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Fixing the Final 1950 AP College Football Poll

1) Oklahoma 10-1
2) Army 8-1
3) Texas 9-2
4) Tennessee 11-1
5) California 9-1-1
6) Princeton 9-0
7) Kentucky 11-1
8) Michigan State 8-1

9) Michigan 6-3-1
10) Clemson 9-0-1
11) Washington 8-2
12) Wyoming 10-0
13) Illinois 7-2
14) Ohio State 6-3
15) Miami (Florida) 9-1-1
16) Alabama 9-2
17) Nebraska 6-2-1
18) Washington & Lee 8-3
19) Tulsa 9-1-1
20) Tulane 6-2-1
To the left is the final 1950 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.

To quote my 1951 article, "Here we have another case of a #1 team losing their bowl game." This time it was #7 Kentucky (11-1) defeating #1 Oklahoma (10-1) 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl. In addition, #2 Army (8-1) lost 14-2 to 3-6 Navy the week after the final AP poll, and #4 Tennessee defeated #3 Texas 20-14 in the Cotton Bowl, so the top 3 all lost after the final poll. That makes #4 Tennessee, the only team to beat Kentucky, our true #1 for the 1950 season.

And of course, 11-1 Kentucky belongs ahead of 10-1 Oklahoma, giving us the following top 3:

Tennessee #1, Kentucky #2, and Oklahoma #3. Army and Texas drop 2 spots each, while California and Princeton drop 1 spot each.
Kentucky quarterback Babe Parilli throwing against Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl
Quarterback Babe Parilli led #7 Kentucky to a 13-7 upset win over #1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. That opened the door for Tennessee, the only team to beat Kentucky, to ascend to the throne
.

Army

Needless to say, if the AP poll had voted at the end of the regular season, Army would have fallen further back than #4, where they are now. It's pretty much a guarantee that they would have been dropped back behind 9-0 Princeton, especially since Princeton defeated Navy, who defeated Army.

Drop Army to #6, moving Texas, California, and Princeton up 1 spot each.

California

#5 California (9-1-1) lost the Rose Bowl 14-6 to #9 Michigan (6-3-1). Cal and Michigan each took an upset tie, and Michigan took an upset loss as well (their other 2 losses came to top 10 teams, 8-1 Army and 8-1 Michigan State). Michigan's Rose Bowl win made up for the extra upset loss, giving Michigan and Cal the same relevant record, with Michigan owning the head to head tie-breaker. Michigan also performed better, as they had but 1 close win (9-3 at #14 Ohio State), while Cal had 4, 3 of them against unranked teams.

Drop Cal behind Michigan, to #9. Princeton, Army, Michigan State, and Michigan all move up 1 spot.

Wyoming

#12 Wyoming built their 10-0 record against a weak schedule, much like #10 Clemson built their 9-0-1 record against a weak schedule. The difference is that Clemson was tied by 3-4-2 South Carolina, while Wyoming was perfect. 8-2 Washington, who is ranked between the 2 teams, will be dropping anyway (as detailed next), so let's move Wyoming up ahead of Clemson.

Raise Wyoming to #10, dropping Clemson and Washington 1 spot each.

Illinois and Washington

7-2 Illinois (#13) defeated 8-2 Washington (now #12) 20-13. Illinois did take 2 upset losses, but they made up for 1 of them by beating now-#8 Michigan, whom the AP poll rated higher than Washington, and they made up for the other by beating Washington head-to-head.

Switch 'em, Illinois to #12 and Washington to #13.

Nebraska

#16 Nebraska (6-2-1) defeated no ranked teams, they lost at unranked 5-4-1 Colorado, they were tied by unranked 3-5-1 Indiana at home, and they struggled to get by the likes of 1-7-1 Minnesota, 6-4 Kansas, 4-5-1 Missouri, and 3-6-1 Iowa State. They should not be ranked at all.

Show 'em the door. That moves Washington & Lee, Tulsa, and Tulane up 1 spot each, and now we have just 19 teams on the list, though not for long...

Cornell, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington & Lee

8-3 Washington & Lee (now #17) lost 26-21 to unranked 8-2 Virginia, and should be ranked behind them. But Virginia lost 21-7 to unranked 6-3 Pennsylvania, who lost 13-6 to unranked 7-2 Cornell (who was #20 in the coaches' poll).

7-2 Cornell took a 20-19 upset loss at 4-5 Columbia, but their only other loss came to now-#5 Princeton. Aside from Cornell, Penn lost to now-#9 Cal and now-#6 Army. In addition to Virginia, Penn beat 6-3 Wisconsin, who was tied with Cornell for #20 in the coaches' poll. Penn's 6 wins came by an average score of 33-7.

Virginia's situation was muddier, as they were stomped at now-#19 Tulane (6-2-1) 42-18. But Virginia did not take another upset loss or tie, whereas Tulane lost to unranked 4-4-1 Notre Dame and they were tied by unranked 4-5-2 Louisiana State. Virginia's relevant record was thus effectively a half game better than Tulane's despite the head-to-head result. Virginia should be ranked higher, and that upset loss to Tulane is made up for by their head-to-head win over Washington & Lee.

Bring Cornell in at #17, Pennsylvania at #18, and Virginia at #19. That drops Washington Lee, Tulsa, and Tulane 3 spots each. But Tulsa is not done dropping...

Tulsa

9-1-1 Tulsa, originally ranked #19, lost to unranked 7-4 San Francisco, they were tied by unranked 6-3-1 Detroit, they beat no one of value, and they had close wins over 4-5 McMurry and 4-6 Houston. They belong with Nebraska, out of the rankings.

Drop Tulsa. Tulane moves up 1 spot.

Wisconsin and Northwestern

Wisconsin and Northwestern were both 6-3 and unranked (though Wisconsin was #20 in the coaches' poll). Wisconsin's 3 losses all came to currently ranked teams, and they defeated now-#12 Illinois. Northwestern lost to now-#8 Michigan, now-#14 Ohio State, and at Wisconsin 14-13, and they also defeated now-#12 Illinois. Both had better relevant records than did Virginia, who was upset 42-18 at Tulane, and whose best win came 26-21 over now-#20 Washington & Lee.

Bring Wisconsin in at #19 and Northwestern at #20. Virginia, Washington & Lee, and Tulane drop 2 spots each.

UCLA and Stanford

Here we have a similar story. Unranked 6-3 UCLA lost only to currently ranked teams (8-2 Washington, 7-2 Illinois, and 9-1-1 Cal), and they defeated Stanford 21-7. Unranked 5-3-2 Stanford lost to UCLA, 8-2 Washington, and 9-1 Army. They were tied by 2-5-2 Southern Cal, but they made up for that by tying 9-1-1 Cal. Both had better relevant records than did Virginia.

Bring UCLA in at #21 and Stanford at #22. Virginia, Washington & Lee, and Tulane drop another 2 spots each.

Fixed AP Top 25

The toughest cases for me when fixing this poll were 7-3 Baylor (coaches' #15), 7-4 Texas A&M, and 6-4 Southern Methodist. I would have ranked these teams in my own top 25, but the AP poll's interest in Washington & Lee and Tulane is what ultimately doomed them here. And the AP poll has a case for preferring W&L, though I doubt that preference would have held after Washington & Lee's 20-7 bowl loss to Wyoming.

Two teams dropped out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25: #17 Nebraska (6-2-1) and #19 Tulsa (9-1-1). Those teams took a combined 2 losses and 2 ties to unranked teams, and they did not defeat or tie any AP-rated team. Discounting games against each other, the 7 teams that come into the fixed poll took a total of just 1 loss and 1 tie to unranked teams, and they notched 3 wins and 1 tie against AP-rated teams.


1) Tennessee 11-1 +3
2) Kentucky 11-1 +5
3) Oklahoma 10-1 -2
4) Texas 9-2 -1
5) Princeton 9-0 +1
6) Army 8-1 -4
7) Michigan State 8-1 +1
8) Michigan 6-3-1 +1
9) California 9-1-1 -4
10) Wyoming 10-0 +2
11) Clemson 9-0-1 -1
12) Illinois 7-2 +1
13) Washington 8-2 -2
14) Ohio State 6-3 --
15) Miami (Florida) 9-1-1 --
16) Alabama 9-2 --
17) Cornell 7-2 IN
18) Pennsylvania 6-3 IN
19) Wisconsin 6-3 IN
20) Northwestern 6-3 IN
21) UCLA 6-3 IN
22) Stanford 5-3-2 IN
23) Virginia 8-2 IN
24) Washington & Lee 8-3 -6
25) Tulane 6-2-1 -5

OUT: #17 Nebraska 6-2-1
#19 Tulsa 9-1-1