MNC Wednesday is better than the U.S. election system; that’s for sure! The Associated Press poll, for example, finally switched to cementing its vote after the bowl games for the 1968 season, which seems so obvious to us now—but was a mystery to the AP for years, somehow.
Which school will emerge victorious with this week’s analysis? Read on!
The 1968 MNC: Reversal of fortune?
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.
1. Ohio State: 10-0-0 — W, Rose, 27-16
2. Penn State: 11-0-0 — W, Orange, 15-14
3. Texas: 9-1-1 — W, Cotton, 36-13
4. USC: 9-1-1 — L, Rose, 16-27
5. Notre Dame: 7-2-1 — NONE
6. Arkansas: 10-1-0 — W, Sugar, 16-2
7. Kansas: 9-2-0 — L, Orange, 14-15
8. Georgia: 8-1-2 — L, Sugar, 2-16
9. Missouri: 8-3-0 — W, Gator, 35-10
10. Purdue: 8-2-0 — NONE
The Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions, future rivals in the B1G, advance based on their perfect records and bowl-game victories. The Longhorns can be considered, but they will need a big strength-of schedule edge to outdo Ohio State and Penn State.
The Razorbacks lost to Texas, so they’re out. Do we have any other teams worthy enough to advance to the final analysis? Harvard and Yale each posted 8-0-1 records, after their infamous tie, but both played really weak schedules, of course, ranked in the 90s out of 119 teams.
So, that’s that: What we have left now is three teams—and their respective strengths of schedule, based on the Simple Rating System:
- Ohio State: 10 Division I-A opponents, 6.54 SOS rating, 32nd of 119
- Penn State: 11 Division I-A opponents, 3.37 SOS rating, 55th
- Texas: 11 Division I-A opponents, 9.24 SOS rating, 10th
Well, this gets interesting. First off, we can eliminate PSU for the weakest schedule of the bunch. And the Longhorns do have a serious SOS edge on the Buckeyes—plus they played an extra game, giving that SOS advantage more weight, too.
Who did Texas lose to? The Longhorns tied their first game against then-No. 11 Houston at home and then lost on the road to Texas Tech. After that, Texas went 9-0 to close out the season on a roll. The Cougars finished 6-2-2, while the Red Raiders ended up 5-3-2. So neither blemish on the record is a truly bad one.
Generally, we’ve always looked at the SOS ratings in terms of number blocks: Ten spots can erase a loss on the record. Well, Texas meets that requirement with its Top 10 schedule, for sure, and then some since it also has a tie instead of a second loss.
Interestingly, though, Ohio State played four ranked teams (at the time of the game) during the year, but in the end, the Buckeyes SOS is just merely … good. Ohio State did have an 0-10 Wisconsin team on its schedule, however, and that hurts. The 1-9 Illinois team doesn’t help, either; nor does the 1-9 Northwestern team.
The bottom feeders of the B1G really buried the Buckeyes here. Oregon was 4-6, meaning Ohio State played four teams with losing records (combined 6-34 record) that just killed its SOS.
The Longhorns also played four ranked teams (at the time of the game), but some of the other squads on the schedule were also mediocre: Texas A&M (3-7), TCU (3-7), Baylor (3-7), Rice (0-9-1), and Oklahoma State (3-7) all were not good opponents, combining for a 12-37-1 record. But it’s clearly better than the Buckeyes’ low-opponents’ record above.
One final piece of data we’ve often used is the SRS itself: Texas was No. 1 and would be favored by almost a field goal over Ohio State on a neutral field. That somewhat seals the deal for us, and while we have reservations about stripping an undefeated, untied team of an MNC, data is data, and it rules the day.
Remember how many MNCs we awarded to the B1G teams in the 1950s, based on SOS? This is the same principle, just played against the conference; it just happens to work against Ohio State this time.
Congratulations to the 1968 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.