|1953 college football season|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Notre Dame|
|Number of bowls||7|
|Champion(s)||Maryland Terrapins (AP, Coaches)|
|Heisman||Johnny Lattner (halfback, Notre Dame)|
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.
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 "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in the annual NCAA Football Guide of the "unofficial" national champions. The AP poll in 1953 consisted of the votes of as many as 378 sportswriters.
Though not all writers voted in every poll, each would give their opinion of the twenty best teams. Under a point system of 20 points for first place, 19 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined. Although the rankings were based on the collective opinion of the representative sportswriters, the teams that remained "unbeaten and untied" were generally ranked higher than those that had not. A defeat, even against a strong opponent, tended to cause a team to drop in the rankings, and a team with two or more defeats was unlikely to remain in the Top 20. Generally, the top teams played on New Year's Day in the four major postseason bowl games: the Rose Bowl (near Los Angeles at Pasadena), the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), the Orange Bowl (Miami), and the Cotton Bowl (Dallas).
|School||1952 Conference||1953 Conference|
|Duke Blue Devils||SoCon||ACC|
|Erskine Flying Fleet||Independent||Dropped Program|
|Evansville Purple Aces||Ohio Valley||Indiana Collegiate Conference|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||Independent||MAC|
|Michigan State Spartans||Independent||Big Ten (was Big Nine)|
|Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders||VSAC||Ohio Valley|
|NYU Violets||Independent||Dropped Program|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||SoCon||ACC|
|NC State Wolfpack||SoCon||ACC|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||SoCon||ACC|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||SoCon||ACC|
In the preseason poll released on September 14, 1953, Notre Dame was rated first, followed by the defending champion, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, UCLA, and Alabama. As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games.
In a Friday night game at Los Angeles, No. 4 UCLA beat Oregon State 41–0. Meanwhile, at Montgomery, AL, No. 5 Alabama was shocked by Southern Mississippi, 25–19. The next day, September 19 No. 3 Georgia Tech beat Davidson, 53–0. Notre Dame and Michigan State began their seasons the following week.
On September 26 No. 1 Notre Dame won 28–21 at No. 6 Oklahoma. No. 2 Michigan State won at Iowa, 21–7. No. 3 Georgia Tech went to No. 15 Florida and was held to a 0–0 tie. No. 4 UCLA beat Kansas 19–7. Still at No. 5, Alabama, trying to salvage some respect against a second unranked opponent, went to 0–1–1 after a 7–7 tie against LSU in Mobile; in the poll that followed, the Crimson Tide fell completely out of the Top 20. No. 9 Maryland, which had won 52–0 at Washington and Lee, rose to third, and previously unranked Michigan (a 50–0 victor over Wisconsin, entered the poll at fourth.
The poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Michigan State 3.Maryland 4.Michigan 5.UCLA
October 3 With the exception of No. 4 Michigan, which beat Tulane 26–7 at home, the other top teams won on the road, with No. 1 Notre Dame at Purdue, 37–7, No. 2 Michigan State at Minnesota 21–0, No. 3 Maryland at Clemson, 20–0, and No. 5 UCLA defeated Oregon 12–0 in an away game. No. 6 Ohio State, which won 33–19 at California, rose to third in the next poll, knocking UCLA out. The Big Ten had three of the spots in the top five:
October 10 No. 1 Notre Dame was idle, but stayed at No. 1 after No. 2 Michigan State's 26–19 win over TCU. No. 4 Maryland won 40–13 over Georgia and No. 5 Michigan edged Iowa 14–13. The night before, No. 3 Ohio State had lost 40–21 to Illinois, while No. 6 UCLA returned to the top bracket with a 13–0 win over visiting Wisconsin. The poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Michigan State 3.Maryland 4.UCLA 5.Michigan
October 17 No. 1 Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 23–14. No. 2 Michigan State defeated Indiana 47–18. No. 3 Maryland won 26–0 at North Carolina. No. 4 UCLA lost at Stanford, 21–20. No. 5 Michigan beat Northwestern 20–12. No. 6 Georgia Tech, which beat Auburn 36–6, took UCLA's place in the next poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Michigan State 3.Maryland 4. Georgia Tech 5.Michigan.
October 24 No. 1 Notre Dame stayed unbeaten with a 27–14 win over No. 4 Georgia Tech. No. 2 Michigan State lost 6–0 at Purdue and No. 5 Michigan lost at Minnesota 22–0. No. 3 Maryland won a Friday game at Miami, 30–0. Coming into the Top Five were No. 6 Baylor (14–13 over Texas A&M), 7 Illinois (20–13 over Syracuse), and No. 8 West Virginia (52–20 over VMI). The poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Maryland 3.Baylor 4.Illinois 5. West Virginia
October 31 No. 1 Notre Dame beat Navy 38–7. No. 2 Maryland beat South Carolina 24–6. No. 3 Baylor beat TCU 25–7. No. 4 Illinois defeated Purdue 21–0. beat Oregon State 34–6. No. 5 West Virginia won at Penn State 20–19. No. 6 Michigan State, which beat Oregon State 34–6, rose to fifth. The poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Maryland 3.Baylor 4.Illinois 5.Michigan State
November 7 No. 1 Notre Dame won 28–20 at Penn. No. 2 Maryland beat George Washington University 27–6 at a game in Washington, DC. No. 3 Baylor lost at Texas, 21–20. No. 4 Illinois beat Michigan 9–3. No. 5 Michigan State won 28–13 at Ohio State, but still dropped in the poll. No. 6 Georgia Tech, which beat Clemson 20–7, rose to fifth.
November 14 No. 1 Notre Dame won at North Carolina, 34–14, and No. 2 Maryland beat Mississippi 38–0 as both stayed unbeaten and untied. No. 4 Michigan State beat Michigan 14–6. On the other hand, No. 3 Illinois lost to Wisconsin, 34–7 and No. 5 Georgia Tech fell 13–6 to Alabama in a game at Birmingham. Returning to the Top Five to take their place were No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 UCLA, which had defeated Iowa (47–0) and Washington (22–6), respectively.
November 21 Number one since the season began, No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 14–14 tie with Iowa. No. 2 Maryland closed its season with a 21–0 win over Alabama to finish the season unbeaten and untied, at 10–0–0, to take the top rung on the AP poll. No. 3 Michigan State closed with a 21–15 win over Marquette. No. 4 Oklahoma beat Nebraska 30–7, and No. 5 UCLA beat USC, 13–0.
November 28 The new No. 1, Maryland, had already finished its season. No. 2 Notre Dame, with a 48–14 win at USC, and No. 4 Oklahoma (42–7 over Oklahoma State) were the only Top Five members who hadn't closed their seasons. The following Saturday, December 5, Notre Dame beat visiting SMU 40–14.
In the Final AP poll, released November 30, No. 1 Maryland, the only unbeaten and untied team, received 187 first place votes, and unbeaten, but once-tied No. 2 Notre Dame had 141 votes. ACC member Maryland accepted a bid to the Orange Bowl to meet once-beaten (8–1–1), Big 7 champ, and No. 4 Oklahoma, while No. 3 Michigan State and No. 5 UCLA would meet in the Rose Bowl. Notre Dame declined to participate in a postseason game.
After the AP National Champion Maryland lost in the Orange Bowl, there was a lot of controversy since the AP Poll had been finalized beforehand and could not be changed to take this result into account. This Maryland loss resulted in Notre Dame being ranked No. 1 by 10 polls, including Billingsley , Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, National Championship Foundation, Williamson, and several others. As a reward for beating the Terrapins, the Sooners received No. 1 from Berryman and Football Research.
|California Collegiate Athletic Association||Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo||5–0|
|Central Church College Conference||Dana||3–1|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association||North Carolina College||5–1|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference|| Saint Benedict's |
|College Conference of Illinois||Wheaton (IL)||4–0|
|Evergreen Conference|| Puget Sound |
|Far Western Conference||Chico State College||1–0–1|
|Frontier Conference||Carroll (MT)||4–0|
|Gulf Coast Conference||Trinity (TX)||2–0|
|Indiana Collegiate Conference||Butler||5–0|
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Iowa Wesleyan||4–0|
|Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference||College of Emporia||7–0|
|Lone Star Conference||East Texas State Teachers||5–0|
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Hope||5–1|
|Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference||Saint Olaf||6–0|
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Gustavus Adolphus||6–0|
|Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Northeast Missouri State||5–0|
|Nebraska College Conference||Peru State Teachers||6–0|
|New Mexico Intercollegiate Conference||Panhandle A&M||6–0|
|North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||South Dakota State College||5–0–1|
|North Dakota College Athletic Conference||Valley City State||6–0|
|Ohio Athletic Conference||Ohio Wesleyan||7–0|
|Ohio Valley Conference||Tennessee Tech||5–0|
|Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference||Northeastern State College (OK)||4–0–1|
|Oregon Collegiate Conference||Unknown||—|
|Pacific Northwest Conference||College of Idaho||5–0|
|Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference|| Shippensburg State Teachers |
West Chester State Teachers
|Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Idaho State College||5–0|
|South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference||Northern State Teachers||6–0|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Pomona-Pitzer||3–1|
|Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Florida A&M||6–0|
|Southwestern Athletic Conference||Prairie View A&M College||6–0|
|State Teacher's College Conference of Minnesota||St. Cloud State Teachers||4–0|
|Texas Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Abilene Christian |
Texas A&I College
|Wisconsin State College Conference|| Wisconsin State–La Crosse |
|Bowl game||Winning team||Losing team|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||No. 6 Rice||28||No. 13 Alabama||6|
|Gator Bowl||No. 12 Texas Tech'||35||No. 17 Auburn||13|
|Orange Bowl||No. 4 Oklahoma||7||No. 1 Maryland||0|
|Rose Bowl||No. 3 Michigan State||28||No. 5 UCLA Bruins||20|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 8 Georgia Tech||42||No. 10 West Virginia||19|
|Sun Bowl||Texas Western||37||Mississippi Southern||14|
|Tangerine Bowl||Arkansas State||7||East Texas State||7|
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.
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.
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 No. 1 vs. No. 2 game against Alabama.
The 1957 NCAA University Division football season saw two different national champions. Auburn was ranked first in the AP writers' poll taken at season's end, while Ohio State was first in the UPI coaches' poll. Auburn 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 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 1977 NCAA Division I football season was one in which the top five teams finished with 11–1 records. Notre Dame, which beat top-ranked and undefeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl, became the national champion.
The 1956 NCAA University Division football season saw the University of Oklahoma Sooners finish a third consecutive season unbeaten and untied to again win the national championship.
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 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 1951 college football season finished with seven unbeaten major college teams, of which five were unbeaten and untied. Ultimately, the Tennessee Volunteers were voted the best team by the Associated Press, followed by the Michigan State Spartans, with the Vols having a plurality of first place votes. Tennessee lost in the Sugar Bowl to the equally undefeated and untied No. 3 Maryland Terrapins, but the postseason games were not taken into account by the major polls. Tennessee, Michigan State, and Illinois all claim national championships for 1951.
The 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.
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.