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Top 10 college football teams of the 1990s

Eric Draper/Associated Press
Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips was a part of two undefeated Cornhuskers teams in the 1990s.

With NFL Network celebrating the 1990s this week, CFB 24/7 presents the 10 best college football teams of the decade. One prerequisite? A perfect record. That knocked out a couple of national champions, but made room for a couple of teams that perhaps never got their due.

10. 1994: Penn State (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Michigan, 31-24.
Postseason: Rose Bowl win over Oregon, 38-20.
Narrow escape: at Illinois, 35-31.
The skinny: Kerry Collins completed 67 percent of his passes for the Nittany Lions and his favorite target was Bobby Engram, who lasted 14 years in the NFL. Future first-rounders Ki-Jana Carter (over 1,500 rushing yards) and tight end Kyle Brady were major factors in the offense, as well. The PSU defense had some hiccups that year, but the offense never scored fewer than 31 points.

9. 1991: Washington (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Nebraska, 36-21.
Postseason: Rose Bowl win over Michigan, 34-14.
Narrow escape: at Cal, 24-17.
The skinny: Billy Joe Hobert led the Huskies' offense with 2,271 yards and 22 touchdowns, big numbers for the day. The UW defense was led by two 1992 first-round picks (Steve Emtman and Dana Hall) helped keep Washington atop the polls in the pre-BCS era.

8. 1997: Michigan (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Penn State, 34-8.
Postseason: Rose Bowl win over Washington State, 21-16.
Narrow escape: vs. Iowa, 28-24.
The skinny: The Wolverines' offensive line was laden with NFL talent, featuring three players who played at least a decade in the pro ranks (Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Jon Jansen). Hutchinson was a first-round pick who went to seven Pro Bowls. Quarterback Brian Griese threw for more than 2,000 yards. Charles Woodson not only led the defense but provided dynamic return skills as well in winning the Heisman Trophy.

7. 1991: Miami (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Florida State, 17-16.
Postseason: Orange Bowl win over Nebraska, 22-0.
Narrow escape: FSU (see above), and a 19-14 win at Boston College.
The skinny: Co-national champs along with Washington, this team featured a few future NFL standouts in tackle Leon Searcy, linebacker Micheal Barrow and cornerback Ryan McNeil, but a lot of the starters are better known as Hurricanes than for their pro careers (receivers Lamar Thomas and Horace Copeland).

6. 1997: Nebraska (13-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Washington, 27-14.
Postseason: Big 12 Championship Game win over Texas A&M, 54-15; Orange Bowl win over Tennessee, 42-17.
Narrow escape: at Colorado, 27-24.
The skinny: Quarterback Scott Frost rushed and passed for over 1,000 yards each that year, something Tommie Frazier couldn't even pull off in his fabled season of 1995. Ahman Green had 1,877 yards and 22 touchdowns to lead the rushing attack. Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter led the NU defensive front.

5. 1998: Tennessee (13-0)

Biggest regular-season win: vs. Florida, 20-17.
Postseason: SEC Championship game win over Mississippi State, 24-14; Fiesta Bowl win over Tennessee, 23-16.
Narrow escape: at Syracuse, 34-33.
The skinny: In his first year as a starter, Tee Martin did what his predecessor, Peyton Manning, never could: win a national title. Martin threw 19 touchdown passes and was a rushing threat, as well, while the UT defense got major contributions from the likes of DL Shaun Ellis, LB Eric Westmoreland and DB Deon Grant. Peerless Price led the receiving corps with 61 catches.

4. 1992: Alabama (13-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Tennessee, 17-10.
Postseason: SEC Championship Game win over Florida, 28-21; Sugar Bowl win over Miami, 34-13.
Narrow escape: at Mississippi State, 30-21.
The skinny: This Crimson Tide team is rightfully remembered for a dominant defense that included a bevy of NFL talent (Antonio Langham, George Teague, John Copeland, Eric Curry, others). But a consistent rushing attack led by Derrick Lassic and an explosive receiver/return specialist in David Palmer aren't to be overlooked.

3. 1994: Nebraska (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: home vs. Colorado, 24-7.
Postseason: Orange Bowl win over Miami, 17-13.
Narrow escape: None (every regular-season win by 10 points or more).
The skinny: Quarterback Brook Berringer was a good caretaker (10 TD passes, 5 INTs), but the engine was star rusher Lawrence Phillips, who amassed 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Huskers' defense had a four-game stretch of conference games allowing seven points or less.

2. 1999: Florida State (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Florida, 30-23.
Postseason: Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, 46-29.
Narrow escape: at Clemson, 17-14.
The skinny: Quarterback Chris Weinke threw for 3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Seminoles to an unbeaten year. Wide receiver Peter Warrick pulled in 71 receptions for 934 yards. Defensively, tackle Corey Simon, linebacker Brian Allen and pass rusher Jamal Reynolds led a dominant group. Longtime Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski -- a first-round pick the following spring -- gave the Seminoles a long-distance three-point man, as well.

1. 1995: Nebraska (12-0)

Biggest regular-season win: at Colorado, 44-21.
Postseason: Fiesta Bowl win over Florida, 62-24.
Narrow escape: None. Narrowest margin of victory was 14, vs. Washington State.
The skinny: Quarterback Tommie Frazier took over the Huskers' option offense and responded with 31 touchdowns (17 passing, 14 rushing). In the backfield was not only future first-rounder Lawrence Phillips, but also future Green Bay Packer Ahman Green. Michael Booker (Atlanta Falcons first-rounder) and Mike Minter (10-year Carolina Panther) led the secondary.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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