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Teams in first place atop the College Football Playoff rankings the most times


In college football, it's all about being the last team standing — being No. 1. For some teams, they've made it a habit of reaching the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings and staying there. For others, that summit has yet to be reached.

There are only seven teams that have made it to No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Mississippi State made history as the first program to take the top spot in 2014, but Alabama has wiped out the competition with the most No. 1 appearances.

↪️ History: Check out all previous national championship winners

Here's a look at all the teams that have claimed the top spot, plus how many times they've been No. 1.

Team No. 1 Ranks
Alabama 24
Georgia 15
Clemson 8
Ohio State 5
LSU 3
Mississippi State 3
Michigan 1
Tennessee 1

Alabama — 24 times

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ESPN College Football

The Crimson Tide are the runaway leader. They come in first with the most No. 1 ranks (24), CFP National Championship wins (3) and CFP rank appearances (54). Shockingly, 2022 was the first time Alabama was not featured in the top four in any CFP poll.

Georgia — 15 times

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Nick Cunfer

In 2017, the Bulldogs gained their first No. 1 spot as they opened 9-0. Falling to Auburn caused Georgia to lose its footing in the ranks, all the way down to the seventh spot. The Bulldogs rallied to finish No. 3. Things have been even better lately, as Georgia won back-to-back national championships.

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Clemson — 8 times

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ESPN

The Tigers held the top spot six times in 2015 before falling to Alabama in the national championship game, 45-40. They then added two more No. 1 trips in 2017. In an interesting twist, the Tigers did not hold the top spot both years they were crowned the CFP National Champions (2016 and 2018).

Ohio State — 5 times

VIDEO: 2023 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF TOP 25 RANKINGS SHOW #4 — 11/21/23
Nick

The Buckeyes' claim to fame began in 2014 when they won the very first College Football Playoff title game against Oregon. Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes were not ranked No. 1 during their national championship run — and had to come back from starting No. 16 in the first CFP poll that year. They held the No. 1 spot for the first time in 2019 after winning at No. 8 Penn State. LSU took over the top spot in the end, however and the Buckeyes eventually fell to No. 2. In 2023, the Buckeyes were the committee's top team in the first weekly CFP rankings, staying No. 1 for two weeks before dropping.

LSU — 3 times

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Nick

The Tigers took hold of the No. 1 spot during the 2019 season with Joe Burrow in the driver's seat -trampling through a few top-10 teams in the SEC and eventually winning the national title. There were a few moments when Ohio State took over the top spot, but LSU left no doubt on the field. 

Mississippi State — 3 times

VIDEO: 2023 College Football Playoff Top 25 Rankings Show #1 — 10/31/23
Nick

The Bulldogs made history as the first team to take the top spot as they opened 9-0 in 2014. It was a loss to Alabama and later Ole Miss that caused their stint to be cut short and fall to the seventh spot.

📊 Polls: See the latest AP Top 25 rankings

Michigan — 1 time

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ESPN

The Wolverines may have only claimed the top spot once, but it came in the final edition of the 2023 rankings, slotting them in as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff field.

Tennessee — 1 time

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ESPN College Football

The Vols made their presence known during the 2022 season as they claimed their one and only top ranking in the CFP era. An impressive string of wins, highlighted by beating No. 3 Alabama, took the Vols to No. 1. It was a loss against Georgia that caused their reign to end after one week

With the new instillation of a newly expanded 12-team playoff for the 2024-25 season, many aspects could change and more opportunities could arise for teams to fight for the No. 1 spot.

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