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Texas Schools Dominated The AP’s Ranking Of The Best College Football Programs Ever

UT and A&M were the highest-ranked Texas teams, and even Rice helped rep the Lone Star State in the Associated Press’s definitive list.

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AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Running back Cedric Benson #32 of the University of Texas Longhorns is tackled by the Texas A&M University Aggies in the second quarter on November 26, 2004 at Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Ronald Martinez/Getty

The Associated Press just confirmed what we’ve always known: the state of Texas dominates all things college football. We landed eight schools in the APs new ranking of the all-time best college football programs, outpacing every other state. There’s enough Lone Star love in there for just about every college football-loving Texan: University of Texas and Texas A&M were the only Texas teams to crack the top 25, but Texas Christian University, Baylor, Houston, Southern Methodist, Texas Tech, and even Rice all made the top 100.

Here’s the scoring system the AP used to compile the rankings:

One point for poll appearances, “to mark consistency.”

Two points for No. 1 rankings, “to acknowledge elite programs.”

A ten-point bonus for AP championships.

The Longhorns were number eight on the list, gathering 822 total points—a respectable showing for sure, but it’ll still probably peeve UT fans to see the Sooners take second place. It should also be noted that the University of Southern California, at number five, was ranked higher than every program in Texas (if the AP loves California so much, why don’t they just move there?). Ohio State took the top spot, while Notre Dame and Alabama rounded out the rest of the top five between the Sooners and USC. You can check out the entire list here.

UT appeared in the AP’s weekly polls 703 times, or 63.74 percent of polls over time. Even more impressive is that the Longhorns appeared in 99.4 percent of AP polls from 2000-2010, which the AP declared UT’s best decade. The decade we’re in right now? Not so great. The Longhorns haven’t sniffed a top ten ranking since September 2010, “the program’s longest such streak since Nov. 26, 1984-Nov. 4, 1990,” per the AP.

The Aggies (477 points) were ranked number eighteen, one spot ahead of Michigan State and one spot behind UCLA (California is the bane of Texas’s existence). The AP’s formula reveals that A&M has been solid, if unspectacular, in recent years: the last time they topped the poll was 1957, and they haven’t cracked the top two since 1975.

Up next for Texas is number 39, TCU (234 points), which narrowly edged out Maryland (230 points). The Baylor Bears and Houston Cougars are 47 and 49, respectively. Number 55, SMU, and 58, Texas Tech, round out the top 60 for Texas. Further down in the rankings, however, is where things start to get a little weird.

Rice, for example, being placed on any all-time greatest list when it comes to college football is peculiar, considering the program has, in 102 years, spent exactly 70 weeks in the AP’s top 25 rankings. While the Owls have been less-awful as of late (three bowl appearances in this decade), the program has an overall losing record (458-585-32), and has actually gone winless—as in completely, utterly defeated—in three separate seasons (1968, 1982, and 1988). Still, they managed to scrap their way to number 69 on the list.

The rest of the list is scraping the absolute bottom of the college football barrel. Somehow cracking the top 100 were crummy Ivy League programs, teams that don’t compete in the NCAA’s Division I Football Subdivision, and even a program that no longer exists: Iowa Pre-Flight School, which competed for exactly three seasons in the forties (they did go 26-5, though). Not to sound greedy, but it’s hard not to wonder why even more Texas schools didn’t make the list. Is Iowa Pre-Flight School really a historically better program than North Texas, UTEP, or even Texas State? Doubt it.

Still, Texans should be pretty proud of the Lone Star State’s collective showing.

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  • José

    “even Rice…” Sigh. Well, we had a pretty good stretch in the mid-20th century.