What are the 25 winningest programs to not make the College Football Playoff? Here are the top schools in the CFP era to miss out on the fun.
Cincinnati and Michigan were able to make the College Football Playoff last season. Their doors might have been blown off by Alabama and Georgia, respectively, but they at least brought some new energy to the mini-tournament.
The College Football Playoff has only been around for eight seasons and just 13 schools – Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington – have played in it and just five won it all.
That means 90% of the FBS college football programs haven’t been in the post-season – at least the version that matters – since this grand experiment started.
That’s the equivalent of only 36 college basketball programs making the NCAA Tournament over the last eight years – which is a good idea, by the way, but I digress.
What college football programs were able to win a lot of games over the last eight years without the playoff payoff? 25 have won 60 or more games in eight seasons – averaging 7.5 a year, but it’s better than that considering some played a short schedule in 2020 – without getting the call.
If you didn’t get to 60 victories – no Texas, or Tennessee, or Nebraska, Michigan State, or North Carolina – you don’t get on the list. So with that, here are the 25 winningest teams to not make the College Football Playoff.
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Wins Since 2014: 60
Best Season in CFP Era: 2017, 11-3, Pac-12 champion, Rose Bowl win
Realistic Chance To Make College Football Playoff This Season: Strong
Bottom Line: USC might be last on this list, but it’s got the best shot of going to the College Football Playoff this year with Lincoln Riley and a loaded all-star team ready to roll. The 2020 team would’ve had a case for the CFP if it won the Pac-12 title to finish 6-0 – it lost to Oregon, but no unbeaten Power Five champ has ever been left out. It’s been a disappointing run since going 12-1 in 2008. That’s all about to change.
USC Preview | Top 10 Players | Schedule Analysis
T22. NC State
Wins Since 2014: 61
Best Season in CFP Era: 2017, 9-4, Sun Bowl win
Realistic Chance To Make College Football Playoff This Season: Possible
Bottom Line: The Wolfpack have been strongly consistent since Dave Doeren took over, but they haven’t been able to get a turn in the ACC Championship mix – being in the same division with Clemson has something to do with that. This should be his best team yet, and if it can somehow get by the Tigers on the road, there’s a real shot at going 12-1 with an ACC Championship and a CFP shot. That’s a massive if, though.
NC State Preview | Top 10 Players | Schedule Analysis
Wins Since 2014: 61
Best Season in CFP Era: 2017, 10-3, ACC Championship loss, Orange Bowl loss
Realistic Chance To Make College Football Playoff This Season: Slim
Bottom Line: Miami flirted with something fun in 2017 with a 10-0 start before losing the last three games. However, had it beaten Clemson in the ACC Championship – it lost 38-3 – it would’ve been in the CFP. This year’s schedule is too tough for a reloading team – with road games at Clemson and Texas A&M – but new head coach Mario Cristobal might just restore the glory in a hurry.
Miami Preview | Top 10 Players | Schedule Analysis
T22. Western Michigan
Wins Since 2014: 61
Best Season in CFP Era: 2016, 13-1, MAC champion, Cotton Bowl loss
Realistic Chance To Make College Football Playoff This Season: None
Bottom Line: Now-Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck led the way to a phenomenal 13-0 regular season with a MAC title in 2016, and it still wasn’t enough to get near the College Football Playoff. The Broncos have been good ever since, but they haven’t been able to come close to repeating the glory. They’ll be strong this season, but even if they can win at Michigan State and against Pitt – and can run through the MAC unbeaten – it still shouldn’t be enough for a CFP shot.
WMU Preview | Top 10 Players | Schedule