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All-Time Wins: Michigan firm at No. 1, but who ends year at No. 2?

The Michigan Wolverines became the first school in college football history to win 900 games. The milestone victory came against long time rival Michigan State last October and with such a cushion in the total wins rankings the Wolverines will be the only 900-win program for at least three more seasons, perhaps even the next four seasons.

Texas and Notre Dame are next in line among FBS programs on the path to 900 wins, but it is Ivy League staple Yale who sits firmly in second place on the all-time win total with 871 victories to 866 in Austin and 865 in South Bend. In fact, three Ivy League schools rank in the top ten in total college football wins, with Harvard checking in at No. 8 with 829 wins and Pennsylvania rounding out the top ten with 824 victories.

Rank School Wins
1 Michigan 903
2 Yale 871
3 Texas 866
4 Notre Dame 865
5 Nebraska 856
6 Ohio State 837
7 Oklahoma 831
8 Harvard 829
9 Alabama 827
10 Pennsylvania 824

The above top ten list was given a bit of a facelift last summer when the NCAA stripped Penn State of 112 victories in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. While vacating victories seems a silly punishment, the record books saw the removal of another 800-win program. With the vacated victories in place, Penn State would be ranked seventh on this list with 835 victories, bumping the Penn Quakers off the list and seeing Alabama round out the top ten.

One of the questions for the 2013 season will be which program ends the year second on this all-time list. Given the low expectations for Yale this season (picked to finish seventh in the Ivy League), we could very well see a change at number two. Yale won just two games last season and if the program that gave us Walter Camp continues to sink to that level in 2013, the Longhorns and Fighting Irish could both pass them. Remember, Yale only plays ten games to begin with, compared to Texas and Notre Dame playing a full 12-game schedule plus a potential bowl game. Unless Yale shocks everybody in the Ivy League, I think it is a fairly safe bet to suggest Yale drops down to at least number three on this list. I think Texas has a shot at making a run for a Big 12 title and Notre Dame should be able to pick up six wins without too much of a problem.

We could see some minor swapping elsewhere in this list as well. In a minor crimson change, Alabama should pass Harvard at some point later in the 2013 season. The Crimson Tide play a 12-game schedule and could add two more games between a potential SEC Championship Game and are a lock for a bowl game. Meanwhile, Harvard is at a disadvantage with just a ten-game schedule to work with. Alabama trails Harvard by just two wins. It could be possible for Alabama to also pass Oklahoma, trailing the Sooners by four wins, although that could end up being a reach.

As it relates to the Ivy League members, because the schools only play ten games and do not participate in the postseason at the FCS level, there will be a time when no Ivy League school remains in the top ten. This is just a matter of numbers. With everyone else playing longer schedules and playing in postseason games and some teams even getting another added game through the College Football Playoff, a ten-game schedule is going to catch up in the win totals at some point in time even if an Ivy League team manages to win ten games a year. Fortunately this will not be happening any time too soon, but it is a reality unless the Ivy League changes their policies relating to football.

No matter what happens inside the top ten, it will be these ten teams on the list at the end of the year. Tennessee has the 11th most wins in college football but remains 25 games behind No. 10 Penn. It is all a matter of how the top ten will look at the end of the year.

800 Win Club Extending Invitations

Tennessee is one win shy of winning the school’s 800th game in program history. The Vols, at 799 all-time wins, will join Alabama as the only SEC programs with 800 wins.

Ivy League member Princeton will need to win nine games to get to 800 all-time victories (791 all-time wins for you non Ivy Leaguers). The Tigers played Rutgers in the very first college football game on record back in 1869 and have 28 national championships  and are picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League this season. Getting nine wins might be difficult, as Princeton only plays ten games.

Southern California will be the next FBS program in line for 800 wins, but that milestone will have to wait for 2014 with the Trojans starting the year at 786 all-time wins. If USC were to reach 800 wins this season it would mean the Trojans win the BCS Championship after running through the regular season unscathed and win the Pac 12 Championship Game. Let’s call this an absolute best-case scenario and keep our eyes on 2014 for now.

Other Milestones to Watch

If Ohio State wins 13 games this season, which I believe  is entirely possible, the Buckeyes will become the sixth school to record 850 college football victories.

LSU (743 wins) is seven wins away from 750 all-time wins.

A handful of ACC programs are closing in on 700 all-time wins. Syracuse (698), Virginia Tech (695) and Georgia Tech (693) are all in position to join the club, and the SEC’s Texas A&M (691) needs nine wins to reach 700 all-time wins.

A few other programs could pick up their 600th win this fall. Iowa (597), Tulsa (595) and Stanford (594) should be able to get there. Purdue at 692 wins may be plausible if things go well.

Wyoming (499), Northwestern (498), Tulane (498), Utah State (497) and Troy (493) are all aiming for 500 all-time wins this season. Connecticut (491) would be a reach but Toledo (490) may not be.

Mount Union ready to take over D3 standings?

The defending Division 3 champions from Mount Union (OH) have been one of the top programs at the lowest level of NCAA football for past two decades. This year the Purple Raiders begin the season with 714 all-time victories but they are still chasing Wittenberg (OH) on the all-time wins list among D3 schools. Wittenberg enters the season with a three-game lead on Mount Union in the all-time standings and may be capable of staying in front for one more year with a playoff-worthy season. Wittenberg won 10 games last season and is picked to win the North Coast Athletic Conference this fall. Will the Purple Raiders be able to pass the Tigers?

Mount Union’s top competition the last few years, Wisconsin-Whitewater, has 529 all-time wins.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.