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.
September 20Stanford opened its season against a non-college team, beating the West Coast Army club, 32–0
September 27 Nearly all the big schools scheduled tune-up games against weaker visitors, and all but one shut out the opposition. Michigan opened its season with a doubleheader, beating Denison 33–0 and Eastern Michigan 7–0. Other schools rolled up high scores, as Stanford beat the Olympic Club, 18–0; Army beat Boston University 39–0; Alabama beat Samford, 43–0; USC rolled over UCLA 52–0; Tennessee beat Maryville College 54–0; Dartmouth beat Norwich College 79–0; and Tulane defeated Lafayette College of Louisiana, 84–0. Only Washington State was scored upon, getting a surprise from the Coyotes of College of Idaho, which unleashed a surprise passing attack for two touchdowns (and 12 of 19 completions) in the fourth quarter. WSU won 47–12.
October 4 Notre Dame opened its season with a 20–14 win over visiting Southern Methodist. Northwestern beat visiting Tulane, 14–0. Washington State won at California 16–0 and USC beat visiting Oregon State 27–7, while Stanford defeated Santa Clara 20–0. Dartmouth beat Bates 20–0 and Army beat Furman, 54–0. Alabama rolled over visiting Ole Miss, 64–0 and in Danville, Kentucky, Tennessee defeated Centre College 18–0. Michigan and Michigan State played to a scoreless tie.
October 18Alabama and Tennessee, both 3–0–0, and both unscored upon, met at Tuscaloosa in a game that would ultimately determine the fictional championship of the South. Alabama won 18–6. Notre Dame beat Carnegie Tech 21–6. Northwestern won at Illinois 32–0 and Michigan won at Ohio State, 13–0 USC won at Utah State 65–0, Washington State won in Spokane at Gonzaga University, 24–0, and Stanford beat Oregon State 13–7. Dartmouth beat Columbia 52–0 and Army defeated Harvard, 6–0. Tulane defeated Birmingham Southern College 21–0
October 25Alabama and Vanderbilt, both 4–0–0, met at Birmingham. In another close game, Alabama won 12–7. USC (3–1–0) and Stanford (3–0–1) met in Palo Alto, with the Trojans handing the Indians their first loss of the season, 41–12. Notre Dame won at Pittsburgh 35–19. Washington State beat visiting Montana, 61–0. Northwestern beat Centre College 45–7 and Michigan beat Illinois 15–7.(Dartmouth was scored upon, winning at Harvard 7–2, and Army's streak of shutouts ended with its 7–7 tie at Yale. Tennessee beat visiting North Carolina 9–7, and in Atlanta, Tulane shut out Georgia Tech 28–0.
November 8Notre Dame beat Pennsylvania 60–20. Washington State won at Idaho 33–7. Northwestern won at Indiana 25–0 and Michigan won at Harvard 6–3. Army defeated Illinois at Yankee Stadium, 13–0. USC beat California 74–0 and Stanford beat Washington 25–7 Alabama won at Florida, 20–0, Tulane beat Auburn 21–0, and Allegheny College did what no other team had done that season, scoring two touchdowns against Dartmouth; the Big Green won 43–14 to stay unbeaten. Tennessee shut out Carson-Newman College 34–0
November 15Tennessee and Vanderbilt University, both 6–1–0, met at Nashville, with Tennessee winning 13–0. Notre Dame defeated Drake University 28–7. In Seattle, Washington State won another close one, beating Washington 3–0. Alabama beat LSU in a game at Montgomery, Alabama, 33–0, while Tulane (6–1–0) and Georgia (6–0–1) met at New Orleans, with Tulane handing the Bulldogs their first loss, 25–0 Northwestern beat Wisconsin 20–7 and Michigan beat Minnesota 7–0 USC defeated visiting Hawaii 52–0, while Stanford beat Caltech, 57–7 Dartmouth won at Cornell 19–13. Army beat Kentucky Wesleyan 47–2
November 22Notre Dame and Northwestern, both unbeaten (7–0–0) met at Evanston, with the Fighting Irish winning 14–0. Michigan beat Chicago 16–0 Stanford won at California 41–0. Army defeated Ursinus College 18–0.
November 27, Thanksgiving Day, Alabama (8–0–0) met Georgia (6–1–1) in Birmingham. The Crimson Tide extended its unbeaten streak, 13–0, to close the regular season unbeaten. The champion of the South also earned a Rose Bowl invitation to face Washington State. USC beat Washington 32–0. Tennessee defeated Kentucky 8–0 and Tulane won over LSU, 12–7.
November 29 (8–0–0) Notre Dame and (8–0–1) Army met at Chicago, with the Irish narrowly winning 7–6. In Philadelphia, Washington State beat Villanova, 13–0, to close its season 9–0–0. (8–1–1)Stanford hosted (7–0–1) Dartmouth and won 14–7
Although the Rose Bowl was the lone postseason game, and other bowl games were still four years in the future, several big contests were played after most colleges had completed their seasons.
December 6 In Los Angeles, a crowd of 90,000 turned out at the Coliseum as Notre Dame (9–0–0) visited USC (8–1–0). While some predicted a Trojans win, or at least a close game, "Rockne's Ramblers" scored six minutes into the game and never looked back. Paul O'Connor, a third string player earlier in the season, had 11 carries for 142 yards, and one touchdown. The Irish closed their season with a decisive 27–0 victory  and with another victory over a tough opponent, finished first in the Dickinson ratings. Nobody realized at the time that Knute Rockne had coached his final game. Rockne was killed in a plane crash on March 31, 1931. At Jacksonville, Tennessee defeated Florida 13–6.
December 13 In the Army–Navy Game, played in New York, Army won 6–0 to close its season at 9–1–1.
The Rose Bowl stadium's capacity had been increased to 81,000, but only 65,000 spectators turned out to watch an East-West matchup between two unbeaten (9–0–0), but out-of-state teams, the Washington State Cougars and the Alabama Crimson Tide. It was the Cougars who were decked out in crimson, however, in what reports of the day described as "a bizarre touch". Besides solid red jerseys, pants and socks, the WSU players had bright red leather helmets and shoes.
Freddie Sington, Bama's star tackle/linebacker, was pitted against WSU's Turk Edwards, and blocked WSU's only chance to score. In addition, Sington blocked for the rushing of Johnny Campbell, "The Mississippi Rabbit", who ran 42 yards for one of Alabama's three touchdowns in the second quarter. After a 21–0 halftime lead, Alabama went on to a 24–0 win.
The AP sportswriters' poll would not begin continuously until 1936. (although, the first time was a one instance publishing in 1934) 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.
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.
Final Dickinson rankings
Notre Dame, Washington State and Alabama, all unbeaten and untied at the end of the regular season, were ranked first, second and third by Dickinson, with the Irish getting the higher rating based on their opposition. The ratings were made before the 1931 Rose Bowl that matched Washington State and Alabama, with Alabama winning, 24 to 0. Notre Dame did not participate in a postseason bowl game.
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 1926 college football season was the first in which an attempt was made to recognize a national champion after the season.
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 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 while Pitt was considered a national champion by several others due to Pitt possessing a greater scoring differential over the two teams' only common regular season opponent. 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. Both Notre Dame and Pitt claim a national championship for the 1929 season and both are recognized in the NCAA Records Book and by College Football Data Warehouse.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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 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 1946 college football season finished with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish crowned as the national champion in the AP Poll, the Georgia Bulldogs recognized as national champion by the Williamson poll and United States Military Academy named as national champion in various other polls and rankings. The Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens were recognized by the AP as the small college national champion. Notre Dame and Army both won all of their games, with the exception of their November 9 meeting at New York's Yankee Stadium, where they had played to a 0–0 tie in a No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup regarded as a "Game of the Century". Neither team played in bowl game that season.
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 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 1940 college football season ended with the Gophers of the University of Minnesota being named the nation's No. 1 team and national champion by the AP Poll, and the Stanford University Indians in second, with the two teams receiving 65 and 44 first place votes respectively. 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. Minnesota, Stanford, Boston College, and Tennessee all claim 1940 as a national championship season.
↑ "Little Idaho College Makes Good Showing," The Independent (Helena, Mont.), Sept. 28, 1930, p9
↑ "Notre Dame Upsets U.S.C., Wins 27 to 0," Oakland Tribune December 7, 1930, p1
↑ "SINGTON STARS IN ALABAMA'S 24–0 TRIUMPH," Oakland Tribune, January 2, 1931, p1
↑ Herschel Nissenson Tales From College Football's Sidelines (Sports Publishing LLC, 2001), p93.
↑ "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
↑ "Notre Dame's Easy Win Over S.C. Gives Irish National Title," The Lima (O.) News, December 7, 1930, p23