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Fixing the Final 1944 AP College Football Poll

1) Army 9-0
2) Ohio State 9-0
3) Randolph Field
4) Navy 6-3
5) Bainbridge NTS
6) Iowa Pre-Flight
7) Southern Cal 8-0-2
8) Michigan 8-2

9) Notre Dame 8-2
10) March Field
11) Duke 6-4
12) Tennessee 7-1-1
13) Georgia Tech 8-3
       Norman Pre-Flight
15) Illinois 5-4-1
16) El Toro Marines
17) Great Lakes Navy
18) Fort Pierce
19) St. Mary's Pre-Flight
20) 2nd Air Force
To the left is the final 1944 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.

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 10 ranked teams, the ones marked in bold to the left. Their new rankings are as such:

1) Army 9-0
2) Ohio State 9-0
3) Navy 6-3
4) Southern Cal 8-0-2
5) Michigan 8-2
6) Notre Dame 8-2
7) Duke 6-4
8) Tennessee 7-1-1
9) Georgia Tech 8-3
10) Illinois 5-4-1

Obviously we'll need to add a full 15 teams to this list to get it to 25.
1944 Army-Notre Dame football game

Here's Army obliterating #9 Notre Dame 59-0 in Yankee Stadium. Army outscored opponents by an average of 56-4 this season, putting themselves on the short list for greatest team of all time
.

Michigan and Navy

8-2 Michigan (now #5) took 1 upset loss, to unrated 7-3 Indiana, while 8-0-2 Southern Cal (now #4) took 2 upset ties, to 4-5-1 UCLA and 3-6-1 California. Advantage Michigan. Michigan defeated 10-1 Iowa Pre-Flight (AP #6) and 5-4-1 Illinois (AP #15), while USC defeated 7-1-1 Tennessee (AP #12) and 4-4 St. Mary's Pre-Flight (AP #19). Advantage Michigan. Michigan also defeated another 3 teams that will make the fixed and expanded AP top 25, while USC defeated none aside from Tennessee. Finally, Michigan had 1 close win, while USC had 2. There is no reason at all for USC to be ranked higher.

6-3 Navy (now #3) compares much better to Michigan in terms of tough schedule and strong performance, but they took 2 upset losses (to 6-2-1 North Carolina Pre-Flight and now-#9 Georgia Tech), while Michigan took 1, so we'll move Michigan ahead of both Southern Cal and Navy.

Move Michigan up to #3, dropping Navy and Southern Cal 1 spot each.

Notre Dame and Southern Cal

1943-1945 is the only break the Notre Dame-Southern Cal series has had since it began in 1926, so we'll have to compare these teams via logic rather than head-to-head result. That's easy to do, since Notre Dame lost only to Army and Navy, while Southern Cal took upset ties to 4-5-1 UCLA and 3-6-1 California. Dame also defeated 3 ranked opponents to USC's 2.

Move Notre Dame up to #5 and drop Southern Cal to #6.

Oklahoma State and Tulsa

Unrated 8-1 Oklahoma State and unrated 8-2 Tulsa were done wrong by AP poll voters, but both would have been well-rated in a post-bowl poll, given that OSU stomped 7-3-1 Texas Christian 34-0 in the Cotton Bowl, and Tulsa romped 8-3 Georgia Tech (now #9) 26-12 in the Orange Bowl. Where should we put them?

Oklahoma State lost only to 6-0 Norman Pre-Flight, who was also underrated by the AP poll at #13. Tulsa lost a wild shoot-out to Oklahoma State 46-40, and their other loss came to 10-1 Iowa Pre-Flight (AP #6). Obviously OSU and Tulsa should be rated higher than Georgia Tech, but both also had better relevant records than did Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Duke. Southern Cal, again, took 2 upset ties to losing teams.

Bring Oklahoma State in at #6 and Tulsa at #7, dropping Southern Cal and everyone behind them 2 spots each.

Pennsylvania, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee

Unrated 5-3 Pennsylvania was also done wrong. Their 3 losses all came to teams currently rated in the top 4, Army, Navy, and Michigan. They defeated 6-4 Duke (now #9) 18-7, and as you can see, Duke had a worse straight record (and they were 5-4 when the AP poll vote was taken, before they beat 5-2-2 Alabama 29-26 in the Sugar Bowl), so it makes little sense that Duke was rated and not Penn.

Duke beat Georgia Tech, so they should remain ranked ahead of them.

Georgia Tech's relevant record was effectively a game and a half better than Tennessee's, so they should be moved ahead of Tennessee. GT's 3 losses all came to teams now ranked higher, and they defeated now-#4 Navy. Tennessee took an upset tie with unrated 5-2-2 Alabama, and they did not defeat a rated opponent.

We'll leave 7-1-1 Tennessee rated ahead of 5-4-1 Illinois.

So Penn > Duke > Georgia Tech > Tennessee > Illinois. There is one more item to attend to. 8-0-2 Southern Cal would now be ranked right in front of 5-3 Penn, and though their straight record looks much better than Penn's, that is an unfair comparison because all of Penn's losses came to great teams the likes of which USC did not play. USC took the 2 upset ties to losing teams, and Penn did not take any upsets. USC performed very strongly down the stretch, but Penn's wins were all by more than a touchdown. So let's move Penn ahead of Southern Cal.

USC's strong finish, however, is enough to keep them rated ahead of Duke. Duke took a potential upset loss, to 6-2-1 North Carolina Pre-Flight, though it is difficult to say how good that erratic military all-star team was (they did beat #4 Navy). USC beat 7-1-1 Tennessee 25-0 in the Rose Bowl, much better than Duke's 29-26 Sugar Bowl win over 5-2-2 Alabama (who tied Tennessee).


Bring Pennsylvania in at #8, dropping Southern Cal to #9. Duke drops to #10, Tennessee drops to #12, and Illinois drops to #13. Those teams are all set now. Time to add 12 more teams to the list.

Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota

7-3 Indiana was beaten by 5-3-1 Minnesota, but Minnesota was tied by 1-7-1 Northwestern, whom Indiana defeated, and Indy won 20-0 over now-#3 Michigan, whom Minnesota lost to, so Indiana > Minnesota.

Purdue had an ugly 5-5 record, but their schedule was rough, and their losses came to 9-2-1 Great Lakes Navy, 10-1 Iowa Pre-Flight, now-#3 Michigan, #4 Navy, and 7-3 Indiana. And they defeated Illinois, whom the AP poll rated #15. Minnesota also defeated a higher-ranked team (Indiana), but their tie with 1-7-1 Northwestern left them effectively a half game worse than Purdue for the season.

Bring Indiana in at #14, Purdue at #15, and Minnesota at #16.

Wake Forest, Georgia, and Alabama

Next we have 8-1 Wake Forest, who beat 7-3 Georgia, who beat 5-2-2 Alabama. Due to their upset wins, Purdue and Minnesota both had better relevant records than did Wake Forest, which is why I'm bringing WF in behind them.

Chalk Wake Forest up at #17, Georgia at #18, and Alabama at #19.

Tulane, Clemson, North Carolina State, Virginia, and Yale

Next up we have this long chain: 4-3 Tulane, who beat 4-5 Clemson, who beat 7-2 North Carolina State, who beat 6-1-2 Virginia, who tied 7-0-1 Yale.

Little more need be said. Of course 4-5 Clemson played a far tougher schedule than NC State did, which is why they took 5 losses while NC State took 2. Clemson not only beat NC State 13-7 in Charlotte, but they also performed better than NC State did against common opponents.

7-0-1 Yale had a nice straight record, but they notched no wins of value, and barely got by some of their weak opponents (such as a 13-7 win over 1-7-1 North Carolina). Virginia, who tied Yale in New Haven, accomplished more than Yale did, including a tie with North Carolina Pre-Flight, who defeated a pair of top 10 teams (Navy and Duke). Virginia also beat 5-3-1 West Virginia 24-6 and North Carolina 26-7.

With an upset loss to 2-5-1 Louisiana State in their finale, Tulane had a worse relevant record than Alabama did, which is why we're bringing Tulane in behind them.

Tulane joins the list at #20, Clemson at #21, North Carolina State at #22, Virginia at #23, and Yale at #24. One more slot left.

Colorado

The candidates for the last slot are 6-2 Colorado, 6-2 Mississippi State, 5-4 Texas, 4-5 Pittsburgh, and 5-3 Washington.

As I did for the last slot when fixing the 1945 AP poll, I'll go with straight record here, since AP poll voters tend to gravitate toward better straight records. 6-2 Mississippi State took an upset loss to 2-6 Mississippi, while both of Colorado's losses came to military teams (5-4-1 Fort Warren and 10-4-1 2nd Air Force), so Colorado it is.

Pencil Colorado in at #25.

Fixed AP Top 25

No team falls out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25. I had actually expected to see more losing teams than the one that found its way in here (4-5 Clemson), since there were so many all-star military training camp teams dealing out extra losses to the colleges this season.

1) Army 9-0 --
2) Ohio State 9-0 --
3) Michigan 8-2 +5
4) Navy 6-3 --
5) Notre Dame 8-2 +4
6) Oklahoma State 8-1 IN
7) Tulsa 8-2 IN
8) Pennsylvania 5-3 IN
9) Southern Cal 8-0-2 -2
10) Duke 6-4 +1
11) Georgia Tech 8-3 +2.5
12) Tennessee 7-1-1 --
13) Illinois 5-4-1 +2
14) Indiana 7-3 IN
15) Purdue 5-5 IN
16) Minnesota 5-3-1 IN
17) Wake Forest 8-1 IN
18) Georgia 7-3 IN
19) Alabama 5-2-2 IN
20) Tulane 4-3 IN
21) Clemson 4-5 IN
22) North Carolina State 7-2 IN
23) Virginia 6-1-2 IN
24) Yale 7-0-1 IN
25) Colorado 6-2 IN

Fixed AP Polls
1944 National Championship
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