Top 25 Rankings 1901-1935
1902 National Championship
College Football Top 25
above is 11-0 Michigan's only close game in 1902, a 6-0 win over
Wisconsin (6-3, #9) in Chicago. Michigan claims 4 straight mythical
national championships for 1901-1904, but the only one of those 4 teams
I recognize as an MNC is this 1902 edition. However, a 1902 AP poll
would have certainly tabbed 11-0-1 Yale #1, so that's where we'll start
this top 25.
the worse record, 11-0-1 Yale works for #1. Their tie came at 6-1-1
Army, who lost only to 11-1 Harvard, who lost only to Yale.
covered 11-0-1 Yale, 11-0 Michigan, and 10-0 Nebraska in my 1902
national championship article.
noted above, 11-0-1 Yale was tied at 6-1-1 Army (#4), who lost only to
11-1 Harvard (#3), who lost only to Yale. Yale also gave 8-1 Princeton
(#5) their only loss, and they defeated 4 other rated opponents. Only
Army came within a touchdown of Yale this season.
writers probably would have rated 10-1 Harvard and 6-1-1 Army ahead of
11-0 Michigan, and possibly 8-1 Princeton as well, but I'm thinking the
rest of the country would have helped get Michigan to #2 in a 1902 AP
poll. Since Michigan had 1 close game (touchdown or less), while
Harvard had 2, Michigan works well enough for #2. Michigan won 23-0 over #21
Notre Dame (6-2-1), 6-0 over #9 Wisconsin (6-3) in Chicago, 21-0 at #7
Chicago (14-1),and 23-6 over #8 Minnesota (9-2-1).
11-1 Harvard lost 23-0 to #1 Yale in their finale. Their big win came
14-6 at #4 Army (6-1-1), who tied Yale, and they defeated 5 other rated
opponents: #11 Amherst, #12
Dartmouth, #14 Brown, #15 Carlisle, and #16 Penn. They had 2 close
wins, both by 6-0 at home, against Amherst and Brown.
Army lost 14-6 to #3 Harvard and they tied 6-6 with #1 Yale, both
games at home. They had one big win, 46-0 at #10 Syracuse (6-2-1).
to the era when Army was a powerhouse football program. 1901-1916, they
were top 25 caliber 13 times and a top 10 team 9 times, with 2 MNCs.
They fell back just a bit 1917-1935, but still had 16 top 25 finishes
in those 19 years, though just 6 in the top 10. The football program
fell apart after that, but reawakened with WW2, and had their last run
of greatness 1943-1958 (14 top 25, 9 top 10).
Yale ruled the
first decade of the 20th century, winning 6 MNCs 1900-1909 and going
100-4-5. The peskiest thorn in their side during this time period was
Army, who upset them in 1904 to cost them a 7th MNC, and who also
marred perfect records for Yale with ties this season and in 1907.
coach this year, and for only this year, was future general Dennis
Nolan, and the team's student manager was another future general,
Douglas MacArthur. Army featured a pair of Hall of Famers in
tackle/halfback Paul Bunker and quarterback Charles Daly. Bunker was a
consensus All American in 1901 and 1902, and died in a Japanese
prisoner of war camp during WW2. Daly was a consensus AA 4 straight
years 1898-1901, first at Harvard and then at Army. He would be Army's
coach 1913-1916 and 1919-1922, going 58-13-3 and winning 2 MNCs. He
cofounded the American Football Coaches Association in 1922 and served
as its first president.
Center Robert Boyers was a consensus AA, and end Joseph McAndrew was a nonconsensus AA.
lost 12-5 to #1 Yale at home in their finale. They won the rest by more
than a touchdown, but their schedule was very light, with only 2 other
rated teams coming to town, #17 Cornell (8-3) and #18 Columbia (6-4-1).
champion 10-0 Nebraska got their big win 6-0 at #8 Minnesota (9-2-1).
They also won 7-0 over #19 Knox (9-2), a margin that at that time was
more than a touchdown, and they also won 10-0 at
5-1 Colorado (Rocky Mountain champion).
Chicago lost 21-0 to #2 Michigan at home. They won 11-0 over #9
Wisconsin (6-3), 6-0 over #13 Illinois (10-2-1), 5-0 over #19 Knox
(9-2), and 33-0 over #22 Purdue (7-2-1). They did not venture outside
the city of Chicago in any of their 15 games this season.
lost 6-0 to #6 Nebraska (10-0) at home and 23-6 at #2 Michigan (11-0)
in their finale. The tie came in an exhibition game against a high
school in their opener that Minnesota didn't count or list as official
at the time, though they do now. I don't take it seriously, however.
The wins all came by more than a touchdown, the best being 17-5 over
#13 Illinois (10-2-1) and 11-0 over #9 Wisconsin (6-3).
6-3 Wisconsin took their losses to #2 Michigan, #7 Chicago, and #8
Minnesota. Their wins came by big scores, but none of those teams were
good, so this rating for Wisconsin stems mostly from the fact that they
had been 9-0 the year before, and a Western Conference (Big 10)
powerhouse over the previous 6 seasons (52-6-1). Since all their losses
this season came to top 10 teams, and they gave #2 Michigan their only
close game this season, #9 will work.
lost by big scores to #1 Yale and #4 Army, and they took an upset tie
at Columbia (6-4-1, #18) in their finale. They make the top 10 thanks
to one big win, 15-0 over #11 Amherst.
arrival of Syracuse as a top 25 football school coincided with the
arrival of head coach Edwin Sweetland (pictured), a Cornell grad who
went a terrific 20-5-2 here 1900-1902. He was a traveling teacher of
football, and for his career he went 100-41-10 over 18 seasons at 9
schools. He coached Colgate to their first top 25 finish in 1908, Kentucky in 1909.
7-3 Amherst lost
at #1 Yale, at #3 Harvard, and at #10 Syracuse. They won 12-6 at #12
Dartmouth and 29-0 at #18 Columbia. They played 7 of their 10 games on
took their losses at #3 Harvard and to #11 Amherst, and they took an
upset tie to 2-3-2 Massachusetts at home early in the season. Their one
big win came 12-6 over #14 Brown on a neutral field in their finale.
took their losses 6-0 at #7 Chicago and 17-5 at #8 Minnesota, and they
took an upset scoreless tie at unrated 6-2-2 Ohio State late in the
season. Their one win over a rated opponent came 29-5 over #22 Purdue.
Illinois was coached by Edgar Holt, a Princeton graduate who went
18-4-1 here 1901-1902, taking 2 losses each season. Oddly enough, that
wasn't good enough, and students at the school clamored for a new
coach. They got it, and Illinois declined drastically. They would
finally get the championship coach they wanted with the hire of Hall of
Famer Robert Zuppke in 1913.
Only 3 players on this year's team had more than 1 year of
experience playing college football. The captain was Jake Stahl, who
went on to an 11 year career in pro baseball and won a World Series as
the player-manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1912.
5-4-1 Brown lost
10-0 to #1 Yale, 6-0 at #3 Harvard, 6-5 at unrated 8-3 Lafayette, and
12-6 to #12 Dartmouth in their finale. The tie came to unrated 5-3-2
Vermont at home in their opener. That's a loss and a tie against
unrated opponents, but the team behind them, Carlisle, took 2 losses to
unrated teams, so Brown is safe at #14. Brown's big wins came 15-6 at
#16 Penn and 28-0 at #18 Columbia.
coach was John "Duff" Gammons, who played at halfback here 1895-1897,
and went 17-10-2 as head coach 1902 and 1908-1909. All 3 teams he
coached were top 25 caliber.
The star player this year was
consensus All American halfback Thomas Barry (pictured). He scored all
of Brown's points in the 15-6 win at Penn, the first victory Brown ever
managed against them. He scored touchdowns of 50 and 31 yards, and he
kicked a 28 yard field goal in his first career attempt. Barry later
became a coach, going 31-9-5 over 7 years at 4 schools.
8-3 Carlisle lost 23-0 at #3 Harvard, and as mentioned above, they took
2 losses to unrated opponents, 16-0 to 6-4 Bucknell and 6-5 at 8-1-1
Virginia. Carlisle's best wins came 5-0 at #16 Penn, 10-6 at #17
Cornell, and 21-0 at 7-3 Georgetown. All of their major opponents were
played on the road.
9-4 Penn took
their losses at #3 Harvard, to #14 Brown, to #15 Carlisle, and at
unrated 2-7-1 Navy. They defeated #17 Cornell, #18 Columbia, 7-3-1
Lehigh, and 6-4 Bucknell. The Cornell win came just 12-11 at home in
8-3 Cornell lost 10-0 at #5 Princeton, 10-6 to #15 Carlisle, and 12-11
at #16 Penn in their finale. Their best win came 28-0 at home over
unrated 8-3 Lafayette.
6-4-1 Columbia took their losses to #5 Princeton, #11 Amherst, #14
Brown, and #16 Penn. Their one big "win" was their tie, 6-6 to #10
Syracuse at home. Their actual wins all came over poor teams, and they
performed weakly outside the one big tie. All of their losses were
routs, and they had 2 close wins, over 2-7-1 Navy and 3-5-1 Buffalo.
9-2 Knox lost
5-0 at #7 Chicago and 7-0 at #6 Nebraska. Their big win came 12-5 over
#21 Notre Dame (6-2-1), and they also won 15-0 at 6-6 Northwestern and
5-0 over 6-4 Kansas.
is a small college in Galesburg, Illinois, and this is their football
program's only finish in the top 25. The coach was Jack McLean, who had
played for Michigan through 1899, and who had won a silver medal in
hurdles at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. He went 17-5-1 here 1901-1902.
year's line was large for its time, headlined by George Martin, who
weighed in at 232 pounds. The star player was halfback Joe Zalusky, who
also handled the returns and kicking. He returned a punt 106 yards for
a touchdown in the 15-0 win at Northwestern, and he had a 67 yard run
to set up a touchdown in the 12-5 win over Notre Dame. That Notre Dame
game was played in Rock Island, and was billed as the small-college
"Championship of the West."
A token spot for 8-0 California, West Coast champion. None of their
games were close, other than a bout against a team of Cal alumni, and they
defeated 6-1 Stanford (#25) 16-0.
#21 Notre Dame
6-2-1 Notre Dame took their losses to #2 Michigan and #19 Knox.
They tied 6-6 at #22 Purdue (7-2-1) in their finale, and their big win
came 6-5 at #24 Ohio Medical School (9-1).
took their losses by big scores at #7 Chicago and at #13 Illinois.
Their best win came 5-0 over 6-3 Case at home, and they also won 5-0 at
6-6 Northwestern. The tie came 6-6 to #21 Notre Dame at home in their
7-0 Geneva was a
minor team playing other minor teams, and none of their opponents were
worth anything, but Geneva won every game by more than a touchdown, and
only gave up 2 points on the season.
is a small college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, just outside of
Pittsburgh, and this was the school's only top 25 caliber football
team. The head coach was J. B. Craig, who went a blistering 26-3-3 here
1900-1903, never taking more than 1 loss in a season.
actually fielded a Hall of Famer this season, halfback and captain Joe
Thompson (pictured). He would play for Pittsburgh 1904-1906, leading
Pitt to a 10-0 finish in his first season there. He then coached Pitt
1908-1912, going 30-14-2, including a 9-0 finish in 1910, shutting out
#24 Ohio Medical
9-1 Ohio Medical took their loss by an extra point, 6-5 to #21
Notre Dame at home. Their big win came 15-0 at 6-3 Case, who took all
their losses to rated teams, and that made Ohio Medical the unofficial
champion of the state of Ohio. They also defeated 6-4 Washington &
Jefferson 6-5 at home.
Ohio Medical University opened in 1892 in Columbus, Ohio, and they
fielded football teams 1895-1906. The school merged with Starling
Medical College in 1907, and became the medical department of Ohio
State in 1914. This was their only top 25 football team.
6-1 Stanford took their loss 16-0 to 8-0 California (#20). Their only win of note was impressive, 35-11 at 6-2-1 Utah.
are the teams closest to making this top 25. 5-0 Arizona State was too far removed from major college football to consider.
South Dakota 9-0
9-0 South Dakota
was a minor team playing minor teams. They shut out every opponent, but
they had one weak performance, a 5-0 win over 3-2 Morningside (Iowa).
This season is the only perfect record South Dakota has produced.
coach was A. H. "Buck" Whittemore, who had played for Brown 1897-1900.
He was 37-21-6 as coach of South Dakota 1902-1909 and 1920-1921.
5-1 Colorado was
champion of the Rocky Mountain region. They lost 10-0 at home to #6
Nebraska, and they performed poorly against 3-3-2 Colorado State and
3-4 Colorado College, but they won 28-0 over 4-1-2 Colorado School of
Mines in their finale.
was champion of the Northwest. The loss came to the Multnomah Athletic
Club. They defeated Oregon State, Idaho, and Washington State, and
posted a weak 11-5 win at 2-4 Whitman.
Case took their losses to #2 Michigan, #22 Purdue, and #24 Ohio
Medical. They won 23-12 at 6-2-2 Ohio State (who tied #13 Illinois),
giving them the Ohio Athletic Conference crown for the first of 4
Bucknell took their losses at #1 Yale, at #16 Penn (by 1 point), at
9-1-1 Watertown Athletic Club, and at 5-6-1 Pittsburgh by the ugly
score of 24-0. But they had 2 big wins, 16-0 over #15 Carlisle and 6-0
over 5-1 Steeltown YMCA (who defeated 7-3 Penn State, covered below).
head coach was George Hoskins (pictured), who had played for Penn State
1892-1894, and was PSU's first official coach 1892-1895, going 17-4-4.
He moved on to Pittsburgh and went 3-6 as coach in 1896, then came to
Bucknell and went 39-38-5 here 1899-1909. Bucknell never quite made a
top 25, but they would come close again in 1913.
Lafayette lost 28-0 at #17 Cornell, 6-0 to archrival 7-3-1 Lehigh
(covered below), and most damaging, 12-11 at 2-7-1 Navy. They performed
very well in their wins, the best a 6-5 home upset of #14 Brown.
Lehigh lost at #5 Princeton, at #16 Penn, and to 4-6 Dickinson at home.
The tie came at 2-7-1 Navy. That's an ugly loss and tie, but they won
34-0 over 8-1-1 Virginia (who beat #15 Carlisle) in Washington, D.C.,
and they won 6-0 at archrival 8-3 Lafayette (covered above).
Penn State 7-3
Penn State took their losses at #1 Yale, at #16 Penn, and by 1 point at
5-1 Steeltown YMCA (who took their one loss to 6-4 Bucknell, covered
above). Penn State did not beat a good team, and they struggled to win
6-0 at 2-7-1 Navy.
1) Yale 11-0-1
2) Michigan 11-0
3) Harvard 11-1
4) Army 6-1-1
5) Princeton 8-1
6) Nebraska 10-0
7) Chicago 14-1
8) Minnesota 9-2-1
9) Wisconsin 6-3
10) Syracuse 6-2-1
12) Dartmouth 6-2-1
13) Illinois 10-2-1
14) Brown 5-4-1
16) Pennsylvania 9-4
17) Cornell 8-3
18) Columbia 6-4-1
19) Knox 9-2
20) California 8-0
21) Notre Dame 6-2-1
22) Purdue 7-2-1
23) Geneva 7-0
24) Ohio Medical 9-1
25) Stanford 6-1
South Dakota 9-0
Penn State 7-3