MNC Wednesday is back once again, as we move past World War II and onto other milestones in the history of college football. The military academies still had all-star teams, formed during the war years, and we see the reflection of that in the data below.
The 1945 MNC: A simple and straight-forward champion is obvious
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Army: 9-0-0 — None
2. Alabama: 10-0-0 — W, Rose, 34-14
3. Navy: 7-1-1 — None
4. Indiana: 9-0-1 — None
5. Oklahoma A&M: 9-0-0 — W, Sugar, 33-13
6. Michigan: 7-3-0 — None
7. St. Mary’s: 7-2-0 — L, Sugar, 13-33
8. Pennsylvania: 6-2-0 — None
9. Notre Dame: 7-2-1 — None
10. Texas: 10-1-0 — W, Cotton, 40-27
The Crimson Tide won the SEC, while Army beat Navy in a “No. 1 versus No. 2” battle on December 1 in Philadelphia. Indiana won the Western Conference, and the Cowboys “won” the Missouri Valley Conference, even though the team played more opponents from the Southwest Conference. Go figure.
Texas won the SWC, without playing the Cowboys, and that gives us a quintet of teams to consider topically. Can we pare them down at all?
Let’s start with the respective blemishes on the Hoosiers and the Longhorns. The former tied Northwestern, a .500 team, on the road, while the latter lost to sub-.500 Rice at home. Both are not “good” blemishes, since the opponents in question were mediocre at best.
So, these are our serious teams to consider: Alabama, Army, and Oklahoma A&M. How do the three schedules compare? Here is the SOS, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Alabama: 8 Division I-A opponents, average SRS rank 40.75
- Army: 7 Division I-A opponents, average SRS rank 12.43
- Oklahoma A&M: 9 Division I-A opponents, average SRS rank 51.11
There’s a clear winner here, even though the Black Knights played two weakened military-base teams that were not considered big-time opponents—and their first seven games of the season were home contests. Army was an all-star team, and it showed more than ever in the 1945 season.
However, wins over five ranked teams—including Michigan and Notre Dame—are enough to overcome our inherent distaste for the scheduling and talent advantages handed to Army. The Black Knights were clearly the best team in the country.
Congratulations to the 1945 Army Black Knights, the mythical national champs!
Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.