January 5, 2004:: Is one of the most controversial days in the BSC era, and one that is still hotly contested in the state of Louisiana. Southern California was voted No. 1 in the AP poll and LSU No. 1 in the Coaches' poll for a share of the 2003 college football championship.
The BCS was created to eliminate controversy of who is crowned national championship, but the system failed in the 2003 season. USC had one blemish, a triple overtime thriller at California in September, while LSU lost at home to Florida in October. Oklahoma, which was everyone's No. 1 team all season was blown out in the Big 12 championship game, 35-7, to Kansas State. Despite USC, then 11-1, finishing ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches' Polls, and LSU (12-1) ranked No. 2 and Oklahoma (12-1) No. 3, Oklahoma surpassed both USC and LSU on several BCS computer factors and played LSU in the BCS Championship Game.
LSU went on to stifle No. 1 Oklahoma in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, 21-7, and claim the BCS title as well as the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll No. 1 ranking, as the poll was contractually obligated to select the BCS winner.
USC handled its business in the Rose Bowl, defeating a very good two-loss Michigan team, 28-14. AP voters made a statement and kept USC No. 1 in the poll, as it had before the BCS selections, and the 2003 national championship was therefore a split.
Despite a $31-million offer by Ted Waitt, CEO of Gateway Computers, to the NCAA for a game between LSU and USC, the dream battle never took place.
Who would have won? You be the judge. Here is LSU's performance against No. 1 Oklahoma:
And USC's dominant game against Michigan:
Here's to you 2003 national champions, USC and LSU.