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|1954 college football season|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Notre Dame|
|Number of bowls||7|
|Champion(s)|| Ohio State (AP)|
UCLA (Coaches, FWAA)
|Heisman||Alan Ameche (fullback, Wisconsin)|
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.
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 1954 consisted of the votes of as many as 419 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).
In 1954, a limit of 10 games per season, excluding a bowl game, was imposed on all teams, with the exception that existing contracts would not be changed.
|School||1953 Conference||1954 Conference|
In the preseason poll released on September 13, 1954, No. 1 Notre Dame had the most points, although No. 2 Oklahoma had more first place votes (74 vs. 52). Rounding out the Top Five were defending champion No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Texas and No. 5 Illinois. As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games.
September 18, No. 2 Oklahoma won at No. 12 California 27–13, and No. 3 Maryland won at Kentucky, 20–0. Notre Dame and Texas, No. 1 and No. 4, were preparing to meet at South Bend to open their seasons. Oklahoma replaced Notre Dame as No. 1 in the first regular poll. No. 7 Georgia Tech, which beat Tulane 28–0 in Atlanta, replaced Illinois in the Top Five. Defying high expectations, the Illini would lose their opener to Penn State, 14–12, and finish the season with a 1–8–0 record. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Notre Dame 3.Maryland 4.Texas 5.Georgia Tech.
September 25 No. 2 Notre Dame hosted No. 4 Texas and won 21–0. No. 1 Oklahoma beat No. 20 Texas Christian (TCU) 21–16. No. 3 Maryland was idle, and No. 5 Georgia Tech lost to Florida, 13–12. Notre Dame took back over the top spot from O.U., and Texas, Maryland and Georgia Tech were replaced by No. 8 UCLA (32–7 over Kansas), No. 10 Wisconsin (52–14 over Marquette) and No. 11 Iowa (14–10 over No. 7 Michigan State). The poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Oklahoma 3.Iowa 4.UCLA 5.Wisconsin
In a Friday game, No. 4 UCLA beat No. 6 Maryland 12–7. The next day, October 2, No. 1 Notre Dame was upset by No. 19 Purdue, 27–14. No. 2 Oklahoma which was idle, moved to the top as Notre Dame dropped out. No. 3 Iowa defeated visiting Montana, 48–6, and No. 5 Wisconsin beat No. 13 Michigan State 6–0. In Columbia, the No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks fell 26–6 against unranked West Virginia. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.UCLA 3.Wisconsin 4.Iowa 5.Purdue
October 9 No. 1 Oklahoma won its annual game in Dallas against No. 15 Texas, 14–7. No. 2 UCLA edged Washington 21–20. No. 3 Wisconsin beat No. 11 Rice 13–7. No. 4 Iowa lost to unranked Michigan, 14–13, and No. 5 Purdue was tied by No. 6 Duke, 13–13 (in the next poll, they stayed at No. 5 and No. 6). No. 10 Ohio State, which had won at Illinois 40–7, entered the Top Five: 1.Oklahoma 2.Wisconsin 3.UCLA 4.Ohio State 5.Purdue.
October 16 No. 2 Wisconsin hosted No. 5 Purdue and won 20–6. No. 1 Oklahoma visited Kansas and annihilated it, 65–0, while No. 3 UCLA went one better in beating Stanford 72–0. No. 4 Ohio State beat No. 13 Iowa 20–14. No. 14 West Virginia Mountaineers knocked off the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions 19–14 at Beaver Stadium. No. 7 Ole Miss, which had beaten Tulane 34–7, entered the Top Five: 1.Oklahoma 2.Wisconsin 3.UCLA 4.Ohio State 5.Mississippi.
October 23 No. 2 Wisconsin faced its second top-ranked opponent in a week, visiting Big Ten rival and No. 4 Ohio State. OSU won, 31–14, to take the No. 1 spot. No. 1 Oklahoma beat Kansas State 21–0, and No. 3 UCLA beat Oregon State 61–0. No. 5 Mississippi lost to No. 7 Arkansas at Little Rock, 6–0. No. 9 Army, which had won 67–12 at Columbia, moved up. The poll: 1.Ohio State 2.Oklahoma 3.UCLA 4.Arkansas 5.Army
October 30 No. 1 Ohio State won at Northwestern, 14–7. No. 2 Oklahoma won 13–6 at Colorado. No. 3 UCLA won at California 27–6 and was given top billing in the next poll. No. 4 Arkansas won 14–7 at Texas A & M. No. 5 Army, which got to stay home, edged Virginia 21–20. No. 6 Notre Dame, which beat No. 15 Navy 6–0 in Baltimore, moved up. The poll: 1.UCLA 2.Ohio State 3.Oklahoma 4.Arkansas 5.Notre Dame.
November 6 No. 1 UCLA won at Oregon 41–0. No. 2 Ohio State beat visiting No. 20 Pittsburgh, 26–0. No. 3 Oklahoma won at Iowa State 40–0. No. 4 Arkansas, playing at Little Rock, beat No. 15 Rice 28–15, and No. 5 Notre Dame won at Penn, 42–7.
November 13 No. 1 UCLA had the week off, while No. 2 Ohio State won at Purdue 28–6 and got back the top rung. No. 3 Oklahoma beat Missouri 34–13. No. 4 Arkansas lost to No. 19 SMU, 21–14. No. 5 Notre Dame beat North Carolina, 42–13. No. 6 Army, which at won at Penn 35–0, came back to the Top Five: 1.Ohio State 2.UCLA 3.Oklahoma 4.Notre Dame 5.Army.
November 20 No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 12 Michigan 21–7. In Los Angeles, No. 2 UCLA beat its crosstown rival, No. 8 USC, 34–0. No. 3 Oklahoma beat Nebraska 55–7. No. 4 Notre Dame won at Iowa 34–18. No. 5 Army had the day, preparing for the Army-Navy game.
November 27 No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 UCLA had finished their seasons. No. 3 Oklahoma won its annual season-closer at Oklahoma State, 14–0. No. 4 Notre Dame beat No. 17 USC 23–17. In Philadelphia, No. 5 Army was beaten by No. 6 Navy, 27–20, with the Midshipmen taking Army's spot in the poll.
|California Collegiate Athletic Association||Fresno State Normal||4–0|
|Central Church College Conference||Concordia (NE)||3–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association||North Carolina College||6–0–1|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference|| Kansas State Teachers–Hays |
|College Conference of Illinois|| Millikin |
|Far Western Conference||San Francisco State||5–0|
|Frontier Conference||Carroll (MT)||4–0|
|Gulf Coast Conference||Trinity (TX)||2–0|
|Indiana Collegiate Conference||Valparaiso||5–1|
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Luther||6–0|
|Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference||College of Emporia||7–0|
|Lone Star Conference|| East Texas State Teachers |
Southwest Texas State Teachers
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Hillsdale||6–0|
|Mid-American Conference||Miami (OH)||4–0|
|Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference||Carleton||8–0|
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Gustavus Adolphus||6–0|
|Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Northeast Missouri State||5–0|
|Nebraska College Conference||Hastings||7–0|
|New Mexico Intercollegiate Conference||Panhandle A&M||5–0|
|North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference|| Morningside |
South Dakota State College
|North Dakota College Athletic Conference|| Minot State Teachers |
Valley City State
|Ohio Athletic Conference||Heidelberg||5–0–1|
|Ohio Valley Conference||Eastern Kentucky State||5–0|
|Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Central State College (OK) |
Southwestern State College (OK)
|Oregon Collegiate Conference||Unknown||—|
|Pacific Northwest Conference|| College of Idaho |
Lewis & Clark
|Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference|| East Stroudsburg State Teachers |
Shippensburg State Teachers
|Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Western State||7–1|
|South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference||Southern State Teachers (USD–Springfield)||6–1|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Pomona-Pitzer||4–0|
|Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Florida A&M||4–0|
|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||Howard Payne||2–0|
|Wisconsin State College Conference||Wisconsin State–La Crosse||4–0–1|
AP ranked Ohio State as No. 1, while the UPI coaches' poll gave the top spot to UCLA. Both wire services' rankings were made at the end of the regular season, and were unaffected by the postseason bowl games. Ohio State and UCLA had two common opponents in 1954; Cal and USC. Ohio State defeated Cal 21–13 and USC 20–7, while UCLA defeated Cal 27–6 and USC 34–0.
|1||Ohio State||9–0–0||Big 10|
The United Press International poll, taken from a panel of 35 coaches, had UCLA as the number one team beginning with the poll released on October 26. A rival to the AP poll, the UPI prefaced its release with the statement, "The men who know the game the best, the coaches themselves, voted UCLA to the top spot by the slender margin of seven points over Ohio State, the perfect record champions of the Big 10 Conference,"The UPI poll was a Top Ten, with a first place vote by a coach being worth 10 points, second worth 9 points, etc. With 350 being the maximum number of points, and 315 being the total for 35 second place votes, the panel was split on whether UCLA or Ohio State was the best team in the nation. The UPI Top Ten Ohio State and UCLA had two common opponents in 1954; Cal and USC. Ohio State defeated Cal 21–13 and USC 20–7, while UCLA defeated Cal 27–6 and USC 34–0.
|11 (t)||Georgia Tech|
|Bowl game||Winning team||Losing team|
|Rose Bowl||No. 1 Ohio State||20||No. 17 USC||7|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 5 Navy||21||No. 6 Ole Miss||0|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||Georgia Tech||14||No. 10 Arkansas||6|
|Orange Bowl||No. 14 Duke||34||Nebraska||7|
|Gator Bowl||No. 13 Auburn||33||No. 18 Baylor||13|
|Refrigerator Bowl||Delaware||19||Kent 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.
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 1969 college football season was celebrated as the centennial of college football.
The 1970 NCAA University Division football season was marked by tragedy, due to two airplane crashes. On October 2, one of the planes carrying the Wichita State football team crashed on the way to a game against Utah State, killing 31 people on board, including 14 players. Then, on November 14, the charter for the Marshall Thundering Herd crashed on the way home from a game against East Carolina, killing all 75 persons.
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 1972 NCAA University Division football season saw the USC Trojans, coached by John McKay, go undefeated and win the national championship as the unanimous choice of the 50 AP panelists. Eighth-ranked in the preseason, the Trojans were narrowly voted No. 1 in the first AP poll, and stayed out front for the rest of the year.
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 1974 NCAA Division I football season finished with two national champions. The Associated Press (AP) writers' poll ranked the University of Oklahoma, which was on probation and barred by the NCAA from postseason play, No. 1 at season's end. The United Press International (UPI) coaches' poll did not rank teams on probation, by unanimous agreement of the 25 member coaches' board. The UPI trophy went to the University of Southern California (USC).
The 1975 NCAA Division I football season saw University of Oklahoma repeat as national champion in the Associated Press (AP) writers' poll, and were ranked No. 1 in the United Press International (UPI) coaches' poll, just ahead of runner up Arizona State, runner-up in both final polls, despite having an undefeated 12–0 season and a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.
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 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 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 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 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.