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Fixing the Final 1942 AP College Football Poll

1) Ohio State 9-1
2) Georgia 11-1
3) Wisconsin 8-1-1
4) Tulsa 10-1
5) Georgia Tech 9-2
6) Notre Dame 7-2-2
7) Tennessee 9-1-1
8)
Boston College 8-2
9) Michigan 7-3
10) Alabama 8-3
11) Texas 9-2
12) Stanford 6-4
13) UCLA 7-4
14) William & Mary 9-1-1
15) Santa Clara 7-2
16) Auburn 6-4-1
17) Washington State 6-2-2
18) Mississippi State 8-2
19) Minnesota 5-4
       Holy Cross 5-4-1
       Penn State 6-1-1
To the left is the final 1942 AP college football top 20. Or top 21 in this case. You can access all of these teams' full schedules here: College Football Data Warehouse (amongst a number of other places). The fixed final AP poll, expanded to 25 teams, follows the article below.

#4 Tulsa lost to #7 Tennessee 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl, so they need to drop behind the Volunteers. Tennessee, in turn, lost 8-0 at #10 Alabama, and should have been rated behind Alabama in the first pace.

Alabama was 8-3, but don't be fooled by their straight record: their losses came to #2 Georgia, #5 Georgia Tech, and Georgia Pre-Flight, a 7-1-1 military training camp team. Alabama also beat #8 Boston College 37-21 in the Orange Bowl, and should no doubt be moved ahead of them as well. All of Alabama's wins came by more than a touchdown.

The average ranking of Alabama, Tennessee, and Tulsa was 7, which is where Tennessee was rated, so that's where we'll put these 3 teams.

Alabama moves up to #6 and Tulsa drops to #8. Georgia Tech and Notre Dame move up 1 spot each, while Boston College and Michigan drop a slot.
Wisconsin back Crazy Legs Hirsch carrying against Ohio State in a 1942 football game
Wisconsin star Crazy Legs Hirsch carrying against Ohio State in a 17-7 win. Wisconsin may have been the best team of 1942, but an upset loss and tie left them 8-1-1, allowing 9-1 Ohio State to take #1
.

The Long, Long Victory Chain

The bottom half of this AP poll is a huge mess. 6-4 Stanford lost 4 games to lower-ranked teams, and defeated no ranked opponents-- their #12 rating was ridiculous. Right behind them was 7-4 UCLA, who took 3 losses to unrated teams. The SEC was far and away the best conference this season, 43-12-3 against nonconference opponents-- what are the chances that a pair of 4-loss PCC teams were better than an 8-2 SEC team? Or even a 5-loss SEC team?

This mess can be sorted out by simply heeding head-to-head results. Here is the longest victory chain I've paid attention to yet when fixing these polls:

Unrated Louisiana State (7-3) won 16-6 over #18 Mississippi State (8-2), who won 6-0 on a neutral field over #16 Auburn (6-4-1), who won 27-13 at unrated Tulane (4-5), who won 18-7 over unrated Rice (7-2-1), who won 26-0 over unrated Texas Christian (7-3), who won 7-6 at #13 UCLA (7-4), who won 14-6 over #15 Santa Clara (7-2), who won 14-6 on a neutral field over #12 Stanford (6-4), who won 14-6 over unrated Southern Cal (5-5-1), who won 26-12 over #17 Washington State (6-2-2).

And yes, that's the order in which all of these teams ought to be rated.

Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Tulane

Louisiana State, Mississippi State, and Auburn defeated each other in a circle, but Auburn had the worst relevant record of the 3 teams, and thus belongs at the bottom of this little totem pole of power. For example, let's compare Auburn to LSU. They beat LSU, and they also upset #2 Georgia, so that makes Auburn effectively 2 games better than LSU. Both teams took an upset loss, LSU to Rice and Auburn to Florida, so that's a wash (though not really, since Rice was 7-2-1 and Florida 3-7). LSU defeated Georgia Pre-Flight and Mississippi State, both of whom defeated Auburn. That makes the 2 teams even, with Auburn owning the head-to-head tie-breaker. But finally, Auburn also suffered a tie at unrated 5-3-1 Georgetown, and that leaves LSU effectively a half game better on the season.

That settled, LSU > Mississippi State > Auburn. Auburn had a fantastic finish (crushing LSU and #2 Georgia), but then so did Mississippi State (winning their last 7).

4-5 Tulane obviously had a poor straight record, but their schedule was murder. Their 5 losses came to Auburn (AP #16), Georgia (AP #2), Mississippi State (AP #18), Georgia Pre-Flight (7-1-1 military team), and LSU (unrated, but now moving in ahead of Auburn and Mississippi State). Tulane won 27-13 at Southern Cal, better than #12 Stanford and #13 UCLA did against USC, and they beat 7-2-1 Rice 18-7, 5-2-2 North Carolina 29-14, and 6-4 Vanderbilt 28-21. Rice is the pertinent result, since they beat 7-3 TCU, who beat #13 UCLA, who beat #15 Santa Clara, who beat #12 Stanford.

Rice and Texas Christian

7-2-1 Rice beat Texas Christian 26-0. They were tied by unrated 4-5-1 Texas A&M, but they defeated LSU, who is now ranked higher. Tulane beat Rice by more than a touchdown, so I'm calling that decisive enough. TCU took 2 upset losses to unrated teams (6-4-1 Baylor and 4-5-1 Texas Tech), but they made up for one of those by beating #11 Texas (9-2). They won 7-6 at UCLA, and that being a road game, I'm calling it decisive.

UCLA, Santa Clara, Stanford, Southern Cal, and Washington State

I don't know why 7-4 UCLA was ranked behind 6-4 Stanford-- they beat them 21-7 and thus won the Rose Bowl bid. But 6-4 Stanford was a double curiosity, because they also lost 14-6 to #15 Santa Clara (7-2) on a neutral field.

Triple curiosity? #17 Washington State (6-2-2) won 6-0 at Stanford. But no, Stanford belongs ranked ahead of WSU. Stanford beat 5-5-1 Southern Cal 14-6, who beat WSU 26-12. WSU's early win over Stanford was nice, but they also lost to 4-5-1 Texas A&M and tied unrated 4-3-3 Washington. Really, WSU probably belongs behind Texas A&M.

Ranking All These Teams

That's an 11 team victory chain. Where do we put them all?

Behind Texas. #14 William & Mary (9-1-1) took an upset loss and tie and beat no one. #19 Holy Cross (5-4-1) took 4 upset losses and a tie, and belongs nowhere near the top 25, and co-#19 Penn State (6-1-1) took a loss and a tie to unranked teams and beat no one. As for co-co-#19 Minnesota, I'll handle them later.

For now, the rankings behind Texas look like this: Louisiana State #12, Mississippi State #13, Auburn #14, Tulane #15, Rice #16, Texas Christian #17, UCLA #18, Santa Clara #19, Stanford #20, Southern Cal #21, Washington State #22, William & Mary #23, and Minnesota, Holy Cross, and Penn State are tied at #24.

Boston College

With all those teams in place, we can worry about where #8 Boston College (8-2) should drop to. BC had a great 8-0 start, but they didn't beat any ranked teams, and the roof caved in on them at the end. 5-4-1 Holy Cross, who as previously stated belongs nowhere near the top 25, slaughtered BC 55-12 in their finale. That explains how HC got into the top 20-- Lastgamitis. BC followed up the final AP poll by losing 37-21 to lower-rated Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

BC would have dropped in a post-bowl poll, so let's drop them. How far? Well, the best I can do for the AP poll is to drop BC behind Rice, ahead of Texas Christian. TCU had enough poor performances that I can let the AP poll have this much.

Drop Boston College to #16. Rice and all the teams that had been ranked between BC and Rice move up 1 slot each.

Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana

#19 Minnesota (5-4) lost to unrated 6-4 Illinois and should be ranked behind them. Minnesota beat unranked 6-4 Iowa, who beat unranked 7-3 Indiana, who beat Minnesota to make it a circle, but Minnesota beat now-#9 Michigan, and Iowa beat #3 Wisconsin. So Illinois > Minnesota > Iowa > Indiana. All 4 of these Big 10 teams should be rated.

I'd rate them pretty highly compared to where the AP poll put them, but the question is, how low can I let the AP poll go with these teams? That's a tough one, but I'm going with putting them behind Santa Clara and ahead of Stanford. In their big nonconference game, Stanford was routed 27-0 by Notre Dame, who beat Illinois just 21-14. That's all we know about Stanford aside from what they did in their own region, which was also very unimpressive (7-6 over unrated Cal, 7-0 over unrated Oregon State, 8-6 over unrated San Francisco, and a loss to soon-to-be unrated Washington State).

Bring Illinois in at #20, move Minnesota up to #21, and bring Iowa in at #22 and Indiana at #23. Stanford drops to #24, Southern Cal to #25, and the rest fall off the cliff.

Desaparecidos

Four teams disappear from the fixed rankings: #14 William & Mary (9-1-1), #17 Washington State (6-2-2), #19 Holy Cross (5-4-1), and #19 Penn State (6-1-1).

William & Mary was close to rankable. Their loss came to 8-2-1 North Carolina Pre-Flight, who was good, but not great. NCPF lost to unranked 5-3-1 Fordham. William & Mary also tied 2-6-1 Harvard, and they just didn't beat anyone good enough to deserve being ranked as highly as the AP poll placed them (or at all).

Washington State lost 26-12 to #25 Southern Cal. As previously noted, they had an upset win over Stanford, but also lost to 4-5-1 Texas A&M, and should probably be ranked behind the Aggies anyway.

Holy Cross had that amazing 55-12 win over now-#16 Boston College, but they lost to a quartet of unranked teams (Dartmouth, Duquesne, Syracuse, Brown) and they tied another (Colgate). They were not close to rankable.

Penn State was, but they lost to 5-4 West Virginia and tied 3-5-1 Cornell, both unrated, and they didn't beat anyone of much value. They had a worse relevant record than everyone currently rated in the fixed AP poll.

Fixed AP Top 25

The 4 teams that fall out of the fixed and expanded AP top 25 had 2 wins over AP-rated teams, and they took 7 losses and 4 ties against unrated college teams. The 8 teams who enter the fixed poll had 7 wins over AP-rated teams, and they took 2 losses and 2 ties against unrated college teams (discounting games against each other). The new teams were also 1-0 against the old teams head-to-head (Southern Cal over Washington State).

1) Ohio State 9-1 --
2) Georgia 11-1 --
3) Wisconsin 8-1-1 --
4) Georgia Tech 9-2 +1
5) Notre Dame 7-2-2 +1
6) Alabama 8-3 +4
7) Tennessee 9-1-1 --
8) Tulsa 10-1 -4
9) Michigan 7-3 --
10) Texas 9-2 +1
11) Louisiana State 7-3 IN
12) Mississippi State 8-2 +6
13) Auburn 6-4-1 +3
14) Tulane 4-5 IN
15) Rice 7-2-1 IN
16) Boston College 8-2 -8
17) Texas Christian 7-3 IN
18) UCLA 7-4 -5
19) Santa Clara 7-2 -4
20) Illinois 6-4 IN
21) Minnesota 5-4 -1
22) Iowa 6-4 IN
23) Indiana 7-3 IN
24) Stanford 6-4 -12
25) Southern Cal 5-5-1 IN

OUT: #14 William & Mary 9-1-1
#17 Washington State 6-2-2
#19 Holy Cross 5-4-1
#19 Penn State 6-1-1

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