|1946 college football season|
|First AP No. 1 of season||Texas|
|Number of bowls||12|
|Champion(s)|| Notre Dame (AP)|
Delaware (small college)
|Heisman||Glenn Davis (halfback, Army)|
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.
During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the college football teams that would later be described as "Division I-A". The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of the Associated Press poll of sportswriters (the UPI Coaches poll would not start until 1950). The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in the annual NCAA Football Guide of the "unofficial" national champions.
Georgia and UCLA would finish the regular season as the only unbeaten and untied teams. UCLA lost in the Rose Bowl and Georgia was victorious in the Sugar Bowl.
Several new bowl games would debut, among them the Tangerine Bowl (later known as the Citrus Bowl and currently known as the VRBO Citrus Bowl).
|School||1945 Conference||1946 Conference|
|Houston Cougars||Program Established||Lone Star|
The Associated Press did not poll the writers until the third week of the season. Among the teams that had been ranked highest at the end of 1946, the two service academies—Army and Navy, as well as Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma State, several had faltered before the first poll. Army beat Villanova 35–0 on September 21, and Oklahoma State beat Denver, 40–7, but Indiana lost to the University of Cincinnati, 15–6. Also on September 21, Houston of the Lone Star Conference played its first ever football game against Louisiana–Lafayette of the Louisiana Intercollegiate Conference, in which Houston was defeated by a score of 13–7.
On September 28, Army beat Oklahoma 21–7, and Navy beat Villanova 7–0. Alabama edged Southern Mississippi in a game at Montgomery, 13–12. Indiana lost again, 21–0 at Michigan, and OK State was tied 21–21 by Arkansas. Notre Dame won at Illinois, 26–6, and UCLA beat Oregon State 50–7.
On October 5, Army beat Cornell 46–21. Navy lost at Columbia and dropped the rest of its games, finishing 1–8–0. Oklahoma State lost 54–6 at Texas and would finish at 3–7–1. Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 33–0. Michigan beat Iowa 14–7. UCLA won at Washington, 39–13. In the poll that followed, One voter split his first place vote between Texas, Army, and Notre Dame, who received 69⅓, 21⅓ and 15⅓ votes respectively. Michigan and UCLA rounded out the Top Five.
October 12 In Dallas, No. 1 Texas beat Oklahoma 20–13. No. 2 Army and No. 4 Michigan met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the visiting Cadets won 20–13. No. 3 Notre Dame beat Purdue 49–6. No. 5 UCLA beat No. 17 Stanford 26–6.
October 19 No. 1 Army beat No. 11 Columbia 48–14. No. 2 Notre Dame was idle. No. 3 Texas beat No. 14 Arkansas 20–0. No. 4 UCLA won at California 13–6. No. 5 Michigan and No. 10 Northwestern played to a 14–14 tie. No. 9 Tennessee beat No. 7 Alabama 12–0.
October 26 At the Polo Grounds in New York, No. 1 Army beat No. 13 Duke 19–0. No. 2 Notre Dame won at No. 17 Iowa, 49–6. In Houston, No. 3 Texas lost to No. 16 Rice, 18–13. No. 4 Tennessee lost to unranked Wake Forest, 19–6. No. 5 UCLA beat Santa Clara 33–7. No. 6 Penn beat Navy 32–19 and No. 7 Georgia won at Furman, 70–7
November 2 No. 1 Army beat West Virginia, 19–0. In Baltimore, No. 2 Notre Dame defeated Navy 28–0. No. 3 Pennsylvania lost to Princeton, 17–14. No. 5 Georgia beat No. 15 Alabama 14–0. No. 4 UCLA had beaten St. Mary's, 46–20, in a Friday night game. No. 8 Rice beat Texas Tech 41–6.
November 9 A crowd of 74,000 turned out at New York's Yankee Stadium to watch No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame in a meeting of the nation's two unbeaten and untied teams. Both teams missed scoring opportunities. In the opening quarter, Army recovered a fumble on the Irish 24, but was stopped on fourth down at the 13 yard line. The Irish drove to the Army three yard line in the second quarter but no further. Army reached the Irish 20 yard line in the third quarter, but Notre Dame's Terry Brennan picked off a pass from Glenn Davis. In the last quarter, a bad punt was returned by Davis to the Irish 39 yard line, but they forced a fumble and stopped any further scoring chances. The game ended in a scoreless tie, 0–0. .In Jacksonville, No. 3 Georgia beat Florida 33-14. In Portland, No. 4 UCLA beat Oregon 14–0. No. 5 Rice lost in Little Rock to Arkansas, 7–0. No. 9 Penn returned to the Top Five after beating Columbia in New York's "other" football game, 41–6.
November 16 In its third meeting against a Top Five team, No. 1 Army beat No. 5 Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, 34–7. No. 2 Notre Dame beat Northwestern, 27–0. No. 3 Georgia beat Auburn 41–0 in a neutral site in Columbus, Georgia. No. 4 UCLA beat Montana 61–7. No. 9 Illinois beat No. 13 Ohio State, 16–7.
November 23 No. 1 Army was idle. No. 2 Notre Dame beat Tulane in New Orleans, 41–0. No. 3 Georgia won at Chattanooga, 48–27. No. 4 UCLA defeated No. 10 USC 13–6. No. 5 Illinois won at Northwestern, 20–0, to close its season with an 8–1–0 record
November 30 No. 1 Army barely beat a 1–7–0 Navy team, 21–18. No. 2 Notre Dame beat No. 16 USC, 26–6 No. 3 Georgia defeated No. 7 Georgia Tech 35–7. No. 4 UCLA beat Nebraska 18–0 and accepted an invitation to face No. 5 Illinois in the Rose Bowl.
|California Collegiate Athletic Association||San Jose State||4–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association||Morgan State College||7–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Southwestern (KS)||4–1|
|College Conference of Illinois||North Central (IL)||7–1|
|Dakota-Iowa Athletic Conference|| Westmar |
|Far Western Conference||Humboldt State College||1–0–1|
|Indiana Intercollegiate Conference||Butler||6–0|
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference|| Central (IA) |
|Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference||Bethany||5–1|
|Lone Star Conference||North Texas State Teachers||4–1|
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association|| Kalamazoo |
|Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference||Lawrence||6–0|
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Gustavus Adolphus||6–0|
|Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Southeast Missouri State Teachers||5–0|
|Nebraska College Conference||Doane||5–0–1|
|New Mexico Intercollegiate Conference||Adams State College||4–0|
|North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Iowa State Teachers (Northern Iowa)||2–0–1|
|North Dakota College Athletic Conference||Minot State Teachers||3–0–1|
|Ohio Athletic Conference||Otterbein||4–0|
|Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference||Southeastern State College (OK)||4–1|
|Pacific Northwest Conference||Willamette||6–0|
|Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference||California State Teachers||4–0|
|Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Montana State College||2–0–1|
|South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference||Black Hills Teachers||4–0|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Redlands||2–0–2|
|Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Florida A&M College||6–0|
|Southwestern Athletic Conference||Southern||5–0|
|State Teacher's College Conference of Minnesota|| Duluth State Teachers |
Mankato State Teachers
|Texas Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Abilene Christian College |
|Washington Intercollegiate Conference||Central Washington College||6–0|
|Wisconsin State Teachers College Conference||North: Superior State Teachers |
Co-South: Milwaukee State Teachers
Co-South: Stevens Point State Teachers
|Bowl game||Winning team||Losing team|
|Rose Bowl||No. 5 Illinois||45||No. 4 UCLA||14|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 3 Georgia||20||No. 9 North Carolina||10|
|Orange Bowl||No. 10 Rice||8||No. 7 Tennessee||0|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||No. 16 Arkansas||0||No. 8 LSU||0|
|Gator Bowl||No. 14 Oklahoma||34||No. 18 NC State||13|
|Oil Bowl||No. 11 Georgia Tech||41||Saint Mary's||19|
|Raisin Bowl||Utah State||0||San Jose State||20|
|Harbor Bowl||Montana State||13||New Mexico||13|
|Cigar Bowl||No. 19 Delaware||20||Rollins||3|
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 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 1971 NCAA University Division football season saw Coach Bob Devaney's Nebraska Cornhuskers repeat as national champions. Ranked a close second behind Notre Dame in the preseason poll, Nebraska moved up to first place the following week, remained there for the rest of 1971, and convincingly won the Orange Bowl 38–6 in a #1 vs. #2 game against Alabama.
The 1958 NCAA University Division football season was notable in that it was the first to feature the two-point conversion. On January 13, 1958, the eleven-man NCAA Rules Committee unanimously approved a resolution to allow teams to choose between kicking an extra point after a touchdown, or running or passing from the three-yard line for two points. University of Michigan athletic director Fritz Crisler said at the meeting in Fort Lauderdale, "It's a progressive step which will make football more interesting for the spectators," adding that the rule "will add drama to what has been the dullest, most stupid play in the game."
The 1957 NCAA University Division football season saw two different national champions. [[1957 Alabama Polytechnic Institute team|(Auburn University in 1960) was ranked first in the AP writers' poll taken at season's end, while Ohio State University was first in the UPI coaches' poll. API was ineligible for a bowl game, however, having been placed on probation indefinitely by the Southeastern Conference, after having paid two high school players $500 apiece.
The 1973 NCAA Division I football season was the first for the NCAA's current three-division structure. Effective with the 1973–74 academic year, schools formerly in the NCAA "University Division" were classified as Division I. Schools in the former "College Division" were classified into Division II, which allowed fewer athletic scholarships than Division I, and Division III, in which athletic scholarships were prohibited.
The 1976 NCAA Division I football season ended with a championship for the Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh. Led by head coach Johnny Majors, the Pitt Panthers brought a college football championship to the home of the defending pro football champions, the Steelers. Pitt also had the Heisman Trophy winner, Tony Dorsett; the Panthers had been ranked ninth in the preseason AP poll.
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 1955 college football season saw the Oklahoma Sooners win the national championship after going 10–0–0. Although the final poll was taken before the postseason bowl games, Oklahoma played against the nation's other unbeaten and untied (10–0–0) team, the Maryland Terrapins, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, and won 20–6.
The 1954 college football season saw three teams finish unbeaten and untied, with Ohio State Buckeyes and the UCLA Bruins sharing the national championship as the No. 1 picks of the AP Poll and the UPI Poll, respectively. Although the winners of the Big Ten and the Pacific conferences normally met in the Rose Bowl, a "no repeat" prevented the two champions from meeting. UCLA, which had been in the Rose Bowl earlier in the year, was replaced by conference runner-up USC.
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 1952 college football season ended with the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans (9–0) and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12–0) each claiming a national championship from different polls. Michigan State finished first according to two of the "wire service" polls, which both placed Georgia Tech second. Georgia Tech was first in the International News Service poll. UP and INS merged in 1958 to form UPI. Although the Spartans became members of the Big Ten Conference in 1950, full participation did not come until 1953, and under the terms of their entry into the conference, they were not allowed to participate in postseason play. Georgia Tech won the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day in New Orleans.
The 1950 college football season finished with the unbeaten and untied Oklahoma Sooners (9–0) being the consensus choice for national champion. On New Year's Day, however, the Sooners were upset by the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sugar Bowl. The Army Cadets, ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll, had been defeated in its final regular season game by 2–6 Navy, 14–2. However, the final poll had been issued on November 27, and the bowl games had no effect on Oklahoma's status as the No. 1 team.
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.
In 1942, Ohio State and Georgia were crowned national champions. Georgia defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1943. Nine ranking authorities listed in the NCAA record books listed the Bulldogs as No. 1. Ohio State was crowned No. 1 in the final AP Poll at the end of November and did not make a bowl appearance. At the time, the AP poll did not put out a post-bowl poll.
The 1945 college football season finished with the undefeated United States Military Academy, more popularly known as "Army", being the unanimous choice for the nation's number one team by the 116 voters in the Associated Press writers' poll. The runner up was the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide, followed by the United States Naval Academy, more popularly known as "Navy". In 2016, the American Football Coaches Association retroactively named the Oklahoma A&M Cowboys national champion for 1945.