FARGO — North Dakota State ranks among the top 10 college football programs in the country over the past 150 years, according to rankings compiled by ESPN's Stats and Information Group.
The Bison were ranked No. 10 on the top 50 list with a 63.6 rating for a program that has won 15 national championships. Alabama, with a 74.9 rating, was ranked first on the list that was published Thursday, Aug. 15. Alabama has won 15 national championships.
"To be considered in the top 10 is pretty rare air and something that we are humbled by," NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said. "It's an honor for us to be included with those programs."
Notre Dame (72.9), Ohio State (69.6), Oklahoma (68.5) and Southern California (67.25) rounded out the top 5 behind Alabama. Michigan, Nebraska and Texas were other heavyweight programs ranked ahead of NDSU.
"The dominance that North Dakota State has exerted over the FCS (née I-AA) in the past decade is rivaled only by the program's dominance over Division II for a quarter of a century beginning in 1965," the ESPN article states.
The Bison won a 15th national championship last January, defeating Eastern Washington 38-24 in Frisco, Texas. That championship set an NCAA Division I FCS record with seven titles, breaking Georgia Southern's record of six. Georgia Southern is ranked No. 48 on the list with a 51.4 rating.
NDSU has won seven FCS national championships in the past eight seasons.
"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and remind yourself how hard it is to win a national championship," Larsen said. "There are so many programs in this country that invest and work just as hard and fall short of a national championship."
The Bison have a 112-8 record during that eight-season span. NDSU opens this season Aug. 31 against Butler at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The Bison are the second-highest ranked non-Power Five conference program on the list. Yale is ranked No. 7 with a 66.7 rating and 18 national titles. The Bulldogs are a member of the Ivy League, which competes in the FCS.
St. John's (Minn.) is ranked No. 18 on the list with a 58.3 rating. A Division III program, the Johnnies have four national titles and play in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, along with Concordia in Moorhead.
The Minnesota Gophers, from the Big Ten Conference, are ranked No. 29 on the list with a 54.9 ranking and six national titles.
"To be rated this high when it has been 52 years since you shared a Big Ten title, let alone a national championship, tells you how good the Golden Gophers once were," the ESPN article states. "In the 1920s, Minnesota unleashed an in-state freak of nature named Bronko Nagurski on an unsuspecting sport."
ESPN Stats and Information Group used a formula that included factors like dominance (number of national titles), peak performance (winning percentage for best 50 seasons in program history) and winning percentages, which were weighted differently, from three separate 50-season eras.
"I think it speaks to the history and the tradition. The ability of the football program to do it over such a long period of time," Larsen said. "To be able to have that sustained level of success ... is incredibly impressive. I am happy for all the people that came before. We haven't had too many lulls."