Michigan holds on to the title of “winningest program in college football history.”

That’s the argument used by many Wolverine fans who claim that Michigan is the best program in the history of college football.

They won’t, however, like what the Associated Press thought about that. The publication ranked the top 100 programs in the history of college football (dating to the introduction of the AP poll in 1936), and at the top of that list was a B1G team.

But it wasn’t Michigan. It was Ohio State.

The Buckeyes earned the top spot above the likes of Michigan, Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas and others, none of whom were deemed worthy of No. 1.

The AP gave the Buckeyes that spot because of their time spent at No. 1 in the weekly rankings, which was greater than any team in the country. Ohio State has also been unranked for an entire season three times in the 80-year history of the AP poll, which was  the fewest of any team in the country.

Here was the exact explanation for the AP’s ranking system:

The AP formula counted poll appearances (one point) to mark consistency, No. 1 rankings (one point) to acknowledge elite programs and gave a bonus for AP championships (10 points).

Ohio State had plenty of B1G company in the top 20. Nebraska (even though that was because of Big 8/Big 12 success), Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa all earned spots in the top 25.

Here was the AP’s 1-25 rankings:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Alabama
  5. USC
  6. Nebraska
  7. Michigan
  8. Texas
  9. Florida
  10. Florida State
  11. LSU
  12. Penn State
  13. Miami (FL)
  14. Tennessee
  15. Georgia
  16. Auburn
  17. UCLA
  18. Texas A&M
  19. Michigan State
  20. Washington
  21. Arkansas
  22. Clemson
  23. Pitt
  24. Wisconsin
  25. Iowa

Here’s where the rest of the B1G teams ranked:

  • 36. Purdue
  • 37. Minnesota
  • 40. Maryland
  • 50. Northwestern
  • 51. Illinois
  • 72. Indiana
  • 86. Rutgers

Will this settle the never-ending debate of which program is best? Probably not. But it’s at least a reference point.