Nov 8, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; A Florida State Seminoles helmet on the field before the game at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Final Four: BCS Champions Tournament, 2003 USC Trojans vs. 1999 Florida State Seminoles

The BCS era tournament of champions has reached its Final Four, and among the semifinalists is the period’s only team to win the national championship but not the BCS.

The 2003 USC Trojans were left out of the 2004 Sugar Bowl, site of the 2003 season’s national championship game. But after dominating Big Ten champion Michigan in the Rose Bowl 28-14 for their seventh game holding the opponent below 20 points, the Trojans piqued the interest of voters. The Associated Press voting USC No. 1, and three coaches breaking rank in their Coaches Poll ballots gave

In a similar manner, the 2003 Trojans scored a major voting victory to earn this Final Four spot. USC edged the 2001 Miami Hurricanes in one of the closest vote of the tournament. The 2001 Hurricanes would have been an overall No. 1 seed were this the NCAA tournament, but a true measure of March Madness and the Final Four is unpredictability. The best BCS champion — according to you, the readership — could be no BCS champion at all.

Bobby Bowden won his first national championship with the Florida State Seminoles in controversial fashion, receiving an invitation to the Orange Bowl — and de facto title game — after Notre Dame’s season-ending loss at Boston College. Notre Dame beat the Seminoles the previous week.

There was no controversy when Florida State cruised to Bowden’s second championship, and the second-ever BCS title. The 1999 Seminoles overwhelmed opponents with a stifling defense, allowing just 16.9 points per game.

Florida State enjoyed a wide average margin of victory, scoring 38.2 points per game behind quarterback Chris Weinke and a talented receiving corps featuring Peter Warrick.

Though USC quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy the following season, his 2003 was arguably more worthy of the honor. He threw 38 touchdown passes to just nine interceptions and 3556 yards, spreading the ball among Steve Smith, Mike Williams and Keary Colbert. The Trojans’ passing offense was truly a thing of beauty that season.

The 1999 Seminoles saw a pair of Heisman Trophy contenders in their march to the championship. The season culminated in a 46-29, Sugar Bowl defeat of Michael Vick’s Virginia Tech Hokies. Florida State also defeated Georgia Tech in an early season shootout, 41-35. Heisman runner-up Joe Hamilton was outstanding in the loss, throwing for 387 yards on 22-of-25 passes and scoring four touchdowns.

Pitting the Florida State secondary against Leinart and his receiving corps would certainly be entertaining. Likewise, the USC trying to slow Warrick and Weinke is intriguing. In that Georgia Tech game, Warrick caught 142 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, USC’s sole defeat came against a Cal Golden Bears team that effectively aired out the pass on the Trojans.

Vote for your choice to advance beyond the Final Four and into Monday’s national championship game:

BCS Final Four: 2003 USC vs. 1999 Florida State

  • 1999 Florida State Seminoles (78%, 259 Votes)
  • 2003 USC Trojans (22%, 72 Votes)

Total Voters: 331

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Tags: Football

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