1908 college football season

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The 1908 college football season ran from Saturday, September 19, to November 28. [1] The Penn Quakers and the Harvard Crimson both finished the season unbeaten, though each had been tied once during the season. The LSU Tigers went unbeaten and untied against a weaker opposition. All three teams were named national champions retroactively by various organizations. Only Pennsylvania officially claims a national championship for the 1908 season.


Although there was no provision for a national championship, major teams played their regular schedules before facing their most difficult matches late in the season. "The real championship contests are ushered in with the month of November," The New York Times reported on September 6, "and on the seventh day of that month the final try-outs will be witnessed." The most eagerly anticipated games were Yale at Princeton (November 14) and Harvard at Yale (November 21). In addition, "intersectional games" were of special interest, with Cornell at Chicago, and Penn at Michigan.


"With the modernized plays that are being brought into the game," noted one writer, "football is, in its present state, the national game in the fall the same as baseball in the summer.". [2] Rules for the forward pass, which had been legalized only two years earlier, were modified, and passing was still a risky play. "If the ball on the forward pass is touched and then freed, and is touched by another player on the passer's side, it will be given to the opponents at the point where the ball was illegally touched," and it was noted that the rule change was to stop the practice of a passer throwing the ball high "with the hopes that some one of his teammates would get the ball in the general scramble that followed,". [3] In addition, halftime was extended from ten minutes to fifteen [3]

The rules for American football in 1908 were significantly different from whose of a century later, as many of the present rules (100 yard field, four downs to gain ten yards, 6-point touchdown and the 3-point field goal) were not adopted until 1912. [4] The rules in 1908 were:

Conference and program changes

School1907 Conference1908 Conference
Drake Bulldogs Independent MVIAA
Indiana State Sycamores Independentfootball banned by faculty
Iowa State Cyclones Independent MVIAA


On September 19, Brown defeated New Hampshire 34-0, and Carlisle had a practice game against its prep school program, Conway Hall. Carlisle played its first college opponent on September 23, with a 39-0 win over Lebanon Valley on Wednesday afternoon. On September 26, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania defeated West Virginia 6-0 by completing two forward passes to score a touchdown with five minutes left in "oppressively warm" weather in Philadelphia. [5] Carlisle beat Villanova 10-0, and Vanderbilt beat Southwestern Presbyterian 11-5.

September 30 In Wednesday afternoon games, Harvard struggled as it opened the season with a 5-0 win over Bowdoin, scoring on a touchdown in the second half. "Harvard tried the forward pass, line plunges and end runs, but showed poor team work," a dispatch from Cambridge noted. Dartmouth defeated Vermont, 11-0, Yale defeated Wesleyan 16-0, Brown beat Bates, 35-4, and Penn defeated Ursinus, 30-0. [6]


October 3, Harvard beat Maine 16-0 and Penn defeated Bucknell by the same score. Yale was held to a touchdown by Syracuse, 6-0. Annapolis defeated Rutgers 18-0, and beat St. John's 22-0 the following day, while West Point beat Tufts 5-0. Cornell beat Hamilton College, 11-0. Princeton beat the Springfield Training School, 18-0, to raise its record to 2-0-1. Dartmouth defeated Massachusetts Agricultural, 28-0.

Further west, Carlisle and State University (later referred to as Penn State) met at Wilkes-Barre, PA, with Carlisle winning 12-5. Pittsburgh defeating little Mount Union College (now a Division III school, from Athens, Ohio), 34-4. Michigan beat Case, 16-6. Chicago beat Purdue, 39-0. Wooster College defeated Ohio State 8-0. In the South, Tennessee beat North Carolina, 12-0 and Auburn beat Howard College (not to be confused with Howard University), 18-0. Georgia Tech defeated Gordon College, 32-0. [7]

At the end of the first Saturday in October, seven schools remained unbeaten, untied and unscored upon against college opponents: Harvard and Penn, both at 3-0-0; Yale, Annapolis (Navy) and Cornell, at 2-0-0; the University of Chicago, Auburn, and Tennessee.

October 10 Following a Wednesday (Oct. 7) afternoon win over Villanova (11-0), Penn beat State College (Penn State) 6-0. Harvard defeated Williams, 10-0. Annapolis won 22-0 over Dickinson, and West Point beat Tufts, 33-0. Cornell dropped from the ranks of the unscored upon, but defeated Oberlin, 23-10. Yale beat Holy Cross, 18-0.

Further west, Chicago was scored on in its 29-6 win over Indiana. In Buffalo, Carlisle defeated Syracuse, 12-0. Pittsburgh beat Marietta College 7-0. At East Lansing, Michigan and Michigan State played to a 0-0 tie, and Princeton and Lafayette played a scoreless draw as well. Wisconsin opened its season with a 35-0 win over Lawrence College., In the south, Auburn shut out Georgia's Gordon College 42-0. Tennessee beat Maryville College, 39-5. Vanderbilt defeated visiting Rose Polytechnic (later Rose-Hulman), 32-0. Unbeaten, untied and unscored upon were Harvard, Penn, Yale, Navy, Auburn, and Wisconsin.

In Wednesday afternoon games (October 14), Annapolis won at Maryland, 57-0. Penn stayed unbeaten, but was scored upon for the first time, when Gettysburg College managed a field goal; the final score was 23-4.

October 17 In New Haven, Yale faced West Point in a meeting of unbeatens, and won 6-0. In Philadelphia, Penn (6-0-0) faced Brown (4-0) and won, 12-0. Annapolis beat Lehigh, 16-0, and Harvard beat Springfield Teachers College, 44-0. Pitt defeated cross-town rival Carnegie Tech, 22-0, and Princeton beat Virginia Tech, 10-4. Cornell beat Colgate, 9-0. Carlisle was idle.

Further west, Michigan beat Notre Dame 12-6, and Chicago beat visiting Illinois, 11-6. St. Louis University advanced its record to 4-0-0 with a 24-0 win over visiting Arkansas. In the South, Tennessee defeated Kentucky, 7-0; Auburn won at Mercer, 23-0; Vanderbilt beat Clemson 41-0. Georgia Tech beat Mississippi State, 23-0, and LSU beat Texas A&M, 26-0.

On Wednesday afternoon, October 21, Princeton defeated Fordham, 17-0, to extend its record to 4-0-1.

October 24 saw several big matchups between college football's unbeaten teams. In Philadelphia, Penn (7-0-0) hosted Carlisle (5-0-0), while Harvard and Navy, both unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in five games, met at Annapolis. A crowd of 20,000 turned packed Franklin Field to watch the Penn game, with the Quakers taking an early 6-0 lead. The Indians tied the game in the second half on a touchdown and extra point by Jim Thorpe. Thorpe missed on three field goal tries, and the game ended in a 6-6 tie. [8] In Annapolis, Navy scored a touchdown five minutes into the game, but in the second half, Richardson fumbled and Nourse ran the ball back for a score, and the game ended as a 6-6 tie. [9]

Yale stayed unbeaten, untied, and unscored on against visiting Washington and Jefferson, taking a 21-0 lead in the first half and winning 38-0. [10] Pitt defeated Bucknell, 22-0 Princeton was tied again, in a 0-0 game against visiting Syracuse. Cornell beat Vermont 9-0.

In the West, Michigan won at Ohio State, 10-6, while Chicago was idle. St. Louis University won at Wabash College on a field goal, 4-0. Down south, Tennessee defeated Georgia 10-0, Georgia School of Technology (Georgia Tech) beat Alabama 11-6, Vanderbilt beat Ole Miss 29-0, and in Birmingham, Auburn beat Sewanee 6-0, and LSU beat Rhodes, 55-0 [11]

In a Wednesday afternoon game on October 28, Navy handed George Washington University its first loss, 17-0.

October 31 saw the first major intersectional games of the season. The Pittsburgh Panthers and the St. Louis Billikens, both unbeaten at 5-0-0, met at St. Louis, with Pitt winning 13-0. Vanderbilt (5-0-0) traveled to Michigan (3-0-1), with the home team winning 24-6.

Unbeaten and once-tied, Carlisle (5-0-1) and Navy (7-0-1) met at Annapolis, with the Indians handing the Midshipmen their first loss, 16-6, as Mike Balenti kicked four field goals, which at that time were worth 4 points apiece [12]

Yale stayed unscored upon, with a 49-0 win over Massachusetts, with Ted Koy scoring four of the Elis' nine touchdowns. Including 4 points after, the score would have been 58-0 under modern rules. [13] Cornell defeated Penn State 10-4. Pennsylvania beat Carnegie Tech 25-10 in Pittsburgh. Harvard defeated Brown 6-2. At West Point, Princeton and Army played to a 0-0 tie in the snow; Princeton drove to within six yards on three occasions, and Army held each time. [14]

Auburn and Louisiana State, both unbeaten at 4-0-0, met at Auburn, Alabama, and LSU won 10-2. It would prove to be Auburn's only loss of 1908, and LSU's biggest win en route to a 10-0-0 finish. Another meeting of unbeatens happened in Atlanta, as Tennessee and Georgia Tech, both 4-0-0, faced off. Both scored touchdowns, but Tennessee's extra point gave it a 6-5 win. The loss would be the first of three for Tech. Chicago beat Minnesota 29-0.


November 7 Yale (6-0-0) hosted a (4-3-0) Brown team and ended up being tied. Brown scored a touchdown early in the game, but missed the point after, and Yale's Ted Koy connected on 30 yard field goal. In the second half, Yale scored a TD and the extra point, to take the lead. Later in the game, Dennie of Brown intercepted Philbin's pass and returned in 40 yards to tie the game, but the point after failed. Under today's rules, Brown would have won 12-10. In 1908, however, a 4-point field goal, and 6 points for a touchdown and conversion, were equal to Brown's two five-point touchdowns. The game ended in a 10-10 tie. [15] Pitt stayed unbeaten with an 11-0 win over visiting West Virginia, and Cornell defeated Amherst, 6-0.

At New York's Polo Grounds, a crowd of 10,000 watched unbeaten Princeton (5-0-3) face Dartmouth (5-0-1). The Princeton Tigers lost in what was considered an upset, 10-6. [16] Harvard and Carlisle, both unbeaten at 6-0-1, met at Cambridge, and the Indians suffered their first loss, 17-0. [17] Penn beat Lafayette, 34-4. Navy beat Villanova 30-6 and Army edged Springfield, 6-5.

In intersectional games, Michigan beat visiting Kentucky, 62-0, while St. Louis hosted Sewanee and the two played to a 6-6 tie. In Indianapolis, Notre Dame defeated Indiana 11-0. In the South, Vanderbilt handed visiting Tennessee its first loss, 16-9. LSU beat visiting Mississippi A&M 50-0, and in Atlanta, Auburn beat Georgia Tech 44-0.

In a game on Wednesday, November 10, LSU defeated Baylor, 89-0 [18]

November 14 In a major intersectional game between two unbeaten and untied teams, Cornell (6-0-0) visited Chicago (4-0-0). Playing in a snowstorm, Cornell took the lead before the Maroons, coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg tied the game with five minutes left on a triple pass play, finishing with a 6-6 store. [19] Pennsylvania (9-0-1) visited Michigan (5-0-1) and won 29-0. Ohio State handed visiting Vanderbilt its second loss, 17-6.

The previously unbeaten and untied (6-0-0) Pitt lost to visiting, 6-1-1 Carlisle, falling 6-0. Navy beat Penn State, 5-0 and Army tied Washington & Jefferson, 6-6. Brown beat Vermont 12-0. At Omaha, St. Louis beat Creighton, 6-0. In the South, Tennessee edged Clemson, 6-5; Sewanee won at Georgia Tech 6-0, and Georgia and Alabama played to a 6-6 tie,

Harvard (7-0-1) hosted Dartmouth (6-0-1) and won, 6-0. Yale (6-0-1) visited 5-1-3 Princeton before a crowd of 30,000 and won 11-6. [20] Both Harvard and Yale stayed unbeaten, a week away from their November 21 meeting in New Haven.

November 21 The biggest game of the season was in New Haven, Connecticut, as Harvard (8-0-1) visited Yale (7-0-1). A crowd of 35,000 turned out to watch the Crimson vs. Blue contest, and The New York Times reported on the front page the next day that the game "would have been seen by 75,000 if the Stadium could hold that many, for that number of applications was received," Harvard won 4-0, with Vic Kennard kicking a 25-yard field goal for the win [21] Pitt beat Gettysburg College 6-0.

In intersectional games, Carlisle lost at Minnesota, 11-6, while Michigan suffered its second straight loss, losing at Syracuse, 28-4. In St. Louis, Vanderbilt defeated Washington University 28-0.

Cornell beat visiting Trinity, 18-6. Navy defeated Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) 15-4. Army beat Villanova 25-0. Unbeaten Chicago faced unbeaten and untied (5-0-0) Wisconsin and won 18-12. St. Louis traveled to Minnesota to face Carleton College and played to a 0-0 tie. Tennessee beat Chattanooga 35-6.

On Thanksgiving Day afternoon (November 28), a crowd of 25,000 turned out in Philadelphia to watch unbeaten Pennsylvania host unbeaten Cornell. Quarterback Albert Miller guided Pennsylvania to a 17-4 win. Though Penn "found the boys from the shores of Lake Cayuga a harder proposition than she looked for", wrote a New York Times reporter, they "closed the season without once drinking from the bitter cup of defeat, and to-night her followers are claiming at least equal rank with Harvard.". [22]

Pitt fell to Penn State, 12-6. Carlisle won at St. Louis, 17-0. Carlisle would play two more games out west, a 37-6 win at Nebraska on December 2, and an 8-4 win at Denver on December 5.

In the South, LSU finished its season unbeaten with a 36-4 win over Arkansas at Little Rock. Vanderbilt and Sewanee played to a 6-6 tie. In Montgomery, Alabama, Auburn beat Georgia, 23-0. Two days later, at their annual game, Army beat Navy, 6-4.

On September 19, 1908, Washington & Jefferson College became the college football first team to wear numbered uniforms. The occasion was a game against Denison University. [23] [24] [n 1]

Conference standings

Major conference standings

1908 Colorado Football Association standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Denver $300  710
Colorado 310  520
Colorado College 210  610
Colorado Agricultural 020  130
Colorado Mines 030  230
  • $ Conference champion
1908 Missouri Valley football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Kansas $400  900
Nebraska 210  721
Iowa State 210  630
Missouri 320  620
Drake 120  520
Washington University 020  441
Iowa 040  250
  • $ Conference champion
1908 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
LSU +200  1000
Auburn +410  610
Vanderbilt 301  721
Tennessee 320  720
Georgia Tech 430  630
Georgia 221  521
Alabama 111  611
Sewanee 111  413
Mississippi A&M 130  340
Ole Miss 020  350
Mercer 030  340
Clemson 040  160
  • + Conference co-champions
1908 Western Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Chicago $500  501
Illinois 410  511
Wisconsin 210  510
Indiana 130  240
Purdue 130  430
Iowa 010  250
Minnesota 020  321
Northwestern 020  220
  • $ Conference champion


1908 Eastern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Penn     1101
Harvard     901
Cornell     711
Fordham     510
Yale     711
Dartmouth     611
Carlisle     1021
Washington & Jefferson     1021
Army     612
Pittsburgh     830
Lafayette     622
Princeton     523
Syracuse     631
Brown     531
Temple     321
Colgate     430
Lehigh     430
Amherst     332
Holy Cross     440
Penn State     550
Vermont     333
Wesleyan     342
NYU     232
Frankin & Marshall     461
Bucknell     352
Rutgers     351
Boston College     242
Villanova     360
Carnegie Tech     370
Tufts     161
Geneva     062
1908 Midwestern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Miami (OH)     700
Iowa State Normal     500
St. Mary's (OH)     701
DePaul     601
Butler     501
Ohio Northern     910
Fairmount     810
Notre Dame     810
Michigan Agricultural     602
Lake Forest     411
Saint Louis     622
Kansas State     620
Michigan     521
Marquette     421
St. Viator     530
Central Michigan     430
Mount Union     541
Doane     440
Western State (MI)     330
Buchtel     340
Carthage     230
Haskell     351
Wittenberg     351
Ohio     350
North Dakota Agricultural     230
Cincinnati     141
Wabash     260
Michigan State Normal     140
Heidelberg     160
Franklin     091
Baldwin–Wallace     020
Chicago P&S     040
1908 Southern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Virginia     701
Rollins     401
George Washington     811
Oklahoma     811
Tulane     710
North Carolina A&M     610
Navy     921
Florida     521
Davidson     522
TCU     630
VMI     420
Baylor     530
West Virginia     530
Kentucky State     430
Louisiana Industrial     431
Arkansas     540
Texas     540
VPI     540
Arkansas State Normal     330
Chattanooga     440
North Carolina     333
Oklahoma A&M     440
Delaware     341
Kendall     230
South Carolina     351
Texas A&M     350
Georgetown     241
Howard (AL)     240
Maryland     380
Stetson     011
Wake Forest     140
Southwest Texas State     020
Marshall     060
1908 Western college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Arizona     500
Washington     601
New Mexico     510
Washington State     402
Oregon     520
USC     311
New Mexico A&M     420
Utah Agricultural     420
Utah     321
Oregon Agricultural     430
Idaho     222
Montana     121
Wyoming     120

Minor conferences

Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Fairmount 5–0
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Albion 3–0–2
Ohio Athletic Conference Western Reserve 6–1

Minor conference standings

1908 Eastern Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Randolph–Macon +210  620
Hampden–Sydney +210  540
William & Mary 120  461
Richmond 120  350
  • + Conference co-champions
1908 Ohio Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Western Reserve $610  910
Kenyon 311  711
Ohio State 430  640
Case 421  631
Oberlin 220  340
Denison 230  550
Ohio Wesleyan 230  440
Wooster 150  350
Heidelberg 040  160
  • $ Conference champion

Awards and honors


The consensus All-America team included:

PositionNameHeightWeight (lbs.)ClassHometownTeam
QB Walter Steffen 5'9"158Sr. Chicago, Illinois Chicago
QB Ed Lange Sr. Navy
HB Hamilton Corbett So. Portland, Oregon Harvard
HB Bill Hollenback 6'2"184Sr. Blue Bell, Pennsylvania Penn
HB Frederick Tibbott Sr. Indianapolis, Indiana Princeton
FB Ted Coy 6'0"195Jr. Andover, Massachusetts Yale
E Hunter Scarlett 5'10"168Sr. Erie, Pennsylvania Penn
T Hamilton Fish 6'4"200Jr. Southboro, Massachusetts Harvard
T Percy Northcroft Sr. Navy
G Hamlin Andrus Jr. Yonkers, New York Yale
G Bernard O'Rourke Jr. Syracuse, New York Cornell
C Charles Nourse 6'0"197Jr. Concord, New Hampshire Harvard
G William Goebel Jr. Cincinnati, Ohio Yale
G Clark Tobin So. South Boston, Massachusetts Dartmouth
T Bill Horr Sr. Munnsville, New York Syracuse
E George Schildmiller Sr. Brattleboro, Vermont Dartmouth

Statistical leaders


  1. The University of Pittsburgh claims the first use of numbered uniforms, citing to a December 5, 1908, game versus Washington & Jefferson. [25] [26] [27] [28] However, the NCAA does not recognize that claim, instead crediting Washington & Jefferson for being the first to wear numbered uniforms in a game several months earlier. [23]

Related Research Articles

1907 college football season

The 1907 college football season saw the increased use of the forward pass, which had been legalized the year before. Football remained a dangerous game, despite the "debrutalization" reforms, and an unprecedented eleven players were killed, while 98 others were seriously injured. However, there were no serious injuries reported among the major colleges. The Yale Bulldogs, unbeaten with a record of 10–0–1, had the best record. The Helms Athletic Foundation, founded in 1936, declared retroactively that Yale had been the best college football team of 1907. Yale and Penn both claim 1907 as a national championship season. Although Yale was named as champion by 6 different entities, Penn was not named champion by any. Penn's claim to the championship is only by the university itself.

1906 college football season

The 1906 college football season was the first in which the forward pass was permitted. Although there was no clear cut national championship, there were two teams that had won all nine of their games as the 1906 season drew to a close, the Princeton Tigers and the Yale Bulldogs, and on November 17, 1906, they played to a 0–0 tie. St. Louis University finished at 11–0–0. The Helms Athletic Foundation, founded in 1936, declared retroactively that Princeton had been the best college football team of 1906. Other selectors recognized Yale as the national champions for 1906.

The 1926 college football season was the first in which an attempt was made to recognize a national champion after the season.

The 1930 college football season saw Notre Dame repeat as national champion under the Dickinson System, and a post-season Rose Bowl matchup between two unbeaten (9–0) teams, Washington State and Alabama, ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Alabama won the Pasadena contest, 24–0.

The 1931 college football season saw the USC Trojans win the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy as national champion under the Dickinson System. Rockne, who had coached Notre Dame to a championship in 1930, had been killed in a plane crash on March 31, 1931. For the first time, the champion under the Dickinson system also played in a postseason game. The Rose Bowl, promoted as an unofficial championship matchup between the best teams of East and West, matched USC and Tulane, No. 1 and No. 2 in the Dickinson ratings. USC won, 21–12. Also for 1931, historian Parke Davis, through research, selected Pittsburgh and Purdue as National Champions and these selections, along with USC, are all recognized by the official NCAA records book. Both USC and Pitt claim national championships for 1931, and both are recognized by College Football Data Warehouse.

The 1933 college football season saw the Michigan Wolverines repeat as winners of the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy as national champion under the Dickinson System.

The 1934 college football season was the 66th season of college football in the United States. Two New Year's Day bowl games were initiated to rival the Rose Bowl Game. On February 15, Warren V. Miller and Joseph M. Cousins organized the New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association and by October, the group had enough funds to sponsor the Sugar Bowl. Meanwhile, W. Keith Phillips and the Greater Miami Athletic Club worked in November at a January 1 game for Florida, and the Orange Bowl was created.

The 1935 college football season was the last one before the Associated Press writers' poll was used in selecting the national champion. The Williamson System, calculated by Paul O. Williamson out of New Orleans, deemed Texas Christian University (TCU) as the best in the nation. The Dickinson System, consisting of the calculations of University of Illinois Professor Frank Dickinson, crowned Southern Methodist University (SMU) as the best in the nation. A poll of newspaper writers, taken at year's end—by United Press rather than the AP—concluded that Minnesota was the best in the nation.

The 1936 college football season was the first in which the Associated Press writers' poll selected a national champion. The first AP poll, taken of 35 writers, was released on October 20, 1936. Each writer listed his choice for the top ten teams, and points were tallied based on 10 for first place, 9 for second, etc., and the AP then ranked the twenty teams with the highest number of points. In the first poll, Minnesota received 32 first place votes, and 3 votes for an additional 25 points, for a total of 345 altogether.

1911 college football season

The 1911 college football season was the last one before major reforms were made to the American game in 1912. In 1911, touchdowns were worth five points, the field was 110 yards in length, and a team had three downs within which to advance the ball ten yards. The United States Naval Academy (Navy) finished with a record of 6 wins and 3 ties (6–0–3). Two of the ties were 0–0 games with the other major unbeaten teams, Penn State (8–0–1) and Princeton (8–0–2). Other teams that finished the season unbeaten were Minnesota (6–0–1) and Florida (5–0–1). The Helms Athletic Foundation, founded in 1936, declared retroactively that Princeton had been the best team of 1911

1912 college football season

The 1912 college football season was the first of the modern era, as the NCAA implemented changes to increase scoring:

1925 college football season

The 1925 college football season ended with no clear national champion. At the close of the season, noted sports writer Billy Evans described the championship contest as "a dead heat" among Dartmouth, Tulane, Michigan, Washington, and Alabama.

1924 college football season

The 1924 college football season was the year of the Four Horsemen as the Notre Dame team, coached by Knute Rockne, won all of its games, including the Rose Bowl, to be acclaimed as the best team in the nation. Notre Dame and Stanford were both unbeaten at season's end, with the Fighting Irish winning the Rose Bowl contest 27–10. The Penn Quakers were retroactively awarded a national championship by Parke H. Davis.

1923 college football season

The 1923 college football season saw several teams finish their seasons unbeaten and untied. As such, numerous schools claim a national championship for the 1923 season. Illinois and Michigan, both members of what is now the Big Ten Conference, finished with records of 8–0 and were selected as national champion by multiple selectors. Illinois featured break-out star Red Grange. Ivy League teams Yale and Cornell also had undefeated seasons.

1922 college football season

The 1922 college football season had a number of unbeaten and untied teams, and no clear-cut champion, with the Official NCAA Division I Football Records Book listing California, Cornell, Iowa, Princeton, and Vanderbilt as national champions. California, Cornell, and Princeton were all picked by multiple selectors.

The 1951 college football season finished with seven unbeaten major college teams, of which five were unbeaten and untied. Ultimately, the Tennessee Volunteers were voted the best team by the Associated Press, followed by the Michigan State Spartans, with the Vols having a plurality of first place votes. Tennessee lost in the Sugar Bowl to the equally undefeated and untied No. 3 Maryland Terrapins, but the postseason games were not taken into account by the major polls. Tennessee, Michigan State, and Illinois all claim national championships for 1951.

The 1937 college football season ended with the Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh being named the nation's No. 1 team by 30 of the 33 voters in the Associated Press writers' poll. The AP poll was in its second year, and seven votes were taken during the final weeks of the 1937 season, starting with October 18. Each writer listed his choice for the top ten teams, and points were tallied based on 10 for first place, 9 for second, etc., and the AP then ranked the twenty teams with the highest number of points. With 33 writers polled, Pitt received 30 first place votes and 3 second-place, for a total of 327 points.

The 1939 college football season concluded with the Aggies of The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas being named as the national champions by the voters in the Associated Press writers' poll.

The 1943 college football season concluded with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame crowned as the nation's No. 1 team by a majority of the voters in the AP Poll, followed by the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks as the runner-up. For the third time in the history of the AP Poll, a team that had lost a game was named mythical national champion;. Notre Dame lost its final game of the season, a Chicago contest against the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Along the way, however, the Fighting Irish had played one of the toughest college schedules ever, beating two No. 2 ranked teams and two No. 3 ranked teams. Purdue University would seemingly have a claim on the 1943 Championship as well as the only undefeated team playing a full schedule, but the Purdue athletic department has never pursued the claim.

1909 college football season

The 1909 college football season was the first for the 3-point field goal, which had previously been worth 4 points. The season ran from Saturday, September 25, until Thanksgiving Day, November 25, although a few games were played on the week before.


  1. "Football Season Offers Good Sport," The New York Times, Sept. 6, 1908, pB-3
  2. "'Big Five' Football Teams Begin Practice Next Week," The Atlanta Constitution, Sep. 14 '08, p7
  3. 1 2 Id.
  4. Danzig, Allison (1956). The History of American Football: Its Great Teams, Players, and Coaches . Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. pp.  70–71.
  5. "Pennsy Barely Wins First Game," The New York Times, Sep. 27, 1908 V:1;
  6. "The Football Season Opens With Good Games," Daily Kennebec (Me.) Journal, Oct. 1, 1908, p4
  7. "Saturday Football Scores," Trenton (N.J.) Evening Times, Oct. 5, 1908, p11
  8. "Indians Tie Old Pennsy's Eleven," The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1908, pIV-1
  9. "Navy Ties the Crimson," The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1908, pIV-1
  10. "Yale Hangs Up 38 Points on W. and J.," The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1908, pIV-1
  11. "Football Scores," The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1908, pIV-1
  12. "Little Indian's Boot Downs Navy Eleven," NYT 11/01/08, pV-1
  13. "Farmer Boys Only Toys For Yale Team," The New York Times, Nov. 1, 1908, pV-2
  14. "Army Repulses Tiger Attack," NYT 11/01/08, pV-1
  15. "Yale-Brown Game Ends in Wrangle," NYT 11/8/08, pV-1
  16. "Dartmouth's Sensational Victory Over Princeton on the Polo Grounds," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 1908, pV-1
  17. "Harvard Crushes Carlisle's Line," NYT 11/8/08, pV-2
  18. "Baylor Beaten By the L.S.U.," The Atlanta Constitution, Nov. 11, 1908, p10
  19. "Cornell in Even Battle at Chicago," The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1908, pIV-1
  20. "Princeton Ends Her Season Beaten By Yale," The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1908, pIV-1
  21. "Harvard Wins By Field Goal," The New York Times, Nov. 22, 1908, pI-1
  22. "Pennsy Triumphs Over Cornell Team," The New York Times, Nov. 27, 1908, p10
  23. 1 2 "College Football Rules Changes - Equipment" (PDF). Football Bowl Subdivision Records. National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2009. p. 122. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 1908—First documented jersey numbers used by Washington & Jefferson.
  24. "W&J Football History". Washington & Jefferson College. Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  25. Joseph Nathan Kane, Famous First Facts, 4th ed., (Ace Books, 1974), p264
  26. O'Brien, Jim, ed. (1982). Hail to Pitt: A Sports History of the University of Pittsburgh. Wolfson Publishing Co. p. 62. ISBN   0-916114-08-2.
  27. Sullivan, George (2004). Any Number Can Play: The Numbers Athletes Wear. Millbrook Press. p. 13. ISBN   0-7613-1557-8.
  28. Murphy, Arthur (1959-09-28), "Memo From The Publisher", Sports Illustrated, Time, Inc.: 15, archived from the original on 2012-12-06