The Associated Press crunched the numbers to determine their list of the top 100 football programs of all-time. The AP used a combination of poll appearances, No. 1 rankings and AP championships. Ohio State and Oklahoma topped the list at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Checking in at No. 3, though, was Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish appeared in the first AP poll way back in 1936 — when Elmer Layden’s team went 6-2-1. They have landed in the poll 766 of a possible 1,103 times (69.45 percent). According to the AP, Notre Dame appeared in the poll at least once every season from 1936 to 1961, which is amazing. The Irish have been ranked No. 1 in the AP poll 98 times, which is the third most in the history of college football; this, of course, doesn’t take into account their juggernaut status from the Knute Rockne era (1918-30). The Irish lost just 12 times in 122 games during that span of time.
Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title since 1988, but their eight championships in the AP era are still more than every other program save for Alabama, which has 10. It remains to be seen if Notre Dame football will join the ranks of the ACC, but they would hypothetically be the highest ranked ACC school in the poll.
The AP preseason poll for 2016 won’t come out until closer to the end of August, but as Notre Dame gears up to make a run at their first College Football Playoff appearance, one can guess they’ll land near the top of chart once more. (The Coaches Poll was released during the first week of August, and the Irish checked in at No. 9.)
Sticking in the ACC, it’s impressive to see Florida State — at No. 9 — so high on the list, especially considering the recency of their success. The Seminoles didn’t appear in an AP poll until 1964, and only really got going after Bobby Bowden showed up in 1976. Florida State has appeared in fewer than half of the polls, but they’ve been ranked No. 1 72 times, which is far more than Michigan (34), who has appeared in 73% of the AP’s polls. The Clemson Tigers — at No. 22 — are they highest ranked charter member of the ACC.
A few other ACC schools appear in the top 25, too:
9. Florida State
Here’s where the remaining ACC programs landed on the list:
26. Georgia Tech
31. Virginia Tech
38. North Carolina
56. NC State
57. Boston College
80. Wake Forest