Nick Saban's success at beating No. 1-ranked teams unmatched

Three times Nick Saban's teams have knocked off No. 1 to win the national title.Christopher Walsh/Bama Central

Christopher Walsh

Nick Saban's 7-2 record against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll is remarkable for numerous reasons, including that he's won five straight.

Nick Saban teams vs. No. 1

Season, Matchup, Outcome

1996 Michigan State at (1) Nebraska, L 55-14

1998 Michigan State at (1) Ohio State, W 28-14

2009 (2) Alabama vs. (1) Florida, SEC Championship Game, W 32-13

2011 (1) LSU at (2) Alabama, L 9-6 OT

2011 (2) Alabama vs. (1) LSU, BCS Championship Game, W 21-0

2012 (2) Alabama vs. (1) Notre Dame, BCS Championship Game, W 42-14

2014 (1) Mississippi State at (4) Alabama, W 25-20

2015 (2) Alabama vs. (1) Clemson, CFP Championship Game, W 45-40

2017 (4) Alabama vs. (1) Clemson, CFP Semifinal: Sugar Bowl, W 24-6

Not only are the seven wins the most in college football history, are are almost twice as many as anyone else.

Most wins against No. 1 teams

Nick Saban 7

Joe Paterno 4

Lou Holtz 4

Jimmy Johnson 4

Jack Mollenkopf 4

Paul W. Bear Bryant 3

Dennis Erickson 3

Urban Meyer 3

Bo Schembechler 3

Barry Switzer 3

Jack Mollenkopf was at Purdue from 1956-69, and went 84-39-9. All but two of his teams were ranked at some point of the season, with the 1968 Boilermakers No. 1 in the preseason poll. However, his best finish was No. 7 in 1966, when Purdue went 8-2 and defeated Southern California in the Rose Bowl.

Of those coaches with three-plus wins, only one has a better record than Saban against top-ranked opponents:

Jimmy Johnson 4-1 80.0 percentage

Nick Saban 7-2 77.8

Lou Holtz 4-2 66.7

Jack Mollenkopf 4-2 66.7

Urban Meyer 3-2, 60.0

Barry Switzer 3-2-2 57.1

Paul W. Bear Bryant 3-3 50.0

Dennis Erickson 3-3 50.0

Bo Schembechler 3-5-1 38.9

Joe Paterno 4-8 33.3

Of note: Bud Wilkinson is one of the few with a winning record against No. 1 teams, at 2-1, but his Sooners were 5-9 against opponents ranked in the top five. Meanwhile, USCs John Robinson was 2-0 against No. 1 teams. Some others of note include , Gus Malzahn 2-2, Woody Hayes 2-3, John McKay 2-3, Bob Stoops 2-3, Mack Brown 2-4, Steve Spurrier 2-4, Ara Parseghian 2-5, Frank Broyles 2-6, Bobby Bowden 1-5, Tom Osborne 1-5, Les Miles 1-5, Frank Beamer 0-6, Jim Tressel 1-1 and Frank Leahy 0-1-1. Pete Carroll never faced a No. 1 team.

Granted, you cant face the team atop the poll when its your team, but on the flip side Alabamas record when ranked No. 1 (BCS standings, otherwise Associated Press) under Saban is 55-7 (88.7 winning percentage) through 2017. He's won more games coaching as the No. 1 team at one school than any other coach in college football history as Bowden and Hayes are tied for second with 40.

As for the programs with the most wins against top-ranked foes, Alabama moved into sole possession of first place with its win against Clemson in 2017.

Most Times Defeating No. 1, by school

No. Team

9 Alabama

8 Notre Dame

7 Miami (FL)

7 Oklahoma

7 Purdue

7 Southern California

5 Auburn

5 Ohio St.

5 Texas

4 Arkansas

4 Michigan St.

4 Penn St.

4 Wisconsin

3 Florida

3 Illinois

2 Georgia Tech

2 LSU

2 Maryland

2 Oregon St.

2 Stanford

2 Tennessee

2 Texas A&M

THANKS FOR READING BAMA CENTRAL
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