In the more than 150 years of college football, there are only 10 teams with six or more national championships. Four of those college football teams won a double-digit number of titles. There are quite a few familiar names and several surprises. Which team is the best of the best? What team has won the most college football national championships?
Squeezing in top 10 most college football national championships
The No. 10 team winning the most college football championships is somewhat of a surprise with the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have six titles and won a three-peat from 1934-36. They last won a title in 1960.
The Oklahoma Sooners come in at No. 9 with seven, winning three times in the 1950s, twice in the 1970s, once in the 1980s, and the last time they finished on top was 2000.
Tied at No. 8 is The Ohio State University and Harvard University. The Crimson won their first title in 1875 and last one in 1919. Conversely, the Buckeyes won their first championship in 1942. They’ve won twice since the turn of the century in 2002 and 2014 to finish with the eighth-most college football national championships.
6 (tie). University of Southern California — 9
The University of Southern California Trojans earned their first title in 1931 and won it again in 1932. USC then had a drought for 30 years and didn’t win again until 1962 under the leadership of head coach John McKay, who led the Trojans to four national championships in his 16 years from 1960-1975. Like the first championships, USC’s latest titles came in consecutive years back in 2003 and 2004.
6 (tie). University of Michigan — 9
Tied with USC for the sixth-most college football national championships with nine is the University of Michigan. The Wolverines started the 20th century as a dominant power winning four out of the first five titles from 1901-04. They then won a single championship over each of the next four decades. They last won the national championship in 1997.
4. University of Notre Dame — 13
The University of Notre Dame takes the number of most college football championships to another level with 13. The Fighting Irish won their first title in 1919. They won seven more times before 1950. After 1950, the Irish won five times, their last title coming in 1988.
2 (tie). Princeton University — 15
Princeton is the only school with the most college football national championships where there’s controversy. The school claims 28. The NCAA recognizes 15, and all of them came before the poll era, which started in 1936. The Tigers won their first championship in 1869 and last one in 1922.
2 (tie). University of Alabama — 15
The timeline for the University of Alabama’s success is quite the opposite of Princeton. The Crimson Tide won just three of their titles before the poll era. And any fan of modern college football recognizes Alabama has been the most dominant of the power teams in recent memory.
Alabama’s previously most successful period was three titles in the 1960s. However, in the last 11 years, Nick Saban’s squad has won an impressive five titles to achieve their total of 15 most college football national championships.
1. Yale University — 18
Yale was the most dominant power of college football when it began in the late 1860s. The Bulldogs won three times in the 1870s and that was moderately successful compared to what they achieved the next decade. During the 1880s, Yale failed to win the title just twice in 1885 and 1889.
Yale won its last title in 1927 and sits atop the list for the most college football championships. Five years from now, with the sustained success of Alabama, that just might change.