Top 25 Rankings 1901-1935
1907 National Championship
College Football Top 25
above is the 1907 Yale-Harvard football game. Which players are from
Yale and which are from Harvard, I cannot tell you. What I can tell you
is that the Yale players are wearing blue sweaters, and the
Harvard players are wearing red. Yale won 12-0 at Harvard in their
finale to cap a 9-0-1 season and a mythical national championship (MNC).
This hypothetical AP poll top 25 was much easier to put together
than usual. My process has been to first guess where an AP poll from
the time would have ranked 25 teams, then to logically fix that top 25.
But this time, once I had the guessed top 25 in place, very little
fixing was required.
summarized Yale's 9-0-1 team and season
in my 1907 national
They defeated #2 Princeton, #8 Harvard, #14 Brown, #15 Syracuse, and
#17 Washington & Jefferson. They took their tie at #11 Army.
Princeton lost by just 2 points at #2 Yale, and they took a 6-5 upset
loss at #6 Cornell. They shut out every other opponent, the big one
being a 16-0 win over #3 Carlisle (10-1) on a neutral field. They also
trounced #17 Washington & Jefferson (7-2) 40-0.
Carlisle was blanked 16-0 by #2 Princeton, denying the Indians a
national championship. Carlisle's biggest win came 26-6 at #4 Penn
(11-1), denying the Quakers a legitimate national championship, though
for some unknown reason Penn claims an MNC for 1906 anyway.
Carlisle's schedule was incredible, and they also defeated #8 Harvard,
#13 Chicago, #15 Syracuse, #19 Penn State, and #20 Minnesota, all on
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School would eventually merit an MNC, in my estimation anyway, for 1911.
I covered their Hall of Fame coach, Pop Warner, in that linked article.
He had coached Carlisle 1899-1903, going 39-18-3, and he made a big
splash in his return as head coach this season.
This was a very talented team. The greatest football player of all
time, Jim Thorpe, was here at halfback in his first season with the
team. He would also play in 1908, take a break, then return for the
1911 and 1912 seasons, when he made his fame. I covered him in more
detail in the 1911 MNC article.
Hall of Fame end Albert Exendine was a consensus All American this
season. After graduation he coached at 6 schools, most
successfully at Georgetown 1914-1922, and overall he was 92-68-13 as a
Peter Hauser was also a consensus AA, and Quarterback Frank Mount
Pleasant was a nonconsensus AA. Hauser was the placekicker as well, and
scored all of the points in a 10-0 win over Villanova this season. He
also kicked 2 field goals and an extra point, and connected on a 50
yard touchdown pass, in a big 18-4 win at Chicago (4-1).
As noted, 11-1
Penn claims an MNC for this season, but I have no idea why. They lost
26-6 to #3 Carlisle at home. Otherwise, however, they were very
impressive, defeating #5 Michigan, #6 Cornell, #9 Swarthmore, #14
Brown, #15 Lafayette, and #19 Penn State.
5-1 Michigan lost 6-0 to #4 Penn at home, but they shut out every other
opponent. Their big win came 8-0 at #12 Vanderbilt (5-1-1), and they
defeated a bunch of good unrated teams: 6-3 Case, 4-2-1 Michigan State, 5-2 Wabash, and 7-2-1 Ohio State.
8-2 Cornell took an 8-6 upset loss to #19 Penn State (6-4) at home,
and they also lost 12-4 at #4 Penn in their finale (the game pictured
above). But they balanced out the ugly upset loss to PSU with a huge
6-5 upset win over #2 Princeton at home, and they also defeated #9
Swarthmore, #11 Army, and #18 Pittsburgh.
Cornell had been coached the previous season by Pop Warner, now
back at Carlisle. Taking over as head coach at Cornell this season was
Henry ("Harry") Schoellkopf, who had played at Cornell 1900-1901 and at
Harvard 1903. He went 15-3-1 in 2 years as coach at Cornell, then
retired from coaching and practiced law in Milwaukee, where he
committed suicide in 1912.
Four Cornell players made first-team All American lists this season
(all nonconsensus choices), and one of them, tackle Bernard O'Rourke,
would be a consensus AA in 1908.
put together a very nice record, and they shocked everyone with a big
22-0 win at #8 Harvard, but they did not otherwise play like a
highly-rated team. They were tied by #25 Vermont (4-2-1), who otherwise
would not be rated, and they struggled to get by several unranked teams: Tufts, Massachusetts, and Amherst.
7-3 Harvard took their losses to #1 Yale, #3 Carlisle, and #7 Dartmouth. They defeated #10 Navy, #14 Brown, and #24 Williams.
had been fielding powerful teams for several years by this point, so
they were no surprise this season. They took their losses to #4 Penn
and #6 Cornell, and they defeated #10 Navy.
9-2-1 Navy took their losses to #8 Harvard and #9 Swarthmore, and they
were tied by #12 Vanderbilt (5-1-1) at home. Their big win came 6-0
over #11 Army in Philadelphia in their season finale, and they also
defeated #15 Lafayette and #19 Penn State.
pulled off this season's "win" of the year when they tied #1 Yale 0-0
at home. They took their losses to #6 Cornell and #10 Navy, and their
best actual win came 23-4 at #15 Syracuse.
was the champion of the South. Their one loss came to #5 Michigan at
home, and their big "win" was a tie at #10 Navy. They defeated #21
Sewanee (8-1) 17-12 at home in their finale to claim their regional
4-1 Chicago took their loss to #3 Carlisle. They won the Western conference (Big 10) with an 18-12 victory at #20 Minnesota.
7-3 Brown lost
to #1 Yale, #4 Penn, and #8 Harvard. They won 24-11 over #24 Williams,
and they shut out every other opponent, including a 34-0 rout of #25
#15 Syracuse and LafayetteJudging
from articles of the time, 5-3-1 Syracuse would have likely been rated
higher than 7-2-1 Lafayette in a 1907 AP poll, but these 2 teams tied
each other, and didn't seem different enough not to be ranked at the
same spot, so I'm placing them into a tie here.
Syracuse lost to
#1 Yale, #3 Carlisle, and #11 Army. They defeated #24 Williams, and
their tie with Lafayette came 4-4 at home. Lafayette lost to #4 Penn
and #10 Navy, and their best win came 22-5 at archrival Lehigh (7-2-1).
#17 Washington & Jefferson7-2 Washington & Jefferson took their losses to #1 Yale and #2 Princeton. Their one big win came 9-2 at #18 Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh lost to #6 Cornell and #17 Washington & Jefferson, and
they defeated #19 Penn State 6-0 at home in their finale.
#19 Penn State6-4
Penn State lost to #3 Carlisle, #4 Penn, #10 Navy, and #18 Pittsburgh,
but they pulled off a huge 8-6 upset win at #6 Cornell, and the rest of
their wins came by huge scores (average 47-0 in those games), albeit
against minor schools.
Minnesota lost close games at home to #3 Carlisle (2 points!) and #13
Chicago, great performances, but they took an upset tie at unranked
Wisconsin (3-1-1) in their finale. Their wins came over good unrated
teams, 6-2 Iowa State and 8-2 Nebraska.
Sewanee lost the championship of the South 17-12 at #12 Vanderbilt in
their finale. They defeated 6-3 Mississippi State, 6-2-1 Auburn, 5-1-2
Alabama, and 6-3-1 Virginia.
#22 Oregon State
Oregon State was the champion of the West Coast, beating 5-1 Oregon 4-0
and 3-1 Loyola Marymount 10-0, both on the road. And this season the
West Coast ties in with the rest of the nation thanks to a trip Saint
Louis took up there. Saint Louis, who stomped on 8-2 Nebraska 34-0 on
Thanksgiving Day, lost 11-0 at Washington State (7-1, lost to Idaho,
who lost to Oregon) and 11-6 at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland
(Oregon defeated Multnomah 10-5).
Oregon State's game at Loyola,
then known as St. Vincent's College, was a big deal out West, a
Thanksgiving Day matchup of the "champions" of the Northwest and of
California, with the winner taking home the "championship" of the
entire West Coast.
OSU's head coach was Fred Norcross (far right
in picture above), who had played quarterback at Michigan 1903-1905. He
went 14-4-3 as coach at Oregon State 1906-1908, then left football
behind and went into the mining business.
This is still the only perfect season in Oregon State history, and moreover, they did not allow a single point this season.
Washburn, a school in Topeka, Kansas, defeated 5-3 Kansas, 5-3 Kansas
State, 8-2 Wichita State, and 4-4 Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day, scoring
a pair of 2nd half touchdowns to win the last one and complete their
The head coach was Garfield Weede, who had played at end for Penn 1901-1904, winning the 1904 MNC.
He replaced John Heisman as coach at Washburn, and went 20-6-4 here
1906-1908. He then coached at 2 other small Kansas Schools, Sterling
and Pittsburg State, for 19 years, and overall he was 104-67-14 for
his career. He also coached track and field, and he is enshrined in the
NAIA Track and Field Hall of Fame and in the Kansas Sports Hall of
Fame. (Note: Wikipedia and the
College Football Data Warehouse publish different numbers for Washburn
1907's record and for Weede's overall record, but the numbers I'm using
here are confirmed via Washburn's media guide.)
Five players on this year's team were All-Missouri Valley.
#24 Williams6-3 Williams lost to #8 Harvard, #14 Brown, and #15 Syracuse, and they defeated #25 Vermont 17-5 at home.
Vermont lost to #14 Brown and #24 Williams, and neither game was close.
The loss at Brown was particularly ugly, 34-0. Vermont also struggled
to defeat 1-7-1 Wesleyan, 1-7-2 Holy Cross, and 4-4-1 Norwich, so it
seems doubtful that they were actually top 25 power-wise, but they
managed one big glorious "win" this season, a scoreless tie at 8-0-1
Dartmouth (#7), and that plus their successful avoidance of an upset
loss gets them into the top 25 for the only time in their history.
Norwich "win" was actually a forfeit. Norwich had taken a halftime
lead, and Vermont had come back to tie the game in the 2nd half, but
with darkness starting to settle in, Norwich refused to play the game
out to its alloted time, and thus forfeited.
Football Data Warehouse has a different record and different scores for
Vermont than I do, but I have reconfirmed my scores with Vermont's
yearbook of the time, and with Wesleyan's media guide (the CFDW says
that Vermont and Wesleyan tied, but both schools have recorded a 10-5
Vermont win in that game).
The head coach was George "Dud"
Drake, but this was his last season here. The star player was tackle
George Cassidy. The Vermont yearbook refers to the Dartmouth tie as a
great "victory," and indicates that the game was mostly played on
Dartmouth's side of the field.
are the teams closest to making this top 25. 3-0 New Mexico State was too far removed from big time
football to consider.
5-1 Oregon lost 4-0 to #22 Oregon State. They defeated 4-1-1 Idaho (who defeated 7-1 Washington State).
forged their perfect record against a schedule of minor teams, their
best win 11-0 over Haskell (whom #23 Washburn defeated 33-0).
tied #20 Minnesota at home in their finale, and they won 6-5 at
3-2 Iowa and 11-8 over 2-3-1 Indiana (who tied 8-0-1 Notre Dame), but
Wisconsin took a 15-4 loss in their opener at home to unrated 3-2
Illinois (who lost badly to Iowa).
1) Yale 9-0-1
2) Princeton 7-2
3) Carlisle 10-1
4) Pennsylvania 11-1
5) Michigan 5-1
6) Cornell 8-2
7) Dartmouth 8-0-1
8) Harvard 7-3
9) Swarthmore 6-2
10) Navy 9-2-1
12) Vanderbilt 5-1-1
13) Chicago 4-1
14) Brown 7-3
15) Syracuse 5-3-1
17) Washington & Jefferson 7-2
18) Pittsburgh 8-2
19) Penn State 6-4
20) Minnesota 2-2-1
21) Sewanee 8-1
22) Oregon State 6-0
23) Washburn 8-0
24) Williams 6-3
25) Vermont 4-2-1