Ranking college football national champions since 2000: Where do 2021 Georgia Bulldogs land?
The race for college football's national championship wasn't always dominated by the SEC.
Only one team from the conference, LSU in 2003, won the national championship from 2000-05. Oklahoma wore the crown in 2000, Miami (Fla.) in 2001, Ohio State in 2002, Southern California in 2004 and Texas in 2005.
But SEC teams have won 12 national championships since 2006, capped by Georgia's 33-18 win in Monday night's rematch against Alabama. That makes a ranking of every Football Bowl Subdivision national champion since 2000 heavy on the best of the best from the SEC.
The league doesn't top the list, however. Here's how every champion of the century ranks:
1. 2001 Miami (12-0)
The Hurricanes compiled the most stunning collection of talent in college football history, as ensuing NFL drafts would prove. This was also a physical, imposing group with unmatched depth, tremendous leadership and a legendary amount of swagger. While his tenure would eventually peter out, promoting assistant coach Larry Coker as the replacement for Butch Davis following the 2000 season was the perfect decision for a team that responded to his grandfatherly approach.
2. 2019 LSU (15-0)
Led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, who threw a then-FBS record 60 touchdown passes, LSU decimated all comers and made an argument for being seen as the best group to ever come through the SEC. This was on display during playoff routs of Oklahoma and Clemson to finish unbeaten.
3. 2018 Clemson (15-0)
The first team to go 15-0 since the 19th century, Clemson had the nation's best defense, the third-best offense and the most consistent week-to-week performances of any team in college football. At the very least, the Trevor Lawrence-led Tigers earned a place in the best-ever conversation after handing Alabama a blowout loss for the title.
4. 2013 Florida State (14-0)
Jameis Winston and the Seminoles cruised through the regular season with an average margin of victory of 42 points — or six touchdowns, which sounds even more impressive. It was a closer call in the championship game against Auburn, but this was a powerhouse team.
5. 2004 Southern California (13-0)
Thirteen wins in total, though two were later vacated by the NCAA. The Trojans had Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and more, with a roster matched in the 21st century only by the 2001 Miami team. USC put an exclamation point on its title and hit the high point of the Pete Carroll era by destroying Oklahoma 55-19 in the championship game.
6. 2020 Alabama (13-0)
Alabama flourished during the pandemic season behind an outstanding collection of skill talent: Mac Jones at quarterback, Heisman winner DeVonta Smith at receiver and running back Najee Harris at running back, among many others. The Tide won all but one game by double digits and took the two playoff games by a combined 45 points.
7. 2021 Georgia (14-1)
Outside of a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, Georgia's defense played at a level not matched since the spread revolution took over college football in the past decade. That the Bulldogs avenged that loss on Monday night helps boost them up this list. But 2021 Georgia comes in behind a few recent SEC teams.
8. 2008 Florida (13-1)
The early-season loss to Mississippi was the lone blemish on an otherwise incredible season. Urban Meyer and the Gators had Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin on offense to go with Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes and more on defense, and cruised through all comers after that unexpected setback to the Rebels.
9. 2005 Texas (13-0)
Yeah, the Longhorns were about more than just quarterback Vince Young — though Young can stake claim to being the best player of this century. He willed Texas to a memorable Rose Bowl win against favored USC with 467 yards of total offense and earned the Longhorns a place among the top title winners in Big 12 history.
10. 2011 Alabama (12-1)
Let's kick off a run of Alabama teams. The 2011 group ranks high on this list despite not winning its own division, though the Tide more than avenged a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU in November by suffocating the Tigers in a 21-0 win in the championship game. A defense that had NFL talent on every level certainly ranks in a historically elite group.
11. 2012 Alabama (13-1)
The 2012 team lost to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M but took a big step forward on offense behind quarterback A.J. McCarron. After getting past Georgia in one of the best conference championship games in SEC history, Alabama ripped past Notre Dame 42-14 to claim the title and go back-to-back.
12. 2015 Alabama (14-1)
Whether Saban and the Tide could win another title seemed in doubt after another loss early in SEC play. But Alabama would win its last 12 games, all but one by double digits, and then topped Clemson 45-40 in the first of four meetings in a row in the cross-conference rivalry. In all, Alabama won eight games against ranked competition.
13. 2016 Clemson (14-1)
Clemson's shutout of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and memorable win against Alabama in the championship game are the defining moments from the program's first title in 35 years. There were close calls during the regular season against Louisville, North Carolina State and Florida State, and a bad loss to Pittsburgh in November. But quarterback Deshaun Watson and this veteran team knew what it needed to do in order to reach the playoff and saved its best for last.
14. 2009 Alabama (14-0)
Give this group credit for being one of two unbeaten teams during the Saban era and for having the first Heisman winner in program history in running back Mark Ingram. The defense held six opponents to single digits and the Tide beat four ranked teams on the road. But there were a few close calls, including a 12-10 win against Tennessee sealed by a blocked field goal in the final seconds.
15. 2000 Oklahoma (13-0)
In just his second season, Bob Stoops brought Oklahoma back to the top of college football with help from one of the era's most impressive staff of assistant coaches. The Sooners took over the top spot in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll after beating Kansas State and Nebraska to end October and stayed there through some nip-and-tuck wins down the home stretch.
16. 2014 Ohio State (14-1)
The Buckeyes played their way into the playoff by rocking Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones and then took off in the national semifinals, ripping through Alabama's proud defense and then beating quarterback Marcus Mariota and Oregon to claim the title. But that sort of performance wasn't indicative of the rest of Ohio State's season.
17. 2002 Ohio State (14-0)
The Buckeyes' first national championship since 1970 was earned with a pretty major upset of a Miami team rolling through a 34-game winning streak. But OSU did win seven games by single digits, including narrow survivals against Purdue, Illinois and Michigan. Limited on offense, the Buckeyes were carried by a historic rookie season from running back Maurice Clarett.
18. 2010 Auburn (14-0)
Cam Newton had undoubtedly one of the top seasons from a quarterback in FBS history, a fleeting, one-year romp through the SEC en route to the top spot in the following NFL draft. Newton alone makes this a special team. But the Tigers don't quite match up with the teams above.
19. 2017 Alabama (13-1)
This team failed to take home even the SEC West, like the 2011 Tide, and were struggling at halftime against Georgia in the championship game before Saban replaced Jalen Hurts with Tua Tagovailoa. The then-freshman paced a second-half comeback and tossed the game winner in overtime. Alabama was dominant in spurts but not quite up the standard set by the rest of the Saban-led champions.
20. 2006 Florida (13-1)
This team is weaker than the 2008 Gators, though they get credit for navigating through the nation's most difficult schedule. Behind the quarterback duo of Chris Leak and Tebow, Florida opened a period of SEC dominance by trouncing an Ohio State team favored to win the championship game.
21. 2003 LSU (13-1)
Saban's other title team away from Alabama, the Tigers won the BCS championship game amid major controversy. At the end of the regular season, the BCS rankings picked the Tigers and Oklahoma as the title matchup and left out USC, which beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and finished the year No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
22. 2007 LSU (12-2)
The only two-loss champion since 2000, LSU overcame a late loss to Arkansas to squeeze into the title game after a round of unpredictable upsets to cap the regular season. The Tigers had a wonderful defense and beat a slew of ranked teams, but those pair of losses are hard to ignore.