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Fixing the Final 1963 AP College Football Poll

1) Texas 11-0
2) Navy 9-2
3) Illinois 8-1-1
4) Pittsburgh 9-1
5) Auburn 9-2
6) Nebraska 10-1
7) Mississippi 7-1-2
8) Alabama 9-2
9) Oklahoma 8-2
10) Michigan State 6-2-1
To the left is the final 1963 AP college football top 10. That's right, 10. That's all the AP poll ranked 1962-1967. 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. 

If there had been a post-bowl AP poll, Navy's 28-6 loss to #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl would surely have sent them back behind Illinois, who won the Rose Bowl 17-7 over 6-5 Washington. However, Illinois was playing a team that won't even make the fixed and expanded AP top 25 in their bowl game, while Navy was playing the #1 team in their home state. Hardly fair.

Navy had 1 upset loss (on that same Cotton Bowl field, to SMU), while Illinois had 1 upset loss and 1 upset tie, both to teams that didn't even make the coaches' top 20. If the AP poll thought Navy was better than Illinois before the bowls, the bowl results themselves don't give reason for changing their minds, so we'll keep Navy at #2. Especially since Illinois' lofty rating was a bit iffy to begin with. In fact, let's compare the Illini to #4 Pitt...
1964 Cotton Bowl, Texas vs. Navy
#1 Texas romped on #2 Navy 28-6 in the Cotton Bowl.

Illinois and Pittsburgh

Illinois, again, had an upset loss and tie, while Pitt had no upset losses (their one loss was to #2 Navy). Illinois did play a tough Big 10 schedule, but that would be more compelling if the AP poll voters had had more respect for the Big 10. But only Michigan State was rated, and no other Big 10 team even appeared amongst the "Others Receiving Votes." The coaches didn't rate any in their top 20 either. Illinois did defeat 3 teams that will make the fixed and expanded AP top 25, but so did Pittsburgh.

Switch 'em, Illinois to #4 and Pittsburgh to #3.

Nebraska and Auburn

This one's easy. #6 Nebraska beat #5 Auburn 13-7 in the Orange Bowl.

Another switch, Nebraska to #5 and Auburn to #6
.

Alabama and Mississippi

And another easy one. #8 Alabama beat #7 Mississippi 12-7 in the Sugar Bowl.

Yet another switch, Alabama to #7 and Mississippi to #8.

Memphis

Both polls underrated 9-0-1 Memphis State (now known simply as Memphis). They were #14 in the coaches' poll, but tied #7 Mississippi and defeated #11 Mississippi State. Mississippi tied Mississippi State, so Memphis was a half game better than Mississippi this season, and should be rated higher. I would rate Memphis at least #4, ahead of Illinois, myself. If Alabama had played Memphis' schedule, with the exact same results, they would have been rated #2.

Memphis won each of the rest of their games by more than a touchdown, including 29-6 over Houston. #7 Alabama beat Houston 21-13 and #6 Auburn beat Houston 21-14. Alabama and Auburn also each took an upset loss, while Memphis' only blemish was the tie with top 10 Mississippi. But on the other hand, Mississippi and Mississippi State were the only good teams Memphis played. Auburn and Alabama played much deeper schedules, and so I suppose I can leave Memphis back behind Alabama. This is a very tough case, though, and I've changed my mind on it a half dozen times.

Bring Memphis in ahead of Mississippi, to #8, dropping Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Michigan State 1 spot each.

Mississippi State and Oklahoma

Mississippi State (#11 coaches' poll) was 7-2-2. They took an upset tie at 6-3-1 Florida in their opener, but made up for it by tying now-#9 Mississippi in their regular season finale. Their losses came 17-10 at now-#8 Memphis and 20-19 at #7 Alabama. And they defeated #6 Auburn 13-10. That gives them a better relevant record than both Michigan State and Oklahoma, who of course did not beat any top 10 teams. Let's look at Oklahoma. They took no upset losses, but they defeated only one team that will finish ranked in the fixed and expanded AP top 25 (7-3 Southern Cal). Mississippi State took the one upset tie, but they notched a win and a tie against teams ranked higher than Oklahoma, and they defeated a third team that will make the fixed top 25 (7-4 Louisiana State).

Bring Mississippi State in at #10, dropping Oklahoma and Michigan State 1 spot each.

Syracuse

8-2 Syracuse was #12 in the coaches' poll, and one of the AP poll's "Others Receiving Votes," so let's bring them in next.

Syracuse at #13.

Arizona State

8-1 Arizona State was #13 in the coaches' poll, and one of the AP poll's "Others Receiving Votes," but let's not bring them in next, or anytime for that matter. They lost 33-13 to Wichita State, and slipped by 3-6-1 New Mexico State 14-13, 4-4-1 West Texas A&M 24-16, 4-6 Utah 30-22, and 5-5 San Jose State 21-19. Frankly, I doubt that any objective coach or writer voting for them knew anything about this team beyond its 8-1 record-- the coaches even voted them higher than 9-0-1 Memphis, who tied their #7 team and beat their #11 team. Absolute and unadulterated ignorance right there.

Let's move on to the teams that actually accomplished something...

Southern Cal

So who's up next? The coaches' poll had 6-5 Washington #15, but they lost to Illinois 17-7 in the Rose Bowl, and would have presumably fallen out of a post-bowl poll. And Washington belonged ranked behind 3-3-2 Iowa, who beat them 17-7 in Seattle, anyway. Somewhere outside of the top 25.

7-3 Penn State was #16 in the coaches' poll, but they didn't receive any AP votes, and they belonged ranked behind 7-3 Army (unranked in the coaches' poll, but did get AP votes), who beat them 10-7 in Happy Valley. 7-3 Missouri was tied with PSU at #16 in the coaches' poll, but they also did not receive any AP votes, and they belong ranked behind 5-4 Northwestern (unranked by the coaches, no AP votes), who beat them 23-12 in Columbia. That brings us to the coaches' third team tied for #16, 7-3 Southern Cal.

USC lost to Washington, and they were also upset at 2-7 Notre Dame, but they made up for that one somewhat with a 13-10 upset win over now-#12 Michigan State. Washington, on the other hand, lost to 3 teams ranked behind USC-- 7-4 Air Force, 3-3-2 Iowa, and 2-8 UCLA. USC was therefore effectively 2 games better than Washington on the season despite the head-to-head loss.

Bring Southern Cal in next, at #14.

Army and Penn State

We'll bring in 7-3 Army and 7-3 Penn State (coaches' #16) next. Placed properly behind Army, who beat them 10-7 in Happy Valley, PSU had no upset losses, a rare thing in this top 25. They also won 17-7 at 8-3 Oregon and 10-7 at 5-3-1 Ohio State.

Bring Army in at #15 and Penn State at #16.

Ohio State and North Carolina

9-2 North Carolina was ranked #19 in the coaches' poll, and also received some AP votes, and then they stomped on 7-4 Air Force 35-0 in the Gator Bowl. I have to think that that result would have sent them shooting up both polls had they published post-bowl rankings (and if the AP poll had ranked more than 10 teams). But the rest of North Carolina's season was highly unimpressive, and Air Force was unrated to begin with. NC was slaughtered 31-0 by Michigan State, the only rated team they played, and they had 4 close wins over unrated opponents (3 of those teams were 2-7-1, 3-7, and 1-8-1). They lost to 5-4-1 Clemson.

5-3-1 Ohio State was unranked by the coaches and received no AP votes, but they certainly had a more impressive season. Like NC, OSU took one upset loss (to 5-4 Northwestern), but the team that beat OSU will be rated in the fixed AP top 25, whereas Clemson is not close to rated. OSU tied now-#4 Illinois, and that makes them effectively a half game better on the season. Ohio State had 2 close wins, over 3-4-2 Michigan and 3-3-2 Iowa, but both will finish either rated or nearly rated. UNC, again, had 4 close wins, and none of those teams is close to being rated.

Bring Ohio State in at #17 and North Carolina at #18.

Baylor, Louisiana State, Georgia Tech, and Florida

Next we have this chain: 8-3 Baylor beat 7-4 Louisiana State, who beat 7-3 Georgia Tech, who beat 6-3-1 Florida. Baylor was #20 in the coaches' poll, and both Baylor and LSU received AP poll votes. Florida could be validly ranked ahead of the other 3 teams, thanks to a big upset win over now-#7 Alabama and a tie with #10 Mississippi State, but they had a bunch of poor performances, and were beaten decisively by both Georgia Tech (9-0) and LSU (14-0), so they're fine where they are.

As weak as North Carolina looked this season, they had just 1 upset loss, while Baylor had 2, so UNC can remain ahead of the Bears.

Baylor #19, Louisiana State #20, Georgia Tech #21, and Florida #22.

Michigan, Northwestern, and Missouri

Washington being #15 in the coaches' poll and Missouri being #16 points us to the Big 10. 3-4-2 Michigan beat 5-4 Northwestern, who beat 7-3 Missouri. Furthermore, 5-4 Wisconsin beat 5-4 Purdue, who beat 3-3-2 Iowa, who beat 6-5 Washington. Wisconsin belongs behind Northwestern, so we can forget the second chain, as there are only 3 spots left in the top 25, and Washington thus has no chance of finishing in it.

Michigan had a losing record, but it should be clear by now that the Big 10 was pretty salty. They finished 16-7-1 against nonconference opponents, 2nd to the SEC's 27-10-1, and the conference ran very deep in good teams. Michigan took a pair of upset losses to unranked Purdue and Minnesota, and they were also tied by 3-3-2 Iowa, but they made up for one loss by beating now-#4 Illinois 14-8 on the road, and they made up for the tie with a 7-7 final against now-#12 Michigan State. That leaves them with one upset loss unaccounted for, the same as 9-2 North Carolina. I would rank them ahead of UNC myself, but that much isn't necessary. Michigan also beat 5-4 Northwestern 27-6.

Northwestern lost to now-#4 Illinois by 1 point, and they lost to 5-4 Wisconsin, but they made up for that by beating now-#17 Ohio State 17-8 on the road. They also beat 7-3 Missouri 23-12 on the road.

7-3 Missouri took no upset losses, but they didn't beat anyone of value, which makes them vulnerable. But I'll get to that in the next subsection.

For now, bring Michigan in at #23, Northwestern at #24, and Missouri at #25.

Wisconsin

5-4 Wisconsin beat 5-4 Northwestern 17-14 at home, but that is not a decisive score, and NW had the better relevant record. Wisconsin was upset by Minnesota, whom NW beat 15-8, and again, NW beat Ohio State, whom Wisconsin lost to, so Northwestern was effectively a game better than Wisconsin even with their head-to-head result.

On the other hand, Wisconsin looks better than now-#25 Missouri. Wisconsin's upset loss to Minnesota is balanced out by their win over Northwestern (who beat Missouri). But Wisconsin also beat 5-4 Purdue and 3-3-2 Iowa, who sit right outside the top 25, and Missouri beat no one of value. Missouri also had weak wins over 5-5 Arkansas, 4-5 Iowa State, and 5-5 Kansas, and Wisconsin had just 1 game like that (against 2-7 Notre Dame).

Replace Missouri with Wisconsin at #25.

Fixed and Expanded AP Top 25

So here it is, the 1963 AP poll fixed and expanded to 25. The Big 10 teams that come in, Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, help legitimize the high ratings the AP and coaches' polls gave to Illinois and Michigan State. 7-4 Air Force had received some AP poll votes, but after getting trounced 35-0 by North Carolina in the Gator Bowl, I doubt that they would have been ranked in a post-bowl top 25. They were very close to meriting a slot somewhere in the bottom, though.

8-3 North Carolina State
had a nice looking record, and they gave now-#11 Mississippi State a good game in a 16-12 loss in the Liberty Bowl (in Philadelphia, where the bowl began), but they received no vote in either poll, and they accomplished so little that I don't think they merit consideration. North Carolina looks weak enough-- and they defeated NC State 31-10.

Oregon was also 8-3, but they lost to Washington and belong ranked behind them, out of the top 25. The Ducks also lost to 5-5 San Jose State, and the only winning team they beat was 5-4 Idaho.

1) Texas 11-0
--
2) Navy 9-2 --
3) Pittsburgh 9-1 +1
4) Illinois 8-1-1 -1
5) Nebraska 10-1 +1
6) Auburn 9-2 -1
7) Alabama 9-2 +1
8) Memphis 9-0-1 IN
9) Mississippi 7-1-2 -2
10) Mississippi State 7-2-2 IN
11) Oklahoma 8-2 -2
12) Michigan State 6-2-1 -2
13) Syracuse 8-2 IN
14) Southern Cal 7-3 IN
15) Army 7-3 IN
16) Penn State 7-3 IN
17) Ohio State 5-3-1 IN
18) North Carolina 9-2 IN
19) Baylor 8-3 IN
20) Louisiana State 7-4 IN
21) Georgia Tech 7-3 IN
22) Florida 6-3-1 IN
23) Michigan 3-4-2 IN
24) Northwestern 5-4 IN
25) Wisconsin 5-4 IN

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