The Nebraska Cornhuskers have just been deemed the Ultimate Team of the last 25 years. EA Sports and ESPN held a fan vote to determine which college football program has the ultimate team of the last 25 years. Sixteen of the best programs over that time were chosen, and five players on offense and five on defense were chosen to represent each team. Each team was then ranked and matched-up to create a bracket for fans to vote which team was the Ultimate team.
The teams that were chosen for the Ultimate Team competition were (in order by ranking): Miami, USC, Ohio State, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Florida State, Tennessee, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Auburn, and Penn State.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers roster included some of the best players in the school’s history. The offense was represented by quarterbacks Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier, and running backs Ahman Green, Joel Makovicka, and Rex Burkhead. The defense was just as stacked, with defensive ends Grant Wistrom, and Kyle Vanden Bosch, tackle Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Trev Alberts, and safety Mike Brown.
Nebraska came in as the number 13th ranked team in the competition, and completed four straight upsets to capture the highly coveted title. In the first round, the Huskers beat out the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs with 55 percent of the vote. The second round featured another upset of fifth-ranked Florida Gators, with 69 percent of the vote. The beat down (although hypothetical) was reminiscent of the 1996 Fiesta Bowl in which the Huskers put a whooping on the Gators by a score of 62-24 to win the National Championship, led by none other than Tommie Frazier.
The Huskers headed into the semi-finals against top-ranked Miami Hurricanes, which had arguably the best roster, featuring a slew of future NFL Hall of famers with the likes of Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed. But the Huskers again edged out the Hurricanes in a close 51-49 percent vote to get into the finals.
In the finals, they were matched up with the eleventh-ranked Florida State Seminoles, who also found their way to the finals through a series of upsets. The Seminoles beat sixth-ranked Michigan by a 52-48 vote in the first round, followed by an upset of third-ranked Ohio State by a large 63-67 percent margin, and then beat out fifteenth-ranked Auburn by a narrow 51-49 percent margin.
The Huskers completed their run with a very close 51-49 percent margin of victory, getting only 1,100 more votes than the Seminoles.
Obviously, this completion doesn’t mean much of anything, and there is no objective answer as to which team has the better roster. But it does speak to the storied history of the Huskers and their tremendous fan support, which above all else might be the reason they won this. There is however, a coincidence in their win as the Ultimate Team. Several of Nebraska’s teams throughout their history have been deemed arguably the greatest teams of all time, including the 1995 National Championship team with Frazier, the 1970 team with Johnny Rogers, and the 1983 team known as “The Scoring Explosion” which had one of the most prolific offenses in history led by Mike Rozier, Irving Fryar and Turner Gill.
Of course as many of you may know, that 1983 team was the same squad that lost to Miami on Tom Osborne’s controversial decision to go for two instead of going for a tie, which lost the Huskers the national championship.
Now the voting did take place on Twitter and allowed fans to vote as much as they wanted, which might have affected the outcome, but it’s still cool when your team is recognized, however unofficially, as one of the greatest of all time.