National championship controversies have a long legacy in college football.
Back in the days of split national championships, Georgia Tech had entered the 1990 season unranked and absent of any serious expectations. Clemson and Virginia were widely seen as the top teams in the ACC.
During the course of the regular season, though, Georgia Tech flexed its dominance, going undefeated -- the lone blemish being a tie against unranked North Carolina -- and earning a No. 2 national ranking entering their final game, a Citrus Bowl matchup with No. 19 Nebraska.
The Huskers had finished runner-up in the Big 12 conference to Colorado, which held the No. 1 national ranking in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and was the favorite to walk away from the season trophy-in-hand.
But Georgia Tech made a compelling case for its own title aspirations. Against a respected Nebraska team -- which was favored by the oddsmakers despite its lower ranking -- the Yellow Jackets dominated in all phases, scoring early and often against the Blackshirts defense.
Tech's defense, meanwhile, stuffed a vaunted Nebraska running attack all game long. The Huskers only gained 126 yards on the ground, down from their average of 330 per game.
The Yellow Jackets even blocked a field goal in overwhelming fashion during the game, adding salt to Nebraska's wounds. Colorado also triumphed in its own bowl game, leading most to believe that the Buffaloes would be crowned the champion in both major football polls.
But Tech's dominance of Nebraska made a strong impression on coaches casting their ballots.
When the polls were finally released, the Yellow Jackets had slipped past Colorado in the Coaches' poll -- even though the Buffaloes entered bowl season ranked No. 1 in the country and defeated a higher-ranked opponent in their own bowl game, beating No. 5 Notre Dame, 10-9.
Colorado, which had a loss at Illinois and a neutral-site tie against Tennessee, and Georgia Tech were forced to split the national title -- and the glory of winning. But for a Tech team that emerged from obscurity, the recognition was well-received.