Which Program Has the Most College Football National Championships?

min read
Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Nick Saban, the stern coach who won seven national championships and turned Alabama back into a national powerhouse that included six of those titles in just 17 seasons, is retiring, according to multiple reports, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 08, 2024, 1:20 PM

Few topics in sports blend together controversy, status, and interminable argument more seamlessly than college football national championships. 

These days, FBS fans have a 12-team postseason courtesy of college football playoff expansion. But you don’t have to go back too far to find much more controversial championship selection methods.

In the late 1990s, 2000s, and early 2010s, there was the BCS. And for 50 years before that, college football fans outsourced the championship process to the opinions of the Associated Press. There was no real de jure championship process – only a major bowl game that everyone tabbed as a pseudo-championship game. 

Prior to 1950, there was often spirited debate about who was the best team in a given year. And before 1936, when the AP Poll got involved in championship prognosticating, it was a total jungle.

And here I thought college football odds could be complicated.

Millions of college football fans are curious about which programs have won the most championships. Every week, search engines track thousands of requests for a list of college football national champions by year

What those fans typically don’t want to do, though, is debate whether Vanderbilt was truly better than Iowa in 1922, or weigh how Lafayette’s disputed 1896 championship fits into the modern canon of college football.

I created this simplified dataset with that majority of fans in mind.

Here, I have ordered a table around how many championships a particular team has won since 1950This data is in accordance with the NCAA’s own official record book, which relies on respected results from the Associated Press, UPI, FWAA, and USA Today, among others.

Most College Football National Championships (Division I FBS)

TeamFBS Titles Since 1950Most Recent Claimed ChampionshipTotal Claimed Championships
Alabama13202018
Ohio State720148
Oklahoma720007
USC6 (2004 vacated)200311
Miami (FL)520015
Nebraska519975
Notre Dame5198811
LSU420194
Texas420054
Georgia320224
Clemson320183
Florida State320133
Florida320083
Michigan State319666
Michigan2202312
Auburn220102
Tennessee219986
Penn State219862
Washington119912
Colorado 119901
Georgia Tech119904
BYU119841
Pittsburgh119769
Arkansas119641
Ole Miss119603
Minnesota119607
Syracuse119591
Iowa119585
UCLA119541
Maryland119531
Illinois01951*5
Princeton01950*28
Army01946*3
Cornell01939*5
Cal01937*5
Yale01927*27
Penn01924*7
Harvard01919*7

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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.