When it comes to our analyses on MNC Wednesday, we always have to sort through the facts of the past to correct the myths that have been created through falsehoods and propaganda. One of those issues is that of being on probation, and in 1974, a team won the Associated Press poll title while on probation. That creates a new dilemma for us to take on this week.

This is how we sorted through it … enjoy!

The 1974 MNC: Confusing on the surface, but quite simple in the end …

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

1. Oklahoma: 11-0-0 — NONE (probation)
2. USC: 10-1-1 — W, Rose, 18-17
3. Michigan: 10-1-0 — NONE
4. Ohio State: 10-2-0 — L, Rose, 17-18
5. Notre Dame: 10-2-0 — W, Orange, 13-11
6. Alabama: 11-1-0 — L, Orange, 11-13
7. Penn State: 10-2-0 — W, Cotton, 41-20
8. Auburn: 10-2-0 — W, Gator, 27-3
9. Nebraska: 9-3-0 — W, Sugar, 13-10
10. Miami-OH: 10-0-1 — W, Citrus, 21-10

What to do with the Sooners? This primary source from the time period says it all to us: ” … if the problem is severe enough to warrant NCAA sanctions, it’s possible [they] can be playing and winning with recruits who normally wouldn’t be there.” None of the offending parties from the sanctions were a part of this team, yet the cloud hovers—always. So we just cannot accept Oklahoma in this specific circumstance.

The Trojans, the Fighting Irish, the Nittany Lions, and the RedHawks certainly merit consideration, of course. The Wolverines didn’t win the Big Ten. Auburn lost to Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and thus the Tigers did not win the SEC. The Cornhuskers have too many losses. Yale posted an 8-1 record to perhaps be considered here, but it lost the Ivy League tiebreaker to Harvard based on a head-to-head loss, and while North Carolina State posted a 9-2-1 mark, the Wolfpack did not win the ACC.

Therefore, these are the 4 finalists and the SOS ratings, after we ground down the pretenders above in a year where the Crimson Tide could have made it really easy for us by just beating Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl:

  • Miami (OH): 10 Division I-A opponents, -2.77 SOS rating, 82nd of 129
  • USC: 12 Division I-A opponents, 6.32 SOS rating, 40th
  • Notre Dame: 12 Division I-A opponents, 5.68 SOS rating, 48th
  • Penn State: 12 Division I-A opponents, 3.30 SOS rating, 61st

Okay, first thing’s first: The Trojans beat the Fighting Irish, 55-24, in that famous eruption game at the L.A. Coliseum, so Notre Dame is out. Pretty crazy how USC could score 55 on the Irish, but the Crimson Tide only could muster up 11 points, huh?

Miami’s SOS just isn’t good enough, and neither is Penn State’s schedule. This simplifies things beyond our expectations. If you are keeping track at home, this is the Trojans’ fifth MNC in our estimation, putting them in a tie for second place so far.

Congratulations to the 1974 USC Trojans, the mythical national champion!

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