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Fixing the Final 1957 AP College Football Poll

1) Auburn 10-0
2) Ohio State 9-1
3) Michigan State 8-1
4) Oklahoma 10-1
5) Navy 9-1-1
6) Iowa 7-1-1
7) Mississippi 9-1-1
8) Rice 7-4

9) Texas A&M 8-3
10) Notre Dame 7-3
11) Texas 6-4-1
12) Arizona State 10-0
13) Tennessee 8-3
14) Mississippi State 6-2-1
15) North Carolina State 7-1-2
16) Duke 6-3-2
17) Florida 6-2-1
18) Army 7-2
19) Wisconsin 6-3
20) Virginia Military Institute 9-0-1
To the left is the final 1957 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.

Let's start with #6 Iowa. Like #5 Navy, they had a loss and a tie. But Iowa's loss came to #2 Ohio State, whereas Navy's loss came to unranked 6-4 North Carolina. Both took an upset tie, but Iowa's relevant record was effectively a game better than Navy's due to Navy's upset loss
.

#4 Oklahoma took an "upset" loss to #10 Notre Dame. Since Iowa took just one upset tie (their loss came to a team ranked higher than Oklahoma), the Hawkeyes were effectively a half game better than Oklahoma. Furthermore, Iowa defeated Notre Dame 21-13 on the road.

So Iowa should be moved ahead of both teams. In fact, they could be moved ahead of #3 Michigan State as well....
1957 Auburn-Alabama football game
Auburn shut out 6 opponents and gave up just 28 points in 10 games en route to their first national championship
.

Iowa vs. Michigan State

#2 Ohio State (9-1) and #3 Michigan State (8-1) each took an upset loss, and you could rank either one ahead of the other. The AP poll chose Ohio State, but once that choice is made, 7-1-1 Iowa's relevant record is a half game better than 8-1 Michigan State's, since Iowa's loss came at OSU 17-13. That loss is irrelevant when comparing Iowa to MSU, since the AP poll ranked OSU higher than MSU. Iowa took a 21-21 tie at 5-3-1 Michigan, and Michigan State lost to 5-4 Purdue 20-13 at home, which leaves Iowa effectively a half game better on the season.

However, Michigan State performed better than Iowa did, and against several common opponents. MSU beat Michigan, the team that tied Iowa, 35-6 on the road, and the Spartans won 34-6 over Notre Dame, whom Iowa defeated 21-13. MSU beat another 3 common opponents by more than Iowa did, though both teams won comfortably in all those games. And Michigan State had 1 close win over an unrated team (4-5 Illinois), Iowa 2 (6-4 Washington State and 0-9 Northwestern). Iowa's 6-0 win at 0-9 Northwestern was a particularly poor performance, though it was caused by a muddy field.

The performance difference here is enough to let the AP poll keep Michigan State rated higher than Iowa.

Move Iowa up to #4, dropping Oklahoma and Navy 1 spot each.

Notre Dame

#10 Notre Dame (7-3) is a tough case thanks to their 7-0 "upset" win at 10-1 Oklahoma (now #5), which ended OU's NCAA record 47 game winning streak. Notre Dame's 3 losses came to #3 Michigan State, now-#4 Iowa, and now-#6 Navy, and Oklahoma did not defeat any top 10 teams, so I would certainly rank Notre Dame ahead of the Sooners. They didn't get lucky at Oklahoma-- they dominated that game, outgaining OU 247-145. Dame was stopped twice just inside the Oklahoma 10, another time at the 1, and they threw an interception into the end zone a 4th time before finally scoring the touchdown that won the game.

But then the Irish did lose 20-6 at home to 9-1-1 Navy, who in turn took an upset loss and tie to lower-ranked teams. Those upsets gave Notre Dame a better relevant record than Navy had, but Navy crushed Notre Dame head-to-head and performed better. All 9 of Navy's wins were by more than a touchdown, whereas Notre Dame struggled to beat 4-6 Pittsburgh 13-7 at home and they were embarrassed by #2 Michigan State 34-6. So I can let the AP poll keep Oklahoma and Navy ranked ahead of Notre Dame.

#7 Mississippi (9-1-1), however, is another story. Like Navy, Mississippi took an upset loss and a tie, but unlike Navy, they did not actually play and defeat Notre Dame. All 3 of Notre Dame's losses came to teams ranked higher than Mississippi, and they defeated Oklahoma, also ranked higher than Mississippi, and all that gives the Irish a relevant record that is effectively 2 and a half games better than Mississippi's. That's a huge gap, so Notre Dame belongs ahead of Mississippi (#8 Rice and #9 Texas A&M both lost their bowl games, and would have dropped in a post-bowl poll anyway).

Move Notre Dame up to #7, dropping Mississippi, Rice, and Texas A&M 1 spot each.

The Rice Effect

Rice is at the center of a big mess that needs to be untangled. Three SWC teams were overrated in this AP poll, and all 3 also lost their bowl games, and would have dropped in a post-bowl poll: #8 Rice (7-4), #9 Texas A&M (8-3), and #11 Texas (6-4-1). SWC champion Rice lost to #16 Duke (6-3-2) and to unrated 7-3 Clemson (coaches' #18) in the regular season, and really should not have been rated ahead of either team in the first place. To fix all this, I propose the following chain: 7-1-2 North Carolina State (#15) > 6-3-2 Duke (#16) > 6-4 North Carolina > 7-3 Clemson (coaches' #18) > 7-4 Rice (#8) > 8-3 Texas A&M (#9) > 6-4-1 Texas (#11).

North Carolina State and Duke

North Carolina State (7-1-2, #15) and Duke (6-3-2, #16) tied each other. NC State had the better straight record, but Duke played a much tougher schedule, and you could rank either one higher than the other. Since the AP poll had NC State higher, we'll stick with that. Duke won at Rice 7-6, and should therefore be rated ahead of Rice. They took upset losses to 4-4-2 Georgia Tech and to 6-4 North Carolina, but made up for one of those by tying #15 North Carolina State and now-#6 Navy.

6-4 North Carolina essentially had the same number of losses as 6-3-2 Duke (since a tie is half a loss), and the 2 teams also had the same relevant record, so I would rate North Carolina higher than Duke due to their 21-13 win at Duke. However, Duke had enough of a performance advantage to let the AP poll have its way here and rate Duke higher. NC was upset by 3-6-1 Virginia at home in their finale, a terrible finish. They also struggled to beat 0-10 Wake Forest 14-7, and they lost to 5-5 Maryland by 14 points. Duke beat Virginia by 40, Maryland by 14, and Wake Forest by 27.

North Carolina and Clemson

6-4 North Carolina was quite erratic. They took upset losses to 5-5 Maryland and to 3-6-1 Virginia, but they also defeated now-#6 Navy and #16 Duke, and most pertinently here, they stomped on 7-3 Clemson 26-0. Clemson's 3 losses came to #15 North Carolina State, #16 Duke, and North Carolina. They won at Rice 20-7, and should therefore be rated higher than Rice.

Rice, Texas A&M, and Texas

7-4 Rice lost at 6-4-1 Texas, but they won the SWC with a 5-1 league record thanks to a 7-6 win over 8-3 Texas A&M. A&M was 4-2 in league play, losing their finale to Texas. Texas was 4-1-1 in the SWC, but dropped a nonconference game to 5-5 South Carolina. South Carolina was in the ACC at this time, so obviously the SWC had trouble with that conference this season, though Texas A&M did beat 5-5 Maryland 21-13. All 3 of these SWC teams lost their bowl games, Rice falling to now-#6 Navy 20-7 in the Cotton, Texas A&M getting edged by #13 Tennessee 3-0 in the Gator, and Texas getting stomped by now-#8 Mississippi 39-7 in the Sugar.

Texas A&M started out 8-0 before dropping their final 3 games. They did lose a very close game at Rice 7-6, and barely lost 3-0 to a good 8-3 Tennessee team in the Gator Bowl, so rating Texas A&M higher than Rice is perhaps an option. But the Aggies did not perform better than Rice on the season, and they had a poor finish, so since the AP poll rated Rice higher than A&M, I will keep it that way.

Texas defeated both Rice and Texas A&M, but they took 2 upset losses (5-5 South Carolina and 4-5-1 Southern Methodist) and a tie (3-6-1 Baylor), so they should remain ranked behind both.

Dropping these 3 SWC teams behind the aforementioned 4 ACC teams results in the following ratings shift: #9 Arizona State, #10 Tennessee, #11 Mississippi State, #12 North Carolina State, #13 Duke, #14 North Carolina, #15 Clemson, #16 Rice, #17 Texas A&M, #18 Texas, #19 Florida, #20 Army, #21 Wisconsin, and #22 Virginia Military Institute.

Mississippi State

6-2-1 Mississippi State was rated right behind 8-3 Tennessee, and Tennessee did beat MSU 14-9, but it was a close home win (won on a very late punt return for a touchdown), and Mississippi State had the better record (both straight and relevant). Mississippi State tied now-#8 Mississippi, whom Tennessee lost to, and Tennessee took an upset loss at 3-7 Kentucky, while MSU had no upset losses. So Mississippi State's season was effectively a half game better, even with their loss to Tennessee.

Switch 'em, Mississippi State to #10 and Tennessee to #11.

Wisconsin

6-3 Wisconsin was underrated at #19 (original ranking). Their only losses came to #2 Ohio State, #3 Michigan State, and now-#4 Iowa, and they performed well. The Ohio State loss was extremely close at 16-13, and they beat 7-2-1 West Virginia 45-13 and 5-4 Purdue (who beat #3 Michigan State) 23-14. They could be ranked in the top 10, but at the very least they should be rated ahead of now-#12 North Carolina State, who took an upset loss and 2 upset ties, leaving them effectively 2 games worse than Wisconsin on the season.

Move Wisconsin up to #12, dropping North Carolina State, along with everyone that had been rated between NC State and Wisconsin, 1 spot each.

Army

7-2 Army (now #21) took their losses to now-#6 Navy and now-#7 Notre Dame, whereas 6-2-1 Florida (now #20) took an upset tie at 4-4-2 Georgia Tech. Army and Florida otherwise appear rather similar, but that half game difference is enough to move Army up past Florida.

Switch 'em, Army to #20 and Florida to #21.

Arkansas and Texas Christian

Like Army, 6-4 Arkansas and 5-4-1 Texas Christian, both unrated, had better relevant records than did 6-2-1 Florida, and both should be moved into the ratings ahead of Florida. Arkansas lost to 3 teams rated higher than Florida, and they took a 4th loss to unrated 4-5-1 Southern Methodist, but they made up for that with a big 12-6 win over now-#8 Mississippi. Florida did nothing to make up for their upset tie with 4-4-2 Georgia Tech, so Arkansas belongs ahead of them.

Texas Christian took their 4 losses to Rice, Texas A&M, Texas, and Arkansas: 3 teams rated ahead of Florida and the other about to be. TCU was also tied by 5-4-1 Kansas in their opener, but they more than made up for that with an MNC-killing 18-14 win at #2 Ohio State the next week. Their other 4 wins were all by more than a touchdown, whereas Florida had 2 close wins over unrated opponents.

Put Arkansas in at #21 and Texas Christian at #22, dropping Florida and Virginia Military Institute 1 spot each.

Purdue

Unrated 5-4 Purdue gives us yet another team with a better relevant record than Florida had. Purdue took an upset loss at 4-5 Minnesota, but they made up for that with a huge 20-13 upset win at #3 Michigan State, costing them an MNC. Florida, again, did nothing to make up for their upset tie with 4-4-2 Georgia Tech.

Bring Purdue in at #23, dropping
Florida and Virginia Military Institute 1 spot each.

Michigan and Virginia Military Institute

We're at 25 teams now, but Virginia Military Institute must go. They were 9-0-1, but they played what would today be considered an FCS level schedule. They tied 5-3-1 Holy Cross, and they repeatedly struggled to beat a bunch of minor teams: 7-0 at 6-3 Tampa, 14-13 at 4-6 William & Mary, 26-20 over 2-7 George Washington in Roanoke, and 12-7 at 8-1 Lehigh (who also played a minor schedule). They accomplished little to nothing. Many teams would be better in their place, including the coaches' poll choices of #17 Oregon (7-4) and #18 UCLA (8-2). But 5-3-1 Michigan had a better relevant record than either of those Pacific Coast teams.

Michigan took an upset loss at 4-5 Illinois, but they tied now-#4 Iowa, and all 5 of their wins were by more than a touchdown. 7-4 Oregon, 8-2 UCLA, and 8-2 Oregon State each took at least 1 upset loss to an unrated team, and none of them beat or tied anyone of value except each other.

Put Michigan in at #25, dropping Virginia Military Institute out.

Fixed AP Top 25

9-0-1 Virginia Military Institute, originally rated #20, falls out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25. They had 1 tie with an unranked opponent and no wins over rated teams. Discounting games against each other, the 6 teams that enter the fixed poll totaled 5 losses and a tie to unrated opponents and 6 wins and a tie against rated teams.

1) Auburn 10-0 --
2) Ohio State 9-1 --
3) Michigan State 8-1 --
4) Iowa 7-1-1 +2
5) Oklahoma 10-1 -1
6) Navy 9-1-1 -1
7) Notre Dame 7-3 +3
8) Mississippi 9-1-1 -1
9) Arizona State 10-0 +3
10) Mississippi State 6-2-1 +4
11) Tennessee 8-3 +2
12) Wisconsin 6-3 +7
13) North Carolina State 7-1-2 +2
14) Duke 6-3-2 +2
15) North Carolina 6-4 IN
16) Clemson 7-3 IN
17) Rice 7-4 -9
18) Texas A&M 8-3 -9
19) Texas 6-4-1 -8
20) Army 7-2 -2
21) Arkansas 6-4 IN
22) Texas Christian 5-4-1 IN
23) Purdue 5-4 IN
24) Florida 6-2-1 -7
25) Michigan 5-3-1 IN

OUT: #20 Virginia Military Institute 9-0-1