The Midshipmen did not win the Associated Press poll’s national title, however. So who will we select? Read on to find out …
The 1963 MNC: Heads and shoulders above the rest, in all ways
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Texas: 11-0-0 — W, Cotton, 28-6
2. Navy: 9-2-0 — L, Cotton, 6-28
3. Illinois: 8-1-1 — W, Rose, 17-7
4. Pittsburgh: 9-1-0 — NONE
5. Auburn: 9-2-0 — L, Orange, 7-13
6. Nebraska: 10-1-0 — W, Orange, 13-7
7. Mississippi: 7-1-2 — L, Sugar, 7-12
8. Alabama: 9-2-0 — W, Sugar, 12-7
9. Oklahoma: 8-2-0 — NONE
10. Michigan State: 6-2-1 — NONE
Let’s start with the Longhorns; they’re in the final discussion, of course. Who will join them? We can look at Illinois as the champions of the Big Ten, although Michigan State finished higher in the SRS: The Fighting Illini defeated the Spartans in the final regular-season game of the season to snatch the conference title away from MSU.
The Panthers are out, as they lost to Navy—which lost to the Longhorns, soundly. Nebraska can be advanced for winning the Big 8 Conference. Ole Miss won the SEC, but it lost the Sugar Bowl to Alabama, and while Auburn was right up there with the Rebels, the Tigers also lost their bowl game.
Any other teams to consider? Memphis went 9-0-1 against the 70th-best schedule in the country, while Arizona State posted a 9-1 mark facing the 82nd-ranked slate in the nation. Those are great seasons, but they don’t rate here against the elite competition noted above.
Thus, at the end of our preliminary process, we have three teams to examine up close now—and their respective strengths of schedule, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Texas: 11 Division I-A opponents, 8.35 SOS rating, 25th of 120
- Illinois: 10 Division I-A opponents, 10.34 SOS rating, 14th
- Nebraska: 10 Division I-A opponents, 3.42 SOS rating, 54th
This is pretty obvious that Texas was the best team, as Illinois lost to a 3-4-2 Michigan team, while tying then-No. 8 Ohio State on the road. Overall, the SOS is there for the Big Ten champions, clearly.
There is no shame in the OSU tie for Illinois, but the loss to a losing team at home is really bad for the Illini, considering Texas beat the two ranked teams it played—then-No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Navy—by a combined 56-13 margin.
The Longhorns didn’t play a great schedule, but they did play a good-enough one—finishing 14th in scoring offense and 3rd in scoring defense. This Texas squad was very good, in comparison to its 1963 peers. No team even came close in the SRS, either, as again, Michigan State was rated the second-best team there, and the gap was ginormous.
Congratulations to the 1963 Texas Longhorns, the mythical national champion!
Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.