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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 15 Greatest Dynasties in College Football History

Top 15 Greatest Dynasties in College Football History

The 15 greatest dynasties
Publish Date: 04/01/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

First, Alabama’s current dynasty is not included because if Saban stays there, they are far from done. Also, the same goes for Georgia, as it is possible that Alabama’s dynasty is being replaced by a Georgia dynasty.

15) USC (2002-2008)

The reign of USC started in 2002 when Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy and led the Trojans to their first 10-plus win season since 1988. Winning the Orange Bowl and finishing 11-2.

Although Reggie Bush won the Heisman without any competitive advantages in 2005, one year after his teammate and quarterback Matt Leinart won the award. His NFL agent scandal proved to overshadow the success of this dynasty. If it hadn’t been for vacated wins and a Heisman Trophy is given back, the Trojans would be in the top 10 on this list. They had a deep talented roster every year. It seemed every time a great player would graduate; they would replace that player with someone just as good if not better.

As it was, they were a great dynasty, but it is hard to get past the NCAA sanctions on this program.

Video: The Game That Started USC Dynasty (Rare Footage)

The Game That Started USC Dynasty (Rare Footage)

14) Ohio State (2002-2010)

Before Urban Meyer, there was Jim Tressel; Tressel was a legendary coach at Division 1AA Youngstown state before bringing the Buckeyes back to national prominence.

Tressel made the Buckeyes elite again, winning the national title, with star freshman running back Maurice Clarett in his second season.

Ohio State then won the Big Ten in five of the next seven seasons. Tressel also brought home six conference title rings and a national championship in his first nine years. The Buckeyes were 99-17 during that time and one of the best Big Ten teams of all time.

Jim Tressel’s reign as the conference’s top dog came to a screeching halt in 2010 when the Buckeyes’ long-time coach resigned following an investigation of a few star players who were found to have sold their Big Ten Championship rings for tattoos. This would cost Tressel his job and put Ohio. St. On probation.

Video: Ohio State Buckeyes 2002 The Movie: Dream Season

Ohio State Buckeyes 2002 The Movie: Dream Season

13) Oklahoma (1973-1980)

Is this the only Oklahoma dynasty on this list? I can’t give that away completely, but this program has been known for far more than just its strong run in these eight years.

The Sooners won the Big Eight title in each of the four seasons Billy Sims played for Oklahoma. Unfortunately, they did not win a national title during his time in Norman, but they won two under eventual Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer the previous two seasons before Sims in 1974 and 1975.

Switzer was one of the greatest head coaches in Oklahoma history, beginning his tenure in 1973 with a conference title and then winning another seven straight. During this period, the Sooners never lost more than two games, finished a combined 73-7, won the conference title every year, won two national titles and had a 28-game win streak.

Video: Classic Tailback - Billy Sims Oklahoma Highlights

Classic Tailback – Billy Sims Oklahoma Highlights

12) Florida St (1987-2001)

When Bobby Bowden came to the Seminoles in the mid 70’s the program was irrelevant, with Bowden at the helm it would not stay that way for long.

Bowden from 1987-2001, Bowden led Florida State to an incredible 152-19-1 record with two Heisman Trophy winners in Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, nine straight ACC titles from 1992-2000 and two national championships.

Florida State joined the ACC in 1992 and by winning the first nine conference crowns, it looked like they’d never lose.

Bowden only lost two conference games from 1992-2000 and never lost more than two games in an entire season from 1987-2000, recording at least 10 wins every year and one undefeated season.

Video: FSU Seminoles 1993 FB National Championship Video Highlights

FSU Seminoles 1993 FB National Championship Video Highlights

11) Army (1944-1950)

From 1944-46, the Black Knights were 27-0-1 and had three national titles under their belt — which happened to be the only three “official” claimed national titles in school history. It’s hard to think of national titles at West Point with the program’s current state being considered mediocre, at best.

During this period, the Black Knights finished 57-3-4 as one of the most dominant runs in college football history, finishing as one of the top two teams in the final AP poll four times as an Independent.

Blaik is one of the greatest coaches, if not the best, in Army football history and the Black Knights may never match that run again. Oh yeah, and in the 1945-46 national title years, Army had a Heisman-loaded backfield of fullback Doc Blanchard, who won the trophy in 1945, and halfback Glenn Davis who won in 1946.

Video: Army Football Champions (1940's)

Army Football Champions (1940’s)

10) Texas (1961-1973)

Darrell Royal led the Longhorns on one of the most successful 13-year runs in college football history, winning nine conference titles, and three national championships and going 115-24-2.

Texas was the epitome of an elite program during the time, and Royal made it all possible. The Longhorns had a span of three four-loss seasons in a row, but that was quickly forgotten because of six straight Cotton Bowl appearances and a 3-3 record in those games. Royal made it to nine Cotton Bowls and an Orange Bowl during this run, going 6-4.

Video: University of Texas at Austin Longhorns 1968 Football Season Highlights

University of Texas at Austin Longhorns 1968 Football Season Highlights

9) Alabama (1971-1980)

From 1971-80, Bryant’s Crimson Tide won 116 games with just 15 losses, adding nine SEC titles, three national championships and never finishing lower than second place in the conference during that period. You would be hard-pressed to find a more dominant era of Alabama football, In 1977 the title was stolen from Bama. So this team could have very easily won three straight national championships.

Video: 1979 Sugar Bowl - The Goal Line Stand

1979 Sugar Bowl – The Goal Line Stand

8) Ohio State (1954-1977)

Easily the longest dynasty, Coach Woody Hayes teams were dominant. Ohio State won five national championships and 14 Big Ten titles during that time as one of the most successful programs in college football history. Those numbers are unheard of nowadays, and the Buckeyes always seem to be considered one of today’s best teams, but they were nearly unstoppable under Hayes.

Video: Woody Hayes - The Football Coach (BBC, 1978)

Woody Hayes – The Football Coach (BBC, 1978)

7) USC (1967-1979)

John Mckay was known for his penchant for recruiting great tailbacks like O.J. Simpson, Anthony Davis etc…  His successor John Robinson brought more of the same with Ricky Bell, Charles White, Marcus Allen etc…

USC won the 1967 national title after winning the previous Athletics Association of Western Universities title. The Trojans moved to the Pac-8 in 1968 and continued to manhandle opponents.

From 1967-75, McKay won three national titles, six conference crowns and produced a Heisman winner in running back O.J. Simpson in 1968, the second recipient of the award in school history — and in five years for USC.

John Robinson took over in 1976 and carried the dynasty for a few more years, producing another Heisman winner in Charles White in the last year of USC’s reign, 1979. The head coach went 42-6-2 during that time, with three conference titles and a national championship.

Over this span, USC was 122-23-7 with four national titles, nine conference titles and had two Heisman winners.

Video: 1969 Rose Bowl Ohio State vs USC No Huddle

1969 Rose Bowl Ohio State vs USC No Huddle

6) Miami(Fla) (2000-2003)

Shortest reign on the list, but they were as dominant in a four-year period as any team ever was.

About a decade after Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson helped make the Hurricanes one of the most feared football teams in the country, Coker and Davis did the same. Miami was 46-4 during this time, winning a national title and putting together a 34-game winning streak.

Miami won four straight Big East titles and a national championship — nearly winning two national crowns, but lost narrowly to Ohio State in the 2003 title game.

Over these four years, the Canes had 17 players drafted in the first round!

Video: 2001 Miami Hurricanes National Championship Highlights

2001 Miami Hurricanes National Championship Highlights

5) Nebraska (1991-1997)

Nebraska was once a powerhouse in college football. That was never more evident than during the 1990s when Tom Osborne, the most successful coach in Cornhuskers history, led them to five Big 8 titles, one Big 12 crown and three national championships.

Those Cornhuskers were dominant from 1991-97, going 78-8 and 60-3 from 1993-97. The 1995 team led by Tommie Frazier is considered one of the greatest teams ever.

Video: '95 Huskers THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME | Hype ReMixTape

’95 Huskers THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME | Hype ReMixTape

4) Alabama (1961-1966)

The Crimson Tide dominated in the 1960s, winning three national titles, four conference crowns, and an incredible 60-5-1 record. He won three Sugar Bowls, two Orange Bowls and lost one of the latter in 1964 to the Texas Longhorns.

It was Bryant’s fourth season at Alabama, making this run all the more impressive. This was just the start of the head coach’s dominance and could be attributed to his leadership and Joe Namath’s elite passing ability. Namath was considered the greatest player Bear ever coached and it showed as he went 29-4 as the starter from 1962-64.

Video: Review of the 1966 season.

Review of the 1966 season.

3) Miami(Fla) (1985-1992)

Vinny Testaverde won the 1986 Heisman Trophy to start the dynasty basically and Gino Torretta won the award in 1992 to end it.

The Hurricanes had put together a 29-game win streak which Alabama snapped in the school’s five national title game appearances in seven years.

From 1985-92, the Hurricanes were 88-8 with three national titles and two Big East titles in their first two seasons in the conference from 1991-92. They won at least 10 games every year during that time frame.

Video: Miami Hurricanes 1980s - Team Of The Decade

Miami Hurricanes 1980s – Team Of The Decade

2) Notre Dame (1941-1949)

Knute Rockne led one of the most successful era of Notre Dame football from 1980-30, but when Frank Leahy took over in 1941, the country noticed the difference.

The cream started to rise to the top as the Fighting Irish were absolutely unbeatable during the 1940s under Leahy — and his interim coaches when he took a two-year leave of absence to join the U.S. military.

Not only was Leahy a national hero, but he was one of the best coaches of his time, going 60-3-5 during his segmented time as the leader of the Notre Dame football program. While in South Bend, he led the Fighting Irish to four national titles, coached three Heisman winners in Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart and didn’t lose a game from 1946-49, tying twice.

Video: Coach Frank Leahy of Notre Dame

Coach Frank Leahy of Notre Dame

1) Oklahoma (1948-1958)

No team has ever dominated over ten years as Oklahoma did. Under the direction of legendary head coach Bud Wilkinson from 1947-63, the Sooners had never experienced success like they did for that span. Still, to this day, Oklahoma’s greatest era of football, and college football’s top dynasty, had to have been from 1948-58 when Norman was the place to be.

Taking over in 1947, Wilkinson was the leader of this program when the Big Six was still a conference. He won his first Big Six crown in his first season before it became the Big Seven in 1948, which he also won. He then won 11 consecutive Big Seven Conference titles from 1948 to 58 before winning his first two Big Eight Conference crowns in 1959.

During that time, Wilkinson led the Sooners to 11 straight conference titles — they won 14 straight from 1946-59 — and three national championships. This really put the Sooners on the map, as did an NCAA-record 47 consecutive wins from 1953-57. Oklahoma also won 31 straight from 1948-50.

107-8 over an eleven-year span makes you number one!

Video: Orange Bowl- 1955 National Championship - OU vs Maryland *(from 1/01/56)

Orange Bowl- 1955 National Championship – OU vs Maryland *(from 1/01/56)

 

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