1995 NEBRASKA VS. 1994 PENN STATE
Nebraska ran the table (13-0) to win the national championship, blasting Florida, 62-24, in the Fiesta Bowl in 1995 behind quarterback Tommie Frazier, perhaps the best ever at that position for Coach Tom Osborne, and tailback Lawrence Phillips (1,722 yards). The Cornhuskers averaged 556 yards and 52.4 points per game. The Huskers pounded teams into submission, averaging 399.8 rushing yards per game.
Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions went 12-0 in 1994 behind an explosive Ki-Jana Carter, who gained 1,539 yards (23 touchdowns) rushing and the passing combination of Kerry Collins (2,679 yards, 21 touchdowns) to wide receiver Bobby Engram (52 catches, 1029 yards). Penn State, which had five All-Americas on offense, scored 526 points and gave up only 232.
FIRST ROUND EDGE:These are two offensive juggernauts but Nebraska had the better defense.
1988 NOTRE DAME VS. 1990 COLORADO
The matchup of 1988 Notre Dame (12-0) against 1990 Colorado isn't the sexiest largely because Notre Dame followed Coach Lou Holtz's slow but effective formula for winning perfectly: grind it out (250 rushing yards per game) and play great defense (allowed only 12.3 points per game). Tony Rice led Notre Dame in both rushing (700 yards) and passing (1,176 yards) as the Fighting Irish played ball control en route to 32.6 points per game.
Colorado's 1990 national champs (11-1-1) played the toughest schedule in the nation and beat Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl to win the title. Behind the running of tailback Eric Bienemy (1,243 yards, 10 touchdowns) and the terrorizing defensive play of linebacker Alfred Williams (12.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss), Coach Bill McCartney's Buffaloes played a similar game to Notre Dame --- ball control football that emphasized field position and the kicking game and relentless defense.
FIRST ROUND EDGE: Notre Dame just didn't make mistakes. The Irish may not have been pretty, but they never beat themselves.