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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. 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