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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The Top-20 Teams in College Football History

The Top-20 Teams in College Football History

The best NCAA squads to hit the field
Publish Date: 04/19/2022
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

These are the grueling truth’s top 20 teams in college football history; we limited it to teams before 2010.

20) 1996 Florida Gators

The Gators outscored opponents 612-228. After the Gators pulled off a victory in hostile Neyland stadium against No. 2 ranked Tennessee, they never hit a snag until a late-season match-up with Florida State. While Florida did suffer a loss, they made this list for a reason. Following a heartbreaking 24-21 loss to FSU that spoiled their perfect season, QB Danny Wuerffel and Co. pulled together and took out Alabama in the SEC championship. This set the table for a rematch with the ‘Noles, and It was a slaughter. Florida instantly took control of the game and never looked back, punishing FSU to the final tune of 52-20. Check out the best bookmakers for betting on football!

Video: One for All: The Story of The 1996 Florida Gators Football

One for All: The Story of The 1996 Florida Gators Football

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19) 1991 Washington Huskies

This was legendary Huskies coach Don James’s finest team. The Huskies finished off their undefeated season with a sound beating of Michigan 34-14 and ended season No. 2 in the AP poll, splitting the championship with Miami. Nobody lost by less than a touchdown to these high-powered Huskies, and they were dominant on defense. Several of the TD’s scored against UW were scored after the starters had been pulled, as head coach Don James would rather have meaningful experience for his back-ups than to run up the score. Defensive tackle Steve Emtman led the defense and was the number one pick in the next year’s draft.

Video: College Football's Greatest Team of All-Time The 1991 Washington Huskies

College Football’s Greatest Team of All-Time The 1991 Washington Huskies

18) 1969 Texas Longhorns

Led by consensus All-American tackle Bob McKay, the Longhorns rolled to a perfect 11-0 season. In what was billed as the first “Game of the Century,” the ‘Horns defeated No. 2 Arkansas 15-14 to remain perfect en route to a Cotton Bowl victory over Notre Dame.

Video: University of Texas at Austin Longhorns 1969 Football Season Highlights

University of Texas at Austin Longhorns 1969 Football Season Highlights

17) 1974 Oklahoma Sooners

Led by an absolutely brutal rushing attack, the Sooners won their first championship under head coach Barry Switzer. RB Joe Washington carried home a boatload of honors after his phenomenal year, and DE Lee Roy Selmon was the first pick in the next NFL Draft. In their last game of the season against Oklahoma State, the Sooners trailed 13-10 in the third quarter before scoring five touchdowns to give them a 44-13 victory.

Video: HISTORY: Barry Switzer's 1974 Oklahoma Sooners Wishbone Highlights

HISTORY: Barry Switzer’s 1974 Oklahoma Sooners Wishbone Highlights

16) 1947 Michigan Wolverines

Notre Dame may have been number one before bowl season, but the “Mad Magicians” were the clear number one after a 49-0 drubbing of USC in the Rose Bowl. This team is credited with being one of the first to have players that specialized in offense or defense, as most guys played both sides of the field before this time. The Wolverines scored in the Rose Bowl is still tied for the most points scored in that event, and coach Fritz Crisler will long be remembered for his innovations to the game.

Video: 1947 Michigan National Champions 50th Reunion

1947 Michigan National Champions 50th Reunion

15) 2000 Oklahoma Sooners

In Bob Stoop’s second season at the helm, the Sooners were absolutely unstoppable en route to the National Championship. Led by QB Josh Heupel, the Sooners beat six ranked teams and went a perfect 13-0. They finished off the season with a stifling defensive performance against favored defending champ Florida State, winning 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.

Video: Oklahoma Sooners 2000 Season

Oklahoma Sooners 2000 Season

14) 1999 Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles were the first team to be ranked number one from start to finish in the polls. An absolutely devastating offense was led by QB Chris Weinke and featured the likes of Travis Minor Laveranues Coles, Anquan Boldin, and the ever explosive Peter Warrick. A perfect 12-0 season was capped off by a 46-29 beatdown of Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

Video: 1999 FSU Wire to Wire National Championship Season

1999 FSU Wire to Wire National Championship Season

13) 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

The ’68 Buckeyes remain one of the best teams ever fielded by Ohio State. With 11 All-Americans and six players drafted into the NFL, the Buckeyes finished a perfect campaign by dominating rival Michigan 50-14, then defeating the USC Trojans 27-16 in the Rose Bowl to claim the national title. The Buckeyes were led by outstanding RB Jim Otis, who led the Buckeyes in rushing. Check out the best new sportsbooks!

Video: Buckeyes' Great Games-Volume 5: 1968 Michigan

Buckeyes’ Great Games-Volume 5: 1968 Michigan

12) 1994 Penn State Nittany Lions

Quite possibly the best team to not win a championship, the Nittany Lions featured a fearsome offensive attack, highlighted by RB Ki-Jana Carter, QB Kerry Collins, and WR Bobby Engram. After finishing a perfect season at the Rose Bowl with a 38-20 victory over 12th ranked Oregon, the Lions fell just short of the national championship, which was instead awarded to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. PSU had three players, Collins, Carter, and TE. Kyle Brady was picked in the top 10 of the NFL draft.

Video: Nittany Nation Rewind - 1994 Penn State football

Nittany Nation Rewind – 1994 Penn State football

11) 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide

1992 marked many milestones for the Alabama Crimson Tide. In head coach Gene Stallings’ third season, the Tide reached their 100th season of football at the university. They won their 20th SEC title while holding opponents to 9.2 points per game and winning the inaugural SEC championship game. Then, to top it all off, they knocked off number one and heavily favored Miami in the Sugar Bowl to claim the National Championship.

Video: That Championship Season-1992 Alabama Crimson Tide

That Championship Season-1992 Alabama Crimson Tide

10) 1987 Miami Hurricanes

Miami had been the prohibitive favorite to win the title the season before, and after losing star quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Jerome Brown, and Alonzo Highsmith, the Canes looked as if they were headed for a rebuilding year after a disappointing loss to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Enter Michael Irvin, Brian Blades, and Steve Walsh.

The ‘Canes roared to a perfect 11-0 regular season and headed to the Orange Bowl to face the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners lost only two games in the 1985-86 seasons, both of them at the hands of the ‘Canes, and Miami was trying to hit the trifecta. They did, defeating Oklahoma 20-14 and ending one of the most unexpected runs to the National Championship ever.

Video: Press On-1987 Miami Hurricanes

Press On-1987 Miami Hurricanes

9) 2004 USC Trojans

In the school’s first undisputed national championship since the memorable 1972 season, the Trojans rode The play of Heisman winning quarterback Matt Leinart to the Orange Bowl. Winning the BCS National Championship and leaving “no doubt” as to their championship status. The Trojans, led by Leinart and Reggie Bush, blasted the Oklahoma Sooners in the title game 55-19, and that win was eventually vacated. Either way, vacated or not, they were a great team.

Video: 2004 USC Football - Undisputed

2004 USC Football – Undisputed

8) 1945 Black Army Knights

It’s not very often that a team features two Heisman winners in its backfield, but after Felix “Doc” Blanchard won it in ’45, fellow RB Glenn Davis won the award in ’46. Both gentlemen were in the backfield for the Army’s remarkable campaign. I guess you could say that the Army had a pretty successful season, finishing 9-0 while beating Navy in front of 102,000 people to clinch a national championship. They also romped on Notre Dame 48-0 and trounced the Penn Quakers 61-0 in consecutive weeks.

7) 2005 Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns outscored opponents 653-213 over their remarkable 13-0 season. Vince Young’s transcendent quarterback play, coupled with a stellar defense, led Mack Brown’s boys to the best season in ‘Horns history. To cap it all off, Texas beat previously unbeaten defending national champion USC in a thriller of a title game that had to be one of the greatest games ever played at any level.

Video: A look back: 2005 Football National Championship [Jan. 4, 2016]

A look back: 2005 Football National Championship [Jan. 4, 2016]

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6) 1956 Oklahoma Sooners

Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners squad was in the middle of a 47 game winning streak and did not get to participate in a bowl game that season due to conference rules, but they did not need one to win the national championship. The Sooners were led by the versatile half-back and future Eagles legend Tommy McDonald, who rushed for 14 touchdowns, caught four and threw for three TD passes.

Video: 1956 Orange Bowl: Maryland vs Oklahoma - January 2, 1956

1956 Orange Bowl: Maryland vs Oklahoma – January 2, 1956

5) 1961 Alabama Crimson Tide

This squad is widely considered one of the best defensive teams in history. They only allowed a total of 25 points en route to Bear Bryant’s first national championship at ‘Bama. The Tide boasted the stellar play of two-way lineman Billy Neighbors and took out the ninth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sugar Bowl to finish a perfect 11-0 season. This Tide team may have been the greatest defensive team in college football history.

Video: 1961 National Champions

1961 National Champions

4) 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Many consider this team to be the best in the history of the game. I obviously don’t agree, but they are high on any list. Their dominant defense held opponents to a remarkable 8.2 points per game while scoring an average of 39 per contest. Led by Johnny Rodgers, the Huskers won the “game of the century” vs. a rival, and No. 2 ranked Oklahoma, 35-31.

Video: Oklahoma vs Nebraska *(from November 25, 1971)

Oklahoma vs Nebraska *(from November 25, 1971)

3) 1972 USC Trojans

The ’72 edition of coach John McKay’s Trojans was the first team to ever receive every first-place vote in every postseason poll. Led by fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham, the Trojans steamrolled the competition, running over six ranked teams en route to a 12-0 season. A 25 point beat-down of Ohio State in the Rose Bowl capped off the Trojans epic season. It says a lot for a team from USC when they are considered the best team in the school’s storied history.

Video: 1972 USC Football Highlights

1972 USC Football Highlights

 

2) 2001 Miami Hurricanes

34 points, that was the ‘Canes average margin of victory. Featuring such talent as TE Jeremy Shockey, QB Ken Dorsey, WR Andre Johnson, and RB Clinton Portis on an explosive offense, and on defense Mike Rumph, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma. This was one of the most explosive teams in college football history. Miami finished off an undefeated regular season with a 37-14 Rose Bowl victory over Nebraska.

Video: The GREATEST College Football Team EVER Assembled... WE WILL NEVER WITNESS THIS AGAIN!

The GREATEST College Football Team EVER Assembled… WE WILL NEVER WITNESS THIS AGAIN!

1) 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Tom Osborne’s team scored 50-plus points per game, had a great defense that allowed 14 points per game, and featured a dynamic running game headlined by Ahman Green. The Huskers beat four top 10 teams that season. None of those teams was ever closer than 23 points. Cap off an undefeated season 11-0 with a 62-24 drubbing of Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, and you may have one of the best teams in sports history ever.

Video: 1995 Nebraska Football: The Greatest of All-Time

1995 Nebraska Football: The Greatest of All-Time

 

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