The MNC Wednesday series has hit legal drinking age, which is funny since it’s about college football. All jokes aside, this has been an interesting experiment in re-assigning the mythical national championship, and the fun won’t end for a long time now.
Settle in for another episode … and read on!
The 1956 MNC: Can any team top the Big Ten champs for schedule strength?
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Oklahoma: 11-0-0 — None
2. Tennessee: 10-1-0 — L, Sugar, 7-13
3. Iowa: 9-1-0 — W, Rose, 35-19
4. Georgia Tech: 10-1-0 — W, Gator, 21-14
5. Texas A&M: 9-0-1 — None
6. Miami-FL: 8-1-1 — None
7. Michigan: 7-2-0 — None
8. Syracuse: 7-2-0 — L, Cotton, 27-28
9. Michigan State: 7-2-0 — None
10. Oregon State: 7-3-1 — L, Rose, 19-35
The Sooners now have a 41-game winning streak and no MNCs to show for it. Will this be the year that changes? So much of it comes down to strength of schedule, as we all know. Who joins Oklahoma in our group of teams under consideration?
The Volunteers do not, since they lost the Sugar Bowl to No. 11 Baylor. Also, since Tennessee won the SEC and beat Georgia Tech in the process, that means the Yellowjackets are out as well. This is notable since the two SEC squads were the top-rated teams in the SRS system.
The Hawkeyes won the B1G despite losing to Michigan—but the Spartans did Iowa a favor by beating the Wolverines. All three teams finished in the Top 10, and the Hawkeyes didn’t play Michigan State. Sometimes lucky really matters, doesn’t it?
What about Texas A&M? This is the beginning of many sticky situations we will face down in the years to come: This Bear Bryant-coached team was put on probation for two years due to illegal recruiting tactics (offering cash and gifts), which means we cannot believe that the Aggies were legit. They “won” the Southwest Conference, but Baylor went to the Cotton Bowl.
Even though the individual player at the center of this NCAA violation ended up attending a different school, can we assume that he was the only player Bryant tried to bribe to come to College Station? No. Therefore, we cannot consider Texas A&M for the MNC under these circumstances.
[In the future as this type of scenario comes up more often, we will assess each case individually as not all probations are created equal. Stay tuned …]
As for Miami-FL, the Hurricanes tied Georgia—a 3-6-1 SEC team— at home and lost to a ranked Pittsburgh squad by seven points at home. The tie to the Bulldogs is bad, but in the absence of any other worthy teams to consider, we will let Miami-FL hang around.
Are we missing any other worthy teams? Negative. Every other team in the nation posted at least two losses, so … we only have three teams to look at now, and indicators for strength of schedule, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Oklahoma: 10 Division I-A opponents, -1.12 SOS rating, 65th of 111 teams
- Iowa: 9 Division I-A opponents, 7.90 SOS rating, 22nd of 111 teams
- Miami-FL: 10 Division I-A opponents, 5.92 SOS rating, 38th of 111 teams
Once again we see the collective weakness of the Sooners’ opponents hurting them badly in a comparison with other teams under consideration. This really puts context into our historical viewing of the Oklahoma record for consecutive wins (47). The Sooners just didn’t play tough schedules at all. To have a negative SOS rating is really bad, too, as clearly Oklahoma played a weaker-than-average schedule.
Iowa’s one loss is easily overcome by its clear edge in SOS, and even the Hurricanes played a better schedule than Oklahoma did. Once again, the collective strength of the B1G Conference at the time carries another of its league champs to an MNC in our analysis.
Congratulations to the 1956 Iowa Hawkeyes, the mythical national champion!
Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.