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Road to Title Runs Through Lincoln

By Doug Smith
Mount Airy, Md.

If it seems like the Huskers are always in the thick of the National Championship hunt, and the team claiming the final crown usually looks awfully familiar to NU fans, it's because more often than not, the road to college football's national championship has wound its way through Husker country.

Since 1990, of all the teams claiming a national championship crown as bestowed by the AP media poll, the coaches' poll (formerly UPI, now ESPN/USAToday), or, more recently, the BCS ranking, fully nine of 14 have been either the Huskers themselves or a team that played Nebraska in their championship season. That's 64%, or nearly 2/3 of all title-winners. Since 1980, the percentage is 54% (13 of 24), and since 1970, 47% (18 of 38).

The richest stretch was 1990 thru 1995, when fully seven of eight title winners were Huskers or Huskers' opponents. The leanest stretch was right before that, from 1986 thru 1989, in which the Huskers went four years without winning a championship or playing an eventual champion.

This year's results will continue the trend, with the winner of the Rose Bowl (Nebraska or Miami) guaranteed at least the BCS title, and Husker opponent Colorado having a chance at the AP title, should CU win in the Fiesta Bowl and Nebraska win in Pasadena.

National Champs since 1970:

                  Cumulative 
 Year School(s)        ratio
 2000 Oklahoma          1/1
 1999 Florida State     1/2
 1998 Tennessee         1/3
 1997 Michigan Nebraska 2/5
 1996 Florida           2/6
 1995 Nebraska          3/7
 1994 Nebraska          4/8
 1993 Florida St.       5/9
 1992 Alabama           5/10
 1991 Washington Miami  7/12
 1990 Colorado GATech   9/14
 1989 Miami (Fla.)      9/15
 1988 Notre Dame        9/16
 1987 Miami (Fla.)      9/17
 1986 Penn St.          9/18
 1985 Oklahoma         10/19
 1984 Brigham Young    10/20
 1983 Miami (Fla.)     11/21
 1982 Penn St.         12/22
 1981 Clemson          13/23
 1980 Georgia          13/24
 1979 Alabama          13/25
 1978 Alabama USC      14/27
 1977 Notre Dame       14/28
 1976 Pittsburgh       14/29
 1975 Oklahoma         15/30
 1974 USC Oklahoma     16/32
 1973 ND Alabama       16/34
 1972 USC              16/35
 1971 Nebraska         17/36
 1970 Nebraska Texas   18/38