Michigan football celebrates the national title by holding up the trophy.
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Where Michigan Ranks Among the 10 Best College Football Playoff Champions

The four-team College Football Playoff era is coming to a close, which leaves us no option but to rank every CFP champion.

With the Michigan Wolverines' 34-13 win over the Washington Huskies on Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship, it marks the end of an era. Ten years ago we saw the introduction of the CFP, consisting of four teams vying for a national title, and starting next season we will see that number jump to 12.

In these last 10 years, we have seen blowouts in both the semifinal matchups and the national title games but also some instant classics, including the overtime national championship game between Alabama and Georgia in 2018. Most importantly, we have seen 10 champions hold up the gold national championship trophy. Ten champions who had their own special path to reaching college football immortal glory, but which of the 10 champions is the best?

Based off their overall season performance, how they performed in the College Football Playoff, and simply off the eye test, where do the champions of the four-team playoff rank amongst one another?

10. 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1)

Jalen Hurts celebrates winning the national title at Alabama.

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Of all the national champions of the last 10 years, the 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide is the only team to not qualify for their conference championship's title game. After going unblemished in their first 11 games, Alabama lost their regular season finale to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide missed out on playing for an SEC title but still managed to grab the fourth seed in the playoff. After beating the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals, the Tide took on the Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game. After a slow start in the first half, Alabama turned to back quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and won the only title game to go into overtime in the playoff era.

9. 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide (14-1)

Jake Coker celebrates winning the national title at Alabama.

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When you look at who they beat on paper, the 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide had an impressive resume beating teams ranked first, second, and third throughout the course of the season. However, their early season loss to Ole Miss wasn't pretty, and Alabama put one of their worst offenses in the Nick Saban era out on the field. Luckily, the Crimson Tide's defense was the leading catalyst throughout the regular season and was on full display in their semifinal game against Michigan State, shutting out the Spartans 38-0. Their national title matchup against the Clemson Tigers was the first of what would be three national title games between the two schools, and it was the highest-scoring national title game in the playoff era, seeing Alabama win 45-40.

8. 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes (14-1)

Ohio State celebrates their national title in 2015.

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The first national champion of the College Football Playoff era was the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes dropped an early season non-conference game to Virginia Tech at home but went on a run to win the Big Ten Conference and grabbing the fourth and final seed in the playoff.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding them getting in but after a 59-0 beatdown of the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten title game, there was no question about who should be in their spot. Their run was not only filled with controversy but was carried at the end by third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Ohio State lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller just weeks before the season and lost second-string quarterback J.T. Barrett in their game against Michigan. Jones would win three straight games on the biggest stages, propelling the Buckeyes to their first national title since the 2002-03 season.

7. 2016 Clemson Tigers (14-1)

Deshaun Watson kisses the national title trophy.

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The 2016 Clemson Tigers played their national championship season pretty close to the vest. The Tigers played some good teams throughout the season but found themselves playing in some pretty close games. Six of Clemson's wins, including their ACC title win over the Virginia Tech Hokies, were one-possession games. Tigers suffered a mid-season one-point loss to the Pitt Panthers. However, the College Football Playoff was wide open this season as Clemson still managed to grab the second seed. After shutting out the Ohio State Buckeyes in the semifinals, the Tigers took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in a rematch of the previous season's national title game. And in what could arguably be the best title game in the playoff era, Clemson won in the final seconds when Deshaun Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow, securing the Tigers' first national title since 1981.

6. 2023 Michigan Wolverines (15-0)

Jim Harbaugh celebrates winning the national title.

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While it's still fresh and there may need to be some reevaluation on these teams later down the road, the 2023 Michigan Wolverines just miss out on cracking the top five of this list. The Wolverines' defense was stifling, beating Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, Alabama, and Washington on their way to their first outright title since the 1990s.

The Wolverines' run game and ability to control the time of possession was an unstoppable force as even if you could stop it early, they would eventually wear you down and break a big run late in a game. However, it would have been nice to see this team tested earlier in the season with a better non-conference schedule. Their pass-blocking was their weak link during their title run. Yes, they won the national title and deserve all of their flowers, but their overall run does not match up with the rest of the teams ahead of them.

5. 2018 Clemson Tigers (15-0)

Trevor Lawrence smiles after winning the national title.

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After losing in the College Football Playoff semifinal the season prior, the 2018 Clemson Tigers won their second national championship in three years with the greatest team that the Tigers have put on the field. The Tigers had two close games all season, determined by two points and four points, while the rest of their games were won by an average point differential of 34 points.

Clemson's offense, led by Trevor Lawrence, scored 42 or more points in nine of their 15 games, and the Tigers' defense held their opponents to seven points or less seven times. In the College Football Playoff, the Tigers beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 30-3 and handled the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship game, winning 44-16.

4. 2021 Georgia Bulldogs (14-1)

Stetson Bennett smokes a cigar.

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The 2021 Georgia Bulldogs were a team that was on a mission. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs had been building up expectations of winning a national championship ever since he took over as the head coach in Athens. The Bulldogs were hungry for a national title and in 2021, they finally delivered. In the regular season, there was never a time that you thought the Bulldogs were going to lose, pitching three shutouts along the way and scoring 45 points or more in four games.

However, a loss in the SEC title game to the Alabama Crimson Tide had Bulldog Nation in shambles, wondering if they were in for another disappointing end of their season. The Bulldogs came out strong in the playoff with something to prove, beating the Michigan Wolverines 34-11 in the semifinals and then exacting revenge on Alabama in the national championship, winning 33-18.

3. 2022 Georgia Bulldogs (15-0)

Head Coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates with the National Championship trophy after the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide

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It is only fitting that these two teams go back to back and in the order in which they did it in. The 2022 Georgia Bulldogs gave their program the bragging rights of being the only school to win back-to-back titles in the College Football Playoff Era and the first team to do it since Alabama did so in 2010 and 2011.

Entering the season, questions were raised whether the Bulldogs could replace a handful of impactful players on the defensive side of the ball. The answer to those questions was a resounding yes, and the 2022 defense was arguably better than the previous year's defense.

The Bulldogs' regular season consisted of zero one-possession games, and after a 20-point win in the SEC title game, Georgia was ready to defend its title. As the clock struck midnight into the new year, the Bulldogs narrowly escaped the Ohio State Buckeyes in their semifinal game and then destroyed the TCU Horned Frogs 63-7 to claim their second straight title. Winning the national title by more than 50 points makes Georgia more than deserving of this spot.

2. 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide (15-0)

Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks

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Led by Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith, the first wide receiver to win the award since 1991, the 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide was a team loaded with talent. Saying they dominated would be an understatement. In 2020, the Crimson Tide scored 60 or more points twice and didn't score less than 31 points all season.

This was one of those seasons where every single time Alabama took the field you were more and more sure that there was not going to be a single team that could stop them from winning it all. What made this team that much more impressive was that its entire regular season consisted of SEC teams because of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only is this one of the greatest champions of the College Football Playoff era but one of the greatest champions in the history of college football.

1. 2019 LSU Tigers (15-0)

Joe Burrow holds up the national title trophy.

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I will listen to an argument of the top two teams being swapped, but the 2019 LSU Tigers are the best team to win a championship in the 10 years of the College Football Playoff and undoubtedly a top-five team to ever play in college football.

The 2018 team built up some momentum and the Tigers rolled into 2019 with one goal in mind: a national title. The Tigers' defense had its issues from time to time, but the LSU offense is one of the best to ever step on a football field. With wide receivers like Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, plus running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, defenses had no answer to defend two 1,500-yard receivers and a 1,400-yard running back. But the biggest X-factor on this team and on this list is quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow, who won the Heisman that season, set the NCAA FBS records for most touchdown passes (60), and highest passer rating (202.0). He could step on any field in any environment and perform at the highest level needed to not only win the game but win it convincingly. The debate may rage on about the top two teams on this list, but LSU takes the cake here.

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