Although the college football season is still in its infancy, a number of powerhouse programs have already suffered defeat.
If you’re a fan of teams like Oklahoma, USC, Ole Miss or Notre Dame, you’re probably not feeling too optimistic about your national title chances. However, don’t lose hope. Why? Because there have been a number of teams that were written off after an early-season loss that then went on to play for college football’s greatest prize. If your team has already suffered an L this season, take solace in the fact that these great teams did, too.
1. Ohio State’s Most Recent Championship Season Started With an Embarrassing Home Loss to an Underdog
Heading into the 2014 season, expectations for the Ohio State Buckeyes were high. OSU was ranked fifth in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 poll. Their first home game against unranked Virginia Tech was supposed to be little more than a tune-up. But VT didn’t get the memo, and they shocked the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe, 35-21.
Just like that, Ohio State’s national title hopes were all but dead. Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina and Georgia Tech in subsequent weeks, making the loss look even worse. However, Ohio State bounced back to win the remaining games on their schedule, snuck into the college football playoff as the four-seed, and went on to win the national championship.
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2. Stacked Florida State Lost to Unranked N.C. State in Week 2 Before Ending Up in the Title Game
Florida State found themselves humbled just two weeks into the 1998 college football season.
The Seminoles entered the season ranked second-best in the nation, and an opening win against Texas A&M did little to quell expectations. However, Florida State got a drubbing at the hands of unranked N.C. State the very next week, sending them tumbling down the rankings.
As they became an afterthought in the national title picture, Florida State quietly kept winning. In the last game of the regular season, they defeated No. 4 Florida to punch their ticket to the national championship.
3. LSU Lost to Unranked Florida at Home, Still Won It All
The LSU Tigers were a very good football team in 2003. Their coaching staff was stacked. Nick Saban was their head coach, Jimbo Fisher was their offensive coordinator and Will Muschamp was their defensive coordinator. However, all those brilliant minds couldn’t stop the undefeated Tigers from losing to an unranked Florida team at home before the halfway mark of the season.
It was an embarrassing loss for LSU, but they bounced back in a big way. They didn’t lose another game and eventually defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to become BCS national champions.
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4. Florida’s Loss to Ole Miss Propelled Tebow to the Heisman and the Gators to the Trophy
Entering Week 4 of the 2008 season, Florida was riding high. The 3-0 Gators were ranked fourth in the nation. Their next game was at home against an unranked Ole Miss team that had already lost to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, the Rebels pulled off an upset. But what happened after the game is arguably more memorable than the game itself. This was the loss that inspired Tim Tebow’s passionate press conference:
Tebow backed up his promises. The Gators massacred the rest of their conference schedule, winning games by margins of 31, 30, 58, 39, 38 and 50 points. Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and the Gators won the National Championship.
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5. 2007 LSU Overcame Two Heartbreaking Losses to Be Crowned Champions
Ok, LSU didn’t lose early in 2007.
However, they’re the only team in the BCS era to win a national championship after suffering two regular-season losses. LSU ripped off six straight wins to start the 2008 season, before losing to Kentucky in a triple-overtime thriller. After putting together another winning streak, LSU suffered a second triple OT defeat at the hands of Arkansas. Darren McFadden gashed the Tigers for 206 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
But a win in the SEC Championship game and some key losses by other highly-ranked teams gave LSU a shot to win it all. They went on to rout Ohio State 38-24 to become BCS national champions.