|1931 college football season|
|Number of bowls||1|
|Bowl games||January 1, 1932|
|Champion(s)|| USC |
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.
|School||1930 Conference||1931 Conference|
|Arizona State Teachers'–Flagstaff Lumberjacks||Independent||Border|
|Arizona State Teachers'–Tempe Sun Devils||Independent||Border|
|Centre Praying Colonels||SIAA||SIAA/Dixie|
|Loyola Ramblers||Independent||Dropped Program|
|New Mexico Lobos||Independent||Border|
|New Mexico A&M Aggies||Independent||Border|
|Spring Hill Badgers||SIAA||SIAA/Dixie|
September 26 The season started with an upset. St. Mary's College, a relatively small school in San Francisco, defeated USC 13–7. Tulane beat Ole Miss, 31–0 and Tennessee beat Maryville 33–0, while Pittsburgh beat Miami University, 61–0.
October 3 St. Mary's won again, at California, 14–0, and USC won its first game of the season, beating Oregon State 30–0. Tennessee beat Clemson 44–0 and Tulane defeated Texas A&M 7–0. Northwestern beat Nebraska 19–7. Purdue opened its season for the home crowd with a doubleheader, beating Ohio's Western Reserve 28–0, followed by a 19–0 win over Iowa's Coe College
Pittsburgh won at Iowa, 20–0 Georgia beat Virginia Tech 40–0 Harvard defeated Bates College, 28–0 and Yale beat Maine, 19–0 Notre Dame won at Indiana 25–0
October 10 In Chicago, a crowd of 75,000 turned out at Soldier Field to watch Northwestern and Notre Dame played to a 0–0 tie in a driving rain.Tennessee defeated Ole Miss 38–0. USC beat Washington State 38–6. Harvard beat New Hampshire, 39–0. In New Haven, the Georgia Bulldogs handed the Yale Bulldogs their first defeat, 26–7. Purdue beat Illinois 7–0 Pittsburgh beat West Virginia 34–0. Tulane defeated Spring Hill College 40–0 and St. Mary's beat the West Coast Army team, 21–7
October 17 Tulane and Vanderbilt, both 3–0–0, met at Nashville, with Tulane winning 19–0 Tennessee and Alabama, both 3–0–0, met at Knoxville, with UT winning 25–0. USC defeated visiting Oregon 53–0. Northwestern beat visiting UCLA 19–0 Georgia won at North Carolina, 32–7. Yale beat Chicago 27–0 and Harvard got past Army 14–13. Purdue lost at Wisconsin 21–14. Pittsburgh defeated Western Reserve, 32–0. Notre Dame defeated Drake 63–0. St. Mary's beat the University of San Francisco, 14–6. Neither SMC or USF play college football anymore.
October 24 Notre Dame (3–0–0) and Pittsburgh (4–0–0) met at South Bend, with Notre Dame winning 25–12. Tulane beat Georgia Tech 33–0; Tulane had outscored its five opponents 130–0. Tennessee won at North Carolina, 7–0; it had outscored its five foes 147–0. Georgia beat Vanderbilt 9–0. Harvard beat visiting Texas, 35–7 and Yale and Army played to a 6–6 tie, while in Pittsburgh, Purdue defeated Carnegie Tech 13–6. Northwestern defeated Ohio State in Columbus, 10–0. St. Mary's beat visiting Gonzaga University, 13–7. USC won at California 6–0
October 31 Tulane beat Mississippi State, but not without surrendering its first points, in a 59–7 win; likewise, Tennessee beat Duke, but was scored upon for the first time, in its 25–2 win Georgia won at Florida, 33–6. Northwestern beat visiting Illinois 32–6 and Purdue won at Chicago 14–6. Harvard beat Virginia 19–0 and Yale and Dartmouth played to a 33–33 tie. Pittsburgh won at Penn State, 41–6 Notre Dame defeated Carnegie Tech 19–0. Surprising St. Mary's extended its record to 6–0–0 with a 21–14 win over Santa Clara.
November 7 USC (4–1–0) and Stanford (5–0–1) met at Los Angeles, and USC won 19–0. In Montgomery, Alabama, Tulane shut out Auburn 27–0. Tennessee beat visiting Carson-Newman, 31–0. Northwestern beat Minnesota, 32–14. Purdue beat Centenary College 49–6. Before a crowd of 65,000 at Yankee Stadium, Georgia stayed unbeaten as it defeated New York University 7–6, with the aid of a 97–yard kickoff return by Buster Mott in the third quarter.Harvard beat Dartmouth 7–6 and Yale beat St. John's College of Maryland, 52–0. Pittsburgh beat Carnegie Tech 14–6. Notre Dame beat Pennsylvania 49–0. St. Mary's suffered its first defeat, to the visiting Olympic Club, 10–0
November 11 In an Armistice Day game at Los Angeles, UCLA handed St. Mary's its second straight loss, 12–0
November 14 Tulane (7–0–0) and Georgia (6–0–0) faced off in Athens before a crowd of 36,000 for the rights to best in the South. The Green Wave rolled over Georgia's Bulldogs 20–7. Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt 21–7. USC beat visiting Montana 69–0. Harvard defeated Holy Cross 7–0. Purdue defeated Iowa 22–0 and Northwestern edged Indiana 7–6. Pittsburgh beat visiting Army 26–0. In Baltimore, Notre Dame beat Navy 20–0
November 21 Notre Dame (6–0–1) had not lost a football game in almost three years, its last defeat having been to the USC Trojans on 27–14 on December 1, 1928. A crowd of 52,000 turned out as (5–1–0) USC came to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend for the first time ever. The Trojans trailed 14–0 going into the fourth quarter, and was trailing 14–13 in the final minutes after Johnny Baker's extra point attempt had been blocked. In the final minute, Baker kicked a 34–yard field goal for a 16–14 win, Notre Dame's first loss in 27 starts.Tulane beat Sewanee 40–0. Northwestern won at Iowa 9–0, and Purdue won at Indiana, 19–0. In Columbus, Ga., Georgia beat Auburn 12–6. Yale (3–1–2) hosted Harvard (7–0–0) and won 3–0
November 26 On Thanksgiving Day, Pitt and Nebraska, both 7–1–0, met in Pittsburgh, with the home team winning 40–0. Tennessee and Kentucky played to a 6–6 tie in Lexington. St. Mary's defeated Oregon 16–0.
November 28 In Yankee Stadium, a crowd of 80,000 turned out in spite of a snowstorm, and watched as Notre Dame was beaten by Army, 12–0, for its second consecutive defeat after 26 games without a loss.Meanwhile, 40,000 watched in Chicago as Northwestern (7–0–1) and Purdue (8–1–0) met in a "post-season charity game" on a frozen field in Chicago, with the Boilermakers handing the Wildcats their first defeat, 7–0.
Yale beat Princeton 51–14. Tulane defeated LSU 34–7 and Georgia defeated Georgia Tech 35–6
December 5 Tulane beat Washington State 28–14 to close at 11–0–0, unbeaten and untied, while Tennessee played NYU at Yankee Stadium, winning 13–0 to finish at 8–0–1. USC defeated Washington 44–7. St. Mary's closed its season with a 7–2 win over Southern Methodist (SMU).
December 12 USC and Georgia, both 8–1–0, met in Los Angeles, and the visiting Bulldogs were crushed 60–0
For the first time, the Rose Bowl matchup included the No. 1 ranked team under the Dickinson ratings. That team, USC, was matched against No. 2 ranked Tulane. A crowd of 83,000 turned out in Pasadena, a Rose Bowl record. Though Tulane had outgained USC in total yards (378 vs. 233) and first downs (18 vs. 11), the USC Trojans made the most of their three scoring opportunities. In the third quarter, Erny Pinckert ran 28 yards for a touchdown, then, after the Trojans recovered a Tulane fumble, scored again. USC went up 21–0 before Tulane fought back with two touchdowns, and only a tough Trojan defense held the Green Wave from scoring more. The final result was USC 21, Tulane 12.
|Big Four Conference||Oklahoma City||3–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association||Hampton Institute||8–0–1|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference|| Washburn |
|Far Western Conference||No champion||—|
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Simpson||6–0|
|Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference||Kansas Wesleyan||2–0–2|
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Hillsdale||3–0–2|
|Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Carleton |
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Concordia–Moorhead||4–1|
|Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Northwest Missouri State Teacher||4–0|
|Nebraska College Athletic Conference||Nebraska Wesleyan||—|
|Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Association||State Normal and Teachers (NE)||—|
|North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||North Dakota||3–0–2|
|North Dakota College Athletic Conference|| Minot State Teachers |
State Normal and Industrial (ND)
|Ohio Athletic Conference||Muskingum||4–0|
|Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference||Central State Teachers||4–0–1|
|Pacific Northwest Conference||Whitman||3–1|
|South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference||Northern Normal and Industrial||3–0–1|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||California Tech||5–1|
|Southwestern Athletic Conference||Prairie View A&M||5–0|
|Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Tuskegee||7–1|
|Texas Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Hardin–Simmons |
|Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association||North Texas State Teachers||4–0|
|Wisconsin State Teachers College Conference||Milwaukee State Teachers||4–0|
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.
Although Tulane was unbeaten and untied (11–0), it was second to the USC with a 9–1 record.
The 1967 NCAA University Division football season was the last one in which college football's champion was crowned before the bowl games. 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 and now as the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
In the 1968 NCAA University Division football season, the system of "polls and bowls" changed. The Associated Press returned to its pre-1961 system of ranking the Top 20 rather than the Top 10, and voted on the national champion after the bowl games, rather than before. 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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.