On MNC Wednesday this week, we tackle a fun season. A lot of pretenders, a lot of contenders … but only one true champion. Every so often, there is a year like this one from the past that makes you scratch your head while also understanding how we still live in a world of corruption in college football.

On with the show since there’s still no tournament to decide the champion!

The 1971 MNC: What if … ?

Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results.

1. Nebraska: 13-0-0 — W, Orange, 38-6
2. Oklahoma: 11-1-0 — W, Sugar, 40-22
3. Colorado: 10-2-0 — W, Bluebonnet, 29-17
4. Alabama: 11-1-0 — L, Orange, 6-38
5. Penn State: 11-1-0 — W, Cotton, 30-6
6. Michigan: 11-1-0 — L, Rose, 12-13
7. Georgia: 11-1-0 — W, Gator, 7-3
8. Arizona State: 11-1-0 — W, Fiesta, 45-38
9. Tennessee: 10-2-0 — W, Liberty, 14-13
10. Stanford: 9-3-0 — W, Rose, 13-12

There were three undefeated teams from major conferences going into bowl season, and only one emerged: Nebraska, the defending AP champs, although not our defending champion.

Oklahoma lost to Nebraska, so the Sooners are not contenders. Arizona State and Penn State can be considered, but we expect their SOS ratings to stink. The Nittany Lions could have finished undefeated again, but they lost to the Volunteers on the road in their regular-season finale.

The Bulldogs lost to Auburn, and thus, they didn’t win the SEC (or even tie for it with Alabama). So they’re out. Any other schools to look at? Toledo went 12-0 with a Tangerine Bowl victory, but you know the story there: Terrible schedule. We will include them in the comparison, anyway.

So here we go with our four finalists and the SOS ratings, although this is futile:

  • Nebraska: 13 Division I-A opponents, 8.79 SOS rating, 12th of 128
  • Toledo: 12 Division I-A opponents, -7.72 SOS rating, 113th
  • Arizona State: 12 Division I-A opponents, 2.11 SOS rating, 59th
  • Penn State: 12 Division I-A opponents, 0.59 SOS rating, 69th

So in a season that could have been a mess, we end up with one clear champion for once. This is Nebraska’s first MNC by our count, which may surprise some people.

We wonder what might have happened in a tourney with these squads; yes, the Huskers are probably one of the most dominant teams in the sport’s history, but still … it would have been fun to watch.

Congratulations to the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers, the mythical national champion!

Check in every Wednesday for a new feature on the mythical national championship in college football on The Daily McPlay.