Preview 2016

AP College Football Rankings: Greatest Programs Of All-Time


The AP poll is has been the most consistent ranking system over the long history of college football. What programs come out best? Here are the top programs according to a CFN formula using all the AP’s final rankings.


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Top Teams Of The … 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

The AP college football rankings don’t have anything to do with the College Football Playoff process, and they haven’t had a part in determining the actual national champion for over a decade, but they’ve been the most consistent and reliable polls since 1936.

There might have been times when the AP rankings went rogue – making the biggest splash in 2003 naming USC the national champion, and not BCS Champion LSU – and they’ve played a part in the past when it comes to split title winners. They just keep on marching along.

There might be other polls out there, and there are several other historical markers to go by, but the AP college football rankings have been around long enough to provide a proper snapshot of the last 80 years.

Here’s the drill. Taking all the AP final rankings, CFN devised a scoring system giving every AP national champion 25 points, the No. 2 team 24, No. 3 23, and so on down to the bottom – currently No. 25, but there was a top ten for a bit and later a top 20.

What does this all prove? Consistency is great, consistency at a high level matters more, and winning national championships – or coming close – becomes a gamechanger.

Over a three-year span, a school could finish 15th – getting 33 overall points according to this system – and it would be behind a team that won a national title one year, 17th the next, and unranked the following year.

The biggest constant since we started doing this over a decade ago has been the top five. In some configuration, the five greatest programs are Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Notre Dame, with USC, Miami and Texas coming in way, way behind the biggest of big boys.

Michigan was No. 1 for a while, but many of the last several years haven’t been kind, making it a three-way race up top with the top program of all-time still holding its own.

AP Final Rankings Greatest Teams Of All-Time

These rankings are created according to the CFN scoring system – this isn’t the official AP ranking of its all-time greatest teams.

Rank Teams Points Last Year
1 Oklahoma 1116 1
2 Alabama 989 3
3 Ohio State 988 2
4 Michigan 957 4
5 Notre Dame 939 5
6 USC 795 6
7 Nebraska 783 7
8 Texas 772 8
9 Tennessee 682 9
10 Penn State 648 10
11 LSU 612 11
12 Auburn 554 12
13 Georgia 548 13
14 Florida State 544 14
15 Miami 511 15
16 UCLA 503 16
17 Florida 487 17
18 Michigan State 443 19
19 Arkansas 439 18
20 Texas A&M 365 20
21 Clemson 352 24
22 Ole Miss 347 T22
23 Georgia Tech 343 21
24 Washington 331 T22
25 Wisconsin 327 25
Others Receiving Votes
26 Iowa 319 26
27 Pitt 293 27
28 TCU 272 29
29 Stanford 264 33
30 Colorado 258 28
31 Oregon 254 31
32 Missouri 251 30
33 Arizona State 242 32
34 Army 239 34
35 Maryland 238 35
36 Minnesota 236 36
T37 Duke 213 T37
T37 Virginia Tech 213 T37
39 North Carolina 210 T39
40 Navy 207 T39
41 California 198 41
42 Purdue 196 42
43 West Virginia 194 43
44 Syracuse 191 44
45 Houston 183 49
46 BYU 178 45
T47 Illinois 177 46
T47 Baylor 177 50
49 Kansas State 176 47
50 SMU 168 48
51 Oklahoma State 152 T52
52 Boston College 150 51
53 Boise State 146 T52
54 Northwestern 138 54
55 Washington State 123 55
56 Oregon State 120 56
57 South Carolina 118 57
58 Mississippi State 115 58
59 Rice 107 59
60 N.C. State 105 60
T61 Louisville 104 T61
T61 Texas Tech 104 T61
63 Kansas 96 T63
64 Kentucky 96 T63
65 Pennsylvania 95 65
66 Utah 89 70
67 Fordham 88 66
68 Santa Clara 86 67
69 Arizona 84 68
70 Tulane 81 69
71 Tulsa 79 71
72 Air Force 75 72
73 Cornell 68 T73
74 Miami Univ. 68 T73
75 Virginia 66 75
76 Indiana 63 76
77 Dartmouth 61 77
78 Princeton 55 78
79 Yale 54 79
80 Holy Cross 53 80
81 Wyoming 48 81
82 Duquesne 46 82
83 Iowa Pre-Flight 44 83
84 Villanova 41 84
85 Rutgers 40 85
86 Cincinnati 37 86
87 William & Mary 33 87
88 March Field 32 88
T89 Colorado State 31 T89
T89 Toledo 31 T89
91 Bainbridge NTS 30 91
92 Great Lakes 29 92
93 Utah State 26 93
94 Southern Miss 25 94
T95 East Carolina 23 T95
T95 Pacific 23 T95
T95 Randolph Field 23 T95
98 Wake Forest 22 98
T99 Marshall 21 T99
T99 UCF 21 T99
101 Carnegie Tech 20 101
T102 St. Mary’s (Cal.) 19 T102
T102 Vanderbilt 19 T102
104 Del Monte Pre-Flight 18 104
105 Nevada 15 105
T106 Georgetown 13 T106
T106 Hawaii 13 T106
T106 Norman Pre-Flight 13 T106
T109 Columbia 12 T109
T109 San Francisco 12 T109
T111 Boston University 10 T111
T111 El Toro Marines 10 T111
T111 San Diego State 10 T111
T114 George Washington 9 T114
T114 Hardin-Simmons 9 T114
T114 New Mexico State 9 T114
T114 Temple 9 T114
T118 Colorado College 8 T118
T118 Fort Pierce 8 T118
T118 Iowa State 8 T118
T118 Washington & Lee 8 T118
T122 Delaware 7 T122
T122 Lafayette 7 T122
T122 St. Mary’s PF 7 T122
T125 Fresno State 6 T125
T125 Marquette 6 T125
T125 Ohio 6 T125
T125 Sec. Air Force 6 T125
T125 VMI 6 T125
130 San Jose State 5 130
131 Northern Illinois 4 131
T132 Bowling Green 3 132
T132 Central Michigan 3 133
134 Western Kentucky 2 135
135 Memphis 1 134