Since 1936, the Associated Press has been ranking the top college football teams in the country. In that very first poll, Minnesota was ranked the number one team. Since then, 44 teams have been ranked number one, and a total of 165 schools have made the top 25.
The modern AP poll consists of weekly rankings as voted on by 65 journalists, sportswriters and broadcasters. Even though these people are experts in the field, it is still based upon human opinions which means there will always be controversy.
But isn't that what makes it great? We love the controversy and the disputes and the arguments that make football great. However, to avoid any of this, we tried to make this list as scientific as possible. It is based upon teams' rankings in the AP poll throughout history.
A program gets one (1) point for for poll appearances, two (2) points for number one rankings and ten (10) points for AP National Championships. Without further ado, here are the top 25 college football programs of all-time.
The Bulldogs have laid claim to two national championships including the outright AP National Championship in 1980. They have had two Heisman winners and 24 consensus All Americans. Georgia has also won 12 SEC Championships.
The Bulldogs have been number one for 15 weeks and been in the top 25 for 48.23% of polls. Georgia is 788–413–54 (.649) all-time.
The Volunteers of Tennessee have laid claim to six National Championships including two outright AP titles and the first ever BCS National Championship in 1998. The Vols have won a total of 16 conference championships, 13 of which were in the SEC. Tennessee has the 8th most victories of all college programs and the 6th most bowl victories.
The Volunteers have held the number one ranking a total of 18 times and appeared in 51.50% of all AP polls. They have an all-time record of 825–368–54 (.683).
The Hurricanes have won five National Championships, most recently in 2001. They have won nine Big East Championships and joined the ACC in 2013. Miami has had two Heisman winners and 35 consensus All Americans.
Miami has been the number one team for 67 weeks and appeared in 41.52% of all polls. They are 612–351–19 (.633) all-time.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Both of Penn State's national titles were in the 80's, one in 1982 and the other in 1986. They have won a total of five conference championships including the Big Ten Championship this year.
The Nittany Lions first appeared in the the AP top 25 in 1940 and have since been number one 19 times. They have appeared in 53.4% of polls and have an all-time record of 867–384–42 (.687).
The Louisiana State University Tigers have won three National Championships including 2003 and 2007. They have won 14 conference championships and have had one Heisman winner.
The Tigers have spent 30 weeks as the number one team in the land and appeared in 52.13% of polls. They have an all-time record of 772–405–47 (.650).
The Florida Gators were National Champions in 1996, 2006 and 2008. They have also won eight SEC Championships. Florida has had three Heisman winners and 32 consensus All Americans.
The Gators have been number one in the polls for 41 weeks and appeared in 50.95% of all polls. They are 709–404–40 (.632) all-time.
Florida State Seminoles
Ranking just ahead of the Gators is their in-state rival Florida State Seminoles. FSU has been National Champion three times, most recently in 2013. They have won a total of 18 conference championships. Three Heisman winners and 43 consensus All Americans have been Seminoles.
Florida State has been number one for 72 weeks and appeared in 48.96% of polls. All-time, FSU is 531–244–17 (.681).
The Longhorns have claimed a share of four national championships including the 2003 BCS National Championship. They have won a whopping 32 conference championships in the Big 12. The Longhorns have had two Heisman winners and 52 consensus All Americans.
Texas has held the number one spot for 44 weeks and appeared in 63.74% of AP polls. They are 888–353–33 (.710) all-time.
Michigan has claimed a share of the National Championship 11 times, first in 1901 and most recently in 1997. The Wolverines have won 42 conference titles; had three Heisman winners and 72 consensus All Americans.
Michigan has held the number one spot in the poll 34 times and appeared in 73.07% of all AP polls. They hold an all-time record of 935–333–36 (.731).
Nebraska has won a total of five AP National Championships, most recently in 1995. They have been members of multiple conferences through their history and won the title 46 times. There have been three Heisman winners and 54 consensus All Americans at Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers have been number one for 72 weeks and appeared in 65% of all polls. The are 889–371–40 (.699) all-time.
Our top five begins with the Trojans of Southern California. USC has won five outright National Championships, most recently in 2005. The Trojans have been members of the Pac-12 since its inception and won a total of 38 conference championships. Six Heisman winners ande 80 All Americans have played at USC.
The Trojans have held the number one ranking for 90 weeks and appeared in 67.36% of all polls. They hold an all-time record of 821–334–54 (.701).
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide have claimed a share of 16 national championships and won 10 outright, most recently last year. They have also won 26 SEC Championships. Alabama has had two Heisman Trophy winners and 64 consensus All Americans.
Alabama has been number one 74 times and appeared in 67.54% of polls. All-time, they have a record of 877–326–43 (.721).
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame has claimed a share of 11 national titles including eight AP National Championships, dating from 1924 all the way up to 1988. Seven Heisman winners and 117 consensus All Americans have played for the Irish.
The Fighting Irish have held the AP number one ranking for 98 total weeks and appeared in 69.45% of polls. They are 896–321–42 (.728) all-time.
The Sooners of Oklahoma University have won seven outright National Championships, most recently in 2000. They have also won 46 conference championships. The Sooners have had five Heisman winners and 76 consensus All Americans.
Oklahoma has held the number one spot in the land for 100 weeks and appeared in 71.08% of all polls. They have an all-time record of 871–320–53 (.721).
Ohio State Buckeyes
And coming in at number one all-time are the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University. OSU has claimed a share of eight National Championships and won five outright AP titles. They have won the Big Ten Championship 35 times and been a member since its inception. Seven Heisman winners and 81 consensus All Americans have played at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have been the number one team in the country for 105 weeks and appeared in 77.24% of all AP polls. They are 886–321–53 (.724) all-time.