|1956 NCAA University Division football season|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Oklahoma|
|Regular season||September 22 – December 1, 1956|
|Number of bowls||6|
|Bowl games||December 29, 1956 – January 1, 1957|
|Champion(s)||Oklahoma (AP, Coaches, FWAA)|
|Heisman||Paul Hornung (quarterback, Notre Dame)|
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 1956 season saw the NCAA split member schools into two divisions: larger schools were part of the University Division, later known as NCAA Division I, and smaller schools were placed in the College Division, later split into NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III.
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 known as Division I FBS. 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 1956 consisted of the votes of as many as 198 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). Because the rules of the time for Oklahoma's conference (at that time, Big 7) did not permit consecutive bowl appearances,#1 Oklahoma did not play in the postseason, with runner-up Colorado going to the Orange Bowl instead.
|School||1955 Conference||1956 Conference|
|Air Force Falcons||new program||Independent|
In the preseason poll released on September 17, the defending champion Oklahoma Sooners were the first place choice for 116 of 149 writers casting votes, followed by Michigan State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Ohio State. New polls were issued weekly on Monday.
On September 22, #1 Oklahoma and #2 Michigan State were idle. #3 Notre Dame lost in Dallas to unranked SMU, 19–13 and dropped out of the top 5 for the season (and finished 2–8), while SMU would rise to fifth. #4 Georgia Tech won at Kentucky, 14–6. #5 Ohio State, which had not started play, fel out of the Top 5 and was replaced by #7 TCU, which had opened with a 32–0 win at Kansas. The first regular AP poll was 1.Oklahoma 2.Georgia Tech 3.Michigan State, 4.TCU and 5.SMU.
September 29, #1 Oklahoma opened its season with a 36-0 win over North Carolina. In Dallas, #2 Georgia Tech visited #5 SMU and narrowly won 9–7. #3 Michigan State won 21–7 at #12 Stanford. #4 TCU was idle and dropped to 8th, while #8 Ohio State rose to 4th after a 34-7 win hosting Nebraska. #13 Michigan, which had beaten UCLA 42-13, rose to 5th. The next poll was 1.Oklahoma 2.Michigan State 3.Georgia Tech 4.Ohio State 5.Michigan.
October 6 #1 Oklahoma registered another shutout, beating Kansas State 66-0. #2 Michigan State met #5 Michigan in the rain before a crowd of 101,001 at Ann Arbor, and MSU Coach Duffy Daugherty's "umbrella defense" forced two Michigan turnovers that led to their 9-0 win #3 Georgia Tech was idle, and #4 Ohio State won 32-20 at home before 82,881 over Stanford.The poll saw Michigan drop to 12th, while #8 TCU (which beat Arkansas 41-6 on national television) returned to the top five: 1.Oklahoma 2.Michigan State 3.Georgia Tech 4.TCU 5.Ohio State
October 13 At Dallas, #1 Oklahoma beat Texas 45-0, having outscored its opposition 147-0 in three games. A commentator of the day wrote, "The overpowering charge of the big red-shirted Oklahoma line ahead of adroit Quarterback Jimmy Harris is just one of the reasons why Oklahoma may be the greatest college football team of all time... They showed it in the sudden, lifting charge of a line which moved all of a piece, like a wave breaking evenly along a beach."#2 Michigan State defeated Indiana 53–6 at home. #3 Georgia Tech beat LSU, 39–7. #4 TCU won at Alabama 23–6, and #5 Ohio State won 26–6 at Illinois. The poll remained unchanged: 1.Oklahoma 2.Michigan State 3.Georgia Tech 4.TCU 5.Ohio State
October 20 #1 Oklahoma gave up its first points of the season, but registered its fourth win, 34-12, at Kansas. #2 Michigan State stayed unbeaten with a 47-14 win at Notre Dame. #3 Georgia Tech beat Auburn 28-7. In a game that would ultimately determine the SWC championship, #4 TCU lost at #14 Texas A&M, 7-6. #5 Ohio State lost to Penn State by the same 7-6 score. #7 Tennessee, which had beaten Alabama 24-0 rose to 4th, and #8 Michigan returned to the Top 5 after its 34-20 win over Northwestern. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2. Oklahoma 3.Georgia Tech 4.Tennessee 5.Michigan.
October 27 The new #1 Michigan State went to Champaign, and had a 13-0 lead over the unranked Illini at halftime. Abe Woodson plunged for a score to cut the lead to 13-6 after three quarters. In the fourth, Woodson ran 70 yards from scrimmage to help tie the game 13-13. After an MSU field goal was short, Woodson ran the ball up to the Illini 18. Woodson, who had once held the world record in the 50 yard high hurdles,took a short pass and dashed 82 yards for a touchdown, leaping over State's Art Johnson 30 yards from goal, to pull off the 20-13 upset. #2 Oklahoma was determined to prove itself number 1, and Coach Bud Wilkinson directed the team to six touchdowns for a 40-0 win at Notre Dame. #3 Georgia Tech beat #15 Tulane by the same 40-0 margin. #4 Tennessee beat Maryland 34-7 to stay unbeaten. #5 Michigan had its second loss, falling to unranked Minnesota at home, 20-7. #7 Texas A&M, which had extended its record to 5-0-1 with a 19-13 win at #8 Baylor, replaced the Wolverines. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Georgia Tech 3.Tennessee 4.Michigan State 5.Texas A&M.
November 3 Unbeaten #1 Oklahoma (5–0), met the Colorado Buffaloes (5–1) on the road, and were losing 19–6 at halftime to a team that was four-touchdown underdog, but came back with touchdowns by Tommy McDonald and Clendon Thomas for a difficult 27-19 win.and the rest of top five won in shutouts: #2 Georgia Tech won 7–0 at Duke, #3 Tennessee over North Carolina 20-0, #4 Michigan State crushed Wisconsin 33-0, and #5 Texas A&M beat Arkansas 27-0. The poll remained unchanged.
November 10 While #1 Oklahoma registered its fifth shutout in seven games, trouncing Iowa State 44–0, #2 Georgia Tech and #3 Tennessee met in Atlanta for a game that proved to determine the SEC title. There were 23 punts altogether, and no score until midway through the third quarter, when Tennessee end Buddy Cruze noticed that Tech had stopped double-teaming him. Halfback Johnny Majors (who would later be head coach for UT) passed to Cruze at the 35-yard line, and Cruze ran 64 yards down to the Tech goal line, setting up the touchdown that won the game 6–0.In the poll that followed, Tennessee was the new #1 by a margin of 2 points (1,446 to 1,444) over Oklahoma. #4 Michigan State narrowly beat Purdue, 12-9. #5 Texas A&M beat SMU 33–7 in Dallas, and increased its record to 7-0-1, with the Southwest Conference title and a trip to the Cotton Bowl, and on November 12, was still fifth in the poll. Though on probation since 1955 for recruiting violations, the Aggies had appealed to the NCAA to allow them to play postseason. The next day, however, the NCAA announced that Texas A&M was still banned, because of an additional recruiting violation of a basketball player. The poll: 1.Tennessee 2.Oklahoma 3.Michigan State 4.Georgia Tech 5.Texas A&M.
November 17 #1 Tennessee beat visiting #19 Ole Miss 27-7, while #2 Oklahoma showed off its offense in crushing Missouri 67-14, sufficiently enough to regain the top spot in the next poll. #3 Michigan State traveled to Minnesota, which had been #6 a week before, but dropped to #17. The MSU visitors lost, 14-13, and dropped to tenth place in the next poll. #4 Georgia Tech beat Alabama 27-0. #5 Texas A&M beat visiting Rice, 21-7. #7 Iowa, which had beaten #6 Ohio State 6-0, took Michigan State's place in the poll that followed. The Top 5 was 1.Oklahoma 2.Tennessee 3.Iowa 4.Texas A&M 5.Georgia Tech.
November 24 #1 Oklahoma gained 656 net yards in a defeat of visiting Nebraska 54-6. #2 Tennessee beat Kentucky 20-7. #3 Iowa, which had captured the Big Ten title with a 5–1 conference record, finished its season with a 48–8 non-league win over Notre Dame, then accepted a bid to the Rose Bowl to play Oregon State. #4 Texas A&M was idle as it prepared for its Thanksgiving Day game with Texas, which it won 34–21. In Jacksonville, #5 Georgia Tech beat #13 Florida 28–0, and traded places with A&M. Tech would be invited back to the city for the Gator Bowl at season's end. The poll: 1.Oklahoma 2.Tennessee 3.Iowa 4.Georgia Tech 5.Texas A&M.
December 1 #1 Oklahoma closed its season with a 53–0 win over Oklahoma State, finishing 10–0, and with a 466–51 finish in points. Only one of its ten opponents (Colorado) finished 1956 with a winning record. In Nashville, #2 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 27–7 to close with a 10–0 record and a spot in the Sugar Bowl, where it would face 9–1 Baylor. #4 Georgia Tech closed with a 35–0 win at Georgia. Unbeaten and once-tied (9-0-1), #5 Texas A&M won the Southwest Conference title, but the ban against post-season play sent runner-up TCU to the Cotton Bowl instead.
Tuesday, January 1, 1957
|Orange||#20 Colorado Buffaloes||27||#19 Clemson Tigers||21|
|Cotton||#14 TCU Horned Frogs||28||#8 Syracuse Orangemen||27|
|Sugar||#11 Baylor Bears||13||#2 Tennessee Volunteers||7|
|Rose||#3 Iowa Hawkeyes||35||#10 Oregon State Beavers||19|
|Gator||Jacksonville, FL||December 29||#4 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||21–14||#13 Pittsburgh Panthers|
|Sun||El Paso, TX||January 1||#17 George Washington Colonials||13–0||Texas Western Miners|
|Tangerine||West Texas State||20||Mississippi Southern||13|
|Burley||Memphis State||32||East Tennessee State||12|
|Refrigerator||Sam Houston State||27||Middle Tennessee State||13|
Final polls were released at the end of the regular season. Records include bowl games.
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.
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 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 1961 consisted of the votes of 45 sportswriters, each of whom would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of 10 points for first place, 9 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 10. The top teams played on New Year's Day in the four major postseason bowl games: the Rose, Sugar, Orange (Miami) and Cotton (Dallas).
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 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 1959 NCAA University Division football season saw Syracuse University crowned as the national champion by both final polls, the AP writers poll and the UPI coaches polls.
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 1975 NCAA Division I football season saw University of Oklahoma repeat as national champion in the Associated Press (AP) writers' poll, and were ranked #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 #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 #3 Maryland Terrapins, but the postseason games were not taken into account by the major polls. Tennessee, Maryland, 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 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 1938 college football season ended with the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) being named the nation's #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.