The MNC Wednesday series faces a serious question today: Will the 1950s Oklahoma Sooners ever win a mythical national championship? One of the most prominent dynasties in the sport’s history, and here we are at the end of their legendary 47-game winning streak, finally.
Well … did the Sooners do it? The answer awaits below!
The 1957 MNC: Can any school top the Big Ten champs?
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Auburn: 10-0-0 — NONE
2. Ohio State: 9-1-0 — W, Rose, 10-7
3. Michigan State: 8-1-0 — NONE
4. Oklahoma: 10-1-0 — W, Orange, 48-21
5. Navy: 9-1-1 — W, Cotton, 20-7
6. Iowa: 7-1-1 — NONE
7. Mississippi: 9-1-1 — W, Sugar, 39-7
8. Rice: 7-4-0 — L, Cotton, 7-20
9. Texas A&M: 8-3-0 — L, Gator, 0-3
10. Notre Dame: 7-3-0 v NONE
What a mess this season was! We have several contenders here for the title, on the surface at least. We have to start whittling this down using our usual methodologies.
First, the Auburn Tigers were on probation, for paying players, so they do not get considered here—even though the Associated Press made the grave error of voting a team on probation No. 1 to end the season, a mistake it would only repeat once more (in 1974).
Even though Michigan State ended up No. 1 in the Simple Ratings System (SRS), the Spartans lost to Purdue while the Buckeyes ran the table in the B1G—obviously not having played MSU. That is Ohio State’s good fortune, of course, and we know that happens a lot in chasing the MNC. You have to good and lucky to win it all.
The Buckeyes’ one loss was in the first game of the season, a four-point loss to an average Texas Christian squad. Oklahoma’s one loss came against Notre Dame by seven points; both teams advance for now.
Navy lost to North Carolina by 6 points and and then tied a ranked Duke squad later in the season; neither is disqualifying right now, so the Midshipmen are still in the discussion. Iowa can’t be, though, since it lost to the Buckeyes by 4 points on the road. Tough luck there.
Ole Miss didn’t play Auburn, and it earned the de facto SEC title with the Tigers on probation, anyway. Also, the Rebels finished ranked higher than Auburn in the SRS, too. Go figure: Mississippi is in the final analysis below.
For the record, Arizona State posted a 10-0 record, but its schedule strength was 105th out of 112 teams, so right away we know that is not a contending team for the MNC. But congrats to the Sun Devils, anyway, for perfection!
Dartmouth posted a 7-1-1 record, but the SOS was embarrassing (87th). The only other team nationally to finish with one loss was North Carolina State, which won the ACC with a 7-1-2 record—the sole loss coming to William & Mary by a point. The Wolfpack schedule was middling, but we will consider them below, anyway.
That leaves us with five teams to look at now, and their indicators for strength of schedule, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Ohio State: 10 Division I-A opponents, 7.62 SOS rating, 17th of 112 teams
- Oklahoma: 11 Division I-A opponents, 3.69 SOS rating, 47th of 112 teams
- Navy: 11 Division I-A opponents, 5.35 SOS rating, 37th of 112 teams
- Mississippi: 10 Division I-A opponents, 4.24 SOS rating, 43rd of 112 teams
- N.C. State: 10 Division I-A opponents, 3.30 SOS rating, 50th of 112 teams
It’s clear the Buckeyes played the toughest schedule, by far, and they won a bowl game as well, albeit in mediocre fashion over an unranked Oregon team. And while the Sooners finally played an above-average schedule, it still lacks behind two of the other contenders here, beyond Ohio State.
We keep coming back to the reality that the B1G was the dominant league of the post-World War II era, and that continues to demonstrate itself here. All five of these teams had great seasons, of course, but the Buckeyes continue the trend of the powerhouse schools from the Midwest owning the MNC. For the record, this is Ohio State’s fourth title in our series.
Congratulations to the 1957 Ohio State Buckeyes, the mythical national champion!
Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.