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1904 College Football Top 25

Penn at Harvard football game 1904

Pictured above is Pennsylvania at Harvard in 1904. It was 12-0 Penn's biggest game of the season, and they won 11-0. They would easily have topped a 1904 AP poll, so they will start our list at #1.

I summarized the seasons of 11-0 Penn, 10-1 Yale, 10-0 Michigan, 13-0 Minnesota, 10-0 Pittsburgh, and 9-0 Vanderbilt in my 1904 national championship article.

#1 Pennsylvania

12-0 Penn defeated #6 Harvard, #12 Carlisle, #13 Columbia, #14 Lafayette, #15 Swarthmore, and #23 Cornell.

#2 Yale

10-1 Yale took an 11-6 upset loss at #7 Army, but they defeated #6 Harvard, #8 Princeton, and #13 Columbia, all by more than a touchdown, and they also beat 3 good unrated teams: 6-4 Penn State, 6-3 Syracuse, and 6-5 Brown.

#3 Michigan

10-0 Michigan rolled up huge scores, averaging 56.7 points per game, but they only defeated 2 rated teams, and didn't play anyone else that was even close. The big wins were 28-0 at #24 Wisconsin and 22-12 over #9 Chicago (10-1-1) at home.

#4 Minnesota

13-0 Minnesota played a deeper schedule than Michigan did, but unlike Michigan, they had a close win, 16-12 over #22 Nebraska at home, and they did not defeat a team as strong as #9 Chicago. They did score like Michigan, averaging 55.8 points per game. In addition to #22 Nebraska, Minnesota defeated #20 Northwestern, #24 Wisconsin, 7-2 Iowa State, and 7-4 Iowa.

#5 Dartmouth

1904 Dartmouth football team

7-0-1 Dartmouth took their tie at #6 Harvard. All their wins came by more than a touchdown, the big one 15-4 over #11 Amherst (9-1).

Dartmouth and Colorado football coach Fred Folsom

Dartmouth was coached by Fred Folsom (pictured above), who had played here 1892-1894, but is best known now as an early successful coach at Colorado. He went 37-10-1 at Colorado 1895-1899 and 1901-1902, winning 5 conference titles, and then he came home to Dartmouth and went 29-5-4 here 1903-1906. He then returned to Colorado and went 40-13-1 there 1908-1915, winning another 5 conference titles. Overall he was 106-28-6, putting him on the list for all-time best FBS coaching win percentage. Colorado's stadium is named for him.

The star player was end Ralph Glaze, who had played for Folsom at Colorado, then followed his coach to Dartmouth and played there 1903-1905, making consensus All American in 1905. He played pro baseball for 7 years, and coached college football for 15 years, mostly to losing records.

Guard Joseph Gilman was a consensus All American this year.

#6 Harvard

7-2-1 Harvard took their losses to #1 Penn and #2 Yale, and they were tied at home by #5 Dartmouth. They defeated #7 Army and #12 Carlisle.

#7 Army

7-2 Army took their losses to #6 Harvard and #8 Princeton, but they pulled off the biggest win by any team this year 11-6 over #2 Yale. They played every game at home this season except for their finale against #16 Navy in Philadelphia, a game they won 11-0. Army also beat a pair of good unrated teams, 8-3-1 Dickinson and 6-3 Syracuse.

#8 Princeton

8-2 Princeton won 12-6 at #7 Army, but they took their losses to #2 Yale and #16 Navy, both of whom Army defeated. Princeton beat a lot of good teams in addition to Army: #14 Lafayette, #19 Georgetown (7-1), #23 Cornell, and 8-3-1 Dickinson.

#9 Chicago

10-1-1 Chicago lost at #3 Michigan, and they took an upset tie to #21 Illinois at home. They defeated #20 Northwestern, #24 Wisconsin, 6-2 Texas (68-0!), 9-3 Purdue, 7-4 Iowa, and 6-4 Indiana.

#10 Pittsburgh

10-0 Pittsburgh did not defeat a rated team, their best win coming 22-5 over nearly-rated 6-4 Penn State. But Pitt shut out every other opponent and won by big scores.

#11 Amherst

Amherst halfback Jack Hubbard

9-1 Amherst took their loss at #5 Dartmouth. They struggled to get by some weak teams, but they won 12-0 at #13 Columbia, and they played 7 of their 10 games on the road.

The coach was Amherst alumnus Harry "Curley" Smith. His coaching career is difficult to pin down, because Amherst did not have a full-time football coach until the 1920s, and though Smith was more or less the coach 1899-1906, some of those years he was serving in more of an advisory capacity. Amherst went 41-31-7 those years, but Smith was definitely the head coach 1902-1904, when Amherst went 7-3, 7-3, and 9-1, and was top 25 caliber all 3 seasons. Those are the only top 25 teams Amherst ever fielded.

Amherst was led on the field by a Hall of Fame halfback, Jack Hubbard (pictured), who at 180 pounds was a large back for his time. Great on offense and defense, he would be a consensus All American the next season. He was also the kicker, and was perfect on extra point tries for 3 straight years, very unusual accuracy for those days.

#12 Carlisle

10-2 Carlisle lost to #1 Penn and #6 Harvard. Their one big win came 38-4 over another Indian school, #18 Haskell (8-1), in St. Louis at the World's Fair.

#13 Columbia

7-3 Columbia lost to #1 Penn, #2 Yale, and #11 Amherst in consecutive games, but before that streak they defeated #15 Swarthmore, and in their finale they topped #23 Cornell.

#14 Lafayette

8-2 Lafayette took their losses to #1 Penn and #8 Princeton (by 5 points). They only played one other competitive team, edging #15 Swarthmore 4-0 at home.

#15 Swarthmore

6-3 Swarthmore lost to #1 Penn, #13 Columbia, and #14 Lafayette. Their one big win came 9-0 at #16 Navy.

#16 Navy

7-2-1 Navy took their losses to #7 Army and #15 Swarthmore, and they tied unrated 8-3-1 Dickinson. They made up for the upset tie with an upset win, 10-9 over #8 Princeton at home. They also defeated some good unrated teams, 6-4 Penn State, 6-3 Virginia, and 5-3 Virginia Tech.

#17 Vanderbilt

9-0 Vanderbilt rolled up huge numbers, outscoring opponents by a total of 474-4. I summarized them in my 1904 MNC article. Their big win came 27-0 over 7-1 Sewanee in their finale, giving them the championship of the South.

#18 Haskell

Haskell football coach Albert Herrnstein

8-1 Haskell, an Indian boarding school located in Lawrence, Kansas, was the champion of the Missouri Valley region, but they were taught a painful lesson in the difference between their region and the East when #12 Carlisle, also an Indian school, routed them 38-4 in St. Louis in their season finale. Haskell won 14-6 over #22 Nebraska, 4-0 at 6-2 Texas, and 23-6 at hometown rival 8-1-1 Kansas.

The coach was Albert Herrnstein (pictured), who had played at Michigan 1899-1902. He went 15-4 at Haskell 1903-1904, and both teams were top 25 caliber. He then coached another top 25 team at Purdue in 1905, going 6-1-1. He finished his short career at Ohio State 1906-1909, going 28-10-1 there for a fine career total of 49-15-2.

The star player was end Peter Hauser, who played here 1904-1905, then at Carlisle 1906-1910, making consensus All American in 1907 at fullback. He kicked the field goal for Haskell's only points in the loss to Carlisle this year. He is in the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

#19 Georgetown

7-1 Georgetown took their loss to #8 Princeton. They did not beat a particularly good team, their best win coming 16-0 over 5-2-2 North Carolina.

#20 Northwestern

8-2 Northwestern was drubbed by #4 Minnesota and #9 Chicago. Their one big win came 12-6 over #21 Illinois at home. They shut out every other opponent, but none of those teams were good.

#21 Illinois

1904 Illinois football team

9-2-1 Illinois lost 12-6 at #20 Northwestern, and 16-10 at #22 Nebraska in their finale. They made up for the upset loss at Nebraska by tying #9 Chicago 6-6 on the road. They defeated 9-3 Purdue, 7-4 Iowa, 6-4 Indiana, and 6-5 Ohio State.

#22 Nebraska

9-3 Nebraska took a 6-0 upset loss at unrated 6-2-1 Colorado, but they made up for that with a 16-10 upset win over #21 Illinois at home in their finale. They also gave #4 Minnesota (13-0) their toughest game in a 16-12 road loss. Nebraska's 3rd loss came to #18 Haskell. Their best win other than Illinois came 17-6 over 7-4 Iowa.

#23 Cornell

7-3 Cornell took their losses to #1 Penn, #8 Princeton, and #13 Columbia. Their one big win came 17-0 over nearly-rated 8-1-1 Colgate.

#24 Wisconsin

5-3 Wisconsin lost to #3 Michigan, #4 Minnesota, and #9 Chicago. They did not defeat a good team, but their wins were all shut-outs and routs (average score in their wins 51-0).

#25 Auburn

1904 Auburn football team

Auburn coach Mike Donahue6-0 Auburn could claim to share the unofficial title "Champion of the South" with Vanderbilt, I suppose, but Vanderbilt stomped on everyone they played, which included another Southern "title" contender, 7-1 Sewanee, while Auburn barely got by 3-3-1 Clemson this season. Auburn's best wins were 12-0 over 8-1-1 Georgia Tech and 29-5 at 7-3 Alabama.

This was the first season for Hall of Fame coach Mike Donahue (pictured at left) at Auburn. He had been a backup quarterback at Yale 1899-1903, and as coach of Auburn 1904-1906 and 1908-1922, he went 105-35-5, winning 6 conference titles. He finished his career at LSU 1923-1927, going 23-19-3 for a career total of 128-54-8.

The star player this season was All-Southern fullback Humphrey Foy.

Others Receiving Votes

Here are the teams closest to making this top 25. 4-0 Arizona State was too far removed from major college football to consider.

Sewanee 7-1

7-1 Sewanee, like #25 Auburn, only beat 3-3-1 Clemson by a touchdown. Their best wins came over 4-2 Texas A&M and 5-2 Tulane. They lost 27-0 at #17 Vanderbilt in their finale.

Texas 6-2

6-2 Texas took their losses by 68-0 at #9 Chicago, ouch!, and 0-4 to #18 Haskell at home, much better. They won the rest of their games in routs, including 34-6 over 4-2 Texas A&M in their finale.

Penn State 6-4

6-4 Penn State lost to #1 Penn, #2 Yale, #10 Pitt, and #16 Navy. All of their wins were shutouts and came by more than a touchdown, including an 11-0 victory over 8-3-1 Dickinson, who tied #16 Navy. PSU's loss at #1 Penn was by just 6 points, and I think PSU was probably top 25 power-wise.

Colgate 8-1-1

Colgate football coach Frank "Buck" O' Neill

8-1-1 Colgate lost 17-0 to #23 Cornell, and their tie came to a professional team, so they were actually 8-1 against colleges. Their one big win came 11-0 at 6-3 Syracuse (covered next). They had one weak performance other than their loss, a 6-0 win at 3-7-1 Williams.

Colgate was coached by Hall of Famer Frank "Buck" O' Neill (pictured), who at played at end for Williams 1899-1901. He went 18-8-2 at Colgate in 1902 and 1904-1905, then made his fame at Syracuse in 3 stints 1906-1919, going 52-19-6 in 8 seasons there. He wrapped up his career at lowly Columbia, going a decent 11-14 there 1920-1922, managing a winning season in his last year. Overall he was 81-41-8.

Syracuse 6-3

6-3 Syracuse took their losses to #2 Yale, #7 Army, and 8-1-1 Colgate (covered above). Syracuse did not beat a good team, but they rolled up huge scores, including a 144-0 demolishing of Manhattan.

Dickinson 8-3-1

Dickinson football coach Forrest Craver

8-3-1 Dickinson took their losses to #7 Army, #8 Princeton, and 6-4 Penn State (covered above). They didn't beat anyone good, and posted a pair of poor performances, but they did pull off a huge tie at #16 Navy.

Dickinson was located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and often scrimmaged with the neighboring Carlisle Indians. Dickinson was never quite top 25 caliber: this is as close as they ever got. The coach was Forrest Craver (pictured), who had played at end for Dickinson 1895-1898. As coach he was 21-18-6 over 5 seasons, 1904 and 1918-1921. He taught math, Latin, and physical education at Dickinson for decades.

1904 Top 25

1) Pennsylvania 12-0
2) Yale 10-1
3) Michigan 10-0
4) Minnesota 13-0
5) Dartmouth 7-0-1
6) Harvard 7-2-1
7) Army 7-2
8) Princeton 8-2
9) Chicago 10-1-1
10) Pittsburgh 10-0

11) Amherst 9-1
12) Carlisle 10-2
13) Columbia 7-3
14)
Lafayette 8-2
15) Swarthmore 6-3
16) Navy 7-2-1
17) Vanderbilt 9-0
18) Haskell 8-1
19) Georgetown 7-1
20) Northwestern 8-2
21) Illinois 9-2-1
22) Nebraska 9-3
23) Cornell 7-3
24) Wisconsin 5-3
25) Auburn 6-0

Others Receiving Votes:
Sewanee 7-1
Texas 6-2
Penn State 6-4
Colgate 8-1-1
Syracuse 6-3
Dickinson 8-3-1


Top 25 Rankings 1901-1935
1904 National Championship
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