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USC No. 5 on AP all-time college football rankings; UCLA at 17

USC No. 5 on AP all-time college football rankings; UCLA at 17
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith (10) warms up before Ohio State’s game against rival Michigan on Nov. 18, 2006.
(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

The Associated Press has been ranking the best teams in college football for the last 80 seasons. Since the first top 20 in 1936, 1,103 polls have been taken and 164 schools have been ranked.

To determine an all-time top 100 for the first time, the AP counted poll appearances (one point) to mark consistency, No. 1 rankings (two points) to acknowledge elite programs and gave a big bonus for AP championships won (10 points). Here is a capsule look at the top 20 teams, ranked by poll points:

1. OHIO STATE — 1,112 

Total appearances: 852, 77.2% of all polls

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No. 1 rankings: 105; Championships: Five (last, 2014)

Poll point: There have been only three seasons during the 80-year history of the AP poll in which the Buckeyes were not ranked at least once, the fewest unranked seasons of any program. 

2. OKLAHOMA — 1,055 

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Total appearances: 784, 71.1% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 100½; Championships: Seven (last, 2000)

Poll point: The Sooners have been top-five in percentage of poll appearances in five decades (1950s, ’70s, ’80s, 2000, ’10), most of any program.  

3. NOTRE DAME — 1,042 

Total appearances: 766, 69.5% of all polls.

No. 1 rankings: 98; Championships: Eight (last, 1988)

Poll point: The Fighting Irish were ranked at least once every season from the first poll in 1936 through 1961.  

4. ALABAMA — 993 

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Total appearances: 745, 67.5% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 74; Championships: 10 (last, 2015)

Poll point: From Nov. 3, 1980-Oct. 26, 2008, Alabama was ranked No. 1 only once — the final poll of the 1992 season. The Tide has been top-ranked 43 times since under Coach Nick Saban.  

5. USC — 974 

Total appearances: 743, 67.4% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 90½; Championships: Five (last, 2004)

Poll point: The Trojans were top-ranked 42 times from Dec. 7, 2003-Sept. 21, 2008, under coach Pete Carroll.  

6. NEBRASKA — 901 

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Total appearances: 717, 65% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 72; Championships: Four (last, 1995)

Poll point: Mostly under coach Tom Osborne, the Cornhuskers were unranked in only three polls combined during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s — appearing in 99.4% over three decades.  

7. MICHIGAN — 894

Total appearances: 806, 73.1% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 34; Championships: Two (last, 1997)

Poll point: The Wolverines were first team to appear in every poll over the course of a full decade, when they did it in the 1970s under Coach Bo Schembechler.  

8. TEXAS — 822 

Total appearances: 703, 63.7% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 44½; Championships: Three (last, 2005)

Poll point: The Longhorns have not had a top-10 ranking since Sept. 19, 2010, the program’s longest such streak since Nov. 26, 1984-Nov. 4, 1990.  

9. FLORIDA STATE — 714 

Total appearances: 540, 49% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 72; Championships: Three (last, 2013)

Poll point: From Nov. 11, 1990-Sept. 9, 2001, the Seminoles were never ranked lower than 11th under coach Bobby Bowden.  

10. FLORIDA — 674 

Total appearances: 562, 50.1% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 41; Championships: Three (last, 2008)

Poll point: The Gators had no top-three rankings before Nov. 26, 1984. They have had 95 top-three rankings since.  

11. LOUISIANA STATE — 655 

Total appearances: 575, 52.1% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 30; Championships: Two (last, 2007)

Poll point: After being unranked for most of the 1950s, the Tigers held the No. 1 ranking 14 times in 1958 and ’59 — then went 48 years before being ranked No. 1 again (2007).  

12. PENN STATE — 647 

Total appearances: 589, 53.4% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 19; Championships: Two (last, 1986)

Poll point: The Nittany Lions have not been ranked at any point during the last four seasons (2011-15). After making its poll debut in 1940, Penn State had never gone more than three seasons without being ranked at least once. 

13. MIAMI — 642 

Total appearances: 458, 41.5% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 67; Championships: Five (last, 2001)

Poll point: The Hurricanes made 367 of their poll appearances (80.1%) between Sept. 29, 1980-Jan. 4, 2006. 

14. TENNESSEE — 624 

Total appearances: 568, 51.5% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 18; Championships: Two (last, 1998)

Poll point: From 1936-59, no Southeastern Conference team had more poll appearances (134) than the Volunteers. 

15. GEORGIA — 572 

Total appearances: 532, 48.2% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 15; Championships: One (1980)

Poll point: Since 1975, the Bulldogs have had only two seasons (1990 and ’96) during which they have not been ranked for at least one week. 

16. AUBURN — 570 

Total appearances: 532, 48.2% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 9; Championships: Two (last, 2010)

Poll point: The Deep South‘s oldest rivals, Auburn and Georgia, enter 2016 with the same amount of poll appearances. The overall record in 119 games between the two teams is Georgia 56, Auburn 55 and eight ties. 

17. UCLA — 535 

Total appearances: 521, 47.2% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 7; Championships: None

Poll point: The Bruins are the highest-ranked team to never win a championship. 

18. TEXAS A&M — 447 

Total appearances: 424, 38.4% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 6½; Championships: One (1939)

Poll point: The Aggies were last No. 1 on Nov. 11, 1957, and have not been No. 2 since Dec. 1, 1975. 

19. MICHIGAN STATE — 443 

Total appearances: 375, 34% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 29; Championships: One (1952)

Poll point: Has the most No. 1 rankings for a program not ranked No. 1 since the 1960s. 

20. WASHINGTON  — 430 

Total appearances: 401, 36.4% of all polls

No. 1 rankings: 14½; Championships: None

Poll point: Eleven times in the last 12 seasons, the Huskies have made either one or no poll appearances. 

The rest

21. Arkansas, 412; 22. Clemson, 411; 23. Pittsburgh, 356; 24. Wisconsin, 336; 25. Iowa, 329; 26. Georgia Tech, 320; 27. Colorado, 316; 28. Oregon, 293; 30. Arizona State, 284; 31. Virginia Tech, 276; 32. Stanford, 272; 33. West Virginia, 271; 34. Brigham Young, 258; 35. Missouri, 256; 36. Purdue, 246; 37. Minnesota, 241; 38. North Carolina, 240; 39. Texas Christian, 234; 40. Maryland, 230.

41. Syracuse, 221; 42. Army, 214; 43. Oklahoma State, 208; 44. Kansas State, 207; 45. California, 199; 46. Mississippi State, 195; 47. Baylor, 187; 48. South Carolina, 185; 49. Houston, 184; 50. Northwestern, 183; 51. Illinois, 181; 52, Virginia, 174; 53. Duke, 172; 54. Arizona, 168; 55. Southern Methodist, 165; 56. North Carolina State, 149; 57. Boston College, 141; 58. Texas Tech, 137; 59. Washington State, 129; 60. Navy, 128.

61. Boise State, 127; 62. Louisville, 119; 63. Kansas, 108; 64. Utah, 100; 65. Oregon State, 95; 66. Penn, 89; 67. Air Force, 78; 68. Kentucky, 75; 69. Rice, 70; 70. Tulane, 62; 71; Wyoming 56; 72. Indiana, 55; 72. Fresno State, 55; 72. Southern Mississippi, 55; 72. Cornell, 55; 76. Toledo, 45; 77. Santa Clara, 43; 77. Tulsa, 43; 77. Colorado State, 43; 80. Wake Forest, 42.

81. Cincinnati, 41; 81. Miami (Ohio), 41; 83. Fordham, 40; 83. Iowa State, 40; 85. Holy Cross, 39; 86. Rutgers, 38; 87. Darmouth, 37; 87. East Carolina, 37; 89. Vaderbilt, 31; 90. Yale, 30; 91. Princeton, 29; 91. Marshall, 29; 93. Hawaii, 28; 94. San Francisco, 26; 95. Villanova, 25; 96. Northern Illinois, 23; 97. Duquesne, 20; 98. Iowa Pre-Flight, 18; 99. Colombia, 16; 99. William & Mary, 16; 99. Nevada, 16; 99. Bowling Green, 16. 


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