College Football National Championship in NCAA Division
We’re looking back at every NCAA Division I champion over the years.
Controversies have always followed college football in its 150 plus years of existence, especially when it comes to picking a national champion.
For the most part of its history, the sport has not had a defined method of competing or crowning its champions. The old format involved media and coach polls and computer picks.
Also, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it is that these methods can be manipulated and are definitely not the best setting for selecting a national champion.
Of course, old things get done away with and the NCAA would later replace the outdated format to a four-team playoff elimination format in 2014. Fans and pundits couldn’t agree more with this new format; it’s much better to battle it out on the field of play than to subject decisions as this to biassed polls.
With all that being said and with college football now in full swing, it’s only right that we throw back to every national championship program.
College Football National Champions of the 2020s
Alabama Crimson Tides (2020)
Georgia Bulldogs (2021)
So far, so good, two teams have won the national championship this decade, the Alabama Crimson Tides (2020) and Georgia State (2021). The College Football Playoff (CFP) format was the selecting organization for the National Championship in both years.
The Crimson Tides outscored their Southern Eastern Conference (SEC) opponents 547-214, and combined for 630-252 against all opponents. Alabama were the No. 1 ranked college team and favorites to win the Western Division. They finished the season undefeated, including a 52-46 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Rose Bowl.
This was the Crimson Tides fifth championship in the CFP era, and 18th overall. Alabama made it to the finals again the following year, face-to-face with the Georgia Bulldogs who were making their first College Football Playoff appearance since 2017.
The Bulldogs defeated Alabama to win their first national championship since 1980. Until Georgia, no No.3 team had won the national title in the CFP era.
College Football Champions of the 2010s
LSU Tigers (2019)
Clemson Tigers (2018)
Alabama Crimson Tides (2017)
Clemson Tigers (2016)
Alabama Crimson Tides(2015)
Ohio State Buckeyes (2014)
Florida Gators (2013)
Alabama Crimson Tides(2012)
Alabama Crimson Tides(2011)
TCU Horned Frogs (2010)
The 2010s marked the end of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and the beginning of College Playoff format, which was introduced in 2014. The Buckeyes defeated Oregon 42-20 to become the first-ever championship team in the CFP era. Alabama won four championships in ten years, including back-to-back titles.
Texas Christian University Horned Frogs were crowned champions in 2010 via Congrove Computer Rankings, an NCAA-designated major selector.
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College football champions of the 2000s
Alabama Crimson Tides (2009)
Florida Gators (2008)
LSU Tigers (2007)
Florida Gators (2006)
Texas Longhorns (2005)
USC Trojans (2004)
2003 LSU Tigers, USC Trojans (2003)
Ohio State Buckeyes (2002)
Miami Hurricanes (2001)
Oklahoma Sooners (2000)
There were lots of controversies in this decade, most notably the dichotomy between the BCS and Associated Press’ selections in 2003. USC was voted national champions by the AP, but the BCS selected LSU. The 2001 Miami and 2005 Texas teams are considered two of the greatest college football teams of all time.
Florida State had the toughest schedule in the 2006 season, besting five bowl teams. The Gators defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks to claim their 7th SEC title, before trashing the Buckeyes 41-14 in the BSC National Championship game. Florida State also became the first college program to win the NCAA men’s football and basketball championships in the same year.
College football champions of the 1990s
1999 Florida State Seminoles
1998 Tennessee Volunteers
1997 Michigan, Nebraska
1996 Florida Gators
1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers
1994 Nebraska Cornhuskers
1993 Florida State Seminoles
1992 Alabama Crimson Tides
1991 Washington Huskies, Miami Hurricanes
1990 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Nebraska dominated the 90s, winning the national championship thrice. Their most dominant season was in 1997; they played more ranked teams and outscored them by outrageous margins. Although the AP selected Michigan as the national champions, Nebraska won the Coaches Poll.
Also in 1991, Miami received the most votes by the AP, but Washington topped the Coaches Poll.
College football champions of the 1980s
1989 Miami Hurricanes
1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1987 Miami Hurricanes
1986 Penn State Nittany Lions
1985 Oklahoma Sooners
1984 BYU Cougars
1983 Miami Hurricanes
1982 Penn State Nittany Lions
1981 Clemson Tigers
1980 Georgia Bulldogs
The Auburn Tigers disputed the decision to select Miami as national champions. Auburn believed they were more deserving champions of the title in 1983; they faced a stiffer schedule and beat Florida State that season (Florida defeated Miami).
The following year, Miami beat the Cornhuskers by one point at the Orange Bowl, which ultimately led to voters crowning them as national champions. Of course, football fans around that time would remember Nebraska’s failed two-point attempt at the dying minutes of the game.
College football champions of the 1970s
1979 Alabama Crimson Tides
1978 Alabama Crimson Tides, USC Trojans
1977 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1976 Pittsburgh Panthers
1975 Oklahoma Sooners
1974 USC Trojans, Oklahoma Sooners
1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Alabama Crimson Tides
1972 USC Trojans
1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers
1970 Nebraska Cornhuskers, Texas Longhorns, Ohio State Buckeyes
More disparities between the AP and Coaches Polls.
In 1973, Notre Dame were crowned champions by the AP while Alabama topped the Coaches Polls. It is also worth noting that the Fighting Irish defeated top-ranked Crimson Tides at the Sugar Bowl.
USC was selected by the coaches in 1974, but Oklahoma was voted by the AP. Alabama won the AP votes in 1978 after beating No. 1 Penn State at the Sugar Bowl. The AP selected the Crimson Tides despite losing to USC (selected by the coaches).
The Cornhuskers topped the polls in 1970, after both Texas and Ohio lost their bowl games.
College football champions of the 1960s
1969 Texas Longhorns
1968 Ohio State Buckeyes
1967 USC Trojans
1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Michigan State Spartans
1965 Alabama Crimson Tides, Michigan State Spartans
1964 Arkansas Razorbacks, Alabama Crimson Tides, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1963 Texas Longhorns
1962 USC Trojans
1961 Alabama Crimson Tides, Ohio State Buckeyes
1960 Minnesota Golden Gophers, Ole Miss Rebels
Alabama could’ve claimed a championship title in 1966 since they finished as the only undefeated college football team that season. But it was the Fighting Irish that earned the AP and Coaches selection selections in what proved to be a controversial decision.
The Spartans were selected national champions by the College Football Researchers Association, and co-champions with Notre Dame by the HAF, NFF, and Polling System.
The Crimson Tides (AP) and Buckeyes (FWAA) were selected champions in 1961. However, the Tides have a stronger claim to that title as they finished the season 11-0. The Razorbacks had the stronger claim in 1964 (11-0), although Alabama topped the AP votes.
College football champions of the 1950s
1959 Syracuse Orange
1958 LSU Tigers, Iowa Hawkeyes
1957 Ohio State Buckeyes, Auburn Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Michigan State Spartans
1956 Oklahoma Sooners
1955 Oklahoma Sooners
1954 UCLA Bruins, Ohio State Buckeyes
1953 Maryland Terrapins
1952 Michigan State Spartans
1951 Oklahoma Sooners
1950 Oklahoma Sooners
This decade has the Sooners written over it, with two back-to-back titles in the space of six years.
The polls may have favoured Maryland as champions in 1953 despite losing its bowl, but Notre Dame lost only one game throughout the season, beat four ranked teams, and should’ve had a stronger claim to the title.
Auburn had the stronger claim in 1957 and was ranked No. 1 by the AP; the Tigers finished 10-0, although they didn’t play a bowl game due to probation. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, finished the season 9-1 and won their bowl game against USC.