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Schools with most college football National Championships in the poll era

LSU and Clemson are set to square off for a shot at winning the 2019-20 national championship. Here are the schools with the most national championships in college football since the 1936 season.

 
1 of 33

Alabama, 12

Alabama, 12
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Alabama won its first national championship in the poll era in 1961 and then won back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965. The Tide returned to prominence under head coach Nick Saban, winning in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017 and becoming the standard bearer by which all other modern college football teams are judged. This year marks the first time since the 2015 season that the Tide have not been in the championship game.

 
2 of 33

Notre Dame, eight

Notre Dame, eight
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The Fighting Irish are in a national championship drought, last winning in 1988. Head coach Brian Kelly has had them in the hunt, playing the BCS national championship game in 2013. The team's most dominant era was the 1940s, when it won four titles under head coach Frank Leahy.

 
3 of 33

Ohio State, eight

Ohio State, eight
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The Buckeyes gained back its championship reputation under head coach Urban Meyer, winning the inaugural College Football Playoff tournament, and they got to the Playoff semifinals this year under new head coach Ryan Day. Their most famous coach is Woody Hayes, who won three national championships during his 28-year head coaching stint at the school.

 
4 of 33

Oklahoma, eight

Oklahoma, eight
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The Sooners last claimed the title in 2000 under Bob Stoops, ending a 15-year hiatus. They won three championships in the 1950s under Bud Wilkinson and three under Barry Switzer. They made it to the College Football Playoff semifinals four out of the past five years.

 
5 of 33

USC, seven

USC, seven
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The Trojans were set back by sanctions after Pete Carroll's time at the school. He did lead them to two AP national championships, but the 2004 BCS national championship was vacated. Legendary head coach John McKay won four national titles at USC. 

 
6 of 33

Miami (FL), five

Miami (FL), five
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The Canes hoped to get back to their glory days under Mark Richt, who stepped down last season, and now are counting on head coach Manny Diaz, although they went just 6-6 in his first season, culminating with an Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. They've seen some rough years after winning the title in 2001 under Larry Coker with players recruited by Butch Davis. Miami won four national championships from 1983-91 under three different head coaches: Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson.

 
7 of 33

Nebraska, five

Nebraska, five
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Bob Devaney got the ball rolling for Nebraska with national championships in 1970 and 1971, but Tom Osborne is remembered as the school's best head coach in history. He won three titles in his incredible 25-year coaching career in Lincoln and was later promoted to athletic director.

 
8 of 33

Minnesota, four

Minnesota, four
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The Golden Gophers won back-to-back titles before the poll era started and a third title in the first year of the poll era in 1936. The head coach at the time, Bernie Bierman, claimed two more titles in 1940 and 1941. Their last title came in 1960 under Murray Warmath. They made some noise this season, breaking into the AP Top 25 midway through the season and going 11-2 overall, culminating with an Outback Bowl win over Auburn.

 
9 of 33

Texas, four

Texas, four
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Texas won an incredible BCS national championship game in 2005 vs. USC behind the heroics of Vince Young. It was the Longhorns' first title since the Darrell Royal era, when they won three national championships during his tenure from 1957-76. They made it back to the BCS in 2009 but lost to Alabama.

 
10 of 33

Clemson, three

Clemson, three
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Clemson took Nebraska in the Orange Bowl during the 1981 season to cement its first national championship and is looking to tack on another when the Tigers face LSU in the title game on Jan. 13. The team also had notable wins vs. Georgia and at North Carolina. The Tigers rode the arm and legs of Deshaun Watson to the school's second national championship in 2016 and were victorious again in 2018 behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence after upsetting Alabama in the CFP Final.

 
11 of 33

Florida, three

Florida, three
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The Gators won their first title in the bowl era in 1996 under head coach Steve Spurrier. More recently, Urban Meyer led them to titles in 2006 and 2008 with the help of quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.

 
12 of 33

Florida State, three

Florida State, three
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Bobby Bowden was the head coach of the Seminoles for 34 years and won two national championships in the '90s. Jimbo Fisher's squad was crowned champs in 2013, led by quarterback Jameis Winston.

 
13 of 33

LSU, three

LSU, three
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LSU won the title in 1958 and got back to the promised land in 2003 during Nick Saban's five years with the Tigers. Les Miles took over for Saban in 2005 and claimed a national championship in 2007. Now, under the guidance of Ed Orgeron, the Tigers head back to the national championship game where they will face Clemson, with both teams trying to get that fourth national title.

 
14 of 33

Michigan State, three

Michigan State, three
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Clarence Munn's team went undefeated for the second consecutive season in 1952, claiming the national championship. The Spartans also claimed No. 1 in the Coaches Poll under Duffy Daugherty in 1965.

 
15 of 33

Army, two

Army, two
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Earl Blaik's Army squads won back-to-back titles in 1944 and 1945, going 9-0 in both seasons. They followed up those performances by going 9-0-1 in 1946, a year in which Notre Dame claimed the national championship.

 
16 of 33

Auburn, two

Auburn, two
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The Tigers won the national championship in 1957 and claimed another title in 2010 with Cam Newton's incredible season. Gus Malzahn's offense led Auburn to the BCS national championship game again in 2013, but the Tigers lost to Florida State.

 
17 of 33

Michigan, two

Michigan, two
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While Bo Schembechler is known as one of the best college football coaches ever during his 21 seasons at Michigan, he was never able to win a national championship. The Wolverines won the title in 1948 and more recently the AP crown in 1997 under Lloyd Carr.

 
18 of 33

Penn State, two

Penn State, two
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Joe Paterno won national championships with the Nittany Lions in 1982 and 1986 in a head coaching stint that spanned 45 seasons. He also won three conference titles and made 37 bowl games.

 
19 of 33

Pittsburgh, two

Pittsburgh, two
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Pitt had quite a national championship drought, winning in 1937 and then again in 1976. The school has seen significant coaching turnover recently, although current coach Pat Narduzzi has held the longest tenure in that position since Dave Wannstedt who left in 2010. Pitt won its first bowl game under Narduzzi, beating Eastern Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl in December.

 
20 of 33

Tennessee, two

Tennessee, two
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The Vols won their first national championship in 1951 and added their second under head coach Phillip Fulmer in 1998 — one season after Peyton Manning left. They've struggled since firing Fulmer in 2008 and are now counting on Jeremy Pruitt, who led them this season to their first bowl game since 2016.

 
21 of 33

BYU, one

BYU, one
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The Cougars finished a perfect 13-0 in 1984 and with a No. 1 ranking under head coach LaVell Edwards. The team was led by quarterback Robbie Bosco, who threw for 3,875 yards and 33 touchdowns.

 
22 of 33

Colorado, one

Colorado, one
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Coach Bill McCartney's Buffaloes finished 11-1-1 in 1990 and were the leading vote-getters in the AP Poll. Of course, the 1990 season wasn't without controversy for Colorado, after the Buffaloes beat Missouri in early October in the infamous fifth-down game.

 
23 of 33

Georgia, one

Georgia, one
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The Bulldogs finished as national champions in 1980 after beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to cap off a 12-0 season. Running back Herschel Walker finished third in the Heisman voting that season with 1,616 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. The Bulldogs got back to the national championship game in the 2017 season, only to lose to Alabama.

 
24 of 33

Georgia Tech, one

Georgia Tech, one
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The Yellow Jackets finished 11-0-1 in 1990, making them No. 1 in the Coaches Poll but not the AP Poll. The team's impressive coaching staff was led by Bobby Ross, former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator and former Georgia Tech and UCF head coach George O'Leary as defensive coordinator.

 
25 of 33

Maryland, one

Maryland, one
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Despite losing 7-0 in the Rose Bowl, Maryland managed to win the national championship at 10-1 in 1953. Coach Jim Tatum's defense was elite, with six shutouts.

 
26 of 33

Syracuse, one

Syracuse, one
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The 1959 Orangemen went undefeated, finishing off their season with a win over No. 4 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. The defense allowed 20 points only once during the season, the first game of the year vs. Kansas.

 
27 of 33

TCU, one

TCU, one
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The Horned Frogs finished 11-0 in 1938, finishing their season with a 15-7 win over Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl. 

 
28 of 33

Texas A&M, one

Texas A&M, one
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For all the football tradition in College Station, it's hard to believe Texas A&M last won a national championship in 1939 under head coach Homer Norton.

 
29 of 33

UCLA, one

UCLA, one
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The dominant Bruins defense pitched shutouts in four of their last five games, helping the team to a No. 1 ranking in the Coaches Poll in 1954.

 
30 of 33

Washington, one

Washington, one
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Head coach Don James led the Huskies to an undefeated 12-0 season in 1991, and Washington finished No. 1 in the Coaches Poll. The loaded Huskies squad had the first overall pick of the 1992 draft in defensive tackle Steve Emtman, and quarterbacks Billy Joe Hobert and Mark Brunell were drafted the following year.

 
31 of 33

Arkansas, one

Arkansas, one
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While they finished second the AP Poll, the Razorbacks went 11-0 in 1964 earned national championship honors from the Football Writers Association of America. Notably, current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and two-time Dallas Super Bowl-winning coach Jimmy Johnson were teammates on the '64 Arkansas squad.

 
32 of 33

Ole Miss, one

Ole Miss, one
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The Rebels went 10-0-1 in 1960 under head coach John Vaught, finishing first in the FWAA Poll. Minnesota finished No. 1 in AP Poll, but the undefeated season gave Ole Miss the FWAA title.

 
33 of 33

Iowa, one

Iowa, one
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The 1958 Hawkeyes finished 8-1-1, topping the FWAA Poll. However, they ended up ranked second in the AP Poll, behind LSU.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.


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