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Ultimate No. 1: 10 takeaways from AP's all-time rankings

To celebrate the 80th birthday of the AP College Football Poll, the AP has taken a look back at its rankings history. A very long look.

The AP released its all-time top 25 -- actually, its top 100 teams -- using a formula that awarded points for poll appearances, No. 1 rankings and AP national titles dating to the poll's inception in 1936. The top 10 teams yielded few surprises, as Ohio State topped the chart, followed by Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, Nebraska, Michigan, Texas, Florida State and Florida.

But there were some superlatives and oddities to be found throughout the rest of the list:

1. Decades of dominance for Wolverines, Seminoles and Cornhuskers

Anyone who has followed college football for more than 20 years isn't surprised to see Nebraska, Michigan and Florida State in the all-time top 10. But all three teams have a unique distinction: being ranked in the AP poll for an entire decade.

Florida State and Nebraska undoubtedly were the teams of the 1990s. Both the Seminoles and Huskers appeared in 100 percent of AP polls during the decade, and both teams claimed AP national titles (Florida State in 1993 and 1999; Nebraska in 1994 and 1995). Nebraska had the most dominant prolonged stretch, appearing in all but three polls between 1970 and 1999.

Michigan has struggled for most of the past decade, but things were worse in the 1960s, when the Wolverines appeared in less than 27 percent of AP polls. Bo Schembechler arrived as coach and quickly elevated the program, which never left the AP rankings during the 1970s, despite not winning a national title.

2. Florida schools are the modern-era poll powers

The AP poll debuted in 1936, and 12 of the all-time top 25 teams made an appearance during that inaugural season. Nine other teams received their first AP ranking within the first six years of the poll. Only three teams made their first appearance in 1950 or later, and all three come from the state of Florida.

Both the University of Florida and Miami didn't enter the AP poll until 1950, and Florida State didn't enter until 1964, 12 years before Bobby Bowden arrived as coach. Despite the late arrival, Florida State has held the No. 1 ranking 72 times, tied for sixth most all time with Nebraska. Miami has occupied the top spot 67 times, making 80 percent of its poll appearances between Sept. 29, 1980 and Jan. 4, 2006.

3. Not-so low points for Buckeyes, Trojans, Longhorns, Irish

It's not only about producing elite teams; a common thread among top-10 teams is not falling out of the poll entirely for long stretches.

Not only does Ohio State have the most No. 1 appearances (105), but the highest percentage of total appearances (77.2 percent). Even in the Buckeyes' worst decade, the 1940s, they still appeared in more than half of the AP polls (55.7 percent). The 1940s also marked USC's worst decade, but the Trojans still appeared in 47.4 percent of AP polls. Texas fell off in the 1990s but appeared in 47.3 percent of the polls, and Notre Dame's low point, the 2000s, still featured appearances in more than 45 percent of polls.

Contrast that with Nebraska, which appeared in only 5.17 percent of polls in the 1950, or Alabama, which appeared in less than 19 percent of polls in the 1950s.

4. Oklahoma lives at the top

Although No. 2 Oklahoma trails No. 1 Ohio State by a significant margin in overall poll appearances (852-784), the Sooners have been the nation's most consistently elite program in the past 65 years. Oklahoma ranks in the top five in percentage of poll appearances in five of the past six decades (1950s, 1970s, 1980s, 2000s, 2010s).

The Sooners won national titles in four of those decades and recorded 27 top-five finishes, including top-five streaks during 1952 to 1958 and 1971 to 1976. Oklahoma has 393 total top-five appearances, more than any other program.

5. UCLA the rankings king without a crown

The top 16 teams in the AP's all-time rankings all can claim at least one national title. Georgia, No. 15 overall, is the only squad in the group without multiple championships.

UCLA has the distinction of being the highest-ranked team (17) without a national title. The Bruins have made 521 appearances in the rankings and surged during the 1980s, appearing in 72.7 percent of polls. They occupied the top spot seven times.

The Bruins have nine top-five AP finishes, including a No. 2 in 1954. But they never reached the summit.

6. Other top-40 surprises

If you asked 100 college football fans of various ages to identify the top 40 programs in terms of historical ranking, how many would name Missouri, Purdue or Minnesota?

The Tigers, Boilermakers and Gophers occupy the 35th, 36th and 37th spots, respectively, on the AP's all-time list. Missouri can point to four top-10 AP finishes in the 1960s, as well as two top-five appearances in the past decade. Purdue has been down for about a decade but boasts strong poll runs from 1958 to 1969 (seven top-20 finishes) and from 1997 to 2003 (five top-25 finishes).

Minnesota was the original poll king -- claiming the No. 1 spot in the first AP poll in 1936. The Gophers finished No. 1 that season and followed with No. 1 finishes in 1940 and 1941. Minnesota added another national title in 1960 but has finished in the AP rankings only twice since 1962.

7. Colorado's glory days recalled

Colorado didn't make the all-time top 25, finishing just outside at No. 27 (316 points). But it's still somewhat impressive the Buffaloes rank so high given their recent struggles. They have endured 10 consecutive losing seasons and haven't finished a season ranked since 2002 (No. 20).

The reason Colorado ranks so high overall is its impressive run between 1989 and 1996, when it finished in the top 20 each season, posting four top-five finishes in that span, including a national title in 1990.

8. The Saban effect

The AP credits Alabama with 10 national titles during the poll era, the most of any program. Alabama has held the No. 1 ranking 74 times, fifth most among FBS teams. But more than half of those No. 1 rankings -- 43, to be exact -- have come during Nick Saban's nine seasons as Tide coach.

According to the AP, Alabama held the No. 1 ranking only once between Nov. 3, 1980 and Oct. 26, 2008. The one time? When the Tide won the national title after the 1992 season.

9. The long road to the top

The AP's all-time rankings give programs like No. 18 Texas A&M, No. 20 Washington and No. 23 Pittsburgh feelings of both pride and disappointment. While it's a testament to each program's place in college football history, it also provides a reminder of how long it has been since each program reached elite status.

Texas A&M has been the closest in recent seasons, recording a No. 5 finish in the final poll in 2012. But the Aggies haven't been No. 1 since November 1957, and last were No. 2 on Dec. 1, 1975.

Pittsburgh had a remarkable run from 1976 to 1981, winning the 1976 national title and recording five finishes in the AP top eight. But the Panthers haven't reached the top five during the regular season since 1982.

Washington shared the 1991 national title (the AP awarded its title to Miami, and Washington topped the final coaches' poll). The Huskies had 12 AP top-20 finishes between 1977 and 1997, and six top-10 finishes during 1977 to 1991. But Washington has had one or zero poll appearances in 11 of the past 12 seasons.

10. One-time rankings regulars

The AP's all-time rankings illustrate how much college football has changed during the past 80 years. While new-age powers like Oregon (No. 28, 293 poll appearances) and Boise State (No. 61, 127 appearances) are represented, so are bygones like Santa Clara (No. 77, 43 appearances), Holy Cross (No. 85, 39 appearances), Duquesne (No. 97, 20 appearances) and, everyone's favorite, Iowa Pre-Flight (No. 98, 18 appearances).