The first college football national championship was in 1869, more than 150 years ago.
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.
Since that year, 187 national champions have been named, with some years seeing two or even three teams crowned.
In that span, only 44 teams can claim a college football championship.
Here, we look at the 10 teams who have more than five titles to their names:
10. Minnesota — 6
Championships: 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960
Football was slightly different when Minnesota won its first national title in 1934. The Golden Gophers averaged 325 yards per game that year — 295 of which came on the ground.
9. Oklahoma — 7
Championships: 1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000
The Sooners 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.
T8. Ohio State — 8
Championships: 1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002, 2014
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.
T8. Harvard — 8
Championships: 1875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919
Harvard is approaching the 100th anniversary of its most recent championship, giving it the longest title drought of any team on this list.
T6. Southern California — 9
Championships: 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.
T6. Michigan — 9
Championships: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1948, 1997
Michigan famously holds the record for the most wins in college football history, so it naturally follows that the Wolverines have a few titles to their name. Surprisingly, they only have two in the poll era (since 1936).
4. Notre Dame — 13
Championships: 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988
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.
3. Princeton — 15
Championships: 1869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1885, 1889, 1893, 1896, 1903, 1906, 1911, 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, when they won championships in 11 of 28 years, including four in five years from 1869 to 1873.
2. Alabama — 16
Championships: 1925, 1926, 1930, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020
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, coach Nick Saban surpassed the legendary Bear Bryant with seven championships
1. Yale — 18
Championships: 1874, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1900, 1907, 1909, 1927
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.
See below for the complete listing of every NCAA football champion:
College football national champions from 1869 to 2019.
|2003||LSU, Southern California||BCS, AP, FWAA|
|1997||Michigan, Nebraska||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/ESPN|
|1996||Florida||AP, FWAA, NFF,USA/CNN|
|1995||Nebraska||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1994||Nebraska||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1993||Florida St.||AP, FWAA,NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1992||Alabama||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1991||Washington, Miami (Fla.)||FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI,AP|
|1990||Colorado, Georgia Tech||FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, AP, UPI|
|1989||Miami (Fla.)||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1988||Notre Dame||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1987||Miami (Fla.)||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1986||Penn St.||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1985||Oklahoma||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1984||Brigham Young||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1983||Miami (Fla.)||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1982||Penn St.||AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI|
|1981||Clemson||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1980||Georgia||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1979||Alabama||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1978||Alabama, Southern California||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1977||Notre Dame||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1976||Pittsburgh||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1975||Oklahoma||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1974||Southern California, Oklahoma||FWAA, NFF, UPI, AP|
|1973||Notre Dame, Alabama||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1972||Southern California||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1971||Nebraska||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1970||Nebraska, Texas, Ohio St.||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI, NFF|
|1969||Texas||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1968||Ohio St.||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1967||Southern California||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1966||Notre Dame, Michigan St.||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI, NFF|
|1965||Michigan St., Alabama||FWAA, NFF, UPI, AP|
|1964||Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame||AP, UPI, FWAA, NFF|
|1963||Texas||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1962||Southern California||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1961||Alabama, Ohio St.||AP, NFF, UPI, FWAA|
|1960||Minnesota, Mississippi||AP, NFF, UPI, FWAA|
|1959||Syracuse||AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI|
|1958||LSU, Iowa||AP, UPI, FWAA|
|1957||Ohio St., Auburn||FWAA, UPI, AP|
|1956||Oklahoma||AP, FWAA, UPI|
|1955||Oklahoma||AP, FWAA, UPI|
|1954||UCLA, Ohio St.||FWAA, UPI, AP|
|1952||Michigan St.||AP, UPI|
|1935||Minnesota||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1934||Minnesota||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1933||Michigan||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1932||Southern California||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1931||Southern California||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1930||Alabama, Notre Dame||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1929||Notre Dame||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1928||Georgia Tech.||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1927||Illinois, Yale||HAF, NCF, CFRA|
|1926||Alabama, Stanford||CFRA, HAF, NCF, HAF|
|1925||Alabama||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1924||Notre Dame||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1923||Illinois, Michigan||CFRA, HAF, NCF, NCF|
|1922||California, Cornell, Princeton||NCF, HAF, CFRA, NCF|
|1921||California, Cornell||CFRA, NCF, HAF|
|1920||California||CFRA, HAF, NCF|
|1919||Harvard, Illinois, Notre Dame, Texas A&M||CFRA, HAF, NCF, CFRA, NCF, NCF|
|1918||Michigan, Pittsburgh||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1917||Georgia Tech.||HAF, NCF|
|1912||Harvard, Penn St.||HAF, NCF, NCF|
|1911||Penn St., Princeton||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1910||Harvard, Pittsburgh||HAF, NCF, NCF|
|1908||LSU, Pennsylvania||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1904||Michigan, Pennsylvania||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1903||Michigan, Princeton||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1896||Lafayette, Princeton||NCF, HAF, NCF|
|1880||Princeton, Yale||NCF, NCF|