs Marshall reaches in this series never, ever forget what Wofford did to them.

Tulane

Week 1 At Cincinnati 52-34 +2
Week 2 At SMU 31-21 +1.5
Week 3 IDLE +0
Week 4 Vs Navy 42-24 +1.5
Week 5 Vs Southern Miss 21-7 +1.5
Week 6 Rank: 25th IDLE +1
Week 7 Rank: 24th Vs Louisville 28-22 +2.5
Week 8 Rank: 22nd @ Rutgers 52-24 +7.5
Week 9 Rank: 19th Vs Louisiana 72-20 +6
Week 10 Rank: 15th At Memphis 41-31 +2.5
Week 11 Rank: 14th At Army 49-35 +2.5
Week 12 Rank: 12th Vs Houston 48-20 +3.5
Week 13 Rank: 11th Vs Louisiana Tech 63-30 +4
Week 14 Rank: 9th Wins C-USA +4
Bowl Rank: 10th (Liberty Bowl) BYU 41-27 +5.5
Final Record: 12-0 Rank: 7th Points: 48.5

 

That got weird for a second but that’s acting as if this whole article hasn’t been the fever dream of a junkie fallen asleep in front of a 2006 Fiesta Bowl showing on ESPN U.

Speaking of fever dreams, Tulane was relevant.

Lead by future Super Bowl champ and part-time starter Shaun King, the Green Wave won every game they played by 2 or more possessions. That made it even more of a shame the BCS cast them out to the hell of a Liberty Bowl when they let Kentucky (7-5) into a New Year’s Bowl but Tulane had to battle Mormons in Memphis.

Fun facts about that Kentucky team: they had future Cleveland Browns savior Tim Couch and were the visionaries to give Mike Leach a chance to create his radioactive, mutated, beautiful football. Either way in a soon to be familiar twist the Mid-Majors got screwed and the late 90s was a bonafide hellscape for NFL QB prospects.

Verdict

Points: Air Force

AP: Tulane

Hindsight: Air Force

Verdict: Split National Champion

 

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