football-fbs flag | September 23, 2013

Table: When perfect just isn't good enough

In college football, sometimes beating everyone on your schedule still isn't good enough to get you a national championship. Take a look at some teams that literally did everything they could and still didn't quite measure up.

1938 Tennessee 11-0 The Vols shut out fellow unbeaten Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl 17–0, ending the Sooners' 14-game win streak and beginning a long winning streak for head coach Robert Neyland. Still, the AP poll picked TCU
1939 Cornell 8-0 The possibility of a Rose Bowl invitation that season was rebuffed by the university administration. Texas A&M took the AP crown.
1940 Stanford 10-0 Despite having two more wins than eventual champ Minnesota, Stanford finished second in that year's AP poll. The Indians, as Stanford teams were called then, beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl 21-13.
1944 Ohio State 9-0 The Buckeyes also outscored opponents 287-79 during the season and had seven players chosen in the NFL Draft. However, Army, also 9-0, won the title
1945 Alabama 10-0 Alabama did not win the national championship in 1945 despite winning the Rose Bowl. That honor went to the Army Cadets, who went 9–0 and outscored their opponents 412–46. The Crimson Tide finished second in the AP poll behind the Cadets.
1946 Georgia 11-0 All-American Herb St. John played guard on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs that season and the Bulldogs gave up just 108 points in that campaign, but finished third in the AP poll to 8-0-1 Notre Dame.
1947 Michigan 11-0 It would be tough to imagine having a better year. Michigan compiled a perfect 10–0 record, won the Big Ten championship, and defeated the USC Trojans by a score of 49–0 in the 1948 Rose Bowl game. They were ranked second in the AP Poll at the end of the regular season, which determined the national champion, but won by a 226–119 margin against Notre Dame in an unprecedented AP Poll taken after the bowl games.
1949 Oklahoma 11-0 The final AP poll for the season was released in late November, although some colleges had not completed their schedules. On Dec. 3, the national champs,Notre Dame closed a 10-0 season in Dallas with a 27-20 win against SMU.
1950 Princeton 9-0 The Tigers outscored their opponents 349–94. Against other Ivy League teams, Princeton outscored their opponents 184–45. However, they finished sixth in the final AP poll to 10-1 Oklahoma.
1951 Maryland 10-0 Despite beating Tennessee in the 1952 Rose Bowl, the AP named the Vols (10-1) -- and not Maryland -- the national champions.
  Michigan State 9-0 Sparty finished second in that AP poll, taken before bowl season. Ironically, the Spartans were No. 1 in two AP polls during the season.
1952 Georgia Tech 12-0 AP champs Michigan State had just moved to the Big Ten conference, but were not eligible for postseason play. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets, who finished second in the final poll, won the Sugar Bowl, beating Ole Miss 24-7.
1954 UCLA 9-0 The Bruins were not eligible to play in the Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State because had played in the 1954 Rose Bowl and no team could play two Rose Bowls in a row. The Buckeyes would lead the final AP poll.
1960 Missouri 11-0 This season included one of the most famous Missouri vs. Kansas matchups in history. Kansas used an ineligible player and was disqualified, bringing Missouri's record to 11-0 instead of 10-1. Minnesota, at 8-2, won the national title.
1962 Ole Miss 10-0 The Rebels beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, won the SEC title and did it all with the civil rights movement taking place on their own campus as James Meredith, was attempting to be the first African-American student to attend the university. The Rebels finished third in the final AP poll to 11-0 USC.
1966 Alabama 11-0 The Tide gave up 37 points all season and won its third consecutive SEC title. However, 9-0-1 Notre Dame won the final AP poll. Some say the team's continued segregation played a role.
1969 Penn State 11-0 This was the year that President Richard Nixon declared Texas the national champion after the Longhorns beat Arkansas. Penn State declined an invitation to play the Texas/Arkansas winner in the Cotton Bowl.
1991 Washington 12-0 Miami, also 12-0, won the AP poll by four votes. Washington won the coaches' poll by nine votes.
1994 Penn State 12-0 Nebraska, 13-0, took the AP poll. Penn State finished second and won the Rose Bowl, beating Oregon 38-20.
1997 Nebraska 13-0 Second-ranked Nebraska handily defeated the No. 3 Tennessee 42–17 in the Orange Bowl, while No. 1 Michigan defeated No. 7 Washington State in the Rose Bowl 21–16. The 1997 Huskers set an NCAA record that still stands by scoring an average of 5.5 rushing touchdowns per game.
2004 Auburn 13-0 Finished third in the final BCS rankings, but beat Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl to finish off a perfect season.
2008 Utah 13-0 The Utes, despite being the only unbeaten team in FBS play that season, finished second in the final poll to Urban Meyer's 13-1 Florida team.
2009 Boise State 14-0 The Broncos shocked the world, defeating No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl 17-14. For the second time in four years, the Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl with a YouTube-worthy play — a gutsy fake punt at their own 33-yard line set up the decisive touchdown score by Doug Martin.


Jaxon Smith-Njigba: College football career, stats, highlights, records

Here's a quick guide to wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba's college career at Ohio State.

Jordan Addison: College football career, stats, highlights, records

Here's a quick guide to wide receiver Jordan Addison's college career at USC and Pitt.

2023 Senior Bowl: Rosters, players, how to watch the college football game

Here's what you need to know for the 2023 Senior Bowl, including rosters information and how to watch.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners