The good news, depending on your perspective, is that our MNC Wednesday series will not be anointing another B1G team the title this week, because the league champ lost the Rose Bowl badly and three games overall.
Sweet relief? Perhaps, for the rest of the nation. Which school rose to the top of the pile in 1959? Check it out below!
The 1959 MNC: When MOV rivals SOS for determining quality …
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Syracuse: 11-0-0 — W, Cotton, 23-14
2. Mississippi: 10-1-0 — W, Sugar, 21-0
3. LSU: 9-2-0 — L, Sugar, 0-21
4. Texas: 9-2-0 — L, Cotton, 14-23
5. Georgia: 10-1-0 — W, Orange, 14-0
6. Wisconsin: 7-3-0 — L, Rose, 8-44
7. TCU: 8-3-1 — L, Bluebonnet, 7-23
8. Washington: 10-1-0 — W, Rose, 44-8
9. Arkansas: 9-2-0 — W, Gator, 14-7
10. Alabama: 7-2-2 — L, Liberty, 0-7
So, Syracuse stands out here alone as the top candidate for the title. Will any other team join the debate for this season’s mythical national championship? We have an issue with the SEC, because technically, Georgia won the SEC even though the Bulldogs didn’t play Ole Miss.
So why did the Rebels get to go to the Sugar Bowl, while Georgia was shunted to the Orange? Rankings, maybe. Either way, Mississippi’s one SEC regular-season loss was to LSU—which didn’t play the Bulldogs, either. Does the SEC always have wacky scheduling like this? Sadly, yes.
Either way, Georgia won the conference, so it joins Syracuse in the discussion. Toss Washington into the fray as well as a one-loss conference champion of a conference in transition to the eventual Pac-8.
That is about it, as no other major-conference schools finished with one loss and a conference title. We have three teams to look at closely now—and their indicators for strength of schedule, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Syracuse: 11 Division I-A opponents, 3.18 SOS rating, 50th of 112 teams
- Georgia: 11 Division I-A opponents, 4.91 SOS rating, 37th
- Washington: 11 Division I-A opponents, 3.21 SOS rating, 49th
Clearly, none of these schools played a stellar schedule, and both the Bulldogs and Huskies lost to ranked teams. Washington can probably be removed from the discussion, as the Huskies’ SOS loses to Georgia’s slate, and it wouldn’t be enough to overcome that one loss, either, in comparison to Syracuse.
Now this comes down to the two schools: While there is a difference in SOS, how significant is it? The Bulldogs suffered a 16-point loss to South Carolina, which—despite being ranked before that victory over Georgia—ended up at 6-4 on the season. It’s not a bad loss, but it’s nowhere near a good one, either.
The then-Orangemen didn’t play a great schedule, obviously, but Syracuse did beat the three ranked teams it did play—including the nice bowl win over No. 4 Texas. Georgia had an easier matchup against No. 18 Missouri in its bowl game. The Bulldogs would have better off in the Sugar against LSU.
SRS shows that Syracuse would have been a touchdown-plus favorite over Georgia on a neutral field, and that’s quite a bit, actually, in a direct comparison—despite the Bulldogs’ edge in SOS.
In truth, the SOS is built upon a lot of middling teams, since Georgia also only played three ranked teams all year, losing to South Carolina and beating Auburn by a point at home in addition to the bowl victory.
One of the SRS factors is margin of victory: Syracuse posted a 30.9-point average margin of victory, while Georgia’s scoring differential was a mere 12.6 points on average. If the Orangemen were playing a lesser schedule, they were dominating it thoroughly.
That’s always the key with an “easier” schedule: Did you squeak through it? Or did you plaster those teams? The answer gives us what we need to confirm the SRS data here: Syracuse was the better team, and it didn’t lose a game, either, to one of those middling teams on its schedule.
Congratulations to the 1959 Syracuse Orangemen, the mythical national champion!
Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.