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Fixing the Final 1948 AP College Football Poll

1) Michigan 9-0
2) Notre Dame 9-0-1
3) North Carolina 9-1-1
4) California 10-1
5) Oklahoma 10-1
6) Army 8-0-1
7) Northwestern 8-2
8) Georgia 9-2

9) Oregon 9-2
10) Southern Methodist 9-1-1
11) Clemson 11-0
12) Vanderbilt 8-2-1
13) Tulane 9-1
14) Michigan State 6-2-2
15) Mississippi 8-1
16) Minnesota 7-2
17) William & Mary 7-2-2
18) Penn State 7-1-1
19) Cornell 8-1
20) Wake Forest 6-4
To the left is the final 1948 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.

Poor ol' California. They went 29-0-1 during the regular season 1948-1950, but lost in the Rose Bowl all 3 years. This time they were beaten 20-14 by #7 Northwestern. Northwestern was 8-2, and their losses came to #1 Michigan and #2 Notre Dame, so they belong at #3. The AP poll's #3 team, North Carolina, took an upset tie, and they were beaten by #5 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma was upset by unranked 7-2-1 Santa Clara.

California did not take an upset loss, so we'll leave them ahead of Oklahoma. I'll handle North Carolina next. For now, we'll just move Northwestern ahead of Cal.

Move Northwestern to #4, dropping California, Oklahoma, and Army 1 spot each.
1948 Michigan football team
Michigan, who should have been voted #1 over Notre Dame in 1947, was rewarded for their superior play a year later, in 1948. Then Notre Dame tied unrated Southern Cal a week after the final AP poll to render moot any last vestige of debate
.

Oklahoma and North Carolina

10-1 Oklahoma "upset" 9-1-1 North Carolina 14-6 in the Sugar Bowl, not much more to say than that.

Drop North Carolina behind Oklahoma, to #6, moving Northwestern, California, and Oklahoma up 1 spot each.

Texas and Georgia

Unrated Texas (7-3-1) defeated #8 Georgia (9-2) 41-28 in the Orange Bowl. Sometimes that sort of a result is simply a big upset, but in this case I think it signaled a pair of huge misrankings. Georgia never actually defeated a rated opponent, and lost to the only rated team they played (now-#6 North Carolina), so there was no way to know whether they were a #8 team or a #18 team. 7-3-1 Texas took their 3 losses to now-#6 North Carolina, now-#5 Oklahoma, and #10 Southern Methodist. They were tied by 0-9-1 Texas A&M, an ugly upset, but their head to head win over Georgia still gave them a relevant record that was effectively half a game better than Georgia's.

Georgia performed better than Texas, but a 13 point win in a bowl game is decisive, so we're moving Texas into the rankings, and ahead of Georgia. We'll put the 2 teams behind #11 Clemson (11-0), and ahead of #12 Vanderbilt (8-2-1), as Georgia was the SEC champion and should remain ahead of Vanderbilt, as well as #13 Tulane (9-1)
.

Bring Texas in at #11 and drop Georgia behind them at #12. Oregon, Southern Methodist, and Clemson all move up a spot, while Vanderbilt and all the teams behind them drop a spot.

Ohio State, Missouri, Southern Methodist, and Oregon

9-2 Oregon (originally rated #9) lost 21-13 to 9-1-1 Southern Methodist (#10) in the Cotton Bowl. SMU, in turn, lost 20-14 to unrated 8-3 Missouri, who lost 21-7 at unrated 6-3 Ohio State. So Ohio State > Missouri > SMU > Oregon.

Ohio State took an upset loss to 4-5 Iowa, but their other 2 losses came to #1 Michigan and now-#3 Northwestern. In addition to Missouri, they defeated 6-3-1 Southern Cal 20-0 and 6-3 Pittsburgh 41-0, and both those teams will be ranked in the fixed poll. Missouri's 3 losses came to Ohio State, #5 Oklahoma, and 11-0 Clemson by 1 point in the Gator Bowl. SMU took an upset tie to 4-5-1 Texas Christian
.

We'll put these teams behind 11-0 Clemson and ahead of Texas. SMU won 21-6 at Texas, and Oregon had a better relevant record than Texas did (as well as a better straight record).

Bring Ohio State in at #9, Missouri at #10, and drop Southern Methodist to #11 and Oregon to #12. Clemson moves up 2 spots, while Texas and all the teams behind them drop 2 spots each.

Vanderbilt

8-2-1 Vanderbilt, originally rated #12, lost to 8-1 Mississippi (#15) and should not have been rated ahead of them. But that's just the start. Vanderbilt also lost to unrated 7-3 Georgia Tech, they were tied by unrated 6-4-1 Alabama, and they did not defeat any rated teams, so there are few teams here that they should have been ranked ahead of. But I can give the AP poll 6-4 Wake Forest (originally #20, now #23), as they'll be dropping out of the rankings by the time I'm done anyway. Let's drop Vanderbilt back to there. 8-1 Cornell, who sits just in front of Wake Forest, did not take an upset loss, so they were effectively a game and a half better than Vanderbilt on the season.

Drop Vanderbilt to #22. That moves Tulane, Michigan State, Mississippi, Minnesota, William & Mary, Penn State, and Cornell up 1 spot each.

Southern Cal and Santa Clara

Unrated 6-3-1 Southern Cal tied #2 Notre Dame a week after the final AP poll was released, and it's a good bet that they would have been ranked had the AP poll at least waited until the end of the regular season to finish. USC's 3 losses came to #4 California, now-#9 Ohio State, and now-#12 Oregon, so their relevant record was better than that of every team currently ranked behind Oregon. USC only lost 8-7 at Oregon, so right behind the Ducks looks like the perfect spot.

Unrated 7-2-1 Santa Clara had a similar relevant record. Their losses came to #4 California and now-#11 Southern Methodist, and they defeated #5 Oklahoma. They also tied 6-2-2 Michigan State, originally rated #14, and you have to wonder how in the world 6-2-2 Michigan State ends up rated and 7-2-1 Santa Clara doesn't. Like USC, Santa Clara should be moved ahead of 7-3-1 Texas, who was tied by 0-9-1 Texas A&M.

Bring Southern Cal in at #13 and Santa Clara at #14. Texas and all the teams behind them drop 2 spots each.

Michigan State

6-2-2 Michigan State was rated right behind 9-1 Tulane, but while Tulane had the better straight record, now that Santa Clara has been moved up ahead of Tulane, Michigan State has a better relevant record than does Tulane, who lost to unrated 7-3 Georgia Tech. MSU tied Santa Clara and 7-1-1 Penn State (originally rated #18), and their losses came to #1 Michigan (by just 13-7) and #2 Notre Dame. They also performed very strongly, their 6 wins coming by an average score of 52-10, whereas Tulane had 2 close wins over unrated teams.

Switch 'em: Michigan State to #17, Tulane to #18.

William & Mary and Wake Forest

I am finding that the AP poll rated some random goobers every year back in these days, and this season's goobers were 7-2-2 William & Mary (originally rated #17) and 6-4 Wake Forest (#20). William & Mary lost to Wake Forest, and should not have been rated ahead of them in the first place, but they also lost to Saint Bonaventure, so I don't know why writers were wanting to rate them at all. Wake Forest lost their bowl game, and would have fallen out of a post-bowl ranking anyway. 6-3-2 Baylor beat them in the Dixie Bowl and 5-2-2 Boston College beat them in the regular season, and Wake Forest belongs rated behind both teams. Which is to say, out of the rankings.

Drop William & Mary and Wake Forest. That moves Penn State, Cornell, and Vanderbilt up 1 spot each.

Pittsburgh and Penn State

Unrated 6-3 Pittsburgh beat 7-1-1 Penn State (originally rated #18) 7-0 in their finale. Pitt's 3 losses all came to teams currently rated in the top 11 (Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Southern Methodist), so there's no good reason they should not be rated ahead of PSU.

Bring Pittsburgh in at #21, dropping Penn State, Cornell, and Vanderbilt 1 spot each. PSU's tie with now-#17 Michigan State gives them a better relevant record than Cornell had, so they should remain ranked higher.

Georgia Tech

We have 1 spot left, and I am nominating 7-3 Georgia Tech. 6-3-2 Baylor and 5-2-2 Boston College are also candidates, but GT had a better relevant record than both. They also had a better relevant record than 8-2-1 Vanderbilt, currently rated #24, and they won at Vanderbilt 13-0, so I'd rate them ahead of Vandy myself, but the AP poll has a case for Vanderbilt. They finished strong, while GT's finish was quite poor. Tech upset Vandy and 9-1 Tulane early, but they crashed with 3 losses at the end, 2 of them to unrated teams.

Bring Georgia Tech in at #25.

Fixed AP Top 25

Two teams dropped out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25: #17 William & Mary (7-2-2) and #20 Wake Forest (6-4). Those teams took a combined 3 losses and 1 tie to unranked teams, and they managed 1 tie against AP-rated teams. Discounting games against each other, the 7 teams that come into the fixed poll took a total of 3 losses and 1 tie to unranked teams, and they collected 6 wins and 2 ties against AP-rated teams.

1) Michigan 9-0 --
2) Notre Dame 9-0-1 --
3) Northwestern 8-2 +4
4) California 10-1 --
5) Oklahoma 10-1 --
6) North Carolina 9-1-1 -3
7) Army 8-0-1 -1
8) Clemson 11-0 +3
9) Ohio State 6-3 IN
10) Missouri 8-3 IN
11) Southern Methodist 9-1-1 -1
12) Oregon 9-2 -3
13) Southern Cal 6-3-1 IN
14) Santa Clara 7-2-1 IN
15) Texas 7-3-1 IN
16) Georgia 9-2 -8
17) Michigan State 6-2-2 -3
18) Tulane 9-1 -5
19) Mississippi 8-1 -4
20) Minnesota 7-2 -4
21) Pittsburgh 6-3 IN
22) Penn State 7-1-1 -4
23) Cornell 8-1 -4
24) Vanderbilt 8-2-1 -12
25) Georgia Tech 7-3 IN

OUT: #17 William & Mary 7-2-2
#20 Wake Forest 6-4