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Fixing the Final 1960 AP College Football Poll

1) Minnesota 8-2
2) Mississippi 10-0-1
3) Iowa 8-1
4) Navy 9-2
5) Missouri 10-1
6) Washington 10-1
7) Arkansas 8-3
8) Ohio State 7-2
9) Alabama 8-1-2
10) Duke 8-3
11) Kansas 7-2-1
12) Baylor 8-3
13) Auburn 8-2
14) Yale 9-0
15) Michigan State 6-2-1
16) Penn State 7-3
17) New Mexico State 11-0
18) Florida 9-2
19) Syracuse 7-2
       Purdue 4-4-1
To the left is the final 1960 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.

Now that I've fixed and expanded all the AP polls of the 1960s, I've compiled lists of the most overrated and underrated teams of that decade, which you can find here


This final AP poll was the most difficult to fix that I have tackled so far. A parade of upsets after the final poll's release reduced the season to chaos, and rendered this top 20 meaningless. And it wasn't just the bowls. On December 3rd, unrated UCLA (7-2-1) stomped on #10 Duke (8-3) 27-6, and that was a regular season game. Then there were 6 bowl games that featured teams from the AP poll's top 20, and the higher-rated team was upset in 5 of them. Even in the 6th, #2 Mississippi (10-0-1) had one of their worst efforts of the season, a 14-6 win over unrated Rice (7-4).

The biggest upset of them all happened in the Rose Bowl, where #6 Washington (10-1) slapped #1 Minnesota (8-2) with a 17-7 loss. You might think that Mississippi, who was #2 and had the best record among the contenders, would simply have risen to #1 in a post-bowl AP poll, but actually, that is not at all clear. In fact, I don't think anyone could say with any certainty who would have been voted #1 in a post-bowl poll.

But choosing a #1 team for the 1960 season is only the first of many challenges to repairing this completely broken AP top 20.
1961 Rose Bowl, Washington vs. Minnesota
#6 Washington upset #1 Minnesota 17-7 in the Rose Bowl, throwing the true national championship race into chaos.

Who Would Have Been #1 in a Post-Bowl AP Poll in 1960?

Mississippi, again, was #2 and had the best record among the contenders at 10-0-1, so it is possible that they would have simply risen to #1 in a post-bowl poll. But 10-1 Washington, the team that actually beat the #1 team 17-7 in the Rose Bowl, could have vaulted all the way from #6 to #1 with that win. We have seen the powerful effect of Lastgamitis on voters in poll after poll, and voters were far more swayed by a team's last game played during this time period than they are today (see Michigan in 1961 for a perfect example of Lastgamitis blowing all logic out of a team's rating). Mississippi's Sugar Bowl opponent was a joke, unrated 7-4 Rice, and Mississippi's performance against them was weak, a 14-6 win. Mississippi's schedule was incredibly weak in general, and that had been the knock on them all season. That's one reason why 8-1 Minnesota had been rated #1 ahead of them at the end of the regular season to begin with.

Mississippi and Washington are the teams most people focus on for a 1960 post-bowl national champion. Two post-bowl national championship selectors from that season split on the decision. The Football Writers Association of America gave their Grantland Rice Trophy to Mississippi, while the Helms Foundation, based in Los Angeles, named Washington their national champion. Both schools claim these national championships. But there is actually a third team that might have finished #1 in a post-bowl AP poll, and in fact I think they had at least as strong a chance as the other 2 teams had. That team was Iowa (#3 and 8-1).

Iowa

Iowa did not play in a bowl game, a severe handicap to be sure-- so why do I think they might have passed up Mississippi for #1 in a post-bowl poll? Well, first of all, the vote at the end of the regular season was very close. Minnesota had 17.5 first place votes, Mississippi had 16, and Iowa had 12.5-- a mere 3.5 votes behind Mississippi (Mississippi also had the same slim lead in total poll points, 411 to 407.5). So it would have taken very little for Iowa to move past Mississippi. The week prior to the final poll, Iowa had 17.5 first place votes, Minnesota 13.5, and Mississippi 13, and none of those teams played a significant game after that, so we can see the arbitrary volatility of the voting right there. The main reason some voters switched from Iowa to Minnesota that week is because it was announced that Minnesota was going to the Rose Bowl.

At the end of the regular season, the 30 voters (of 48) who voted for either Minnesota or Iowa had something in common-- they were voting for the Big 10 champion (the 2 teams split the title). The Big 10 was definitely the strongest conference in 1960, posting a stunning 19-2-2 record against nonconference opponents. Once Minnesota lost the Rose Bowl, it is not a stretch to think that a large portion of Minnesota's voters would have switched to Iowa-- even though quite a few of them had Mississippi 2nd, Iowa 3rd. Some of them had switched from Iowa to Minnesota in the week prior to the last AP poll, then moved Mississippi past Iowa to be "fair and balanced" to other regions.

Iowa vs. Mississippi

One problem Mississippi faced was the race issue. Some voters--throughout the 1960s-- admitted to a bias in their ratings against schools/teams that only allowed white students/players. But Mississippi's weak Sugar Bowl result alone might have been enough to close the 3.5 vote gap between the schools. That came on top of Mississippi's already weak schedule. They played only 1 rated opponent, and that team, #7 Arkansas, was upset by #10 Duke in the Cotton Bowl (and Duke had been upset by unrated 7-2-1 UCLA the week after the final AP poll). Meanwhile, as various writers pointed out in the month after the final AP poll, Iowa had defeated 4 rated opponents-- twice as many as any other team, and 4 times as many as Ole Miss.

We'll never know what would have happened, but my guess is that Iowa would have slipped by Mississippi in a post-bowl poll.

Iowa vs. Washington

Washington generated the most excitement during the bowl season, so it is reasonable to conclude that they had a real chance of jumping from #6 to #1 in a post-bowl poll. That big a jump to #1 is unprecedented in AP poll history, so it is far from a given that it would have happened, but there have been 2 cases that were close to that big a jump. Notre Dame leapt from #5 to #1 by beating the previous #1 team in their bowl game to finish both the 1973 and 1977 seasons. However, there are some key differences between Notre Dame 1973/1977 and Washington 1960. The first, of course, is that Notre Dame is Notre Dame, the most beloved football program of writers at that time. Washington had nowhere near the same name value.

Also, the teams Notre Dame defeated in their bowl games in those seasons were dominating #1 teams, and so it was very impressive that Notre Dame beat them. But Minnesota barely outpointed Mississippi and Iowa for #1 in 1960, and did not even come close to having a majority of the first place votes (they had 36%). And Notre Dame had at least as strong a straight record as all the teams they passed up in the final 1973 and 1977 AP polls, whereas Washington would have needed to pass up at least one team with a better record in 1960.

When a #1 team loses their bowl game, the team that beat them usually moves to #1-- but not always. Texas was a dominating #1 at the end of the regular season in 1970 (30 game winning streak), and Notre Dame upset them in the Cotton Bowl, but the 10-1 Irish, who had been #6 going into the bowls that year, wound up #2 behind 11-0-1 Nebraska. And if the great and beloved Notre Dame, beating a far more respected and clear-cut #1 team in their bowl game, could not quite jump from #6 to #1 to finish the 1970 season, what chance did Washington have of doing so after beating barely-#1 Minnesota in the 1961 Rose Bowl?
It's possible, but the more I look at this, the less likely it seems.

A post-bowl poll would have given us a very, very close 3-team race for #1. My guess is that Iowa would have won out, but it could have been any of these 3 teams, and they could have fallen in any order.

Of course, for my purposes, who would have been voted #1 in a post-bowl AP poll is trivial anyway. It's an interesting issue, but the far more important question is...

Who Should be Rated #1 for 1960?

The previous question was difficult and ultimately unanswerable, and this one is tough too, but one thing is clear: 10-0-1 Mississippi is not a legitimate option for the #1 team of 1960. Had a post-bowl AP poll voted for them, it would have been just another logical error in need of correcting.

Definitely Not Mississippi

Mississippi's only argument for #1 was the fact that they had the best straight record among the contenders. But Yale was 9-0 and New Mexico State 11-0 this season-- why should 10-0-1 Mississippi be rated higher than them? The answer, of course, is exactly the same as why 8-1 Iowa, for example, should be rated higher than Mississippi-- a vastly tougher schedule. The fact that Mississippi was 10-0-1 and Iowa 8-1 is not as relevant as the fact that Mississippi was 1-0 against rated teams and was tied by an unrated opponent, while Iowa was 4-1 against rated teams. That's all you should need to know right there.

Rating Mississippi higher because they took an upset tie, while Iowa took an upset loss, is overly simplistic. Mississippi's tie came to an unrated opponent (5-4-1 Louisiana State) at home, whereas Iowa's loss came to a top 5 opponent (8-2 Minnesota) on the road. I would think that taking a tie to an unrated opponent at home is worse than taking a loss to a top 5 team on the road-- no contest. At the very best for Mississippi, one could argue that these results were equitable. But there is no way one can rationally call Mississippi's tie a better result than Iowa's loss. So it is logically incorrect to merely conclude that 10-0-1 > 8-1 and leave it at that
.

And when you compare their wins, there is no contest here. Iowa defeated 4 rated teams, Mississippi 1. Look closer at those wins, and Iowa's case becomes even stronger. Mississippi's 1 win over a rated opponent was 10-7 at #7 Arkansas. They were outgained in that game, but won on a controversial field goal (Arkansas coach Frank Broyles after the game: "Everybody in the park knew it wasn't good"). And 8-3 Arkansas was not a legitimate #7 team. They lost to 8-3 Duke in the Cotton Bowl, who lost to 7-2-1 UCLA a week after the final AP poll. Furthermore, 5-4 Michigan defeated Duke by a rather decisive 31-6, and should be rated higher than both Duke and Arkansas. As should 6-2-1 Michigan State (beat Michigan) and 4-4-1 Purdue (beat Minnesota and #8 Ohio State, tied UCLA).

Iowa victims Ohio State (#8), Kansas (#11), Michigan State (#15), and Purdue (#19) are all going to be ranked higher in the fixed poll (as detailed below). Ohio State would have moved to #7 in a post-bowl AP poll (due to Arkansas losing), and Kansas would likely have moved from #11 to #8 (since 3 teams ahead of them were upset after the final poll).

The Big 10 was 19-2-2 against nonconference opponents this season, and while the SEC wasn't far behind at 34-7-1, there was a huge difference in the conference teams Iowa and Mississippi played. Iowa played all 4 of the other ranked teams from their conference (8-2 Minnesota, 7-2 Ohio State, 6-2-1 Michigan State, and 4-4-1 Purdue), while Mississippi did not play any of the other 3 ranked teams from their conference (8-1-2 Alabama, 8-2 Auburn, and 9-2 Florida).

On top of all that, there is Mississippi's highly unimpressive 14-6 win over unrated 7-4 Rice in the Sugar Bowl. Rice wasn't bad-- they will finish #25 in the fixed and expanded AP top 25 (covered below). But beating them by a mere touchdown was more the performance of a #10 team than a #1 team. As was Mississippi's 10-7 win over Arkansas, who will be #14 in the fixed AP poll (their best win was 3-0 over Rice at home). The home tie with LSU, on the other hand, was the performance of a #30-40 team.

Mississippi is not close to meriting a #1 ranking. They look more like #5 to #9. If you want a perfect example of the hypocrisy of the AP poll, compare 10-0-1 Mississippi to 1963's 9-0-1 Memphis. That 1963 Memphis team had virtually the same record as 1960 Mississippi, and their tie came to a top 10 team rather than to an unrated team. Their best win, over 7-2-2 Mississippi State (coaches' poll #11), was at least comparable to Mississippi's "big" win over 8-3 Arkansas (I would say better), and they won more handily than Mississippi over Arkansas. And 1963 Memphis won the rest of their games by more than a touchdown each, whereas 1960 Mississippi struggled to get by 7-4 Rice. Yet 1963 Memphis was not even rated in the AP top 10, while 1960 Mississippi was rated #2!

Had 1960 Mississippi been named "Memphis," with exactly the same results, they would not even be in the discussion for #1. And they shouldn't be. So they hereby aren't.

Iowa vs. Washington

8-1 Iowa obviously has the strongest argument for #1. They played 5 teams that were rated by the AP poll, a 6th who will make the fixed and expanded AP top 25 (5-4 Northwestern), and 2 teams that were nearly rated (6-3-1 Oregon State and 4-5 Wisconsin-- who took all 5 of their losses to teams that will be rated, and defeated 2), all in their first 8 games, no off week or cupcake until their 9th game at 2-8 Notre Dame. 10-1 Washington played just 2 rated opponents, a 3rd who will make the fixed poll, and 2 nearly rated teams.

Performance? Washington's loss (15-14 to 9-2 Navy) was better than Iowa's loss (27-10 at 8-2 Minnesota), but their 17-7 win over 8-2 Minnesota was no better than Iowa's 35-12 win over 7-2 Ohio State, and all of Iowa's wins were vastly better than Washington's trio of 1-point escapes from unrated opponents: 30-29 at 6-3-1 Oregon State (Iowa beat them 22-12), 7-6 over 7-3-1 Oregon, and 8-7 at 4-5-1 Washington State. Washington also beat 7-2-1 UCLA 10-8, and though UCLA will be #10 in the fixed poll (covered below), Iowa beat 3 teams that will make the top 10, all by more than a touchdown. So Iowa performed much better against a much tougher schedule.

Washington's main argument is that they beat Minnesota 17-7, who beat Iowa 27-10. But the problem with this line of thinking is 10-1 Missouri-- they beat 9-2 Navy 21-14, who beat Washington 15-14. Should Missouri be #1? But then Missouri lost 23-7 to 7-2-1 Kansas, whom Iowa defeated 21-7, so we've got a full circle here. If we look at schedule and performance to break the circle, that clearly points to Iowa.

The Case for Washington

However, there is one scenario by which Washington could legitimately be ranked #1-- if Minnesota were also ranked ahead of Iowa. The top 3 would have to look like this: #1 Washington, #2 Minnesota, #3 Iowa. Washington beat Minnesota 17-7 in the Rose Bowl, so that much is a lock, and Minnesota did beat Iowa by a very convincing score of 27-10. Iowa was the only rated opponent Minnesota defeated, but they beat 3 more who will make the fixed and expanded AP top 25 (5-4 Northwestern, 5-4 Illinois, and 5-4 Michigan), and all 8 of their wins came by more than a touchdown, so Minnesota's schedule and performance were just close enough to Iowa's that I could accept Washington > Minnesota > Iowa as the top 3.

So why not Missouri #1, Navy #2, Washington #3, Minnesota #4, Iowa #5? This victory chain is not as strong. Navy's 15-14 win at Washington came early in the season, and it was far weaker than Washington's win over Minnesota or Minnesota's over Iowa, both of which came late in the season. Also, Navy only won because Washington bobbled a punt snap, gifting Navy with a winning field goal in the final minute. And Washington was the only rated team Navy defeated. Navy's performance against unrated opponents was weak, and their upset loss, 19-10 at Duke, was also the worst of any of these teams' upset losses with the possible exception of Missouri's loss to Kansas. As to that, Missouri makes a weaker #1 team than Washington because their loss, which came in the regular season finale, was a rout, whereas Washington's one loss was razor-close, and came early in the season. One can easily see Washington's loss as a fluke, but Missouri had no chance at all of winning that game with Kansas. So no, I don't quite see Missouri as a viable option for #1.

I do think that Washington > Minnesota > Iowa is a weaker rating option than putting Iowa at #1. The 3rd and 4th best teams in the Big 10 were #8 Ohio State (7-2) and #15 Michigan State (6-2-1), and Iowa beat both by more than a touchdown, while Minnesota didn't even play either team. And Iowa also beat 6-3-1 Oregon State and #11 Kansas (7-2-1), while Minnesota played a pair of losing nonconference opponents. That's a pretty big schedule difference, and it's why Iowa was so close to Minnesota in the final AP poll (just 5 fewer first-place votes), despite the fact that they had the same record and Minnesota had beaten them 27-10. Still, weaker or not, Washington > Minnesota > Iowa is a viable option-- so which option do we go with when fixing this poll, Iowa at #1 or Washington?

Fixing the #1 Slot -- Finally!

We go with the option the AP poll itself is pointing toward: Iowa at #1. First of all, it is certain that Minnesota would have fallen behind Iowa in a post-bowl AP poll-- their lead over Iowa wasn't much to begin with. And once that choice is made, Washington is just not quite a viable option to be ranked ahead of Iowa. Minnesota had 433.5 poll points, Iowa 407.5, and Washington 250. And Minnesota was #1, Iowa #3, and Washington #6. In both cases, Iowa beats out the average of the other two. If the AP poll had rated Washington #4 going into the bowls, then Washington > Minnesota > Iowa would make more sense as a fix.

However, that was not the case, so Iowa is our proper #1 when fixing this AP poll. Whew! Only 24 more to go...

Who's #2?

This one comes down to 10-1 Washington and 10-0-1 Mississippi, and it has been giving me headaches and heartburn all week. There is no question that Washington accomplished more, but most of this week, I've been thinking I should just leave these 2 teams tied at #2, the rationale being Washington's trio of poor performances against unrated teams (covered above). Those weak performances give Mississippi a better argument against Washington than they'll have against the teams behind Washington, so basically I either put Mississippi into a tie with Washington at #2, keeping them where the AP poll rated them, or they will inevitably fall all the way to #5. But that "dilemma" is a weak reason for doing it. I try to give the AP poll its way as much as I can possibly stretch logic to allow for, but I finally had to realize that 1960 Mississippi was just not meant to be #2.

Let's call Washington's trio of 1-point wins over unrated opponents a 3 game performance advantage for Mississippi. Washington's loss came 15-14 to 9-2 Navy, a top 10 team, while Mississippi's tie came to 5-4-1 LSU, who would not make a top 30. That is a huge advantage for Washington, and more than the scores show. Washington led 14-12, after having been stopped at the Navy 1 twice, and a bobbled punt snap gifted Navy with the winning field goal in the final minute. It was Mississippi who was fortunate against LSU, gaining the tie because LSU missed an extra point and a short field goal attempt.

Washington's 10-8 win over 7-2-1 UCLA may look about the same as Mississippi's 10-7 win at 8-3 Arkansas, and Washington and Mississippi were both outgained in those games, but Arkansas lost to Duke in the Cotton Bowl, and UCLA pummeled Duke 27-6 in their previous game, so there is no reason to consider UCLA and Arkansas to be equitable opponents. Furthermore, UCLA scored a late touchdown and 2-point conversion to gain a closer final score against Washington, whereas Mississippi needed an iffy field goal to beat Arkansas on the last play.

Then there are the bowl results, and here is where Washington really pulls away. Washington beat top 5 opponent Minnesota 17-7, while Mississippi beat unrated Rice (#25 in fixed poll) 14-6. There goes Mississippi's 3 game advantage, and worse, these being bowl results, they both deserve extra emphasis-- a great performance for Washington and a weak one for Mississippi.

In the end, Washington lost by 1 point to a top 10 opponent that they should have beaten, while Mississippi tied an unrated opponent that they should have lost to, and Washington defeated a top 5 opponent, and another who will be #10 in the fixed poll (UCLA), while Mississippi did no more than beat 2 teams who will be ranked #14 and #25 in the fixed poll-- both in close games.

Sorry Colonel Reb, but this one goes to Washington. 10-1 Missouri, on the other hand, might be a viable option for #2 (they performed better than Mississippi and did beat a top 10 team-- the very team that beat Washington, in fact), but the AP poll would clearly have rated Washington higher in a post-bowl poll. Washington was sitting right behind Missouri, and they beat the #1 team in their bowl game.

So Washington is #2 here.

Who's #3?

Minnesota's 8-2 record may look poor next to Mississippi's 10-0-1, but with Iowa at #1 and Washington at #2,  Minnesota has a better relevant record than Mississippi does. They took 1 upset loss, while Mississippi had an upset tie, but Minnesota also had the advantage of their big 27-10 win over now-#1 Iowa, which balanced out their upset loss and left them effectively a half game better than Mississippi on the season. And that's assuming that Mississippi's upset tie really was a half game better than Minnesota's loss in the first place.

On the surface, it may look like Mississippi's tie with 5-4-1 LSU was a better result than Minnesota's 23-14 loss to 4-4-1 Purdue, since both of those opponents had similar straight records, but actually Purdue was a much better team than LSU. LSU did nothing of merit this season except tie Mississippi-- their 5 wins all came against losing teams, none of them better than 3-6-1. Purdue, on the other hand, defeated #8 Ohio State (7-2) and tied 7-2-1 UCLA in addition to beating Minnesota. That's why the AP poll rated Purdue #19, despite their 4-4-1 record. Also, Minnesota's loss to Purdue was closer than it looks to have been-- Purdue scored a touchdown on a fumble return on the last play of the game. So Mississippi's tie with LSU offers them no real advantage when compared to Minnesota's upset loss to Purdue.

As for Minnesota's 2nd loss, 17-7 to now-#2 Washington in the Rose Bowl, Mississippi did not play any opponent that was nearly that caliber, so that loss cannot logically be held against Minnesota in comparison to Mississippi. It certainly doesn't make sense to conclude that a 10 point loss to the #2 team is a worse result than an 8 point win over a #25 team, as in Mississippi's Sugar Bowl result over 7-4 Rice, especially since Minnesota defeated 4 teams of Rice's caliber or better, and all by more than a touchdown. In fact, all 8 of Minnesota's wins were by more than a touchdown. Mississippi, on the other hand, struggled against both of the good opponents that they played. On the victory chain, Minnesota beat Michigan 10-0, who beat Duke 31-6, who beat Arkansas 7-6 in the Cotton Bowl, and Mississippi beat Arkansas 10-7.

Mississippi has no logical argument for being rated higher than Minnesota.

Missouri vs. Minnesota

10-1 Missouri's case for #3 is stronger, because they defeated a top 10 team (9-2 Navy), they won 21-8 at #16 Penn State (7-3), and each of the rest of their wins was also by more than a touchdown. Missouri's upset loss came to Kansas, who was ranked higher than Minnesota upsetter Purdue, but Missouri's performance in that game was awful. They were held to 114 yards of offense, and had to score a late touchdown to avoid a shutout 23-7. Minnesota's loss to Purdue, on the other hand, was a close game (as discussed above). Minnesota's 27-10 win over now-#1 Iowa was much more impressive than Missouri's 21-14 win over Navy, and it gives Minnesota a better relevant record than Missouri as well. Minnesota defeated a total of 4 teams that will make the fixed top 25, Missouri 2.

Minnesota's 17-7 loss to Washington in the Rose Bowl potentially hurts them in comparison because Missouri, unlike Mississippi, actually beat a legitimate top 10 team-- moreover, that win came in the Orange Bowl over 9-2 Navy, the very team that gave Washington their loss. But that's Missouri's only argument, and I think it's a weak one compared to Minnesota's big win over Iowa, better performance in their upset loss, and tougher schedule. If the AP poll had actually rated Missouri higher in a post-bowl poll, I'd be more inclined to allow Missouri to be ranked higher, or perhaps compromise with a tie between Missouri and Minnesota. However, while it's likely that #1 Minnesota would have dropped behind #5 Missouri in a post-bowl poll, it is not certain.

So put Minnesota at #3.

Missouri vs. Mississippi

Two times above I've said that 10-1 Missouri had a stronger case than 10-0-1 Mississippi (for #2, then for #3), so you know what's going to happen here. Missouri was upset 23-7 by #11 Kansas, and they won 21-8 at #16 Penn State and defeated #4 Navy 21-14 in the Orange Bowl. Mississippi was tied by unrated 5-4-1 LSU, and they won 10-7 at #7 Arkansas (lost Cotton Bowl, will be #14 in fixed poll) and defeated unrated 7-4 Rice 14-6 in the Sugar Bowl (Rice will be #25 in the fixed poll). Missouri and Mississippi both won the rest of their games handily, all over unrated teams, so only the 3 games I've listed for each team matter when comparing the two. And you can tell by looking at those games that Missouri had the better season.

Missouri's effort against Kansas was quite bad, and it came at the end of the regular season, but Kansas was #11 in the AP poll, and in position to rise to #8 in a post-bowl poll, so I just can't see Missouri's loss to them being worse than Mississippi's tie with a rather weak, unrated (and unratable) 5-4-1 LSU. And Missouri's 2 strong wins were clearly better than Mississippi's-- they beat higher-rated teams, and each more decisively than Mississippi beat theirs. In addition, Mississippi's weak win over Rice was in a bowl, so it carried more emphasis.

Put Missouri at #4, Mississippi at #5.

Navy and Ohio State

#4 Navy (9-2) might have fallen back behind #8 Ohio State (7-2) in a post-bowl poll, but I doubt they would have, and they didn't have to. If the AP poll thought Navy was better before the bowls, a 21-14 loss to #5 Missouri shouldn't change that view. Navy had some performance problems, but they had a better relevant record than Ohio State (thanks to a 15-14 upset win at now-#2 Washington), so we'll leave them ranked ahead of Ohio State. Navy could be ranked higher than Mississippi as well, but Washington was the only rated team they defeated, they were upset by Duke 19-10, and they struggled to beat a couple of unrated opponents (14-7 over 2-8 Notre Dame and 17-12 over 6-3-1 Army, both games in Philadelphia). The AP poll can keep Mississippi rated higher.

Navy is #6, Ohio State #7 (previous #7 Arkansas was upset in the Cotton Bowl, as discussed next).

The Duke Effect

8-3 Duke is at the center of a host of repairs that need to be made to this AP poll. They were rated #10, but lost to 7-2-1 UCLA 27-6 the week after the final AP poll was released. Then they defeated #7 Arkansas (8-3) 7-6 in the Cotton Bowl. It need hardly be said that UCLA should be rated higher than Duke, who should be rated higher than Arkansas. But there's more to the situation than that-- 5-4 Michigan stomped on Duke 31-6, and that game never should have been ignored in the first place. Michigan should be rated higher than Duke as well. And coming along with Michigan and UCLA for the ride, we have 6-2-1 Michigan State and 4-4-1 Purdue. But let's take this one by one.

Michigan State and Kansas

6-2-1 Michigan State (#15) moves to the top of this list thanks to wins over Michigan (who beat Duke) and Purdue (who tied UCLA). They took an upset tie at 4-3-3 Pittsburgh in their opener, and their losses came to now-#1 Iowa and now-#7 Ohio State.

7-2-1 Kansas was rated #11, but 3 teams ahead of them were upset after the final poll, which would move them up to #8. #7 Arkansas and #10 Duke, of course, will be falling back behind all the teams now being discussed. #8 Alabama was tied by unrated 7-3-1 Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl, and I'll discuss their case after I've sorted out this Duke-related mess.

Kansas finished their season with a big 23-7 upset win over now-#4 Missouri. That win balances out an upset 14-7 home loss to #19 Syracuse (7-2). They also took a 13-13 home tie with 3-6-1 Oklahoma in the middle of the season. Michigan State's upset tie was not as damaging, since it came to a better team (4-3-3 Pitt), and on the road, and in the season opener, giving it less emphasis. Michigan State defeated a rated opponent (#19 Purdue) and 2 other teams that will make the fixed AP poll (5-4 Michigan and 5-4 Northwestern), while Kansas beat no one of value aside from Missouri, a win that is counterbalanced by a loss to a lower-ranked team. Kansas also had a close win over a losing opponent, and Michigan State had no such poor performances.

So Michigan State belongs ranked ahead of Kansas. Put them at #8, Kansas at #9
.

UCLA, Purdue, and Michigan

If the AP poll had at least finished at the end of the regular season (after the December 3rd games), 7-2-1 UCLA would have gone storming into the top 20 after their 27-6 win over #10 Duke, probably into the top 10. The reason they would have risen so high is because at this time, the voters each submitted just a top 10, and that was used to fill out the final top 20. This was a poor way to rate a top 20, and led to dubious rankings for the #11-20 teams. In any case, the point is that UCLA would certainly have been rated higher than #19 Purdue, let alone unrated 5-4 Michigan. And since Purdue was already rated higher than Michigan, I'm going to operate under the following post-bowl AP poll premise: UCLA > Purdue > Michigan.

Purdue could be rated higher than UCLA (they had a better relevant record), but UCLA > Purdue is acceptable. Purdue had 2 upset losses to unrated teams (5-4 Illinois and 4-5 Wisconsin), balanced out by 2 upset wins over top 10 teams (7-2 Ohio State and 8-2 Minnesota). UCLA had an upset loss to 4-6 Southern Cal and no upset wins, which is why Purdue had a better relevant record. But UCLA smashed previous #10 Duke 27-6, and they beat 3 other teams that were good but unrated (4-3-3 Pittsburgh, who tied Michigan State, 6-3-1 North Carolina State, and 7-3 Utah on the road), while Purdue beat no one outside their 2 upset wins that balance out their 2 upset losses. Also, the tie between UCLA and Purdue occurred on Purdue's home field, and Purdue needed a late touchdown and 2-point conversion to manage that much.

5-4 Michigan lost to now-#8 Michigan State 24-17, now-#3 Minnesota 10-0, and now-#7 Ohio State 7-0. They also took a 16-13 upset loss at 4-5 Wisconsin. In addition to routing Duke 31-6, they beat 7-3-1 Oregon, 5-4 Northwestern, and 5-4 Illinois. The last 2 will be rated in the fixed and expanded AP top 25. Their highly convincing 31-6 win over Duke makes rating them higher than Duke a no-brainer. Duke was 8-3, taking an upset loss to 3-7 North Carolina in addition to their losses to UCLA and Michigan. But they had a big 19-10 upset win over now-#6 Navy, so their relevant record is the same as Michigan's. It's the head-to-head score that's the decider. But on top of that, Duke had 2 close wins over teams that will not be rated in the fixed poll, while Michigan routed such teams.

Put UCLA at #10, Purdue at #11, and Michigan at #12.

Duke and Arkansas

8-3 Duke beat 8-3 Arkansas by the slim margin of 7-6 in the Cotton Bowl, but they also had the ball at the Arkansas 1 yard line when they mercifully let the clock run out. Arkansas was highly overrated by the AP poll at #7, as they did not beat a rated opponent this season, and had taken an upset loss to #12 Baylor. Baylor was upset by #18 Florida in the Gator Bowl, and they were also overrated, having beaten no rated opponent except Arkansas. Arkansas' big accomplishment this season was coming within an eyelash of tying would-be national champion 10-0-1 Mississippi. In other words, their lone accomplishment on the season was a loss. There is no doubt that all the teams I've just moved ahead of them belong ahead of them.

Drop Duke to #13 and Arkansas to #14.

Alabama, Auburn, and Florida

Here we have 3 rather similar teams, all with an effective 2 losses (a tie being half a loss). 8-1-2 Alabama had been rated #9, but they were tied by unrated 7-3-1 Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl. They won 3-0 over 8-2 Auburn, who had been rated #13 and did not play in a bowl game. Auburn won 10-7 at 9-2 Florida, who had been rated #18, but Florida upset Baylor 13-12 in the Gator Bowl (Baylor had been ranked #12). Due to the head-to-head chain, you could rank these teams as follows: Alabama > Auburn > Florida.

But while nothing is certain as to how a post-bowl AP poll would have shaken out, I think their ranking of these teams would have probably been as follows: Auburn > Florida > Alabama. Either way of ranking the teams would work, but I'm going to go with the latter option, since it's what I think the AP poll would have done. It's possible that Florida would have risen past Auburn in a post-bowl poll, since they had a big bowl win and Auburn did not play in one, but Florida did not get much respect at this time in history, while Auburn had won a national championship in recent years and had more "name" value. Because there is no good reason for Florida to be ranked ahead of Auburn, who beat them in Gainesville,  I will not consider that option.

The reason Alabama can be ranked behind both teams, despite beating Auburn head-to-head, is that they took an upset loss at unrated 6-2-2 Tennessee, a tie at unrated 3-6-1 Tulane, and of course the Bluebonnet Bowl tie with unrated 7-3-1 Texas. The last, being a bowl game result, carries extra emphasis, so there's plenty of reason to drop Alabama behind the other 2 teams, each of whom took just one upset loss (Auburn also lost to Tennessee, and Florida lost to 7-4 Rice).

All 3 of these teams had multiple problems, though, and none of them were as strong as their straight records might indicate. In addition to all the upsets these teams took, Auburn had 3 close wins over unrated opponents, Florida 4, and Alabama 2.


Drop Auburn to #15, move Florida up to #16, and drop Alabama all the way down to #17. It's possible that Auburn and Florida would have risen past Arkansas in a post-bowl AP poll, and rating Arkansas behind Florida seems a fair option, but the AP poll had Arkansas rated so highly, and Arkansas had a better relevant record than Auburn anyway, so I'll leave them just ahead of Auburn.

Baylor

8-3 Baylor had been rated #12, but lost 13-12 to 9-2 Florida (originally rated #18) in the Gator Bowl. Alabama's Bluebonnet Bowl tie with Texas doesn't hurt much when comparing them to Baylor, who took an upset loss to Texas at home, and Alabama was rated ahead of Baylor to begin with, so we'll leave them that way.

Drop Baylor to #18.

Yale and New Mexico State

9-0 Yale (originally rated #14) was this year's token Ivy team, and 11-0 New Mexico State (#17) was this year's token Rocky Mountain team. Both were stronger than the usual token teams. Yale had just 1 close game (11-8 over 5-4 Connecticut), and New Mexico State had 1 in the regular season (27-24 at 7-3 Arizona State), then a 20-13 win over 9-2 Utah State in the Sun Bowl. That was a very strong Utah State team, and that bowl win might have moved New Mexico State up ahead of Yale, who did not play in a bowl game. But I doubt it. AP voters loved them some Ivy, and Yale was awarded the Lambert Trophy in a split with Navy after the season, significantly raising their profile outside the East.

Both these teams, of course, played schedules that were largely a joke, and too far separated from the rest of major college football to really compare them against legitimate top 20 teams, so who knows how good they were?

Put Yale at #19 and New Mexico State at #20. Both had been rated behind Baylor originally, and there is no reason they shouldn't remain there.

Northwestern, Illinois, Penn State, and Syracuse

7-3 Penn State (originally rated #16) lost to unrated 5-4 Illinois, and should be rated behind the Illini. That's why I moved New Mexico State, who had been rated right behind PSU at #17, ahead of the Nittany Lions.

5-4 Illinois lost to 5-4 Northwestern, so the chain we're looking at here is as follows: Northwestern > Illinois > Penn State.

5-4 Northwestern took all 4 of their losses to teams now ranked in the top 12. They defeated Illinois 14-7. 5-4 Illinois took 3 of their losses to teams now ranked in the top 12, the fourth coming to Northwestern of course. They defeated Penn State 10-8, and they also defeated now-#11 Purdue 14-12 on the road. Penn State took an upset loss, 21-15 at 7-2 Syracuse (originally rated #19). Their big win was 41-12 over near-rated 7-3-1 Oregon in the Liberty Bowl (held in Philadelphia back then).

7-2 Syracuse could be rated ahead of Penn State, since they beat them 21-15, but it was a close home win, so not decisive, and over their last 4 games, Syracuse had a pair of upset losses to unranked teams (4-3-3 Pitt and 6-3-1 Army) and a weak 21-14 win at 6-4 Miami-Florida. PSU performed much better and finished much more strongly, capped by their crushing bowl win. So the AP poll can keep Penn State ranked higher than Syracuse.

Put Northwestern at #21, Illinois at #22, Penn State at #23, and Syracuse at #24. That takes care of all of the AP poll's original top 20 teams, but we have one more slot to fill to get this to 25.

Rice and Texas

7-3-1 Texas would certainly have moved into a post-bowl AP poll with their big Bluebonnet Bowl tie with Alabama (who was originally rated #9), but they have a problem-- they belong ranked behind 7-4 Rice, who lost 14-6 to 10-0-1 Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl. Rice beat Texas 7-0. They lost to 5-5 Georgia Tech 16-13 in their opener, but they also defeated now-#16 Florida 10-0. Their other losses were 3-0 at 8-3 Arkansas and 12-7 at 8-3 Baylor, both ranked.

Rice gets the #25 slot, leaving Texas stuck at #26, on the outside looking in.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin was a loser at 4-5, but rankable because all 5 of their losses were to ranked teams, and they defeated 2 ranked opponents (Purdue and Michigan). However, no one likes to rank losing teams, so unless the AP poll itself has rated a losing team, I try to rationalize not moving a losing team into the rankings. In Wisconsin's case, that rationalization was their very poor finish-- 3 ugly losses, 21-0 to now-#21 Northwestern, 35-14 at now-#22 Illinois, and 26-7 to now-#3 Minnesota. They also lost 34-7 to now-#7 Ohio State.

So no rating for Wisconsin. However, they deserve mention because they would be a valid option for #23, behind Illinois.

Fixed AP Top 25

Wow, am I wiped out. That was a rough one. But it's always nice to look at a fixed top 25 that makes logical sense, especially when the original top 20 contained practically none. The feeling is a little like hiking to the top of a mountain. It's tiring, but worth it at the end, when you're gazing back down at where you started.

I mentioned that 10-0-1 Mississippi was selected as 1960's national champion by the Football Writers Association of America. Well, 2 retroactive selectors also picked them for the 1960 national championship-- the National Championship Foundation and the College Football Researchers Association. None of these people gave a reason for the selection (that I can find), which is too bad, because I would love to hear one good reason. The analysis that went into this pick must have been rather poor, and in fact I doubt it went beyond looking at Mississippi's 10-0-1 record (never mind that Yale and New Mexico State had even better records).

Picking 10-0-1 Mississippi as 1960 national champion over 8-1 Iowa would be like picking 13-0 Utah as 2008 national champion over 13-1 Florida. Except that Utah actually defeated a legitimate top 10 opponent in 2008. Two of them in fact. And they beat 3 top 20 opponents in all, which is 3 times as many as Mississippi played in 1960. Oh, and Utah did not take a tie against an unrated opponent. Oh, and 8-1 Iowa defeated 4 ranked opponents in 1960, one more than 13-1 Florida defeated in 2008. Oh, and Iowa took their loss to a top 5 opponent in 1960, whereas Florida lost to #14 Mississippi (9-4) in 2008. So in reality, picking Utah as national champion of 2008 would make vastly more sense than picking Mississippi as national champion of 1960. And yet Mississippi is the consensus post-bowl choice for 1960 national champion, while not one organization listed in the NCAA Record Book selected Utah for 2008. These selection organizations are beyond inconsistent; they are inept.

Congratulations to the Helms Foundation, the only humans who did not select Mississippi as their post-bowl national champion for 1960. They chose Washington, and as I said above, Washington is a viable option for #1, but only if Minnesota is also ranked ahead of Iowa. I put Iowa #1 when fixing this poll because of the relative placement of the 3 teams in the final AP poll, and Iowa might well have finished #1 in a post-bowl AP poll anyway. I also think Iowa is the best choice for #1 in 1960.

Iowa had more computer ratings put them at #1 for 1960 than any other team, so this season was definitely a win for machine over man. But logic should not require a machine-- man invented the concept, after all. Call me John Connor:

1) Iowa 8-1 +2
2) Washington 10-1 +4
3) Minnesota 8-2 -2
4) Missouri 10-1 +1
5) Mississippi 10-0-1 -3
6) Navy 9-2 -2
7) Ohio State 7-2 +1
8) Michigan State 6-2-1 +7
9) Kansas 7-2-1 +2
10) UCLA 7-2-1 IN
11) Purdue 4-4-1 +8.5
12) Michigan 5-4 IN
13) Duke 8-3 -3
14) Arkansas 8-3 -7
15) Auburn 8-2 -2
16) Florida 9-2 +2
17) Alabama 8-1-2 -8
18) Baylor 8-3 -6
19) Yale 9-0 -5
20) New Mexico State 11-0 -3
21) Northwestern 5-4 IN
22) Illinois 5-4 IN
23) Penn State 7-3 -7
24) Syracuse 7-2 -4.5
25) Rice 7-4 IN