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Fixing the Final 1943 AP College Football Poll

1) Notre Dame 9-1
2) Iowa Pre-Flight
3) Michigan 8-1
4) Navy 8-1
5) Purdue 9-0
6) Great Lakes Navy
7) Duke 8-1
8) Del Monte Pre-Flight

9) Northwestern 6-2
10) March Field
11) Army 7-2-1
12) Washington 4-1
13) Georgia Tech 8-3
14) Texas 7-1-1
15) Tulsa 6-1-1
16) Dartmouth 6-1
17) Bainbridge NTS
18) Colorado College 7-0
19) Pacific 7-2
20) Pennsylvania 6-2-1
To the left is the final 1943 AP college football top 20. 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.

As with the 1944 poll, the first thing we need to do is dump all the military training camp teams, which were, of course, not college teams at all. That leaves us with just 15 ranked teams, the ones marked in bold to the left. Their new rankings are as such:

1) Notre Dame 9-1
2) Michigan 8-1
3) Navy 8-1
4) Purdue 9-0
5) Duke 8-1
6) Northwestern 6-2
7) Army 7-2-1
8) Washington 4-1
9) Georgia Tech 8-3
10) Texas 7-1-1
11) Tulsa 6-1-1
12) Dartmouth 6-1
13) Colorado College 7-0
14) Pacific 7-2
15) Pennsylvania 6-2-1

Obviously we'll need to add 10 teams to this list to get it to 25.
Notre Dame halfback Creighton Miller scoring a 65 yard touchdown against Michigan in 1943
Notre Dame halfback Creighton Miller scoring a 65 yard touchdown against #3 Michigan in a 35-12 win. The Irish also beat #2 Iowa Pre-Flight 14-13, #4 Navy 33-6, #9 Northwestern 26-6, #11 Army 26-0, and #13 Georgia Tech 55-13
, but they were upset by #6 Great Lakes Navy 19-14 in their finale.

Notre Dame vs. Purdue

9-0 Purdue won 23-13 over #6 Great Lakes Navy, who beat 9-1 Notre Dame 19-14, so why is Notre Dame #1 and Purdue #4? Well, GL Navy was the only rated team Purdue beat, while Notre Dame beat #2 Iowa Pre-Flight (9-1) 14-13, #3 Michigan (8-1) 35-12, #4 Navy (8-1) 33-6, #9 Northwestern (6-2) 26-6, #11 Army (7-2-1) 26-0, and #13 Georgia Tech (8-3) 55-13. That is an amazing array of wins, more than enough to rank Notre Dame #1 rather than Purdue. And since 8-1 Michigan and 8-1 Navy lost only to Notre Dame, and both crushed every other opponent they played (except a 14-13 Navy win over 8-1 Duke, who is now rated #5), both can also be rated higher than Purdue, who barely got by a pair of unrated teams in their last 2 games, 14-7 over 5-4 Minnesota and 7-0 over 4-4-2 Indiana. Michigan beat Minnesota 49-6 and Indiana 23-6.

No fix is needed here-- the AP poll got it right.

Michigan vs. Navy

Michigan (now #2) and Navy (now #3) were both 8-1, and both were routed by Notre Dame. There were 2 differences between them. The first is that Navy had a close win, 14-13 over now-#5 Duke (8-1), while Michigan's wins all came by more than a touchdown, the closest being a 21-7 win at #6 Northwestern (6-2). The second difference is that Northwestern was the only rated team Michigan defeated, while Navy beat Georgia Tech (now #9), Penn (now #15), and Army (now #7) in addition to Duke. That was a much tougher schedule than Michigan faced, and I would be inclined to rate Navy higher because of it.

However, when 2 teams have the same record, it is not necessarily the case that the team who played the tougher schedule is the better team. Michigan performed perfectly outside the loss to Notre Dame, and they did beat a top 10 team, so the AP poll has a case for rating Michigan higher.

Again, no fix needed here. I'm not going to say that the AP poll got this one right, but they made a logically valid choice.

Georgia Tech

8-3 Georgia Tech (now #9) took their losses to Notre Dame (#1), Navy (now #3), and Duke (now #5). 4-1 Washington, ranked in front of them, lost 29-0 to unranked Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, and would have dropped in a post-bowl poll, so let's move GT ahead of them.

Army, ranked in front of Washington, was tied by now-#15 Penn, so Georgia Tech, who took no upsets, had a better relevant record.
Furthermore, Army did not beat a rated team, while Georgia Tech beat now-#11 Tulsa in the Sugar Bowl, and they also beat 5-1 Georgia Pre-Flight, 6-3 North Carolina, 6-3 Louisiana State, and 3-3 Tulane (the last 3 will be ranked in the fixed and expanded top 25). This is no contest.

Move Georgia Tech up to #7, dropping Army and Washington 1 spot each.

Tulsa

6-1-1 Tulsa (now #11) is not moving up so much as sitting there while the 2 teams rated ahead of them fall back behind them, but it amounts to the same thing. Tulsa lost to Georgia Tech (now #7) 20-18 in the Sugar Bowl, and they were tied by unrated 10-1-1 Southwestern (Texas). 7-1-1 Texas is rated just ahead of Tulsa, but they lost to Southwestern, and will be dropping back behind them (handled below).

Washington, as previously noted, lost 29-0 to unrated 8-2 Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, and will be dropping back behind them (handled next).


Move Tulsa up to #9, dropping Washington and Texas 1 spot each.

Southern Cal and Washington

8-2 Southern Cal (unrated) defeated 4-1 Washington (now #10) 29-0 in the Rose Bowl, a rather decisive outcome. USC lost to 2 military teams, San Diego Navy and March Field. Washington beat March Field, but it was their only notable win of the season. USC should be ranked ahead of Washington, and would have been in a post-bowl poll anyway. Since Texas and Dartmouth, the 2 teams currently sitting behind Washington, will be dropping back behind teams that beat them (handled below), we'll just leave Washington where they are and bring USC in ahead of them.

Bring Southern Cal in at #10, dropping Washington and every team behind them 1 spot each.

Pacific

7-2 Pacific (originally ranked #19) lost only to Southern Cal (now #10) and March Field (AP #10), and they defeated 7-1 Del Monte Pre-Flight (AP #8). That gave them a better relevant record than every team ranked ahead of them up to Washington. Texas, for example, who now sits behind Washington, took a loss and a tie to unrated opponents.

Move Pacific up to #12, dropping Texas, Dartmouth, and Colorado College 1 spot each.

North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth

6-1 Dartmouth (originally rated #16) lost at 6-2-1 Pennsylvania (originally #20), and there was no good reason for them to be rated ahead of Penn to begin with. Penn tied now-#8 Army, and they lost to now-#3 Navy and to unrated 6-3 North Carolina. North Carolina lost to now-#3 Navy and twice to now-#5 Duke. They could have been the 6th best team in the country for all we know, and I think they belong ranked ahead of #8 Army, who tied Penn and beat no rated teams, but I'll let the AP poll have that. This much is clear: North Carolina > Penn > Dartmouth. We'll put all 3 in front of Texas: Texas is dropping anyway (as handled next), and Colorado College beat no one of value.

Bring North Carolina in at #13, and move Pennsylvania up to #14 and Dartmouth to #15. Texas and Colorado College drop 3 spots each.

Louisiana-Lafayette, Southwestern (Texas), Arkansas A&M, and Texas

The V-12 officer training programs of World War 2 threw college football into chaos. Schools that hosted the programs got to collect players from other schools, essentially creating pooled all-star teams. Some of the V-12 schools were already big-name football schools, such as Notre Dame, Michigan, and Purdue. Others, such as Pacific, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southwestern (Texas), and Arkansas A&M were complete nobodies in the football world before V-12 programs turned them into powerhouses.

5-0-1 Louisiana-Lafayette, then known as Southwestern Louisiana Institute (SLI), was built around 7 players from Rice. Those players had gone 7-2-1 at Rice the previous year, SWC runners-up, and after the war they would return to Rice and win the SWC in 1946. SLI also had 3 players from LSU and 1 each from Mississippi State, Tulsa, and Tulane. One of the LSU players was star back Alvin Dark, who went on to a 13 year major league baseball career as a player, then another 13 years as a manager, winning a World Series title in each role. Louisiana-Lafayette took a tie against Arkansas A&M, their only blemish, but they avenged it with a 24-7 win over Arkansas A&M in the Oil Bowl. SLI's big win this season was 27-6 over 10-1-1 Southwestern (Texas).

Southwestern (Texas) featured 7 players from Texas' 1942 SWC champion team, along with players from Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma. They tied now-#8 Tulsa, they defeated Arkansas A&M, and most pertinently, they defeated 7-1-1 Texas (originally rated #14). They definitely belong ranked ahead of Texas.

5-2-1 Arkansas A&M was mostly composed of players from SMU, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State, but the stars were a pair of previously unknown backs from little Arkansas Tech. They lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and Southwestern, but their regular season tie with Louisiana-Lafayette gave them a better relevant record than Texas had. Texas was tied in the Cotton Bowl by Randolph Field, who lost to Louisiana-Lafayette.

I'm not sure why AP poll voters weren't paying attention to these teams, unless it was simply the fact that they were usually no-count football programs that many or most of the nation's football writers wouldn't have even heard of before this season. But Louisiana-Lafayette > Southwestern > Arkansas A&M > Texas. We'll just put all 4 teams where Texas is now. Colorado College, again, beat no one.

Bring Louisiana-Lafayette in at #16, Southwestern (Texas) at #17, and Arkansas A&M at #18. That drops Texas and Colorado College another 3 spots each. I believe that Louisiana-Lafayette, Southwestern, and Arkansas A&M are all still quite underrated here-- the first 2 were probably top 10 teams-- but the AP poll's voters obviously had no interest in them, so this represents the lowest that I think these teams can be logically ranked.

Cornell and Holy Cross

We're at 20 teams now, so there are 5 more to add to the list. My first nominations are 6-4 Cornell and 6-2 Holy Cross. Cornell took an upset loss to 5-3-1 Colgate, but they defeated 5-3-1 Penn State (who tied Colgate) and Holy Cross (who defeated Colgate). Cornell's other 3 losses came to rated teams. Holy Cross lost to now-#15 Dartmouth (in addition to Cornell), and they beat 5-3 Brown and 5-3 Villanova (in addition to Colgate).

Bring Cornell in at #21 and Holy Cross at #22.

Tulane, Louisiana State, and Texas A&M

Next I'm looking at 3-3 Tulane, 6-3 Louisiana State, and 7-2-1 Texas A&M. Tulane beat LSU 27-0. LSU lost to Texas A&M during the regular season, but they avenged that loss by beating A&M in the Orange Bowl. The bowl result gets extra weight, so Tulane > LSU > Texas A&M.

Bring Tulane in at #23, Louisiana State at #24, and Texas A&M at #25.

Fixed AP Top 25

No team falls out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25. This is the third straight poll I've fixed with no team falling out, a nice trend. The previous 9 in a row all had at least one team fall out of the rankings.

1) Notre Dame 9-1 --
2) Michigan 8-1 +1
3) Navy 8-1 +1
4) Purdue 9-0 +1
5) Duke 8-1 +2
6) Northwestern 6-2 +3
7) Georgia Tech 8-3 +6
8) Army 7-2-1 +3
9) Tulsa 6-1-1 +6
10) Southern Cal 8-2 IN
11) Washington 4-1 +1
12) Pacific 7-2 +7
13) North Carolina 6-3 IN
14) Penn 6-2-1 +6
15) Dartmouth 6-1 +1
16) Louisiana-Lafayette 5-0-1 IN
17) Southwestern (Texas) 10-1-1 IN
18) Arkansas A&M 5-2-1 IN
19) Texas 7-1-1 -5
20) Colorado College 7-0 -2
21) Cornell 6-4 IN
22) Holy Cross 6-2 IN
23) Tulane 3-3 IN
24) Louisiana State 6-3 IN
25) Texas A&M 7-2-1 IN

Fixed AP Polls
1943 National Championship
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