NCAA

Which teams have won the most NCAA football championships?

Yale sits atop the list for the most college football championships. Here’s a list of the top 10 college football teams with six or more championships.

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Which teams have won the most NCAA football championships?
Kevin C. Cox AFP

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College football is quite simply American football played by student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies. And since no official minor league farm organizations exist in American football, college football is considered the second tier of American football in the United States.

In other words, collegiate football is one step below professional football, and one step above high school competition.

And while in over 100 years of college football, there have only been 10 teams with six or more national championship titles, some of these names are surprising, while others are rather familiar.

A somewhat surprising one: the University of Minnesota, who sit in 10th place, with the Golden Gophers possessing a total of six championships. A more familiar one: Yale University, whose Bulldogs have won the most number of championship titles, to date.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 teams who have won at least more than five titles.

Yale University, 18

Championships: 1874, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1900, 1907, 1909, 1927

The Bulldogs are the most dominant team, with their football program being one of the oldest in the world, having begun competing in the sport in 1872. Back when they started, the Yale Bulldogs started dominating college football, winning three consecutive years. And after failing to win the title just twice, in 1885 and 1889, Yale won every other championship during the 1800s. 

And even though the last title Yale won was in 1927, they still sit on top with 28 Hall of Fame inductees, 100 All-Americans, and 18 national championships.

University of Alabama, 15 (tie)

Championships: 1925, 1926, 1930, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020

In the 1960s, Alabama had their most successful period, winning three titles in 1961, 1964 and 1965. However, in the last 11 years, coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to seven impressive titles surpassing the legendary Bear Bryant, and achieving their total of 15 national championships

Alabama’s last title was a win in the College Football Playoff in 2020.

Princeton University, 15 (tie)

Championships: 1869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1885, 1889, 1893, 1896, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1922

While Princeton claims 28 championships, only 15 of those are actually recognized by the NCAA, and all came before the poll era. The Tigers won their first championship in 1869 and last one in 1922.

University of Notre Dame, 13

Championships: 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988

The Fighting Irish won nine championships in the poll era, making them the second-most team with championship titles out of all teams. Coach Frank Leahy helped the team win four of those titles, and he also won two titles as a player for Notre Dame, under the prominent coach Knute Rockne.

University of Michigan, 9

Championships: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1948, 1997

The Michigan Wolverines were a dominant power in the 20th century, as they won four out of five championship titles from 1901-04. Later on, they won a single championship over each of the next four decades, with their last in 1997.

Southern California, 9

Championships: 1931, 1932, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003, 2004

Tied with Michigan for the sixth-most college football national championships is USC, with nine titles. While the Trojans had a 30-year drought from 1932 to 1962, coach John McKay transformed the team.

In 16 years at the helm, McKay led USC to four championships, 1960-1975

Harvard University, 8 (tie)

Championships: 1875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919

The last time the Crimsons won a championship was in 1919, approaching their 100th anniversary of its most recent title. The longest drought of all teams on this list.

Ohio State University, 8 (tie)

Championships: 1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002, 2014

Ohio State didn’t start their team until 1890 with their first win happening in 1942. The Buckeyes won twice since the turn of the century in 2002 and 2014, finishing as the team with the eighth-most football national championships.

Oklahoma, 7

Championships: 1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000

The Oklahoma Sooners possess seven championship titles, winning three in the 1950s, two in the 1970s, one in the 1980s, and their last in 2000.

University of Minnesota, 6

Championships: 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, and 1960.

Somewhat of a surprise, the Golden Gophers of Minnesota come in 10th place with six championship titles. Their last title was earned in 1960.

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