Selecting who are the best teams in FCS college football history is subjective, but those with the most wins in a season is a definitive way to build a case.

The unbeaten teams of 1996 Marshall, 2013 and ’18 North Dakota State, and 2023 South Dakota State are regarded among the best – all 15-0 and dominant.

But those teams didn’t have the most wins in an FCS season – that distinction belongs to the 2019 NDSU squad which went 16-0 behind freshman quarterback Trey Lance.

We look back to the NCAA Division I split in 1978 and to the teams that since then have the most wins in a single season. In fact, over 50 teams have 13 or more victories.

Teams that captured the FCS national championship are each designated by an asterisk.

16 Wins

Conversely to the FCS national champion with the most wins are the two winners with the fewest victories. (NCAA Photos)

15 Wins

*2023 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (15-0)

The NCAA started a Most Outstanding Player award with the 2009 national championship game, and North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, then South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski added that to their seasonal resumes. (Stats Perform Photo)

*2018 North Dakota State Bison (15-0) – The most wins by an FCS program in back-to-back seasons? It’s 31, starting here for the Missouri Valley Football Conference power and combining with its unbeaten 2019 squad. The Bison went on to post an FCS-record 39-game winning streak before losing a game.

*2014 North Dakota State Bison (15-1)

*2013 North Dakota State Bison (15-0)

2003 Colgate Raiders (15-1) – The Patriot League champions posted the most wins for an FCS team that did not capture the national title. The perfect season ended with a 40-0 loss to Delaware, marking the largest margin and only shutout in the national championship game.

*2003 Delaware Blue Hens (15-1)

*2001 Montana Grizzlies (15-1) – The Grizzlies have the most wins in FCS history, and this team set the program record under coach Joe Glenn by defeating Furman in the title game.

*1996 Marshall Thundering Herd (15-0)

*1989 Georgia Southern (15-0)

14 Wins

*2022 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (14-1)

*2021 North Dakota State Bison (14-1)           

2019 James Madison Dukes (14-2)

2017 James Madison Dukes (14-1)

*2017 North Dakota State Bison (14-1)

*2016 James Madison Dukes (14-1) – The former CAA Football power is the only program to interrupt North Dakota State’s eight FCS national titles across the 2011-19 seasons. The Dukes, under coach Mike Houston, did so the hard way by beating the Bison inside the Fargodome in the semifinals, then topped Youngstown State in the championship game.

James Madison running back Khalid Abdullah (32) carries the ball as offensive lineman Kyle Rigney (62) provides protection during the Dukes’ 28-14 win over Youngstown State in the 2016 FCS national championship game. (AP Photo)

*2012 North Dakota State Bison (14-1)

*2011 North Dakota State Bison (14-1)

2011 Sam Houston State Bearkats (14-1)       

2009 Montana Grizzlies (14-1)

*2009 Villanova Wildcats (14-1)

2008 Montana Grizzlies (14-2)

*2006 Appalachian State Mountaineers (14-1)           

1998 Georgia Southern Eagles (14-1)

1996 Montana Grizzlies (14-1)

1994 Youngstown State (14-0-1) – The Penguins won four FCS national championships under coach Jim Tressel, and this was his only unbeaten team, with the tie occurring against Stephen F. Austin in the season opener.

While earning 135 wins at Youngstown State, Jim Tressel became the first coach to claim four FCS national championships. That feat was later matched by North Dakota State’s Chris Klieman. (YSU Athletics Photo)

13 Wins

2023 Montana Grizzlies (13-2)

2015 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (13-2)

*2015 North Dakota State Bison (13-2)

2014 Illinois State Redbirds (13-2)      

2013 Towson Tigers (13-3)      

*2010 Eastern Washington Eagles (13-2)

*2008 Richmond Spiders (13-3)

*2007 Appalachian State Mountaineers (13-2) – Under coach Jerry Moore, the Mountaineers became the first program to win three straight FCS national championships, but the season began more famously with a 32-31 win at No. 5 Michigan for what’s regarded as the greatest FCS-over-FBS upset. App State moved up to Division I FBS in 2014.

2006 Massachusetts Minutemen (13-2)         

*2004 James Madison Dukes (13-2)  

2002 McNeese State Cowboys (13-2)

*2000 Georgia Southern Eagles (13-2)

2000 Montana Grizzlies (13-2)

*1999 Georgia Southern Eagles (13-2)

1997 McNeese State Cowboys (13-2)

*1997 Youngstown State Penguins (13-2)

*1995 Montana Grizzlies (13-2)

1995 McNeese State Cowboys (13-1)

1994 Boise State Broncos (13-2)

*1993 Youngstown State (13-2)

1990 Nevada Wolf Pack (13-2)             

*1988 Furman Paladins (13-2)

*1987 Northeast Louisiana (13-2)      

1986 Nevada Wolf Pack (13-1)             

*1986 Georgia Southern Eagles (13-2)            

*1985 Georgia Southern Eagles (13-2) – The Eagles have captured the second-most FCS national championships to North Dakota State with six, and they came in the form of three different back-to-back title seasons, starting here under coach Erk Russell. The program moved up to Division I FBS in 2014.

*1983 Southern Illinois Salukis (13-1)

*1982 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (13-0)

Jake Coyne of Stats Perform contributed research to this story.

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