In the 30 years before 2007, the combined winning percentage for Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Miami was .751.
In 2007, it was .361.
Nine different teams ranked No. 2 in either the AP poll or BCS standings at some point in the weirdest season ever, and it wasn’t just the volume that was unusual.
There were weird names! Cal, USF, Boston College, Kansas, and WVU hadn’t been that high in a long time, or ever. USC, LSU, Oregon, and Georgia made more sense, at least. (You could also throw in Missouri, Ohio State, and Oklahoma, which never hit No. 2 in either main top 25 but hovered right around it.)
Let’s talk to writers who remember their teams being part of the 2007 season’s No. 2 club, one of the oddest families in sports.
Quick word association: 2007.
Collin Sherwin, USF blog The Daily Stampede: Emotional rollercoaster.
A.J. Black, Boston College blog BC Interruption: Last year of sports relevance.
Billy Gomila, LSU blog And the Valley Shook!: Championship.
Sean Larson, Oregon blog Addicted to Quack: Torn ACL.
Mike Plank, Kansas blog Rock Chalk Talk: 76-39 (winning score against Nebraska).
Michael Miller, West Virginia blog Smoking Musket: The season that was cancelled due to the war.
Jeremy Attaway, Georgia blog Dawg Sports: Bittersweet.
The Huskers missed only their second bowl since 1968, the Canes their third since 1982. The Irish followed up two BCS-bowl seasons by going 3-9.
The three had combined for 13 claimed national titles since 1970, including Nebraska’s three in the ‘90s and Miami’s from six years prior to 2007. When we ranked the 10 best programs of each decade, these three teams ranked in the top seven for the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.
In 2007, Miami was unranked for the entire season after being ranked at some point in every season since 1977. Notre Dame ended an even longer streak, since 1963 (and Charlie Weis would continue being paid for it through 2016). Nebraska held down the bottom of the AP Poll for a while, but finished outside the polls in consecutive seasons for the first time since ‘68.
Each had a signature loss, too:
- Bill Callahan’s Huskers were obliterated by lowly rivals Missouri and Kansas, by a combined 117-45 ... in addition to other obliterations.
- The Irish lost their first five games by multiple scores each, but it was the loss to Navy, ending the longest rivalry winning streak in sports history (43 years), that lingers.
- Randy Shannon’s Hurricanes shut down their time in the old Orange Bowl by getting blasted at the hands of Virginia, 48-0, the worst home shutout loss in school history.
The season that saw barbarians like Boston College, Cal, Kansas, and USF reach No. 2 saw bluebloods falling all year long. The uprising began with No. 5 Michigan’s loss to FCS Appalachian State in the Big House and didn’t stop until the Big East’s West Virginia beat superpower Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Look back at the preseason top 10 and weep.
But it’s easy to overlook just how poorly things went for three of the most successful teams of the previous four decades.
(And things haven’t looked up all that much for these three since, with only Notre Dame’s alleged attendance in the 2012 BCS Championship nearing the group's old championship standard.)
SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein and Solid Verbal co-host Ty Hildenbrandt talk the horrible 2007 season of the Fighting Irish, which happens to be Ty's favorite team: