Ranking the best teams in college football history is hard, but FiveThirtyEight’s Elo power rating makes it possible.

Where certain other statistical models—such as Simple Rating System, which profiles squads based off point differentials and strength of schedules—tend to favor certain eras throughout college football’s history, Elo power rating provides a nice mix of teams from across all generations.

We’ll be ranking the 10 best Elo power rating scores ever, from worst to first. And while the top spot belongs to a familiar face, it still might surprise you.

Best college football teams in history

Think about how many quality college football programs there have been over the years. The sheer vastness of that sample size you cannot fully account for can be overwhelming—especially when you’re asked to compare schools across decades.

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NCAA betting lines

Figuring out this million-jillion-piece jigsaw puzzle can be fun, though. After all, in college football, the most recent standout programs normally dominate the field for quite a while. So if one makes the cut on a best-ever list, you know to take them seriously for the foreseeable future.

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