35. Naval Academy
Despite recruiting disadvantages, the Naval Academy football program has amassed over 700 wins and a national championship. Navy has never won a conference title but that is probably because they were independent for the first 135 years of their history.
Individual greatness has come to Navy, with Joe Bellino and the great Roger Staubach both winning Heisman Trophies. Staubach disproved the notion that you couldn’t have a career in the NFL after posting a NFL Hall of Fame career with the Cowboys after his required Naval service.
34. West Virginia University
West Virginia ranks 20th all-time in college football wins. This is a remarkable feat in and of itself, but what’s even more remarkable is how the program has managed to become one of college football’s best programs after only joining what we now call FBS in 1978.
They quickly established themselves as contenders and came close to winning it all a few times in the late 1980’s. Recently, the team has produced some quality teams even though they have to travel far for all of their away games now that they are in the Big 12 conference.
33. Texas Christian University
It’s easy to say that TCU’s glory days are behind them, with their two national titles coming in the 1930’s. But that’s not why they moved into the Big 12 conference. They moved to a bigger, better conference to add to their 650+ wins.
They’ll likely add to their 18 conference titles soon too. But even more important to that, they have one of the best nicknames in college football, the Horned Frogs. Don’t mess with a horned frog.
32. Brigham Young University
While the program existed before him, LaVell Edwards made BYU football what it is today. The man was responsible for 19 conference championships and a national title. All this success from a small private university in Utah – a state not known for producing excellent football talent. That’s truly remarkable.
BYU’s program history includes over 550 wins, 23 total conference titles and a Heisman Trophy win by quarterback Ty Detmer. Now independent, the BYU Cougars are looking to add to their stellar history.
31. University of Iowa
The Iowa Hawkeyes have totaled over 650 wins, and head coach Kirk Ferentz has been there for all of them. We’re joking of course, but sometimes it seems like it. Despite Ferentz’ longevity there was success before him.
Ferentz’ predecessor Hayden Fry lead the program to 3 Big Ten titles and 14 bowl game appearances. Add in the other eras and the Hawkeyes have 13 total conference titles to go along with 5 national titles.
30. University of Illinois
Before he was destroying opposing player on the field for the Chicago Bears, Dick Butkus was destroying the Big Ten’s best as a member of the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Despite his prolific talent, the Illini didn’t win a national title during his time in Champaign. However, Illinois had won 5 national titles before Butkus got there. The Illini can also boast 600+ wins and 15 conference championships. Yes, most of those came before the 1960’s but hey, they all count.
29. University of Wisconsin
Camp Randall Stadium provides one of the best atmospheres for college football in the country, which has no doubt lead to some of the successes Badger football has had on the field. Their 4th quarter starting “Jump Around” always gets fans pumped.
With over 700 wins and 2 Heisman trophy winners, the Badgers are a college football elite.
They do have 2 unclaimed national titles from the early days, but the cheese heads in Wisconsin will be hoping to claim one soon.
28. University of Arkansas
The cry from fans is “Woo Pig Sooie”, which means something – but no one outside of Arkansas really wants find out what that meaning is. Beyond the inspiring football cheer, Razorbacks football is quite impressive. Arkansas has put together over 700 wins, 13 conference titles and 1 national championship back in 1964.
While they struggle to establish themselves against their SEC West rivals like Alabama, LSU and Auburn, Arkansas fans continue to holler and hope that this is the year. Eventually they will be right and one of college football’s most loyal fan bases will be in hog heaven again.
27. Stanford University
Yes, their most famous contribution to college football is the infamous “Stanford Band” play where Cal returned a last second kickoff for a touchdown. The Stanford Band, thinking the game was over had rushed the field to celebrated victory over their crosstown rival.
Despite this embarrassing contribution to college football lore, the Cardinal have been quite successful, racking up over 650 wins and 2 national titles. They even participated in the first-ever Rose Bowl, in which they were crushed by Michigan 49-0.
26. University of Colorado
Colorado has won over 700 games, 27 conference titles, and 1 national title. While they might not get much attention nationally, the Buffaloes have been quite consistent regionally as their 27 conference titles would attest.
They are also well known for some of their most famous players, such as Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam, Kordell Stewart, and Eric Bieniemy. Stewart is best remembered for his Hail Mary pass to beat Michigan in the season the Buffaloes finished 3rd in the rankings.
25. University of Minnesota
When coach PJ Fleck took over the Golden Gophers program a few years ago, he mentioned waking a sleeping giant in the Minnesota program. Minnesota has won nearly 700 games, and claimed 7 national championships. However, none of those have come since 1960.
So, Fleck is charged with doing the nearly impossible: build a program to compete with the Big Ten elite’s such as Michigan, Ohio State, and hated rival Wisconsin. Gopher fans will be hoping he figures it out.
24. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech makes our list despite never having won a national title. While never having won the big one, they have won over 730 games, which ranks them in the top 25 all-time.
Most of those wins came in the Frank Beamer era, which saw the Hokies vaulted into the national spotlight often. The lights were never brighter than when Michael Vick was lighting it up for the Hokies in the early 2000’s. College football had gone a long time since they’d seen a player as dynamic as Vick, and he nearly won them a national championship in the 1999-2000 Sugar Bowl against Florida State University.
23. U.S. Military Academy
The United States Military Academy, colloquially known as Army, has won 3 national titles. When you find out that they came in the 1940’s during WWII, the picture becomes a little clearer. During the war, all the best athletes came to Army because they were likely going to be drafted into the Army anyway. Why not get and education and play football while doing it?
Since their successes in the 1940’s, Army has been a solid performer especially when you consider the challenge they face in recruiting top quality talent. The required military service after graduation really puts a damper on NFL dreams.
22. Georgia Tech
The “Rambling Wreck” are another example of early glory days and lean modern years. But, when they were good they were really good. Legendary trophy namesakes, John Heisman and Bobby Dodd, had coached the Hornets in their early days. This set the program off on the right foot early in football’s history.
Since their early successes the Hornets have added a national title in 1990 but never the trophy that bears their former coach’s name, the Heisman Trophy.
21. University of Pittsburgh
One of the biggest surprises in the college record books can be found when looking at the number of national titles each program has won. The shock comes when you discover that “Pitt” has won 9 titles. That is more than the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, etc.
The Panthers dominated college football before WWII, winning 8 titles between 1915 and 1937. Then the television was invented and other people learned how to play the game. Pitt added another title in 1976, but since then, the program has nothing more than a bystander.
20. Texas A&M
The “Home of the 12th Man” has watched their Aggies rake in over 740 wins all-time, the legendary “Bear” Bryant patrol the sidelines, and “Johnny Football” win the Heisman Trophy. Despite this the Aggies have not won a national championship since their 3rd and final title in 1939.
This is why they shelled out the big bucks to lure Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State. The fans and boosters in College Station will be expecting big returns on their investments soon. Can Jimbo bring A&M their first title in over 80 years?
19. University of Washington
The Huskies are often overlooked when it comes to discussions of college football’s greatest programs. This could be because they’ve been overshadowed by the glittering successes of USC down in Los Angeles, or because the West Coast games come on too late for East Coast audiences. Make no mistake, the Huskies are great.
Washington was tied for 25th all-time in wins before the 2019 season began, and has won 17 conference titles and 2 national championships. They’ve never had a player finish higher that 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting though. Perhaps we’ll see that change soon.
18. Michigan State
Michigan State lands on our list because of their success early in their history, and because of the consistently solid performances in the modern era. The Spartans put up all six of their national championships between 1951 and 1966. Talk about dominating an era, wow!
Since then, they have been a high quality team who just hasn’t taken it to the next level and won another championship. They’ve won 9 Big Ten Championships, and appeared in the College Football Playoff. They are consistently a relevant team in college football.
17. Louisiana State University
LSU has one of the most feared home field advantages in all of college football, and they’ve used that to their advantage over the years. The “Bayou Bengals” have won 800 games, and 3 national titles.
The environment in Death Valley gets even more intimidating when you know the history behind the program. Recent success had made them one of the difficult teams to play in the country. These are no house cats. As they say in Baton Rouge, Geaux Tigers!
16. Clemson University
If this list is redone in 10 years, it will be interesting to see where the Clemson program ranks then. Because, it’s likely coach Dabo Swinney will have lead the Tigers to a few more national championships.
Until then, though, we can look at the success the Tigers have had already. That success includes 3 national titles, and nearly 750 wins. Despite this success, the Tigers have never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Will Trevor Lawrence be the Tiger to change that?
15. Auburn University
Often playing the shadow of in-state rival Alabama, Auburn should get more credit for the success they have: 767 wins, 2 national championships, and 3 Heisman Trophy winners. Among the greatest Tigers to play the game are Bo Jackson and Cam Newton.
Bo Jackson, who single handedly put a pause to Alabama’s dominance of the Iron Bowl in the 80’s, is considered one of the best college football players of all-time and had such freakish athletic talent that he played two sports professionally.
14. University of Florida
The Florida Gators are another team on our list who rank as high as they do because of their modern success. That success is thank to the leadership of coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, who lead their Gator teams to all 3 of the school’s national titles.
They’ve had great players too, including Heisman Trophy winners Danny Wuerffel, Tim Tebow and the aforementioned Spurrier. Amazingly, Spurrier is one of only four people to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and a coach!
13. Florida State University
Florida State is home to the greatest chant in college football, and some of its greatest players. However, Florida State owes most of its success to legendary head coach Bobby Bowden, who coached at the school for 33 years.
Bowden coached the Seminoles to 7 national championships in that time, and the ‘Noles added another under Jimbo Fisher in 2013. Some of the famous alums of the FSU program include Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Sebastian Janikowski, and recent Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston.
12. University of Georgia
Despite their storied past “between the hedges”, the Bulldogs have only managed to win 2 national titles. That’s sort of the story for Georgia: close but no cigar. They are a truly great program though, racking up over 800 wins, and 15 conference titles.
The Bulldogs are home to some of college football’s greatest names, including Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker, who some claim to be the best player college football has ever seen. Bulldog fans will be hoping Kirby Smart can find a new Walker, and lead the Dogs to another title.
11. University of Miami
“The U” ranks highly on our list because of their modern dominance. Heck, the university wasn’t even founded until 1925. Michigan had been playing football for nearly 40 years before that.
The Cane’s caught up though. The Hurricane’s have 5 national titles, all since 1983. Those teams under coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson were renowned for their swagger and attitude, and of course their domination on the field. Miami is a program unlike any other.
10. University of Tennessee
While the Tennessee football program is currently in disarray, it is impossible to overlook their long and storied past. Hated rival Alabama is the only SEC school with more national titles than the Vols’ 6. Add to that their 830 wins and it’s easy to see why we rank the Volunteers program so highly.
Despite all their success on the field the Volunteers have never had a Heisman trophy winner, but have had 4 runners up. It’s a sad state of affairs in Knoxville, but hopefully someone will be able to restore this great program to where it should be.
9. Pennsylvania State University
College football is nothing without its traditions, and Penn State takes that to another level. In an era of special, one-off uniforms and experimental helmet designs, Penn State has stayed true to their plain, simple blue and white uniforms.
In their defense, why change what works for you? They rank inside the top 10 in all-time wins with just under 900, and the Nittany Lions have won 2 national titles. Most of this is thanks to the work of legendary Lion, Joe Paterno, but the current program is looking to build on that success.
8. University of Nebraska
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in college football, and with good reason. The Huskers have been consistently one of college football’s premier programs.
Nebraska has over 900 wins, and 5 national titles. They’ve dominated the county in more than one decade, especially the 90’s when they won 3 national championships in 4 years. In fact, legendary coach Tom Osborne is so beloved in the state, once he retired from coaching he was elected to the US House of Representatives to serve the state as a congressman!
7. University of Texas
The Texas Longhorns rank third among all college football programs in terms of number of wins, but don’t tell their fans that. Texas will always be number 1 in the hearts and minds of Longhorn fans.
Throughout their history they have racked up over 900 wins, 4 national championships, and have had 2 Heisman trophy winners. They also have one of the coolest live mascots in Bevo, the 1,800-pound longhorn steer. The Longhorns are an impressive program, both on and off the field.
6. University of Southern California
USC is the West Coast’s power team, winning 9 national titles, over 830 games and winning 25 Rose Bowls. Throw in names like coaches John McKay and Pete Carroll with players like Marcus Allen, Carson Palmer, and Keyshawn Johnson; you can see why USC is one of college football’s elite programs.
Once they get the right coach in place expect to see USC right back at the top of the rankings. Fight on Trojans, fight on!
5. University of Michigan
Michigan is college football’s winningest program with 955 wins before the 2019 season kicked off. Sure, it helps that they started playing football in the 1880’s before most schools had teams and over 80 of their wins came before the Spanish-American War, but we’ll let them have their record. Michigan has won 9 national titles, 7 of which they won before 1933.
Jim Harbaugh has the winged-helmet Wolverines winning again after a few coaching disasters. We shall see if they can start competing for championships again any time soon under the khaki covered former Wolverine QB.
4. University of Notre Dame
So much of what Notre Dame is cannot be put into numbers. How do you quantify the brilliant gold helmets, the misty morning walks past “Touchdown Jesus” or the “Play like a Champion Today” sign? Notre Dame just is college football.
Fortunately they also have the numbers to back it up. 13 national titles, 7 Heisman trophy winners, and nearly 900 wins; how does that sound? Sounds like a college football blue blood to us.
3. University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma is home to some of the greatest names in college football coaching history. Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops are all legends of the game that coached at OU. Maybe current coach Lincoln Riley will join that list some day.
However, the coaches and players of Sooner seasons past have racked up and impressive 7 national titles, 7 Heisman trophy winners, and just under 900 wins. The Crimson and Cream will be poised to make another run in the College Football Playoff this season as they look to add an 8th national title.
2. Ohio State University
“The” Ohio State University has amassed over 910 wins throughout their illustrious history to go along with 8 national titles, and tie for the most Heisman Trophy wins with 7. Of course they only have 6 winners because Archie Griffin, the greatest Buckeye, is college football’s only 2-time winner of the award.
The Buckeyes have dominated the 21st century, winning 2 national titles, being runners up twice, and making two College Football Playoff Appearances. The program is also noted for their ability to produce NFL stars. With Ryan Day in charge now, Buckeye fans should expect more of the same. Watch out.
1. University of Alabama
Alabama was a great program, definitely top 10 all-time, before Nick Saban showed up in 2007. Sure, it took a few years but once he got the right pieces in place Alabama began to dominate.
They’ve won 5 national titles in the last decade and been runners up a few more. Combine Saban’s domination with the Tide teams before him, and the Crimson Tide roll up with over 900 wins, 15 national titles and 2 Heisman Trophy winners. Somewhere Bear Bryant is wearing his hounds tooth fedora and smiling. They’ve kept the tradition rolling.