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10 most dominant programs in college football history

Jesse Reed

College football is set to experience its 150-year anniversary, and over the course of history many teams have dominated the national landscape. However, taking a look at the big picture, there are 10 teams that stand out as the most dominant in college football history.

Here are those top-10 college football programs, utilizing cumulative scoring differentials, presented in reverse order.

10. Tennessee Volunteers

With a cumulative scoring differential of +11,577 since 1891, the Vols kick things off at 10th overall. While the football program has fallen on hard times in recent years, it remains one of the most storied in all of college football. Tennessee has six national titles to its credit, having last won it all in 1998.

9. USC Trojans

The Trojans have been playing college football since 1888, and much of the program’s history has been full of winning. USC enters the 2019 season with a cumulative scoring differential of +11,822, ranking ninth all-time. The Trojans have won 11 national titles. The program’s last national championship win came in 2004, which has since been vacated due to sanctions.

8. Texas Longhorns

Every year, Longhorns fans hope Texas is “back.” The reason there is so much hope this can happen is that this college football program has experienced significant success since its inaugural season in 1893. With a cumulative scoring differential of +13,094, the Longhorns have stampeded over their competition more often than not. Texas has four national championships on record, the last coming in 2005.

7. Penn State Nittany Lions

The Penn State football program debuted back in 1887, and the Nittany Lions have been one of the top college football teams in the nation for much of their history. Penn State has a cumulative scoring differential of +13,149 and even now is known for putting up points in bunches. The Nittany Lions have two national championships on record, and many feel they should have three due to their undefeated 1994 campaign.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Established in 1887, the Notre Dame football program has been dominating the competition for well over a century. The Fighting Irish have a cumulative point differential of +13,540. They have also won 11 national championships, the last one coming back in 1988, and remain one of the premier programs in all of college football to this day.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes first played college football in 1890. Since then, the program has won the second-most games in history (911). The Buckeyes win big, too, posting a cumulative scoring differential of +14,272. Ohio State has also won the big game eight times, last winning the national championship in 2014.

4. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Established in 1890 along with Ohio State, the Cornhuskers are attempting to get back to the glory days they experienced for much of the past century. The program has a cumulative scoring differential of +14,557 but hasn’t been on the winning end much in recent years. If Scott Frost can reach the pinnacle with this program, he’ll add to the five national championships in school history.

3. Oklahoma Sooners

The youngest program to make this list, Oklahoma was established in 1895. Yet since its inception, this college football program has been known for putting up massive numbers on the scoreboard, which has certainly continued in recent years playing in the defense-optional Big 12. The Sooners rank third on this list with a cumulative scoring differential of +16,972. They have also won seven national titles, the last coming nearly two decades ago in 2000.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

If you suffered from recency bias, there’s a good chance you pegged the Crimson Tide as the team to top this list. Alas, Alabama comes in second with a cumulative scoring differential of +17,088 — thanks in part to what’s become the new norm of the Crimson Tide wiping the floor with teams on a regular basis these days. Established in 1892, Alabama has won an astonishing 17 national championships and is a contender every year as long as Nick Saban remains entrenched as the head coach.

1. Michigan Wolverines

The oldest program on this list, the Michigan football program leads every team in cumulative point differential (+17,277) and total all-time wins, by quite a large margin (953). The Wolverines have also won 11 national championships since being established way back in 1879, most recently after the 1997 season.