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Fixing the Final 1958 AP College Football Poll

1) Louisiana State 11-0
2) Iowa 8-1-1
3) Army 8-0-1
4) Auburn 9-0-1
5) Oklahoma 10-1
6) Air Force 9-0-2
7) Wisconsin 7-1-1
8) Ohio State 6-1-2

9) Syracuse 8-2
10) Texas Christian 8-2-1
11) Mississippi 9-2
12) Clemson 8-3
13) Purdue 6-1-2
14) Florida 6-4-1
15) South Carolina 7-3
16) California 7-4
17) Notre Dame 6-4
18) Southern Methodist 6-4
19) Oklahoma State 8-3
20) Rutgers 8-1
To the left is the final 1958 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.

11-0 Louisiana State was and is a virtually unanimous
mythical national champion for 1958, and they were #1 in the AP poll by a wide margin (130 first place votes to 17 for Iowa), but one organization, the Football Writers Association of America, selected 8-1-1 Iowa #1. I once thought that selection was ridiculous, but after I looked closely at this season, it actually made some sense.

Iowa played an incredibly tough schedule. Their loss and tie came to top 10 opponents, but they were 2-1-1 against such teams, and LSU did not play any top 10 opponents.

That doesn't mean that Iowa should be #1. Just that they are a logically viable choice for #1. But the AP poll can keep their own choice, LSU, at the top.
LSU's 1958 "Chinese Bandits"
Louisiana State's defensive specialists, known as the "Chinese Bandits," appeared in rubber "Chinese" masks for
Life magazine. This photograph has not become quite so iconic as Notre Dame's 1924 "Four Horsemen" photo.

Purdue

Another season, another underrating for Purdue (#13, 6-1-2). #12 Clemson (8-3) lost their bowl game and would have fallen back behind Purdue in a post-bowl AP poll anyway, but they should not have been ranked ahead of Purdue in the first place. Clemson suffered an upset loss to unrated 5-4-1 Georgia Tech, and did not beat a rated team. Purdue was tied by unrated 5-3-1 Indiana, but they also tied #8 Ohio State (6-1-2), and they defeated #17 Notre Dame (6-4).

#11 Mississippi (9-2) was upset by unrated 4-6 Tennessee, and they defeated #14 Florida (6-4-1) in the Gator Bowl. Purdue had a better relevant record because they took an upset tie rather than an upset loss, and because they tied a team that was ranked higher than Ole Miss was. Purdue's 1 win over a rated team was even a bit better, given that 6-4-1 Florida would have fallen back behind 6-4 Notre Dame in a post-bowl AP poll. And Purdue beat 3 teams that will make the fixed and expanded AP top 25, while Mississippi beat 2.

Purdue also had a better relevant record than #10 Texas Christian (8-2-1), but TCU got a big tie with #6 Air Force (9-0-2) in the Cotton Bowl, and Purdue's upset tie came in their finale, so I'll let the AP poll have this one, though I would rate Purdue ahead of TCU myself.

Move Purdue up to #11, dropping Mississippi and Clemson 1 spot each.

Syracuse

#9 Syracuse lost their bowl game, and would have dropped in a post-bowl poll, but they were overrated anyway. They took an ugly loss to unrated 6-3 Holy Cross, did not beat a rated team, and struggled to get by unrated opponents 6-3-1 Penn State, 5-4-1 Pittsburgh, and 4-5-1 West Virginia over their last 3 regular season games. We'll drop them back behind 9-2 Mississippi, who at least defeated a rated opponent, and had just 2 close wins (both over teams that will be rated in the fixed poll).

Drop Syracuse to #12, moving Texas Christian, Purdue, and Mississippi up 1 spot each.

Clemson

Clemson, 8-3 and originally rated #12, was the second-most overrated team in this poll (the most overrated was California, handled next). They did have a great bowl game, losing just 7-0 to #1 Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl. Or was that more LSU having a bad game? Clemson lost 13-0 at unrated 5-4-1 Georgia Tech, they were smacked around 26-6 at #15 South Carolina (7-3), they did not defeat a rated opponent, and they posted 6 close wins over unrated opponents. So I'm leaning toward LSU having a bad game.

Clemson should be dropped back behind South Carolina, who stomped on them.

Drop Clemson to #15, moving Florida and South Carolina up 1 spot each.

California

#16 California (7-4) was just terrible. They were only rated because they won the Western slot in the Rose Bowl. Which they proceeded to lose 38-12 to Iowa. Prior to that, they had lost to 3 unrated opponents (Pacific, 3-5-1 Michigan State, and 6-4 Oregon State), and they had beaten 4 losing teams by a mere 2, 3, 1, and 5 points.

Toss 'em out entirely. Everyone that had been ranked behind them moves up 1 slot.

Notre Dame

6-4 Notre Dame, originally rated #17, took an upset loss at 5-4-1 Pittsburgh, and they defeated now-#17 Southern Methodist. Clemson, who currently sits right in front of Dame, also took an upset loss, but they did not beat a rated team, and their performances were awful. 7-3 South Carolina took 2 upset losses, one more than Notre Dame. 6-4-1 Florida took an upset loss and a tie, the tie putting them a half game worse than Notre Dame. The Irish, who also defeated 5-3-1 Indiana, 6-3 Navy, and 6-4 North Carolina, should be ranked ahead of all 3 teams currently in front of them.

Move Notre Dame up to #13, dropping Florida, South Carolina, and Clemson 1 spot each.

Rice, Southern Methodist, and Texas

6-4 Southern Methodist, originally rated #18, lost 13-7 at home to 5-5 Rice, and they should be rated behind the Owls. Don't be fooled by Rice's 5-5 record. They took 1 upset loss to 4-6 Texas A&M, but their other 4 losses all came to teams now ranked in the top 10 (11-0 LSU, 6-1-2 Purdue, 8-0-1 Army, and 8-2-1 TCU), and they also routed 7-3 Texas 34-7. Texas lost only to TCU, Rice, and SMU, and they gave #5 Oklahoma (10-1) their only loss.

Rice, SMU, and Texas should all be rated, and all 3 should be rated higher than where SMU was originally ranked. Much like Notre Dame, they had better relevant records than Florida, South Carolina, and Clemson, so let's put them behind Notre Dame and ahead of Florida. As a group, this trio had 2 upset losses, but they balanced those out with 2 upset wins over top 10 teams.

Put Rice in at #14, move SMU up to #15, and put Texas in at #16. Florida, South Carolina, and Clemson drop 3 slots each. Oklahoma State and Rutgers drop 2 slots each.

Northwestern and Indiana

We're at 21 teams now, 4 slots left to fill. Let's go ahead and take the coaches' #17 team, 5-4 Northwestern, next. They took one upset loss to 4-5 Illinois, but they defeated #8 Ohio State. And right behind them, let's bring in 5-3-1 Indiana. They performed very poorly in every game but one (all 5 of their wins were close, all 3 of their losses routs), but they managed to get through the season without taking a loss or tie to an unranked opponent, and they tied now-#10 Purdue in their finale.

Bring Northwestern in at #22, Indiana at #23.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky

For the last 2 slots, 5-2-3 Vanderbilt and 5-4-1 Kentucky beat out 5-4-1 Georgia Tech and 5-4-1 Alabama. Kentucky beat GT 13-0. Vanderbilt was tied by Alabama, but Alabama was done in by upset losses to 4-6 Tennessee and 3-7 Tulane.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky tied each other, and their seasons ended up being so close that separating them is difficult, so I'm just going to leave them tied with each other for the last slot.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky share #24.

Fixed AP Top 25

7-4 California, originally rated #16, falls out of this fixed and expanded AP top 25. They had 3 losses to unranked opponents and no wins over rated teams. 5-5 Rice had just 1 upset loss to an unranked opponent, and they had 1 win over a rated team. Discounting games against each other, the 6 teams that enter the fixed poll totaled 4 losses and a tie to unrated opponents and 3 wins and 2 ties against rated teams.

1) Louisiana State 11-0 --
2) Iowa 8-1-1 --
3) Army 8-0-1 --
4) Auburn 9-0-1 --
5) Oklahoma 10-1 --
6) Air Force 9-0-2 --
7) Wisconsin 7-1-1 --
8) Ohio State 6-1-2 --
9) Texas Christian 8-2-1 +1
10) Purdue 6-1-2 +3
11) Mississippi 9-2 --
12) Syracuse 8-2 -3
13) Notre Dame 6-4 +4
14) Rice 5-5 IN
15) Southern Methodist 6-4 +3
16) Texas 7-3 IN
17) Florida 6-4-1 -3
18) South Carolina 7-3 -3
19) Clemson 8-3 -7
20) Oklahoma State 8-3 -1
21) Rutgers 8-1 -1
22) Northwestern 5-4 IN
23) Indiana 5-3-1 IN
24) Vanderbilt 5-2-3
       Kentucky 5-4-1
IN
IN

OUT: #16 California 7-4