Winningest College Football Teams 2012-2019

The 2019 College Football season is officially over, so it’s time for our 4th edition of Winningest College Football Teams of the past 8 seasons, this time surveying the stretch of 2012 through 2019. LSU, the new national champions, made the list, and so did other champions during the stretch – Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State.

LSU National Champions
Via LSU Football FB page

Why 8 seasons and not 6 or 9? We put the mark at eight, signifying a two full four-year draft cycle, which we think is enough time to judge which are the best and most consistent programs in College Football. No one-hit wonders for a season are going to show up, and one bad season in a sea of great ones isn’t going to kick someone out of the top 10. Last but not least: We don’t vacate wins.

10. Wisconsin Badgers (80-29), 73.4%

Another solid, 10-win season for the Badgers (including their 4th division title during this stretch), keeps them in the same place as last year. 2019 added another Rose Bowl loss after 5 consecutive Bowl game wins. Paul Chryst took over the program in 2015 and has been pretty much living up to expectations – good, sometimes very good, but never truly elite: No Big Ten title, and no CFP appearance.

9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (76-27), 73.8%

The Irish are in thanks to an 8-5 season going out the window (2011) and Brian Kelly’s 11-2 campaign in 2019, including a Camping World Bowl victory, going in. The highlights of this 8-year era for the Irish includes the 2012 BCS title game against Alabama (a tough, tough loss) and two more NY6 bowl game losses, including last year in the CFP semi final. Brian Kelly has been the head coach for this entire stretch, winning double-digit games 5 times.

8. LSU Tigers (79-25), 76%

A rise of one spot for the Tigers following their perfect 15-0 season, ending with a big win over Clemson in the National Championship game, the program’s 4th and first since 2007. All other seasons during this stretch, which includes the year when Les Miles left and Ed Orgeron took over, had at least 3 losses, as well as no conference or division titles. Until it all changes this season.

7. Appalachian State Mountaineers (61-19), 76.2%

The Mountaineers have been an FBS program since 2014, joining the Sun Belt conference. Their first season has also been the weakest: 7-5. What followed have been 4 conference titles and a perfect 5-for-5 bowl record. The 31-17 win over UAB in the New Orleans Bowl capped off a 13-1 season and a top 20 ranking by both AP and Coaches Polls.

6. Georgia Bulldogs (84-25), 77.1%

The last 8-year stretch has been good and often even better for the Bulldogs, but true CFB dominance has eluded the program. Six 10+ win seasons, one SEC title, one national title game (2017-season CFP) which was a loss to Alabama. Oh, and Mark Richt left after 15 years on the sidelines, replaced by Kirby Smart, who is 44-12 since taking over, with 3 SEC East division titles.

5. Boise State Broncos (83-24), 77.6%

The Broncos continue to set the mark for non-P5 excellence, adding a 12-2 campaign in 2019, including winning the Mountain West and losing the Las Vegas Bowl to Washington. In the last 8 seasons Boise State has won or shared 4 MWC championships, only two seasons under 10 wins, and one memorable win against Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.

4. Oklahoma Sooners (87-20), 81.3%

Consistency, despite changing from Bob Stoops to Lincoln Riley, has been the main take from Oklahoma’s last 8 seasons – Big 12 dominance (6 conference championships, including the last 5) but never national one, with the CFP games being especially painful: 4 semi final appearances, 4 losses, with the latest being 63-28 to eventual champions, LSU.

3. Clemson Tigers (100-12), 89.3%

One way of saying how good Clemson has been in recent years: 5 consecutive ACC titles, 5 consecutive CFP berths, 4 National Championship Games, 2 National titles. Clemson hasn’t lost a conference game since 2017, which was also the last season with a loss to a non-SEC West team. The worst season in this 8-year stretch was 2014, when Clemson went 10-3, finishing behind Florida State in the Atlantic Division.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (102-11), 90.3%

For the first time since we started keeping track of these rankings, Nick Saban’s team isn’t first. 2019 was a disappointment for Alabama: No CFP berth for the first time since the format began and two regular season losses (LSU & Auburn), something that hasn’t happened since 2014. Overall, Alabama can count 3 national titles in this 8-season stretch (one BCS, two playoff), never winning less than 11 games in a season.Ohio State Buckeyes (99-10), 90.8%

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (99-10), 90.8%

Ohio State big Ten Champions
Via Ohio State Buckeyes FB page

With the 2011 Luke Fickell season off the books, we enter a golden era for Ohio State: The Urban Meyer phase with a dash of Ryan Day. At the top of this 8-season stretch is the 2014 national title (the inaugural CFP), as well as 4 undefeated seasons in the Big Ten. Even bigger: NO LOSSES TO MICHIGAN. The last one? 2011.

Final Notes

  • Two teams from last year’s list are out of the top 10: Stanford (75-32) falling to 13th and Florida State (77-29) falling to 12th.
  • College Football Playoff teams over the years that aren’t in the top 10: Florida State, Oregon (11th, 77-29), Michigan State (18th, 70-35) and Washington (20th, 71-36).
  • Oregon is also the highest ranked Pac-12 team. The highest ranked team from the American conference is UCF (there since 2013); 14th overall with a 72-32 record.

And just as importantly, the 10 worst teams since 2012:

Purdue (32-67), 32.3%

UNLV (31-68), 31.3%

Texas State (30-66), 31.2%

Charlotte (19-42), 31.1%

Georgia State (26-62), 29.5%

Connecticut (25-72), 25.8%

New Mexico State (23-74), 23.7%

Texas El-Paso (23-74), 23.7%

UMass (19-77), 19.8%

Kansas (16-80), 16.7%

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