College Football National Champions By Year

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Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher reacts after the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game against Auburn Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. Florida State won 34-31.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 01, 2024, 7:51 PM

College football fans love to count championships, so I dug through the annals of history and compiled a list of every national champion to ever grace the sport.

You might not find college football odds for all these seasons, but at least there’s a semi-definitive list of champions to argue about. 

College Football National Champions By Year

YearNational ChampionEra
2023MichiganCFP Playoff
2022GeorgiaCFB Playoff
2021GeorgiaCFB Playoff
2020AlabamaCFB Playoff
2019LSUCFB Playoff
2018ClemsonCFB Playoff
2017AlabamaCFB Playoff
2016ClemsonCFB Playoff
2015AlabamaCFB Playoff
2014Ohio StateCFB Playoff
2013Florida StateBCS
2012AlabamaBCS
2011AlabamaBCS
2010AuburnBCS
2009AlabamaBCS
2008FloridaBCS
2007LSUBCS
2006FloridaBCS
2005TexasBCS
2004USCBCS
2003LSU/USCBCS
2002Ohio StateBCS
2001Miami (FL)BCS
2000OklahomaBCS
1999Florida StateBCS
1998TennesseeBCS
1997Michigan/NebraskaAssociated Press
1996FloridaAssociated Press
1995NebraskaAssociated Press
1994NebraskaAssociated Press
1993Florida StateAssociated Press
1992AlabamaAssociated Press
1991Washington/MiamiAssociated Press
1990Colorado/Georgia TechAssociated Press
1989Miami (FL)Associated Press
1988Notre DameAssociated Press
1987Miami (FL)Associated Press
1986Penn StateAssociated Press
1985OklahomaAssociated Press
1984BYUAssociated Press
1983Miami (FL)Associated Press
1982Penn StateAssociated Press
1981ClemsonAssociated Press
1980GeorgiaAssociated Press
1979AlabamaAssociated Press
1978Alabama/USCAssociated Press
1977Notre DameAssociated Press
1976PittsburghAssociated Press
1975OklahomaAssociated Press
1974USC/OklahomaAssociated Press
1973Notre Dame/AlabamaAssociated Press
1972USCAssociated Press
1971NebraskaAssociated Press
1970Nebraska/Texas/Ohio StateAssociated Press
1969TexasAssociated Press
1968Ohio StateAssociated Press
1967USCAssociated Press
1966Notre Dame/Michigan StAssociated Press
1965Michigan St/AlabamaAssociated Press
1964Alabama/Arkansas/Notre DameAssociated Press
1963TexasAssociated Press
1962USCAssociated Press
1961Alabama/Ohio StateAssociated Press
1960Minnesota/Ole MissAssociated Press
1959SyracuseAssociated Press
1958LSU/IowaAssociated Press
1957Ohio State/AuburnAssociated Press
1956OklahomaAssociated Press
1955OklahomaAssociated Press
1954UCLA/Ohio StateAssociated Press
1953MarylandAssociated Press
1952Michigan StateAssociated Press
1951TennesseeAssociated Press
1950OklahomaAssociated Press
1949Notre DameAssociated Press
1948MichiganAssociated Press
1947Notre DameAssociated Press
1946Notre DameAssociated Press
1945ArmyAssociated Press
1944ArmyAssociated Press
1943Notre DameAssociated Press
1942Ohio StateAssociated Press
1941MinnesotaAssociated Press
1940MinnesotaAssociated Press
1939Texas A&MAssociated Press
1938TCUAssociated Press
1937PittsburghAssociated Press
1936MinnesotaAssociated Press
YearNational ChampionEra
1935MinnesotaPre-Modern
1934MinnesotaPre-Modern
1933MichiganPre-Modern
1932USCPre-Modern
1931USCPre-Modern
1930Alabama/Notre DamePre-Modern
1929Notre DamePre-Modern
1928Georgia TechPre-Modern
1927Illinois/YalePre-Modern
1926Alabama/StanfordPre-Modern
1925AlabamaPre-Modern
1924Notre DamePre-Modern
1923Illinois/MichiganPre-Modern
1922Cal/Cornell/PrincetonPre-Modern
1921Cal/CornellPre-Modern
1920CalPre-Modern
1919Harvard/Illinois/ND/Texas A&MPre-Modern
1918Michigan/PittsburghPre-Modern
1917Georgia TechPre-Modern
1916PittsburghPre-Modern
1915CornellPre-Modern
1914ArmyPre-Modern
1913HarvardPre-Modern
1912Harvard/Penn StatePre-Modern
1911Penn State/PrincetonPre-Modern
1910Harvard/PittsburghPre-Modern
1909YalePre-Modern
1908LSU/PennPre-Modern
1907YalePre-Modern
1906PrincetonPre-Modern
1905ChicagoPre-Modern
1904Michigan/PennPre-Modern
1903Michigan/PrincetonPre-Modern
1902MichiganPre-Modern
1901MichiganPre-Modern
1900YalePre-Modern
1899HarvardPre-Modern
1898HarvardPre-Modern
1897PennPre-Modern
1896Lafayette/PrincetonPre-Modern
1895PennPre-Modern
1894YalePre-Modern
1893PrincetonPre-Modern
1892YalePre-Modern
1891YalePre-Modern
1890HarvardPre-Modern
1889PrincetonPre-Modern
1888YalePre-Modern
1887YalePre-Modern
1886YalePre-Modern
1885PrincetonPre-Modern
1884YalePre-Modern
1883YalePre-Modern
1882YalePre-Modern
1881YalePre-Modern
1880Princeton/YalePre-Modern
1879PrincetonPre-Modern
1878PrincetonPre-Modern
1877YalePre-Modern
1876YalePre-Modern
1875HarvardPre-Modern
1874YalePre-Modern
1873PrincetonPre-Modern
1872PrincetonPre-Modern
1871[None Selected]Pre-Modern
1870PrincetonPre-Modern
1869Princeton/RutgersPre-Modern

College Football National Championship History

College football might crown its modern champions via an exciting single-elimination tournament, but the historical processes that predated the playoff model are quite a bit weirder.

From 1998-2013, a computer algorithm drove the BCS system, declaring at the end of the season which two teams had the right to play for a championship. The system utilized the Coaches Poll, the Harris Poll, and several other mathematical models.

In the decades before 1998, the Associated Press voted for a national champion at the end of the year. Teams that were highly ranked and playing in a prominent bowl game like the Rose Bowl or Cotton Bowl, had a decent chance to be magically named the national champion. 

Prior to 1936, there wasn’t much of a culture of naming a national champion at all. However, it’s become a passion project for some technically inclined college football enthusiasts to return to the late 19th- and early 20th-century record books and apply modern analytics to retroactively name a national champion for each and every season of yore.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.