College football is a beloved American pastime, with millions of fans tuning in to watch their favorite teams every fall.

If you’re wondering how many D1 football teams there are, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There are currently 130 D1 football teams in the NCAA.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history of D1 football, how teams are classified, and the current landscape of D1 football.

We’ll also look at some of the top teams in the country and what makes them successful.

The History of D1 Football

College football has a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s. The first college football game was played on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. The game was a far cry from the sport we know today, with 25 players on each team and no set field dimensions.

Over the next few decades, college football grew in popularity, with more and more universities forming teams and competing against one another. However, the sport was largely unregulated, and concerns grew over player safety and the lack of standardized rules.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt called a meeting of college football coaches and representatives to address these concerns. The result was the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which would oversee all college sports, including football.

At the time, there were only two divisions of college football: the University Division (later renamed Division I) and the College Division (later renamed Divisions II and III). Over time, Division I football evolved to become the highest level of college football, featuring the most talented and competitive teams in the country.

Today, there are 130 teams that compete at the Division I level, with schools ranging from large state universities to small private colleges. These teams are split into 10 conferences, each with their own set of rules and regulations.

Since the formation of the NCAA, college football has undergone significant changes in terms of rules, player safety, and overall structure. Division I football has seen its fair share of these changes as well.

One of the biggest changes to Division I football came in the early 1970s, when the NCAA introduced a series of reforms aimed at improving player safety and reducing the number of injuries. These reforms included the introduction of the two-point conversion, the elimination of the “spearing” penalty, and the requirement that all players wear helmets with chin straps.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Division I football continued to evolve, with the introduction of bowl games and the creation of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS was designed to match up the two top-ranked teams in the country in a national championship game, but it faced criticism for its opaque selection process and perceived bias towards certain conferences.

In 2014, the NCAA introduced the College Football Playoff (CFP) to replace the BCS. The CFP features a four-team playoff to determine the national champion, with the teams selected based on a combination of polls and computer rankings.

The history of college football is a long and storied one, with Division I football playing a significant role in its evolution. From its early days as an unregulated sport to the formation of the NCAA and the introduction of the CFP, Division I football has seen its fair share of changes over the years. Today, it remains one of the most popular and competitive levels of college sports, with millions of fans tuning in each week to watch their favorite teams compete.

Classifying D1 Football Teams

If you are a passionate football fan, you might be wondering how many D1 football teams are there in the United States. The answer is not so simple, as college football teams are classified according to different criteria. In this comprehensive guide, we will classify D1 football teams based on their conference affiliation and independence status.

What Makes a D1 Football Team?

D1 football teams are the highest level of collegiate football in the United States. To be classified as a D1 football team, a school must meet specific criteria set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). These criteria include the number of sports offered, the number of scholarships awarded, and the size of the school’s athletic department budget.

The Power Five Conferences

The Power Five conferences are the five largest and most prestigious athletic conferences in the country. These conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big Ten Conference (B1G), the Big 12 Conference, the Pac-12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Each conference is made up of several D1 football teams that compete against each other in a round-robin format, with the winner of each conference championship game advancing to the College Football Playoff.

The Power Five conferences generate the most revenue and have the most significant media exposure, attracting the best players and coaches in the country. The competition is fierce, and the games are often televised nationally, making them some of the most-watched sporting events in the United States.

The Group of Five Conferences

The Group of Five conferences are the five athletic conferences that are not part of the Power Five. These conferences are the American Athletic Conference (AAC), the Conference USA (C-USA), the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Mountain West Conference (MWC), and the Sun Belt Conference. D1 football teams in these conferences also compete in a round-robin format, with the winner of each conference championship game earning a spot in one of the prestigious bowl games.

While Group of Five conferences do not generate as much revenue as the Power Five conferences, they still have a strong following and produce many successful football programs. Some notable examples include the University of Central Florida and Boise State University, both of which have had undefeated seasons and been ranked in the top ten nationally.


Finally, there are several D1 football teams that are not affiliated with any conference. These independent teams include the United States Military Academy (Army), the United States Naval Academy (Navy), and the University of Notre Dame. Independent teams have to schedule their games independently and do not have a conference championship game to play in. However, they still have a chance to earn a spot in one of the prestigious bowl games if they have a successful season.

Independents also have a unique place in college football history, with Notre Dame having won 11 national championships and Army and Navy having played in one of the most celebrated rivalries in all of sports.

Conference Number of D1 Football Teams
ACC 14
B1G 14
Big 12 10
Pac-12 12
SEC 14
AAC 11
C-USA 14
MAC 12
MWC 12
Sun Belt 10
Independents 3

The Current Landscape of D1 Football

D1 football, or Division 1 football, is the highest level of intercollegiate football in the United States. There are currently 130 D1 football teams that compete in various conferences across the country. These teams are made up of both public and private universities, and they all compete for a chance to play in the College Football Playoff.

The College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff is a postseason tournament that determines the national champion of D1 football. It consists of four teams that are selected by a committee based on their performance throughout the regular season. The playoff system was introduced in 2014, and it has since become a major event in the world of college football.

Each year, the four teams that make it to the playoff compete in two semifinal games, which are held at different bowl game locations. The winners of these games then face off in the national championship game, which is typically held in early January.

The Top Teams in the Country

There are a handful of teams that consistently rank among the top in the country. These teams have a history of success and are always in contention for the national championship. Some of the top teams in recent years include:

  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Clemson Tigers
  • Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Oklahoma Sooners
  • LSU Tigers

These teams have all won national championships in the past decade and are expected to continue to be contenders in the future.

The Future of D1 Football

The landscape of D1 football is constantly evolving. In recent years, there has been a push for more player compensation and better working conditions. Additionally, there has been talk of expanding the College Football Playoff to include more teams.

Despite these changes, one thing is for sure: D1 football will continue to be a major part of the American sports landscape. With passionate fans, talented players, and intense rivalries, D1 football is one of the most exciting sports to watch and follow.

Year Number of Teams
2010 120
2015 128
2020 130

Sources: NCAA, College Football Playoff


College football is a game that brings people together and creates a sense of community.

With 130 D1 football teams in the NCAA, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and support your favorite team.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just getting into the game, we hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the world of D1 football.

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