1929 college football season

Last updated

The 1929 college football season saw a number of unbeaten and untied teams. Purdue, Tulane, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh all finished the regular season with wins over all their opponents. Notre Dame was recognized as national champion under the Dickinson System and by a United Press writer [1] while Pitt was considered a national champion by several others [2] [3] due to Pitt possessing a greater scoring differential over the two teams' only common regular season opponent. [4] Following the season, Pitt traveled to Pasadena to meet USC in the Rose Bowl, at that time the only postseason college football game and held between the perceived best teams of east and west. Despite Pitt's losing 47–14 to the Trojans, as bowls were still considered exhibitions by many, college football historian Parke H. Davis, whose national championship selections are recognized by the official NCAA records book, named the Panthers as that season's national champion while several other retroactive selectors recognized by the NCAA records book have selected Notre Dame. [5] Both Notre Dame and Pitt claim a national championship for the 1929 season [6] [7] and both are recognized in the NCAA Records Book [5] and by College Football Data Warehouse. [8]


A major change in the rules for 1929 was that a fumbled ball was dead as soon as it struck the ground. Previously, a defending player could run with a recovered fumble, as in the case of Roy Riegels in the 1929 Rose Bowl. [9]

Conference and program changes



School1928 Conference1929 Conference
Duke Blue Devils Independent Southern


September 21 In Dallas, Southern Methodist University (SMU) opened its season with a 13–3 win over North Texas State.

September 28

SMU and Howard Payne College played to a 13–13 tie, and TCU rolled over visiting Daniel Baker College, 61–0. In Los Angeles, USC opened its season against crosstown rival UCLA, rolling over the Bruins 76–0. Pittsburgh beat Waynesburg State, 53–0 California beat Santa Clara 27–6 Pennsylvania beat Franklin & Marshall 14–7 Tulane opened with a win over Northwestern State, 40–6


October 5

SMU and Nebraska played to a 0–0 tie in Nebraska. Notre Dame opened its season with a 14–0 win at Indiana TCU beat Hardin Simmons, 20–0 Illinois beat Kansas 25–0, and Purdue beat Kansas State, 26–14 Pittsburgh won at Duke, 52–7 USC beat Oregon State 21–7 Pennsylvania defeated Swarthmore 20–6 California and St. Mary's played to a 0–0 tie. Tulane beat Texas A&M, 13–10

October 12

In Baltimore, Notre Dame defeated Navy, 14–7. SMU beat Austin College, 16–0 In Shreveport, TCU registered another shutout, beating Centenary College 28–0 Nebraska won at Syracuse, 13–6 USC won at Washington, 48–0, and California beat visiting Washington State, 14–0. Purdue beat Michigan 30–16 and Illinois beat Bradley 45–0 Pittsburgh beat West Virginia 27–7 Pennsylvania beat Virginia Tech, 14–8 Tulane beat Mississippi State, 34–0

October 19

Pittsburgh handed Nebraska its first loss, 12–7; TCU surrendered its first points, but beat Texas A&M, 13–7. Illinois and Iowa played to a 7–7 tie. Purdue beat DePauw 26–7 Tulane beat Lafayette College of Louisiana, 60–0 USC scored big again, with a 64–0 win over Occidental. At 4–0–0, the Trojans had outscored their opponents 209–7. In Chicago, Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin 19–0

In Philadelphia, (1–0–1) California and (3–0) Pennsylvania played, with California winning 12–7

October 26 During the weekend between October 24 and October 29, 1929 (see Wall Street Crash of 1929), SMU beat visiting Ole Miss, 52–0 and TCU, with a 131–7 aggregate lead over its opponents, won its fifth straight, a 22–0 win over Texas Tech. In Pittsburgh, the Pitt Panthers beat Allegheny 40–0 and Notre Dame defeated Carnegie Tech 7–0. Illinois beat visiting Michigan 14–0, and Purdue won at Chicago 26–0 The USC offense was held to single digits at Stanford, winning 7–0. California defeated the non-college Olympic Club, 21–19. Pennsylvania beat Lehigh 10–7 and in New Orleans, Tulane beat Georgia Tech, 20–14. Nebraska and Missouri played to a 7–7 tie.


November 2 In Los Angeles, USC (5–0–0) hosted California (4–0–1). California handed the Trojans their first loss, 15–7 In Dallas, unbeaten (3–0–2) SMU and unbeaten and untied Texas (5–0–0) both stayed unbeaten, playing to 0–0 tie. Notre Dame beat visiting Georgia Tech 26–6 In Columbus, Georgia, Tulane beat Georgia, 21–15

TCU beat North Texas State, 25–0 Nebraska beat Kansas, 12–6 Purdue won at Wisconsin 13–0, but Illinois lost at Northwestern, 7–0, Pittsburgh beat Ohio State, 18–2 Pennsylvania defeated Navy, 7–2

November 9

SMU won at Texas A&M 12–7 and TCU beat Rice, 24–0 Illinois beat Army, 17–7 and Purdue beat Ole Miss 27–7 Pittsburgh beat Washington & Jefferson 21–0 Notre Dame defeated Drake University Tulane beat Auburn, 52–0 USC beat visiting Nevada, 66–0 and California beat Montana 53–18

At Philadelphia, (5–1–0) Penn State defeated (5–1–0) Pennsylvania, 19–7

November 16

In Chicago, a record crowd of 123,000 turned out at Soldier Field to watch Notre Dame (6–0–0) and USC (6–1–0). Knute Rockne, who had been hospitalized with an infected leg, guided his team from a cot set behind the Notre Dame bench. In the third quarter, the Irish took a 13–6 lead, on—Savoldi's plunge and Frank Carideo's extra point. On the ensuing kickoff, -- Saunders ran the ball back 95 yards for a touchdown, but the point after failed, and Notre Dame held on to win 13–12. [10]

Nebraska and visiting Oklahoma played to a 13–13 draw; at (2–1–3), the Cornhuskers had tied more games than they had won or lost. SMU beat Baylor, 25–6. TCU was (7–0–0) and had outscored its opposition 193–7; Texas (5–0–2) had an aggregate 120–0 lead on its opponents, though its last two games had been scoreless ties. When they met at Austin, Texas scored first, but Cy Leland returned the kickoff 90 yards for a TCU score. At halftime, TCU led 13–12 on the only extra point scored that day, and finished 15–12 [11] Illinois defeated Chicago 20–6 and Purdue beat Iowa 7–0 Pittsburgh beat Carnegie Tech, 34–13 Pennsylvania visited Columbia and won 20–0 California beat Washington 7–0

Tulane defeated Sewanee 18–0

November 23 Nebraska won at Kansas State, 10–6 SMU beat Rice, 34–0 TCU beat Baylor, 34–7 Illinois beat Ohio State, 27–0, and Purdue won at Indiana 32–0 to finish its season unbeaten. Notre Dame won at Northwestern 26–6. USC beat visiting Idaho, 72–0 Stanford (7–2–0) and California met in Palo Alto, with Stanford winning 21–6.

November 28, Thanksgiving Day; Pittsburgh beat Penn State 20–7 Pennsylvania beat Cornell 17–7 Nebraska closed its season with a 31–12 win over Iowa State, to finish at 4–1–3.

November 30 In a season-ending matchup of the Southwest Conference's two best teams at Fort Worth, Texas Christian (9–0–0) hosted Southern Methodist (6–0–3). Although SMU took a 7–0 lead in the third quarter, and held the Frogs once at the goal line, TCU reached the one on its next possession, and scored on third down. Hawks Green's kick staved off an upset, tied the Mustangs 7–7, and gave TCU the conference title. [12]

Notre Dame (8–0–0) closed its season at Yankee Stadium in New York, where it faced Army (6–2–1). The Fighting Irish won 7–0. USC beat Washington State, 27–7 Tulane closed its season with a 21–0 win at LSU, to finish unbeaten at 9–0–0

On December 14, USC defeated Carnegie Tech, 45–13.

1930 Rose Bowl

USC had been beaten earlier in the year, at Chicago, by Notre Dame. The Trojans and the Fighting Irish were not able to agree on a rematch, and USC was given the right to invite another eastern powerhouse—the unbeaten (9–0–0) Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt's bid for a claim to the national championship started on the first play of the game, as Toby Uansa ran 68 yards before being tackled at the 11, but the Panthers failed to reach the end zone. Six minutes into the game, Russ Saunders and --- Edelson connected on a 56-yard pass play for USC's first touchdown. By halftime, USC led 26–0. Pitt finally scored in the third quarter to trail 33–7. After seven USC touchdowns, the final score was USC 47, Pitt 14. [13]

Conference standings

Major conference standings

1929 Big Six Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Nebraska $302  413
Missouri 311  521
Kansas State 320  350
Oklahoma 221  332
Kansas 230  440
Iowa State 050  170
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 2 Purdue $500  800
No. 5 Illinois 311  611
Minnesota 320  620
Northwestern 320  630
Iowa 222  422
Ohio State 221  431
Michigan 131  531
Indiana 131  261
Chicago 130  730
Wisconsin 140  450
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from Dickinson System
1929 Middle Three Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Lehigh +110  432
Rutgers +110  540
Lafayette +110  350
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Drake $301  531
Grinnell 102  512
Oklahoma A&M 110  432
Washington University 011  341
Creighton 030  260
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Pacific Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
USC $610  1020
Stanford 510  920
Oregon 410  730
California 410  711
Washington State 420  1020
UCLA 130  440
Oregon State 140  540
Idaho 140  450
Montana 041  351
Washington 051  261
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Rocky Mountain Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Utah $600  700
Colorado 411  511
Denver 411  511
Montana State 210  620
BYU 420  530
Colorado Teachers 320  430
Colorado College 430  430
Colorado Agricultural 440  540
Utah State 340  340
Colorado Mines 150  250
Western State (CO) 050  250
Wyoming 070  170
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Southern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Tulane $600  900
Tennessee 601  901
North Carolina 710  910
Florida 610  820
Vanderbilt 510  720
Kentucky 311  611
Georgia 420  640
VMI 420  820
Duke 210  460
LSU 320  630
Alabama 430  630
Clemson 330  830
VPI 230  540
Georgia Tech 350  360
South Carolina 250  650
Virginia 132  432
Maryland 131  442
Washington and Lee 141  351
Ole Miss 042  162
Mississippi A&M 031  152
Sewanee 041  252
NC State 050  180
Auburn 070  270
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Chattanooga $700  820
Spring Hill 400  710
Centre 401  531
The Citadel 401  541
Louisiana College 301  621
Centenary 100  631
Louisiana Normal 102  432
Furman 411  541
Stetson 310  510
Millsaps 312  613
Southwestern (TN) 210  530
Transylvania 212  643
Miami (FL) 320  320
Erskine 320  630
Birmingham–Southern 430  440
Western Kentucky 330  730
Howard (AL) 332  542
Presbyterian 330  441
Georgetown (KY) 230  450
Wofford 230  360
Oglethorpe 120  541
Kentucky Wesleyan 130  540
Louisiana Tech 132  343
Louisville 130  350
Florida Southern 130  250
Mercer 250  270
Mississippi College 141  361
SW Louisiana 150  270
Union (TN) 051  151
Newberry 050  071
Rollins 050  050
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
TCU $401  901
SMU 302  604
Arkansas 320  720
Texas 222  522
Baylor 221  731
Texas A&M 230  530
Rice 050  270
  • $ Conference champion


1929 Eastern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Pittsburgh     910
Colgate     810
Fordham     702
Bucknell     820
Penn     720
Boston College     721
Villanova     721
Cornell     620
Tufts     512
Harvard     521
Yale     521
NYU     730
Franklin & Marshall     630
Penn State     630
Syracuse     630
Drexel     631
Temple     631
Carnegie Tech     531
Army     641
Brown     550
Columbia     450
Princeton     241
Vermont     270
1929 Midwestern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Notre Dame     900
Detroit     711
Haskell     620
Loyola (IL)     621
Michigan State     530
John Carroll     531
Marquette     431
Butler     440
Wabash     441
Saint Louis     341
DePaul     270
Kent State     170
Valparaiso     170
Ball State     070
1929 Southern college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Western Maryland     1100
Delaware State     100
Guilford     711
Texas Mines     612
Appalachian State     413
William & Mary     820
Navy     622
Georgetown     522
Middle Tennessee     631
South Georgia Teachers     432
Wake Forest     651
Catholic University     540
West Virginia     433
Davidson     550
Loyola (LA)     452
Texas A&I     341
Richmond     351
East Tennessee Teachers     251
Mississippi Teachers     261
Texas Tech     172
Delaware     071
George Washington     080
1929 Western college football independents records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Saint Mary's     801
Arizona     710
Loyola (CA)     630
Santa Clara     530
Gonzaga     430
Hawaii     430
New Mexico A&M     323
Santa Barbara State     441
Cal Poly     350
New Mexico     242
Humboldt State     141
Arizona State     060
Columbia (OR)       

Minor conferences

Big Four Conference Tulsa 4–0–1
Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association Virginia State College 6–0
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Kansas State Teachers 5–1
Far Western Conference Northern Branch 2–0
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Iowa Wesleyan 5–0
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Kansas Wesleyan 4–0–1
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Alma 5–0
Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference Coe
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Saint Thomas (MN) 3–1
Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association Northeast Missouri State Teachers 3–0
Nebraska College Athletic Conference Cotner 5–0
Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Association Nebraska State Teachers–Peru
North Central Intercollegiate Conference North Dakota 4–0
Ohio Athletic Conference Muskingum 5–0
Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference Central State Teachers (OK) 5–0
Pacific Northwest Conference Willamette 4–0
South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference Black Hills Teachers
Dakota Wesleyan
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Occidental 4–0
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tuskegee 5–0–0
Southwestern Athletic Conference Wiley (TX) 3–0–1
Texas Collegiate Athletic Conference Howard Payne 5–0
Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association Southwest Texas State Normal 4–2
Tri-Normal League State Normal–Ellensburg 2–0
Wisconsin State Teachers College Conference Milwaukee State Teachers 3–0–1

Minor conference standings

1929 Big Four Conference (Oklahoma) football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Tulsa $401  631
Oklahoma Baptist 230  530
Oklahoma City 230  550
Phillips 131  443
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Buckeye Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Ohio 500  900
Ohio Wesleyan 311  621
Miami (OH) 320  720
Wittenberg 221  541
Cincinnati 041  441
Denison 041  161
1929 Central Intercollegiate Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Emporia Teachers $510  620
Washburn 420  560
College of Emporia 222  332
Wichita 222  332
Southwestern (KS) 240  251
Hays Teachers 240  250
Pittsburg State 132  152
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Virginia State $700  810
Virginia Union 510  710
Lincoln (PA) 421  621
Hampton 340  350
Saint Paul's (VA) 340  640
North Carolina A&T 240  260
Shaw 130  440
Howard 011  072
North Carolina College 060  070
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Far Western Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Cal Aggies $500  620
Nevada 210  251
San Jose State 211  331
Pacific (CA) 131  341
Chico State 130  350
Fresno State 140  170
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Knox (IL) +500  710
Lombard +300  611
Millikin 510  710
Eastern Illinois 510  610
Monmouth (IL) 510  540
Northern Illinois State 411  611
Illinois Wesleyan 520  530
Elmhurst 210  810
Bradley 420  630
Southern Illinois 420  531
Shurtleff 320  530
Carthage 221  431
Eureka 332  332
Illinois College 330  440
Augustana (IL) 331  341
North Central *241  351
Lake Forest 120  250
McKendree 140  460
Wheaton (IL) 141  261
Illinois State 152  152
St. Viator 061  071
Mount Morris 060  260
Western Illinois070  080
  • + Conference co-champions
  • * – North Central finished the season 6–0–1 in conference play, but forfeited their share of the title and four wins, over Lake Forest, Augustana, Carthage, and Monmouth, because of an ineligible player.
    † – Western Illinois finished the season 3–4 in conference play, but forfeited three wins, over Shurtleff, Augustana, and Illinois State, because of an ineligible player.
1929 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Kansas Wesleyan $401  602
Bethany (KS) 410  531
Baker 221  531
McPherson 230  440
St. Mary's (KS) 122  252
Ottawa 050  260
1929 Michigan Collegiate Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Michigan State Normal +201  512
Western State (MI) +201  521
Detroit City College 120  270
Central State (MI) 030  232
  • + Conference co-champions
1929 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Alma $500  610
Albion 410  530
Hillsdale 221  521
Olivet 131  341
Hope 140  150
Kalamazoo 032  143
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Missouri College Athletic Union football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Missouri Valley $400  701
Westminster (MO) 511  621
Central Methodist 420  530
Tarkio 210  350
Missouri Mines 120  530
William Jewell 121  431
Drury 130  350
Central Wesleyan 031  242
Culver–Stockton 041  071
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Kirksville State $201  531
SW Missouri State 211  621
NW Missouri State 111  323
SE Missouri State 110  331
Central Missouri State 031  081
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Nebraska College Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Cotner $500  610
Doane 510  610
Hastings 320  540
Midland 320  442
Nebraska Wesleyan 230  351
Nebraska Central 131   ? ? ?
York (NE) 140  250
Grand Island 051  062
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Chadron Normal +310  810
Peru Normal +310  612
Omaha 221  423
Wayne Normal 112  243
Kearney Normal 031  271
Dana 010  151
  • + Conference co-champions
1929 New England Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
New Hampshire $200  720
Rhode Island State 110  521
Connecticut 120  440
Maine 120  250
Massachusetts 000  341
  • $ Conference champion
1929 North Central Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
North Dakota $400  910
South Dakota State 211  541
North Dakota Agricultural 112  432
Morningside 130  440
South Dakota 031  441
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Northwest Ohio League football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Bowling Green +301  421
Toledo +301  421
Defiance 220  341
Findlay 130  350
Bluffton 040  061
  • + Conference co-champions
1929 Ohio Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Muskingum $500  620
Heidelberg 200  430
Dayton 100  450
Akron 710  910
Baldwin–Wallace 411  611
Wooster 521  521
Mount Union 421  531
Oberlin 320  440
Western Reserve 320  360
Marietta 220  350
Kenyon 230  360
Otterbein 350  350
Case 160  270
Hiram 160  170
Ohio Northern 041  261
St. Xavier 020  640
Capital 050  052
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Oklahoma Collegiate Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Central State (OK) $500  612
East Central 410  530
NW Oklahoma State 320  630
SE Oklahoma State 230  640
SW Oklahoma State 140  281
Northeastern State 050  260
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Smoky Mountain Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Emory and Henry $300  721
Milligan 311  611
Maryville 211  531
King 230  540
Tusculum 021  233
Carson–Newman 031  162
  • $ Conference champion
1929 South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Spearfish +400  520
Dakota Wesleyan +401  521
Yankton 311  521
Augustana (SD) 310  440
South Dakota Mines 320  340
Northern Normal 221  431
Sioux Falls 221  232
Eastern Normal 160  260
Huron 040  081
Southern Normal 042  062
  • + Conference co-champions
  • Spearfish and South Dakota Mines played twice. The second game was not counted in the conference stnadings.
1929 Southern California Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Occidental $400  620
Pomona 510  620
Whittier 321  441
Redlands 221  341
Caltech 330  360
San Diego State 150  350
La Verne 050  050
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Southwestern Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Wiley $      
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Texas Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Howard Payne $500  802
St. Edward's 410  542
Austin 320  360
Simmons (TX) 131  541
Trinity (TX) 131  351
Southwestern (TX) 050  280
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Southwest Texas State $402  612
North Texas State Teachers 202  442
McMurry 311  413
Abilene Christian 211  611
Sam Houston State 211  631
West Texas State 220  631
Stephen F. Austin 131  172
Sul Ross 011  133
East Texas State 031  061
Daniel Baker 040  361
  • $ Conference champion
1929 Tri-State Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Duquesne $300  901
Thiel 210  252
Waynesburg 220  540
Westminster (PA) 220  340
Geneva 130  261
Bethany (WV) 020  170
  • $ Conference champion

Dickinson System

The AP sportswriters' poll would not begin continuously until 1936. [14] (although, the first time was a one instance publishing in 1934 [15] ) Frank G. Dickinson, an economics professor at the University of Illinois, had invented the Dickinson System to rank colleges based upon their records and the strength of their opposition.

The system was originally designed to rank teams in the Big Nine (later the Big Ten) conference. Chicago clothing manufacturer Jack Rissman then persuaded Dickinson to rank the nation's teams under the system, and awarded the Rissman Trophy to the winning university. [16]

The system awarded 30 points for a win over a "strong team", and 20 for a win over a "weak team". Losses were awarded points (15 for loss to a strong team, 10 for loss to a weak team). Ties were treated as half a win and half a loss (22.5 for a tie with a strong team, 15 for a tie with a weak team). An average was then derived by dividing the points by games played. [17]

Final Dickinson rankings

Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, both with nine wins and no losses or ties (9–0) were ranked first and second by Dickinson, with the Irish getting the higher rating based on their opposition. [18] As Grantland Rice noted in his column, "There is no questioning the fact that among the unbeaten teams who were not even tied, Notre Dame fought its way through the hardest field. But when it comes to saying that Notre Dame could beat Pittsburgh or that Notre Dame could beat Purdue or that Pittsburgh could beat Purdue -- that is something else again," [19]

1 Notre Dame 9–025.00
2 Purdue 8–023.60
3 Pittsburgh 9–022.00
4 California 7–1–120.00
5 Illinois 6–1–118.70
6 USC 9–217.75
7 Nebraska 4–1–316.82
8 TCU 9–0–116.51
9 SMU 6–0–416.31
10 Tulane 9–016.22
11 Penn 7–215.00

Awards and honors


The consensus All-America team included:

PositionNameHeightWeight (lbs.)ClassHometownTeam
QB Frank Carideo 5'7"175Jr. Mount Vernon, New York Notre Dame
HB Chris Cagle 5'10"174Sr. De Ridder, Louisiana Army
HB Gene McEver 5'10"185Jr. Bristol, Virginia Tennessee
FB Ralph Welch 6'1"200Sr. Sherman, Texas Purdue
E Joe Donchess 6'0"175Sr. Kingston, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh
T Bronko Nagurski 6'2"217Sr. International Falls, Minnesota Minnesota
G Jack Cannon 5'11"193Sr. Columbus, Ohio Notre Dame
C Ben Ticknor 6'2"193Jr. Canton, Massachusetts Harvard
G Ray Montgomery 6'1"188Sr. Wheeling, West Virginia Pittsburgh
T Elmer Sleight 6'2"193Sr. Sisseton, South Dakota Purdue
E Wes Fesler 6'0"185Jr. Youngstown, Ohio Ohio State

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The NCAA was without a playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A, during the 20th century. The NCAA recognizes Division I-A national champions based on the final results of polls including the "wire service", FWAA and NFF. The 1964 AP poll continued to rank only ten teams, compiling the votes of 55 sportswriters, each of whom would give their opinion of the ten best. Under a point system of 10 points for first place, 9 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.

The 1963 NCAA University Division football season was played by American football teams representing 120 colleges and universities recognized the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as major programs. The remaining 299 colleges and universities that were NCAA members and fielded football teams competed in the 1963 NCAA College Division football season.

During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A. The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Prior to 1965, both services issued their final polls at the close of the regular season, but before teams competed in bowl games. For the 1965 season, the AP took its final poll after the postseason games, an arrangement made permanent in 1968. The Associated Press presented the "AP Trophy" to the winner.

The 1966 University Division football season was marked by some controversy as the year of "The Tie", a famous 10–10 game between the two top-ranked teams, Michigan State and Notre Dame on November 19. Both teams were crowned national champions by various organizations after the regular season concluded, and neither participated in bowl game. Alabama finished the regular season undefeated and was third in the AP poll, while Georgia was fourth. Alabama went on to win the Sugar Bowl in dominant fashion. During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A.

The 1927 college football season ended with the Illini of the University of Illinois (7–0–1) being recognized as champion under the Dickinson System. At season's end, the Rissler Cup was awarded to the team that finished first in the "Dickinson ratings", which considered strength of schedule, in that a win, loss or tie against a "strong" opponent was worth more than one against a lesser team, and the results were averaged.

The 1928 football season have both the USC Trojans and the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado claim national championships. USC was recognized as champions under the Dickinson System, but the Rose Bowl was contested between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, California and Georgia Tech. The game was decided by a safety scored after Roy "Wrong Way" Riegels ran 65 yards in the wrong direction. Vance Maree blocked the ensuing punt which gave Georgia Tech a safety deciding the 8–7 win.

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.

1932 college football season

The 1932 college football season saw the Michigan Wolverines win the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy as national champion under the Dickinson System. Because the "Big Nine" conference didn't permit its teams to play in the postseason, however, the Wolverines were not able to accept a bid to the Rose Bowl. As such, the Pasadena game matched the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, USC and Pittsburgh, with the USC Trojans winning the East-West matchup 35–0.

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.

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.

The 1953 college football season finished with the Maryland Terrapins capturing the AP, INS, and UPI national championship after Notre Dame held the top spot for the first nine weeks. The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners defeated Maryland in the Orange Bowl, but there was no further polling after the November 30 results were released. However, Notre Dame was selected as the National Champions by 10 other polls and the Oklahoma Sooners received first in two polls. However, despite the team receiving National Championship rings, the University of Notre Dame does not recognize this title due to their policy of only recognizing AP or coaches' poll titles during the polling era (1936–present). Maryland was also the first champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had been formed earlier in 1953 by seven colleges formerly with the Southern Conference. The year 1953 also saw the Michigan State Spartans, previously an independent, join the Big Nine Conference, which then became the Big Ten; MSU won the conference title in that first year and was the conference representative to the Rose Bowl, which it won 28–20 over UCLA.

The 1949 college football season finished with four teams that were unbeaten and untied-- Notre Dame, Oklahoma, California, and Army had won all their games at season's end. Notre Dame, however, was the overwhelming choice for national champion in the AP Poll, with 172 of 208 first place votes. The Fighting Irish did not participate in the New Year's Day bowl games, which were played on January 2, 1950.

The 1948 college football season finished with two unbeaten and untied teams; Michigan and Clemson. Michigan was the first place choice for the majority voters in the AP Poll, but didn't play in the postseason because of a no-repeat rule for Big Nine schools. Notre Dame, second in the AP Poll, tied USC 14–14 at the end of the regular season, but did not participate in any bowl per university policy at the time. Northwestern beat California 20–14 in the Rose Bowl, and Clemson defeated Missouri by a point in the Gator Bowl.

The 1947 college football season finished with Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State all unbeaten and untied, but the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were the first place choice for 107 of the 142 voters in the AP Poll, and repeated as national champions. Michigan went on to meet USC in the Rose Bowl and won 49–0, while Penn State was tied 13–13 by SMU in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and Notre Dame didn't participate in the postseason. An unofficial post bowl AP poll was conducted with Michigan and Notre Dame as the only options and Michigan won by a vote of 226 to 119.

The 1938 college football season ended with the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) being named the nation's No. 1 team by 55 of the 77 voters in the final Associated Press writers' poll in early December. Tennessee is also recognized as a national champion; both teams won every game.

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 1941 college football regular season was the 73rd season of intercollegiate football in the United States. Competition included schools from the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Big Six Conference, the Southern Conference, the Southwestern Conference, and numerous smaller conferences and independent programs.


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  2. Cameron, L.S. (December 24, 1929). "Gridirons Fail to Produce Champs". The Bend Bulletin. Bend, OR. United Press. p. 8. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  3. Hannum, Max (December 2, 1929). "Many Experts Rate Pitt Superior to Notre Dame". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  4. Gold, Alan (November 18, 1929). "Two Teams Best". Lewistown Morning Tribune. Associated Press. p. 6. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  5. 1 2 2012 NCAA Football Records (PDF). The National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2012. pp. 69–73. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
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  9. Alison Danzig, The History of American Football (Prentice-Hall, 1956) p 71
  10. "Notre Dame Nips U.S.C., 13–12," Decatur Herald November 17, 1929, p1
  11. "Longhorns Wilt Before Horned Frog Attack," Port Arthur News, November 17, 1929, p9
  12. "T.C.U.'s 7–7 Tie With S.M.U. Bags Southwest Title," Abilene Reporter-News, December 1, 1929, p4
  13. "Trojans Hand Pitt Worst Beating In History of Bowl Games," Oakland Tribune, Jan. 2, 1930, p39
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-01-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-12-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. Herschel Nissenson Tales From College Football's Sidelines (Sports Publishing LLC, 2001), p93.
  17. "The Dickinson system awards 30 points for a victory over a strong team, and 20 for victory over a weak team. Defeats count half as much as victories, and ties are consideredas games half won and half lost. Dividing this total by the number of games played gives the final rating, "ILLINOIS BEST FOOTBALL TEAM OF YEAR," The Syracuse Herald, Dec. 4, 1927, p23
  18. "Irish Acclaimed National Victors," Charleston (WV) Gazette, December 1, 1929, p16
  19. Grantland Rice, "The Sport Light", from The Salt Lake Tribune, December 7, 1929, p 7