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Who Has the Most College Football Championships?

North, South, East, West. What region and what colleges have the most football championships of all time? Discover the teams with the most college football championships and relive memorable moments from many different teams. Subscribe to Fubo and don’t miss out on any games during the 2023 season so you can find out who wins this year’s national championship.

The Top Teams with the Most College Football Championships in History

Nothing is like college football. From the devotion of the fans to the stadiums they are in, college football is unlike any other sport in the United States. The big question is though, what college has the ultimate bragging rights to say it has the most college football championships in history?

The first college football national championship was in 1869. That season was eight days long and consisted of exactly two games: Princeton at Rutgers (which Rutgers won), and Rutgers at Princeton (which Princeton won).

Later, the Billingsley Report and the National Championship Foundation named Yale the first national champion, while in 1933, college football historian Parke H. Davis concluded that both Rutgers and Yale were co-champions.

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The Top Teams with the Most College Football Championships

This list only included teams that played in the largest national division at the time. That means you’ll see teams here that are no longer part of FBS football.

10. Minnesota (6)

Minnesota was a powerhouse football program in the 1930s, winning championships in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941 and 1960. While it was very different from how we know football now, the Golden Gophers averaged 325 yards per game during their first championship — 295 of which came on the ground.

9. Oklahoma (7)

The Sooners have won championships in four different decades, the last of which came in 2000. The other six came in 1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975 and 1985. They won a trio of titles each under Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer. Oklahoma leads all FBS programs with four different 100-win coaches in school history.

T-8. Harvard (8)

It’s been over 100 years since Harvard won a championship, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have won eight championships. While it may be hard for them to win a national championship these days, the university was the best in 1875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913 and 1919.

T-8. Ohio State (8)

Ohio State officially formed a football team in 1890, but the Buckeyes wouldn’t win a national championship until 1942. That year, after losing dozens of players who left to fight in World War II, Ohio State went 9-1, its only loss coming against No. 6 Wisconsin. The team won again in 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002 and 2014. The program shows no signs of slowing down.

T-6. USC (9)

The Trojans have won nine championships that span over 70 years (1931, 1932, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003, 2004). No USC coach was more successful than John McKay, who in 16 years at the helm, led the Trojans to four national championships between 1960 and 1975. Another incredible coach for the Trojans was Pete Carroll, who is currently the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He helped lead the school to champions in 2003 and 2004 and even got to the national championship game for the 2005 season.

T-6. Michigan (9)

Michigan holds the record for the most wins in college football history, so it makes sense that the Wolverines have titles to their name. They have two in the poll era (since 1936). The first and last championships came almost 100 years apart. Michigan won four straight championships beginning in 1901 and then continuing in 1918, 1923, 1948 and 1997.

4. Notre Dame (13)

Notre Dame’s nine championships in the poll era are the second-most out of all teams. You can thank coach Frank Leahy for four of those, but Leahy also won two titles as a player for the Fighting Irish under another famous coach — Knute Rockne. The school won championships in 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1977 and 1988. While it’s been over 30 years since they won a championship, it is easy to make a case that the Fighting Irish have the most history and mystique in their program.

3. Princeton (15)

The second-best Ivy League football program in regard to championships is the Princeton Tigers. However, only four came after the 20th century began. The 15 championships were in 1869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1885, 1889, 1893, 1896, 1903, 1906, 1911 and 1922. Princeton claims 28 national championships, though only 15 are recognized by the NCAA. None of them came in the poll era, but there’s no denying the Tigers’ ridiculous run in the late 19th century. They won championships in 11 of 28 years, including four in five years from 1869 to 1873.

2. Alabama (16)

When you think of the prototypical college football powerhouse, Alabama immediately comes to mind. There is a reason for that. Alabama can claim the most NCAA titles in the poll era, with only three of its 16 coming prior. With the 16th title — a win in the College Football Playoff in 2020, head coach Nick Saban surpassed the legendary Crimson Tide head coach Bear Bryant with seven championships.

  1. Yale (18)

The No. 1 slot may surprise you. Yale isn’t the team that comes to mind when you think of the most college football championships ever. However, Yale football has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport, with two of the first three Heisman winners, 100 All-Americans, 28 Hall of Fame inductees, and 18 national championships recognized by the NCAA — the most all-time. Those championships came in 1874, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1900, 1907, 1909 and 1927.

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Notable Championship Games and Moments

While it’s hard to pick a handful of the best moments in college football championship history, here are a few to look back on.

2005: Texas 41, USC 38

Few games live up to expectations, but this one did. Texas quarterback Vince Young delivered a performance for the ages in a back-and-forth thriller at the Rose Bowl, capping an unbeaten 2005 season for the Longhorns and giving them their first undisputed national championship in 36 years. The game produced more than 1,100 yards of total offense. The Trojans, boasting both the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush, and the 2004 Heisman winner, Matt Leinart, had their 34-game win streak snapped and were denied a third straight national title.

2002: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)

The title game featured one twist after another. It had dramatic turnovers, a bunch of lead changes and a true freshman, Maurice Clarett, scoring the game-winning touchdown. The Hurricanes had their 34-game win streak snapped. The Hurricanes thought they’d won the championship in the first overtime when Craig Krenzel ‘s fourth-down pass from the 5-yard line fell incomplete. The Miami players spilled onto the field to celebrate, but a late pass-interference flag came flying out. The Buckeyes had new life and took advantage to win their first national title since legendary head coach Woody Hayes.

2017: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (OT)

While Alabama has played in plenty of national championship games over the last decade, the team’s win in overtime against Georgia marked Nick Saban’s fifth national championship in the last nine years. Saban’s decision-making proved to be more important than ever with Alabama trailing 13-0 at the half. He decided to bench Jalen Hurts (who was 25-2 as the starter) and go with true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who had not played any meaningful snaps up until that point. He rose to the occasion and connected with true freshman receiver DeVonta Smith on a 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime for the walk-off win over Georgia.

Join the Legacy: College Football Championships on Fubo

Don’t miss a single game that could decide who makes it into the College Football Playoff and eventually the national championship game. Will it be powerhouses Alabama or Ohio State? Maybe even a dark horse? Only time will tell.

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