College Football's 150 National Championship Season Rankings: Greatest Seasons Of All-Time

College Football's 150 National Championship Season Rankings: Greatest Seasons Of All-Time

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College Football's 150 National Championship Season Rankings: Greatest Seasons Of All-Time

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Click for the breakdown of the CFN Season Formula criteria

150 Greatest National Champions
No. 1-5No. 6-10 | No. 26-50 | No. 51-75
No. 76-100 | No. 101 to 125 | No. 126 to 150

25. 1903 Princeton (11-0)

All-Time Season Score: 25.7800
Key Season Score Element: 9 Quality Wins
Best Win: Princeton 11, at Yale 6
Worst Game: Princeton 5, Georgetown 0

It’s the greatest of all of the Princeton national championship seasons with nine of the 11 wins coming against teams that finished with winning records. The D allowed just six points all season long, but those came on the road in an 11-6 victory in what would be the national championship determining game against a Yale team that finished 11-1. There was a Bad Win over a Gettysburg team that wasn’t a part of the official standings, but the 68-0 stomping helped the Point Differential Score.

24. 1996 Florida (12-1)

All-Time Season Score: 26.0731
Key Season Score Element: 611 points scored
Best Win: Florida 52, Florida State 20 (Sugar Bowl)
Worst Game: Florida 28, at Vanderbilt 21

Steve Spurrier’s squad caught two massive breaks to win the national title. First, it got a second shot at a Florida State team that beat up QB Danny Wuerffel in a 24-21 showdown of unbeatens in Tallahassee. The Gators stomped all over the Noles 52-20 in the rematch in the Sugar Bowl. The second was an Ohio State comeback over unbeaten Arizona State in the Rose Bowl. If the Sun Devils held on, they would’ve been national champs. Florida   bear four teams that finished with double-digit victories, including a 35-29 win at Tennessee and Peyton Manning, and a 56-13 crushing of a great LSU.

23. 2012 Alabama (13-1)

All-Time Season Score: 26.8186
Key Season Score Element: 542 points, 389 point differential
Best Win: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24

The Crimson Tide lost to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, but they did everything else right. After the loss, Bama stepped back up with back-to-back 49-0 wins over Western Carolina and Auburn, but neither team was that great. It took a fantastic win over Georgia in the SEC to earn the rich to blowout Notre Dame in the BCS Championship. Bama scored 40 points or more in eight games, and the D allowed more than 17 points twice.

22. 1991 Miami (AP) (12-0)

All-Time Season Score: 26.3600
Key Season Score Element: 5 Elite Win Score
Best Win: Miami 22, Nebraska 0 (Orange Bowl)
Worst Game: Miami 19, at Boston College 14

So who really won the 1991 national title? Washington went unbeaten and won the Rose Bowl – and the USA Today Coaches title – but Miami was on top in the AP rankings … and had a much better year than the Huskies. With wins at Tulsa – who went 10-2 – Florida State, and against Penn State and Nebraska, the Elite Win score is massive. On the year, the D allowed just 100 points with only Penn State – in a 26-20 Hurricane win – came up with more than 16.

21. 1998 Tennessee (13-0)

All-Time Season Score: 26.4200
Key Season Score Element: 4 Bad Wins
Best Win: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16 (Fiesta Bowl/BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Tennessee 17, at Auburn 9

It was the first year for Tennessee after Peyton Manning, and it was the first year of the new BCS era. It was a wild ride from the start, with a brilliant late 34-33 comeback win over Donovan McNabb and Syracuse, and followed it up with an equally thrilling 20-17 victory over Florida. There wasn’t too much drama after handling the Gators, until needing a miracle stumble-fumble to survive Arkansas 28-24. The Vols went on to beat Mississippi State for the SEC Championship, and got past Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title.

20. 1904 Penn (12-0)

All-Time Season Score: 26.4300
Key Season Score Element: 9 Quality Wins
Best Win: Penn 18, Carlisle 0
Worst Game: Penn 6, Swarthmore 4

A few Penn teams of the era won more games and came up with more dominant scores, but none had to deal with a schedule as nasty as the 1904 squad had to face. Of the 12 wins, nine were Quality Wins – victories over teams that finished with a winning record. So what’s missing? Despite outscoring everyone 222-4 and allowing points in just one game – a 6-4 win over Swarthmore – the Point Differential score was the lowest by anyone in the top 25.

19. 1900 Yale (12-0)

All-Time Season Score: 26.5100
Key Season Score Element: Outscored teams 336-10
Best Win: Yale 28, Harvard 0
Worst Game: Yale 50, Bates 0

Yale got pushed at Columbia in a 12-5 fight, but that was it for the drama. It was a dominant season with eight Quality Wins – victories over teams that finished with winning records – among the 12, and just three Bad Wins. Winning 12 games was amazing, but there weren’t enough overall victories – length of season matters here – to get into the top 20 despite coming up with one of the most dominant campaigns of all-time.

18. 2006 Florida (13-1)

All-Time Season Score: 26.6986
Key Season Score Element: 9 Quality Wins
Best Win: Florida 41, Ohio State 14 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: at Auburn 27, Florida 17

It was supposed to be a layup for Ohio State, and many thought Michigan should’ve had a second shot at the Buckeyes in a rematch for the national championship. Florida was beaten 27-17 by Auburn, needed a blocked kick to slip by South Carolina, were underwhelming in five games decided by seven points or fewer, got by a decent SEC Championship win over an okay Arkansas, and … came up with a 41-14 stomping over the Buckeyes for Urban Meyer’s first national title. Even with the loss, there were enough impressive wins to get into the top 20.

17. 2010 Auburn (14-0)

All-Time Season Score: 27.1500
Key Season Score Element: 337 points allowed (most by any national champion)
Best Win: Auburn 22, Oregon 19 (BCS Championship)
Worst Game: Auburn 27, Clemson 24

It was the national championship season that came from out of nowhere, with Auburn fighting through a few tight early games – winning two of the first three by three points each – to keep on winning and winning. There were some scares, but Cam Newton – dealing with a controversy over his recruitment through the key late stretch – and company ripped through South Carolina for the SEC title before beating Oregon for the national title.

16. 1971 Nebraska (13-0)

All-Time Season Score: 27.2800
Key Season Score Element: 6 Quality Wins (among the fewest in the top 25)
Best Win: Nebraska 35, at Oklahoma 31
Worst Game: Nebraska 36, at Missouri 0

Nebraska handed Alabama its only game of the 1971 season in the Orange Bowl – rolling the Tide 38-6 – but it wasn’t the Game of the Century like the epic win at Oklahoma. There weren’t a ton of amazing wins, but the Huskers destroyed a great Colorado team, and no one other than the Sooners were closer than 24 points of the Big Red juggernaut.

15. 1892 Yale (13-0)

All-Time Season Score: 27.7900
Key Season Score Element: Yale outscored teams 429-0
Best Win: Yale 6, Harvard 0
Worst Game: Yale 6, Wesleyan 0

It got off the a slow start with a 6-0 win over an awful Wesleyan team, and then everything rolled the rest of the way. In all, Yale managed to crank up a massive Elite Win score of 5, and didn’t allow a point all season. In terms of purely great wins, this one did it, handing a Penn team that went 15-1 its only loss, a Harvard squad that went 10-1 its only defeat, and caught Princeton in the season finale.

14. 2000 Oklahoma (13-0)

All-Time Season Score: 27.8700
Key Season Score Element: 4 Bad Wins
Best Win: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2 (Orange Bowl)
Worst Game: Oklahoma 12, at Oklahoma State 7

Eight of the 13 Sooner wins came against teams that finished with winning records, including a 63-14 blasting of Texas, a 41-31 shootout against Kansas State, and a 31-14 domination of Nebraska. Throw in the rematch win against K-State in the Big 12 title game, and OU beat four teams that finished with ten wins or more. It all finished off with the brilliant Orange Bowl stuffing of Florida State for the national title.

13. 1931 USC (10-0-1)

All-Time Season Score: 28.1400
Key Season Score Element: The only team in the top 48 with a tie, and the ten wins were the fewest by anyone in the top 25.
Best Win: USC 21, Tulane 12 (Rose Bowl)
Worst Game: St. Mary’s 13, USC 7

USC lost the season opener to St. Mary’s 13-7, and then ripped off 25 wins in a row. Notre Dame provided a massive push in the South Bend in 16-14 Trojan win, and it took a fight to beat Cal 6-0 in Berkeley, but the D pitched six shutouts, allowed seven points or fewer eight times, and in all, nine of the ten wins came against teams that finished with a winning record. Oregon, Cal, Stanford, Notre Dame and Georgia all finished with two losses – one of them came against USC – and Tulane lost its only game 21-12 in the Rose Bowl.

12. 1995 Nebraska (12-0)

All-Time Season Score: 28.1400
Key Season Score Element: 5.5 Elite Win Score
Best Win: Nebraska 62, Florida 24 (Fiesta Bowl)
Worst Game: Nebraska 35, Washington State 21

One of the most dominant seasons of all-time, the 1995 Huskers beat everyone but Washington State – taking down the Cougars 35-21 – by 23 points or more. So what’s missing? Not much, with four wins over teams that finished 10-2 or better. However, there were four Bad Wins and – compared to the teams that finished in the top ten on this list – just six Quality Wins. Destroying Kansas on the road – the Jayhawks finished 10-2 – 41-3, and … oh yeah. There was that 62-24 destruction of Steve Spurrier’s Florida team in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title.

11. 1891 Yale (13-0)

All-Time Season Score: 28.6300
Key Season Score Element: 0 points allowed
Best Win: Princeton, 19-0
Worst Game: Yale 26, Crescent Athletic Club 0

Winning 13 games was good, doing it by a combined score of 488-0 was great, and beating everyone by ten points or more was even better. There were plenty of special wins to go along with the sheer bulk of victories, handing Harvard its only loss of the season, giving Princeton its only loss in the season finale – essentially, that was the national title game – and beating a great Penn team – whose only other loss was to Princeton – 48-0.

Click for the breakdown of the CFN Season Formula criteria

150 Greatest National Champions
No. 1-5No. 6-10 | No. 26-50 | No. 51-75
No. 76-100 | No. 101 to 125 | No. 126 to 150

NEXT: 150 Greatest National Champions: Top Ten

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