The Mountaineers bring yet another rich tradition of college football thanks to their 750 wins heading into 2019. Competing in the Big 12 conference, West Virginia has been battling on the gridiron since 1891. They have one national championship to speak of, way back in 1922.
They do boast 15 conference titles. Finally, West Virginia produced one of the NFL’s most notorious players ever in Adam “Pacman” Jones. But he’s not indicative of their entire program, which is one of the most successful of all-time.
Once you reach this level in the discussion of great college football programs, the true elite teams of the SEC begin to show their dominance. We begin with the Auburn Tigers, who boast 767 wins prior to 2019 and started playing in 1892.
The Tigers own two claimed national championships and three unclaimed national championships. They’ve won a solid 24 of their 43 overall bowl games. Year in and year out, it seems these Tigers are always in contention for the pinnacle of college football. Needless to say, they produce a ton of NFL-level talent as well. Some of their most famous names are two-sport star Bo Jackson and Super Bowl quarterback Cam Newton, who won a title at Auburn.
Moving on from Auburn takes us to one of their most hated rivals in Louisiana State University (LSU). These Tigers have won three claimed national championships in their storied history dating back to 1893. They have five unclaimed national titles as well. The Tigers brought 797 wins into the 2019 season.
The Tigers also boast five players in the NFL Hall of Fame including Y.A. Tittle and Steve Van Buren. But these days, they’re more known for their superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his current teammate Jarvis Landry. The Tigers will always be on of college football’s most storied programs – they just need to beat Alabama to get back to the top this year.
The Bulldogs merely add onto the massive pile of SEC teams at the top of college football’s greatest programs. Georgia won two claimed national titles in 1942 and 1980 and also has three unclaimed national titles. They won 819 games heading into this season, proving their rich history that dates back to 1893.
Georgia has also produced NFL greats like Herschel Walker and Garrison Hearst. They have 15 conference titles and nine division titles. The Bulldogs are just like their name suggests – tough, and they keep fighting back to the top of the college football ranks each year. You’d have to in order to reach the level of success they’ve attained.
As illustrious as Georgia is, the Volunteers have them beat ever so slightly. The time-honored team from Knoxville had 838 wins at the start of 2019. Their achievements since their inauguration in 1891 read like a laundry list of all-time great accomplishments. Tennessee has six claimed national titles and eight unclaimed national titles. They’ve made it to 52 bowl games, winning 28 of those.
While they aren’t up at the top level of college football like they once were, Tennessee will always be one of the most storied in NCAA history. It really wouldn’t surprise anyone if they soon rose back up to a prominent position. Like many of their SEC counterparts, they’ve produced a multitude of NFL-caliber talent; most notably all-time great quarterback Peyton Manning.
Taking a break from SEC teams, the time-honored Trojans were certain to show up on the list of college football’s most legendary teams. While their 839 wins heading into 2019 are enough, the list of accolades USC has racked up since their first season in 1888 is truly mind-blowing.
They have won 11 claimed nation titles with six unclaimed national titles. They also have an unreal 39 conference titles to their credit. USC has produced a veritable windfall of NFL talent as well. They have six Heisman Trophy winners, ranging from controversial running back OJ Simpson to another controversial running back in Reggie Bush. USC will always among the most discussed of all college football programs.
Penn State is no doubt one of the most revered college football programs of all-time, but controversy has sullied their name in more recent years. Nevertheless, in terms of on-field success, they’re one of the greats. They brought 887 wins into this season and debuted all the way back in 1887.
Penn State football has won 29 of the 49 bowl games they’ve played, taking home 2 claimed national championships in 1982 and 1986. They also have five unclaimed national championships. They’ve produced a long list of NFL talent, which can be witnessed today in the form of New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
It was only a matter of time until the Sooners made an appearance on this historic list. They’re simply too good not to appear, having won 896 games since debuting in 1895. Oklahoma has ruled over the Big 12 for a large portion of the conference’s existence.
They’ve won 29 of the 52 total bowl games they’ve played and have won seven claimed national championships. Added on top of those are a remarkable 10 unclaimed national titles. The Sooners will keep stirring up action in their many rivalries, and they do so in style. Their most recent example of this is Cleveland Browns star quarterback Baker Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma.
Like many of the battle-tested programs on this list, Nebraska is an all-time great that has seen much better times on the gridiron. True, they rank among the all-time greats with 897 wins prior to 2019 dating back to their first season in 1890. But the fact is they just haven’t been all that great in recent years.
There was a time, however, when Tom Osborne’s Cornhuskers were by far the most feared team in the land. They have five claimed national titles and nine unclaimed national titles. The school has produced three Heisman Trophy winners. They once ruled over the Big 8, but haven’t seen as much winning since they moved to the Big 10. They’ve now enlisted the quarterback of their 1997 title-winning team, Scott Frost, to hopefully resurrect the program to its long-gone greatness.
Tied with Nebraska in wins at the outset of this season, the beloved Golden Domers of Notre Dame also have 897 wins in their storied history dating back to 1887. They’ve made it to 36 bowl games, winning 17. But their record in terms of national championships is truly staggering.
Notre Dame has won 11 claimed national championships and 11 unclaimed national championships. The many eras of Notre Dame football are rightfully considered among the greatest in college football history. Topping it off, the school has produced seven Heisman winners.
The most dominant team in recent years is also one of the top five greatest of all-time based on wins. All told, Alabama won 905 games prior to the 2019 season. As impressive as Notre Dame’s championships are, Alabama simply takes the cake in that regard. If it were only based on title wins, Alabama would certainly be the greatest team of all-time. They have 17 claimed national championships and four unclaimed national titles.
Alabama has also taken home 31 conference titles. You’d be hard pressed to argue they aren’t the best program ever in an overall sense. Their current head coach Nick Saban could certainly be called the greatest college football head coach ever, but some believe that title is reserved for fellow Alabama legend Bear Bryant. Regardless, Alabama churns out NFL talent like no other college ever has. A formerly unrivaled great who has only met their match in Clemson as of late.
The Longhorns can lay claim to the great college football program in Texas. The team has 908 wins heading into 2019 dating back to their debut season in 1893. They’ve won four claimed national titles and five unclaimed national titles.
The Longhorns have also produced two Heisman Trophy winners. Perhaps their crowning moment was when they won the title over the favored USC Trojans following the 2005 season thanks to the hot hand of quarterback Vince Young. True, not on the level of Alabama in overall titles, but an all-time great program nonetheless.
Despite all of the SEC teams listed among the collegiate football legends, the Big 10 shines through at the end. The Buckeyes brought 911 wins into the 2019 season, with their first year coming in 1890. They have eight national titles to their credit, all of them of the claimed variety. The “Scarlet and Gray” have won a whopping 39 conference titles.
The program is known as a hotbed for college football to this day, and it produces a long list of NFL talent that never seems to slow down for even a year. Their seven Heisman Trophy winners are a testament to that. They did just lose head coach Urban Meyer, but the Buckeyes will reload and keep doing what they do best –winning football games. Their most bitter rival, in fact, is the only program left on this list…
The Michigan Wolverines are simply the top program in college football when it comes to wins. They emerged victoriously in 954 contests before 2019 since their debut in 1879. They also won 11 claimed national titles along the way. Added to that list are five unclaimed national titles.
One of the Big 10’s most honored programs, the Wolverines have secured an unbelievable 42 conference titles. While they’ve slipped below that national title level in recent years, current head coach Jim Harbaugh is attempting to bring Michigan back to its onetime glory. Whether he does or not doesn’t matter in the long run, however, as Michigan is the most legendary team in college football history when it comes to winning games.