|1955 college football season|
|Preseason AP No. 1||UCLA|
|Number of bowls||7|
|Champion(s)||Oklahoma (AP, Coaches, FWAA)|
|Heisman||Howard Cassady (halfback, Ohio State)|
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.
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 1955 consisted of the votes of as many as 391 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||1954 Conference||1955 Conference|
|Western Reserve Red Cats||MAC||Presidents'|
In the preseason poll released on September 12, 1955, the UCLA Bruins, 1954's co champions, received 33 first place votes, while Oklahoma had 32. Michigan had 34 votes, but the third most points overall. Other teams nominated for the top spot were defending champ Ohio State, Maryland, Notre Dame, Navy, Miami, Georgia Tech, Iowa, USC, Duke, West Virginia, and Purdue.As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games. The preseason Top Five was 1.UCLA 2.Oklahoma 3.Michigan 4.Ohio State 5.Maryland.
On Friday, September 16, No. 1 UCLA opened in Los Angeles with a 21–0 win over visiting Texas A&M. September 17, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State were idle, but No. 5 Maryland edged Missouri on the road, 13–12. No. 10 Georgia Tech, which had beaten No. 9 Miami 14–6 in Atlanta, rose to 2nd place in the next poll: 1.UCLA 2.Georgia Tech 3.Oklahoma 4.Michigan 5.Maryland.
On September 24, No. 1 UCLA and No. 5 Maryland met at College Park, before a record crowd. UCLA's Doug Peters plunged into the end zone in the first half, but fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line. In the second half, the home team Terrapins had the ball 17 yards from goal, on fourth down. Rather than kicking a field goal, Ed Vereb ran for the winning touchdown, giving Maryland a 7–0 win.
No. 2 Georgia Tech won at No. 15 Florida, 14–7. No. 3 Oklahoma won at North Carolina 13–6. No. 4 Michigan beat Missouri 42–7. Maryland took over the top spot, while UCLA fell to 7th. No. 11 Notre Dame, which had beaten SMU 17–0, moved into the Top 5: 1.Maryland 2.Michigan 3. Georgia Tech 4.Notre Dame 5.Oklahoma.
October 1, No. 1 Maryland won 20–6 at No. 20 Baylor in Texas. No. 2 Michigan beat Michigan State 14–7 before a crowd of 97,239 at home in Ann Arbor. MSU had tied the score 7–7 after an errant punt by Michigan gave them the ball 39 yards from goal. Minutes later, Earl Morrall's punt was blocked to give Michigan the ball on the MSU 21, from which the winning score was made. No. 3 Georgia Tech beat SMU 20–7 in Atlanta. No. 4 Notre Dame defeated Indiana 19–0. No. 5 Oklahoma beat No. 12 Pittsburgh 26–14, marking its 21st consecutive win, and new record. The poll: 1.Maryland 2.Michigan 3.Oklahoma 4. Georgia Tech 5.Notre Dame
October 8 No. 1 Maryland beat Wake Forest 28–7, and No. 2 Michigan defeated visiting No. 6 Army, 26–2. Both stayed unbeaten, but Michigan took the top spot in the next poll. No. 3 Oklahoma defeated Texas 20–0 in Dallas. No. 4 Georgia Tech won 7–0 at LSU. No. 5 Notre Dame won 14–0 at No. 15 Miami, with both touchdowns coming on fourth down passes from Paul Hornung, before an Orange Bowl record crowd of 75,685.In a game that would decide the Pac-8 title, UCLA beat Oregon State 38–0. The poll: 1.Michigan 2.Maryland 3.Oklahoma 4.Notre Dame 5.Georgia Tech
October 15 No. 1 Michigan defeated Northwestern, 14–2. No. 2 Maryland won at North Carolina, 25–7. No. 3 Oklahoma beat Kansas 44–6. However, No. 5 Georgia Tech lost to visiting No. 17 Auburn 14–12, and No. 4 Notre Dame lost 21–7 when it hosted No. 13 Michigan State. They dropped from the top five and were replaced by No. 8 Navy (which had won 34–14 at Penn State) and No. 11 Duke (which had won at No. 14 Ohio State, 20–14). The poll: 1.Michigan 2.Maryland 3.Oklahoma 4.Navy 5.Duke
October 22 In Minneapolis No. 1 Michigan faced a 1–3–0 Minnesota team, and was stunned when the Gophers racked up two touchdowns in the first quarter. Michigan's Terry Barr blocked the extra point attempt on the second touchdown, but the nation's No. 1 team was losing 13–0. Still down 13–7 at the half, the Wolverines fought back. Jim Van Pelt passed to Tom Maentz for a touchdown, and Van Pelt added the extra point to save Michigan, 14–13.Minnesota would go on to a 3–6–0 finish. Meanwhile, No. 2 Maryland won more convincingly at Syracuse, 34–13, to regain the top spot. No. 3 Oklahoma beat No. 14 Colorado, 56–21. No. 4 Navy won at Penn, 33–0. No. 5 Duke lost to Pitt, 26–7, and was replaced in the top five by No. 6 Michigan State, which beat Illinois 21–7.
The poll: 1.Maryland 2.Oklahoma 3.Michigan 4.Navy 5.Michigan State
October 29 Back at the top, No. 1 Maryland beat South Carolina 27–0, while No. 2 Oklahoma won at Kansas State, 40–7. No. 3 Michigan beat Iowa 33–21. No. 4 Navy lost at No. 9 Notre Dame, 21–7. No. 5 Michigan State won at Wisconsin, 27–0. UCLA returned to the Top Five from No. 6 after a 47–0 win over California.
The poll: 1.Maryland 2.Oklahoma 3.Michigan 4.Michigan State 5.UCLA
November 5 As both stayed undefeated, No. 1 Maryland beat LSU 13–0 and No. 2 Oklahoma won at Missouri, 20–0. No. 3 Michigan lost at Illinois 25–6, while No. 4 Michigan State won at Purdue, 27–0. No. 5 UCLA won at Pacific, 34–0. No. 6 Notre Dame, which had won at Penn 46–14, returned to the top 5.
The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Maryland 3.Michigan State 4.UCLA 5.Notre Dame
November 12 Back at No. 1, Oklahoma beat Iowa State 52–0. No. 2 Maryland won at Clemson, 25–12. No. 3 Michigan State beat Minnesota 42–14. No. 4 UCLA was trailing Washington 17–16 in the closing seconds of a game, but Jim Decker kicked a field goal for a 19–17 victory.No. 5 Notre Dame won at North Carolina, 27–7. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Maryland 3.Michigan State 4.Notre Dame 5.UCLA
November 19 Although No. 1 Oklahoma was 8–0–0 and host Nebraska was 5–4–0, both had 5–0–0 records in Big 7 conference play when they met at Lincoln. The Sooners rolled, 41–0, to get the Orange Bowl bid. No. 2 Maryland closed its season with a 19–0 win over George Washington University and accepted the invitation to meet Oklahoma, but what would have been a No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting changed when the Terrapins were rated third by the AP voters. No. 3 Michigan State, which had a 5–1 record in Big Ten play, beat Marquette 33–0 in a non-conference game; Michigan's 17–0 loss to Ohio State gave it a 5–2 mark. Ohio State had the better record in the Big Ten, 6–0 overall, but had gone to the Rose Bowl the year before, so MSU got the bid, where it would face No. 5 UCLA, which beat USC 17–7. No. 4 Notre Dame beat Iowa 17–14. Though Maryland, like Oklahoma, was unbeaten, the voters put once-beaten Michigan State in the second spot instead. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Michigan State 3.Maryland 4.UCLA 5.Notre Dame. On November 26, No. 5 Notre Dame lost in Los Angeles to USC, 42–20, and dropped to 6th in the final AP poll, where it would be replaced by Ohio State. The other Top Five teams had finished their seasons.
|California Collegiate Athletic Association||No champion||—|
|Central Church College Conference||Concordia (NE)||3–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association||Maryland State||7–0|
|Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Pittsburg State||5–0|
|College Conference of Illinois||Wheaton (IL)||5–0–1|
|Far Western Conference||Chico State College||5–0|
|Frontier Conference (Montana and Idaho)||Rocky Mountain||4–0|
|Gulf Coast Conference|| Abilene Christian |
North Texas State
|Frontier Conference (New Mexico)|| Adams State College |
New Mexico Military Institute
|Indiana Collegiate Conference|| St. Joseph's |
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Parsons||6–0|
|Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference||College of Emporia||7–0|
|Lone Star Conference|| East Texas State Teachers |
Sam Houston State Teachers
Southwest Texas State Teachers
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Hillsdale||6–0|
|Mid-American Conference||Miami (OH)||5–0|
|Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference||Coe||7–0|
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Gustavus Adolphus||5–1|
|Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Southeast Missouri State||5–0|
|Nebraska College Conference||Nebraska State Teachers (UN–Kearney)||7–0|
|North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||South Dakota State College||5–0–1|
|North Dakota College Athletic Conference|| Jamestown College |
Dickinson State College
|Ohio Athletic Conference||Muskingum||7–0|
|Ohio Valley Conference||Tennessee Tech||5–0|
|Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference|| Central State College (OK) |
Northeastern State Teachers (OK)
Southwestern State College (OK)
|Oregon Collegiate Conference||Unknown||—|
|Pacific Northwest Conference|| College of Idaho |
Lewis & Clark
|Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference||Bloomsburg State Teachers||3–0–1|
|Presidents' Athletic Conference||Western Reserve||3–0|
|Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Idaho State College||6–0|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Pomona-Pitzer||4–0|
|South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference||Northern State Teachers||7–0|
|Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Florida A&M||6–0|
|Southwestern Athletic Conference||Southern||6–1|
|State Teacher's College Conference of Minnesota||St. Cloud State Teachers||4–0|
|Texas Collegiate Athletic Conference||McMurry||2–0|
|Wisconsin State College Conference||Wisconsin State–Stevens Point||6–0|
The final rankings were made on November 28, after the regular season and without consideration of the postseason bowl games:
|1. Oklahoma||(10–0–0)||Big 7|
|2. Michigan State||(8–1–0)||Big 10|
|5. Ohio State||(7–2–0)||Big 10|
|7. Georgia Tech||(8–1–1)||SEC|
|9. Notre Dame||(8–2–0)||Indep.|
|12. Michigan||(7–2–0)||Big 10|
|14. Miami (Florida)||(6–3–0)||Indep.|
|15. Miami (Ohio)||(9–0–0)||MAC|
|17. Texas A&M||(7–2–1)||SWC|
|19. West Virginia||(8–2–0)||Southern|
|20 (t)||Miami (Ohio)|
Prior to the integration of sports teams, Miami Orange Bowl stadium hosted the New Year's Day game of the same name, and a December game for historically black colleges, the Orange Blossom Classic. Grambling State (9–0–0) and Florida A & M University (8–0–1) met to determine the best Negro college football team in the nation, with Grambling winning 28–21.
Miami University (Ohio) finished 9–0–0, as did Southeast Missouri State University, Heidelberg College, Hillsdale College, College of Emporia, Maryland State College and Whitworth College. Northern State Teachers College* of South Dakota went 9–0–0, and then lost to Kearney Teachers College in the "Botany Bowl", 34–13, played in Shenandoah, Iowa, on Thanksgiving Day.
Colleges that went 8–0–0 were Alfred University, Drexel University, Albany State College, Centre College, Coe College, Parsons College, Juniata College, Muskingum College, Shepherd College, and Stevens Point College. (7). Trinity College (Connecticut) went 7–0–0.
Monday, January 2, 1956
|Bowl game||Winning team||Losing team|
|Orange Bowl||No. 1 Oklahoma||20||No. 3 Maryland||6|
|Rose Bowl||No. 2 Michigan||17||No. 4 UCLA||14|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||No. 10 Ole Miss||14||No. 6 TCU||13|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 7 Georgia Tech||7||No. 11 Pittsburgh||0|
|Bowl game||Location||Date||Winning team||Score||Losing team|
|Gator Bowl||Jacksonville, FL||December 31||Vanderbilt||25–13||No. 8 Auburn|
|Sun Bowl||El Paso, TX||January 2||Wyoming||21–14||Texas Tech|
The 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season saw a university from the state of Georgia take its first national title since 1942.
The 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first season of Division I-A college football; Division I-A was created in 1978 when Division I was subdivided into Division I-A and Division I-AA for football only. With the exception of seven teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Division I teams from the 1977 season played in Division I-A during the 1978 season. The SWAC teams, along with five conferences and five other teams formerly in Division II, played in Division I-AA.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.