Greatest College Football Teams of All Time

I just wrote a post about the 2008 USC LBs that have been called by some as the greatest group of LB’s of all time.

That got me thinking about the best team of all time. Just who and when was the greatest team of all time?

I started watching football way back in the 1960s and there has been a number of super teams over the years that many have claimed was the best team ever.


How about the 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes as the best team ever? They only played 9 regular season games, but they won them all including a 50-14 beating of their old rival the Michigan Wolverines. #1 ranked Ohio State then traveled to Pasadena and beat the #2 USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl, 27-16. They beat early season #1 Purdue, 13-0. They beat #16 Michigan State.

They trotted 11 All Americans out on the field and had 6 1st round draft picks, including Jack Tatum one of the all time NFL greats.

The legendary Woody Hayes was head coach of the Buckeyes and they had notable assistants Earl Bruce, Bill Mallory and Lou Holtz. Holtz was only there for one season before taking his first head job at William and Mary.


Then, there was the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers. They went 13-0 beating #9 Colorado, 31-7 and #2 Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl. Their only real test came in their showdown with rival Oklahoma which the Huskers won 35-31. OU was #2 and had a great team in their own right. Of all of the Games of the Centuries over the years, many still consider that game the greatest.

Best player on this great team was probably Johnny Rodgers who would win the 1972 Heisman Trophy, but Defensive Tackle Larry Jacobson won the Outland Trophy in 1971. Jerry Tagge was a big strong QB that made this offense work, and Jeff Kinney was maybe the toughest I-back ever at Nebraska.

They had 6 1st team All-Americans and 12 1st team All Big 8 members. 6 team members were drafted by the NFL after this season and 3 of them in the 1st round and 10 juniors were drafted the following draft. Plus, 6 sophomores the year after that. This team was loaded.

Bob Devaney was the head coach. Tom Osborne was their Offensive Coordinator and Monte Kiffin and Jim Powers were also on this coaching staff.

The following season had another team that some claim was the best ever, the 1972 USC Trojans. This fabulous team opened with a 31-10 spanking of #4 Arkansas at Little Rock. They also beat #15 Stanford 30-21, #18 Washington 34-7 and #14 UCLA 24-7. Even arch rival Notre Dame ranked #10 wasn’t much of a problem with a 45-23 beating.

The Rose Bowl brought in #3 ranked Ohio State which took a 42-17 whipping. This team was good.

Pat Haden split time at QB with Mike Rae. The backfield had Sam Cunningham and Anthony Davis. The Trojans had Hall of Fame Lynn Swann at Wide Receiver, but their leading receiver was Tight End Charles Young.

This team had 5 1st team All Americans and a lot of other talent and future NFL players.


The 1974 Oklahoma Sooners figure they belong in the discussion somewhere.

The Sooners began the season with a surprisingly tough 28-11 win over normally lowly Baylor. But, Baylor turned out to be pretty good and won the SWC championship that season.

Their only really tough and close game came in the Cotton Bowl against Texas who they beat 16-13.

They finished up 11-0 only because they were not eligible for a bowl that season.

The Sooners had 8 1st team All Americans including the famous Selmon brothers in the defensive line. Jimbo Elrod was an unsung hero on their defensive line. Randy Hughes was a standout at safety.

The offense was led by QB Steve Davis and super RB Joe Washington who rushed for 4,071 career yards.

This team had speed to burn.


How would the 1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish fit in with the rest of these teams? Some people think they would do pretty well against almost anybody.

They beat #9 Michigan in game one, 19-17. They beat old nemesis Michigan State, 20-3, and pesky Purdue 52-7. They also got by Pittsburgh who had beaten Notre Dame 3 years in a row, 30-20.

The top game of the entire 1988 season was #4 ranked Notre Dame beating #1 Miami in the famous Catholics vs Convicts game, 31-30. The Irish beat the #2 USC Trojans 27-10 and then #3 West Virginia, 34-21, in the Fiesta Bowl.

This team had 6 All Americans and a boat load of guys going on to the NFL. Lou Holtz was their head coach and Barry Alvarez of future Wisconsin fame was their Defensive Coordinator.


The 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers were not even touchable.  They won the National Championship over Florida 62-24 and the game was not even that close. Their closest games were against Washington State which they won 35-21, and wins over #8 Kansas State 49-25 and #7 Colorado 44-21.

The Kansas State game was only that close because Nebraska pulled starters after having a 42-6 lead. The Huskers beat their biggest rival, Oklahoma, 37-0.

Strangely, this team only had 3 1st team All Americans, but they had 11 1st team All Big 8 members. 33 team members went on to play in the NFL.

Tommie Frazier never put up huge numbers but he was one of the better college QBs in a long time. He ran for 199 yards against Florida in the championship game.


1999 Florida State Seminoles were probably Bobby Bowden’s best team. They went 12-0 with wins over #10 Georgia Tech in their second game, 41-35, and #20 North Carolina State in game 3, 42-11. They beat their biggest rival, Miami which was ranked #19, 31-21.

The hated Florida Gators were the other obstacle the Seminoles had to cross. They beat the #4 ranked Gators, 30-23.

FSU played Virginia Tech and Michael Vick in the championship game and won going away, 46-29.

4 Seminoles made 1st team All American.

Head Coach Bobby Bowden had Mark Richt as his Offensive Coordinator and long time Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews. Florida State Kicker Sebastion Janikowski is without a doubt the best kicker to ever put on a college or NFL uniform.


2001 Miami Hurricanes would get a lot of votes as best team ever.

The Hurricanes had brand new coach Larry Coker who had replaced Butch Davis. Even though this version of the Miami Hurricanes is considered by many to be the best ever, they were not without their share of battles. They did handle arch rival #14 Florida State, 49-27. But, they had their hands full with Boston College before winning 18-7. Biggest road block turned out to be #14 Virginia Tech who gave Miami all they wanted and then some. Miami did win 26-24.

In impressive fashion Miami roughed up #14 Syracuse, 59-0 and then #12 Washington 65-7. In the championship game, the Hurricanes soundly whipped #4 Nebraska, 37-14. The game was a sound beating and not as close as the score indicated.

The Hurricanes had 6 1st team All Americans, but that did little to describe the amount of talent on this team. They had 17 players taken in the 1st round over the next 4 drafts. This team was just loaded.


2004 USC Trojans. Trojans went 13-0 in 2004 and was talented from the  top to the bottom of their roster. They struggled in their opener somewhat with Virginia Tech winning 24-13. In their 4th game, the Trojans had a battle with Stanford winning 31-28. The following week USC beat #7 California and Aaron Rodgers, 23-17. #15 Arizona State was no problem for the Men of Troy and they beat them easily, 45-7. They had 2 more tough games against Oregon State which they won 28-20 and with rival UCLA with a 29-24 win. They did beat the Fighting Irish 41-10.

The USC Trojans beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 55-19.

6 Trojans made 1st team All American and 53 off of this roster made NFL rosters. QB Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy.


2005 Texas Longhorns. USC was called the greatest team in the history of college football repeatedly by the media in 2005 and then Texas beat them in the Rose Bowl.

Texas had a close call in Columbus, Ohio with a very good 4th ranked Ohio State Buckeye football team winning in the last minute, 25-22. The only other close call they had all season was against bitter rival Texas A&M which gave Texas fits in College Station before the Horns prevailed, 40-29. Texas beat main rival Oklahoma, 45-12 and won the Big 12 championship game over Colorado, 70-3.

Reggie Bush of USC won the Heisman Trophy over Texas’ Vince Young, which was wrong on so many levels. Young was the best player in America in 2005 and he went out and proved it in Pasadena leading Texas from behind and beating USC, 41-38.


2009 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide finished the season at 14-0, but had a lot of close calls along the way. This team was primarily defense and a great running game led by Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. They had 6 1st team All Americans and the majority of those were on defense.

Alabama got by #7 Virginia Tech in their opener, 34-24. They beat #20 Ole Miss, 22-3. Then, they beat #22 South Carolina, 20-6. The Crimson Tide barely got by unranked Tennessee, 12-10.

#9 LSU presented another challenge, but the Tide rolled 24-15.  Last regular season game was the Iron Bowl match up against Auburn which they won, 26-21.

Alabama officially won the national championship in a 37-21 win over Texas in the Rose Bowl.




So, which of these teams or maybe any other team was the greatest of all time?


I personally have no idea. Probably, I would take the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers because they were so dominating in the championship win over Florida.

But, if you have a different opinion, I have no problem with that.


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