College Football's Winningest Teams

A Decade-By-Decade Breakdown

Boise State touchdown vs Utah State
Boise State touchdown vs Utah State.

Bsuorangecrush/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

College football is a sport dominated by its traditional powers.

Through the years, those powerhouse programs have generally remained locked into the Top 25, owned the New Year's Day bowl games and, of course, dominated the race for the national title.

But not even college football's bluebloods are immune to a bad decade. Through the years, almost all of the game's superpowers have suffered periods of decline. At the same time, "outsider" programs (think Boise State) have jumped up to lay their claim to elite status.

Here is a look at the ebbs and flows of college football's elite teams through the decades.

Winningest Programs of the 2000s

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04: Head coach Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 17-10 during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.
Head coach of the Boise State Broncos celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 17-10 in the 2010.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Who was college football’s "team of the decade" for the 2000s? Texas? USC? Maybe Oklahoma? All good choices, of course. But if you’re looking at winning percentage alone, then the answer to that question is actually Boise State.

Winningest Programs of the 1990s

Florida State celebrate during the Seminoles 58-7 win over Wake Forest

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It was the last true dynasty in college football: Florida State in the 1990s. Coach Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles were the unquestioned kings of college football that decade, dominating the ACC, claiming two national championships and posting a better winning percentage (.890) than any other team in the nation. 

Winningest Programs of the 1980s

Nebraska Cornhuskers during the NCAA Big 8 college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devil
Nebraska Cornhuskers during the NCAA Big 8 college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devil.

 Mike Powell/Getty Images

No, Miami was not the winningest team of the 1980s. No, instead, that honor goes to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who went 103-20-0 in the decade—good for a winning percentage of .837. Miami was second at .831.

Winningest Programs of the 1970s

Oklahoma Sooners

Robert Seale/Getty Images

In a decade truly dominated by the game's traditional powers, the Oklahoma Sooners were the most dominant of all. The Sooners finished the decade with an overall record of 102-13-3—good for a winning percentage of .877. Alabama was second at .863.

Winningest Programs of the 1960s

Alabama football team carries their proud coach off the field after winning the Sugar Bowl classic 12-7

 Bettman/Getty Images

Under the leadership of the legendary Bear Bryant, who arrived in Tuscaloosa in 1958, the Alabama Crimson Tide enjoyed a dominant decade in the 1960s. During that remarkable ten-year run, Bryant's Tide compiled an utterly remarkable record of 85-12-3—good for a winning percentage of .865, best in the nation.

Winningest Programs of the 1950s

Bud Wilkinson Preparing His Football Squad for a Game

Bettmann/Getty Images

Under the leadership of the legendary Bud Wilkinson, the Oklahoma Sooners racked up a 93-10-2 record in the 1950s, good enough for an overall winning percentage of .895. They won 13 more games than anyone else in the nation during that span—not to mention three national championships.