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College Football's Crown

Tracing the team that beat the team... all the way to the first game ever played.

by James Leroy Wilson
January 8, 2013

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College Football's Crown

On January 7, 2013, Alabama beat Notre Dame for the "BCS" national championship of college football.

Eleven days earlier, however, was another bowl game which had college football's "crown" on the line. It's doubtful either team knew it.

I learned about the general concept from Bill Barnwell a few weeks ago. He menioned the Unofficial Football (i.e., soccer) World Championships.

It traces back to the first international soccer match played, between England and Scotland in 1873. The winner would remain champion until they lost, and the team they lost to would become the new champion. As of January 8, 2013 according to Wikipedia, the titleholder is North Korea.

It got me thinking. By the same logic, you can determine college football's unoffical "champion" starting with the first game ever played, which was between Rugters and Princeton in 1869. The winner would be the first one "crowned" in college football, and would hold the crown until they lost. The next loss could have been the next game, or seasons later when the team had different coaches and personnel; it doesn't matter. The point is discovering which school now possesses the college football crown.

I was curious, in large part to see if the crown wound up mired in lower-division football, or retired in a now-defunct school such as Milton College, former NFL qb's Dave Krieg's alma mater. In any case, I was curious who's the current crown-holder.

But could this be discovered easily on the Internet?

I discovered a site, cfreference.net/, which pointed the way. Curiously, it seems to have disappeared from the web sometime over the past 13 days or so, after I completed my research. But it appears its info is duplicated, though in a somewhat more roundabout manner, at http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/. I believe most of these results can be verified at that site. The only incomplete data I had were from the 1953 games concerning Memphis and Arkansas State. Information was verified via their media guides, available online.

I've also googled to see if anyone else did this research. Finding none, I believe my findings should be considered official unless they can be falsified.

To determine the current crown-holder, I will start with the first game played, putting the victor as the first to take the crown. The number in parentheses is the number of times that school had taken the crown by that date. So, here's the history...

Nov 6, 1869 Rutgers (1) beats Princeton

Nov 13, 1869 Princeton (1) beats Rutgers

Nov 30, 1876, Yale (1) beats Princeton

Nov 28 1878, Princeton (2) beats Yale

Nov 18, 1882, Harvard (1) beats Princeton

Nov 25, 1882, Yale (2) beats Harvard

Nov 21, 1885, Princeton (3) beats Yale

Nov 12, 1887, Harvard (2) beats Princeton

Nov 24, 1887 Yale (3) beats Harvard

Nov 28 1889 Princeton (4) beats Yale

Nov 27 1890 Yale (4) beats Princeton

Nov 30 1893 Princeton (5) beats Yale

Nov 10 1894 Penn (1) beats Princeton

Oct 24, 1896 Lafayette (1) beats Penn

Oct 23, 1897 Penn (2) beats Lafayette

Nov 5 1898 Harvard (3) beats Penn

Nov 24, 1900 Yale (5) beats Harvard

Nov 23, 1901 Harvard (4) beats Yale

Nov 22, 1902 Yale (6) beats Harvard

Nov 14, 1903 Princeton (6) beats Yale

Oct 15, 1904 Navy (1) beats Princeton

October 29, 1904 Swarthmore (1) beats Navy

October 7, 1905 Penn (3) beats Swarthmore

October 13, 1906 Swarthmore (2) beats Penn

Nov 10, 1906 Navy (2) beats Swarthmore

October 19, 1907 Harvard (5) beats Navy

Nov 9, 1907 Carlisle Indian (1) beats Harvard

Nov 7 1908 Harvard (6) beats Carlisle Indian

Nov 20, 1909 Yale (7) beats Harvard

Oct 5, 1910, Army (1) beats Yale

Oct 29, 1910 Harvard (7) beats Army

Nov 4, 1911 Princeton (7) beats Harvard

Nov 2, 1912 Harvard (8) beats Princeton

Oct 23, 1915 Cornell (1) beats Harvard

Oct 28, 1916 Harvard (9) beats Cornell

Nov 18, 1916 Brown (1) beats Harvard

Nov 25, 1916 Colgate (1) beats Brown

Oct 27, 1917 Brown (2) beats Colgate

Nov 3, 1917 Syracuse (1) beats Brown

Nov 16, 1918, Michigan (1) beats Syracuse

Oct 25, 1919 Ohio State (1) beats Michigan

Nov 22, 1919 Illinois (1) beats Ohio State

Nov 13, 1920 Wisconsin (1) beats Illinois

Nov 19, 1921 Chicago (1) beats Wisconsin

October 28, 1922 Princeton (8) beats Chicago

Oct 20, 1923 Notre Dame (1) beats Princeton

Nov 10 1923 Nebraska (1) beats Notre Dame

Nov 24, 1923 Syrcuse (2) beats Nebraska

Nov 8 1924 West Virginia Wesleyan (1) beats Syracuse

Oct 24 1925 West Virginia (1) beats West Virginia Wesleyan

Oct 30 1926 Missouri (1) beats West Virginia

Nov 6 1926 Oklahoma (1) beats Missouri

Nov 11 1926 Kansas (1) beats Oklahoma

Nov 20 1926 Missouri (2) beats Kansas

Oct 22 1927 Southern Methodist (1) beats Missouri

Nov 5 1927 Texas A&M (1) beats Southern Methodist

Oct 13 1928 Centenary (1) beats Texas A&M

Oct 20 1928 Baylor (1) beats Centenary

Nov 10 1928 Texas (1) beats Baylor

Sept 28 1929 Hardin-Simmons (1) beats Texas

Oct 5 1929 Texas Christian (1) beats Hardin-Simmons

November 15, 1930 Texas (2) beats Texas Christian

Oct 10 1931 Rice (1) beats Texas

Oct 17 1931 Southern Methodist (2) beats Rice

Dec 5 1931 St. Mary's (1) beats Southern Methodist

Nov 5 1932 Fordham (1) beats St. Mary's

Nov 4 1933 St. Mary's (2) beats Fordham

Nov 30 1933 Oregon (1) beats St. Mary's

Oct 13 1934 Washington (1) beats Oregeon

Nov 10 1934 Stanford (1) beats Washington

Jan 1 1935 Alabama (1) beats Stanford

Oct 12 1935 Mississippi State (1) beats Alabama

Nov 9 1935 LSU (1) beats Mississippi State

Jan 1 1936 Texas Christian (TCU)(2) beats LSU

Sept 26 1936 Texas Tech (1) beats TCU

Oct 9 1936 Wichita St (1) beats Texas Tech

Oct 31 1936 St. Louis (1) beats Wichita St

Nov 7 1936 Missouri (3) beats St. Louis

Oct 2 1937 Colorado (1) beats Missouri

Jan 1 1938 Rice (2) beats Colorado

Oct 1 1938 Oklahoma (2) beats Rice

Jan 2 1939 Tennessee (1) beats Oklahoma

Jan 1 1940 USC (1) beats Tennessee

Oct 26 1940 Stanford (2) beats USC

Oct 11 1941 Oregon St (1) beats Stanford

Oct 25 1941 Washington St (1) beats Oregon St

Dec 6 1941 Texas A&M (2) beats Washington St

Jan 1, 1942 Alabama (2) beats Texas A&M

Oct 31 1942 Georgia (1) beats Alabama

Nov 21 1942 Auburn (1) beats Georgia

October 14 1944 Georgia Tech (1) beats Auburn

Nov 4 1944 Duke (1) beats Georgia Tech

Oct 6 1945 Navy (3) beats Duke

Dec 1 1945 Army (2) beats Navy

Oct 25 1947 Columbia (1) beats Army

Oct 2 1948 Harvard (10) beats Columbia

Oct 9 1948 Cornell (2) beats Harvard

Oct 23 1948 Army (3) beats Cornell

Dec 2 1950 Navy (4) beats Army

Oct 6 1951 Princeton (9) beats Navy

Oct 11 1952 Penn (4) beats Princeton

Nov 1 1952 Penn St (1) beats Penn

Nov 8 1952 Syracuse (3) beats Penn St

Jan 1 1953 Alabama (3) beats Syracuse

Sept 18 1953 Southern Miss (1) beats Alabama

October 31, 1953 Memphis (1) beats Southern Miss

November 7, 1953 Arkansas State (1) beats beats Memphis

Oct 02 1954 Mississippi St (2) beats Arkansas St;

Oct 15 1954 Miami FL (1) beats Miss State

Nov 6 1954 Auburn (2) beats Miami Fl.

Oct 29 1955 Tulane (1) beats Auburn

Nov 12 1955 Vanderbilt (1) beats Tulane

Nov 26 Tennessee (2) beats Vanderbilt

Jan 1 1957 Baylor (2) beats Tennessee

Oct 5 Miami FL (2) beats Baylor

October 11 North Carolina (1) beats Miami FL

Oct 19 Maryland (1) beats North Carolina

Oct 26 Tennessee (3) beats Maryland

Nov 16 Mississippi (Ole Miss) (1) beats Tennessee

Nov 1 1958 LSU (2) beats Mississippi

Nov 7 1959 Tennessee (4) beats LSU

Nov 14 1959 Ole Miss (2) beats Tennessee

Nov 4 1961 LSU (3) beats Ole Miss

Nov 3 1962 Ole Miss (3) beats LSU

Jan 1 1964 Alabama (4) beats Miss

Jan 1 1965 Texas (3) beats (3) Alabama

Oct 16 1965 Arkansas (1) beats Texas

Jan 1 1966 LSU (4) beats Arkansas

Sept 24 1966 Rice (3) beats LSU

Oct 1 Tennessee (5) beats Rice

Oct 8 1966 Georgia Tech (2) beats Tennessee

Nov 26 1966 Georgia (2) beats GA Tech

Oct 14 1967 Ole Miss (4) beats Georgia

Nov 18 1967 Tennessee (6) beats Miss

Jan 1 1968 Oklahoma (3) beats Tennessee

Sept 21 1868 Notre Dame (2) beats Oklahoma

Sept 28 1968 Purdue (1) beats ND

Oct 12 1968 Ohio St (2) beats Purdue

Nov 22 1969 Michigan (2) beats Ohio St

Jan 1 1970 USC (2) beats Mich

OCt 10 1970 Stanford (3) beats USC

Nov 14 1970 Air Force (1) beats Stanford

Nov 21 1970 Colorado (1) beats Air Force

Dec 12 1970 Tulane (2) beats Colorado

Sept 18 1971 Georgia (3) beats Tulane

Nov 13 Auburn (3) beats Georgia

Nov 27 Alabama (5) beats Auburn

Jan 1 1972 Nebraska (2) beats Alabama

Sept 9 1972 UCLA (1) beats Nebraska

Sept 23 1972 Michigan (3) beats UCLA

Nov 25 Ohio St (3) 1972 beats Mich

Jan 1 1973 USC (3) beats Ohio St

Oct 27 1973 Notre Dame (3) beats USC

Sept 24 1974 Purdue (2) beats ND

Oct 5 1974 Duke (2) beats Purdue

Oct 19 1974 Clemson (1) beats Duke

Oct 26 1974 Tennessee (7) beats Clemson

Sept 20 1975 UCLA (2) beats Tennessee

Oct 4 1975 Ohio St (4) beats UCLA

Jan 1 1975 UCLA (3) beats Ohio St

Nov 20 USC (4) beats UCLA

OCt 8 1977 Alabama (6) beats USC

Sept 23 1978 USC (5) beats Bama

Oct 14 1978 Arizona St (1) beats USC

Oct 28 1978 Washington (2) beats Arizona St

Nov 11 1978 USC (6) beats Washinton

Nov 15 1980 Washington (3) beats USC

Jan 1 1981 Michigan (4) beats Wash

Sept 12 1981 Wisconsin (2) beats Mich

Sept 19 1981 UCLA (4) beats Wisc

Sept 26 1981 Iowa (1) beats UCLA

Oct 24 1981 Minnesota (1) beats Iowa

Oct 31 1981 Michigan (5) beats Minn

Nov 21 1981 Ohio St (5) beats Mich

Sept 25, 1982 Stanford (4) beats Ohio St

Oct 9, 1982 Arizona St (2) beats Stanford

Nov 13, 1982 Washington (4) beats AZ St

Nov 20, 1982 Washington St (2) beats Wash

Sept 10, 1983 Michigan (6) beats Wash St

Oct 29 Illinois, 1983 (2) beats Mich

Jan 2 1984 UCLA (5) beats Illinois

Sept 22, 1984 Nebraska (3) beats UCLA

Sept 29, 1984 Syracuse (4) beats Nebraska

OCt 6, 1984 Florida (1) beats Syracuse

Nov 9, 1985 Georgia (4) beats Florida

Nov 16, 1985 Auburn (4) beats Georgia

Nov 30, 1985 Alabama (7) beats Auburn

Oct 25, 1986 Penn St (2) beats Alabama

Sept 12, 1987 Alabama (8) beats Penn St

Sept 19, 1987 Florida (2) beats Bama

Oct 3, 1987 LSU (5) beats Florida

Nov 7, 1987 Alabama (9) beats LSU

Nov 14, 1987 Notre Dame (4) beats Bama

Nov 21, 1987 Penn St (3) beats ND

Jan 1 1988 Clemson (2) beats Penn St

Sept 17, 1988 Florida State (1) beats Clemson

Sept 2, 1989 Southern Miss (2) beats Fla St

Sept 9, 1989 Mississipi St (2) beats southern Miss

Sept 23, 1989 Georgia (5) beats Miss St

Sept 30, 1989 South Carolina (1) beats Georgia

Oct 28, 1989 NC St (1) beats South Carolina

Nov 4, 1989 Virginia (1) beats NC St

Jan 1 1990 Illinois (3) beats Virginia

Sep 8, 1990 Arizona (1) beats Illinois

Sept 29, 1990 California (1) beats Arizona

Oct 27, 1990 Washington (5) beats Cal

Nov 10, 1990 UCLA (6) beats Wash

Nov 17, 1990 USC (7) beats UCLA

Nov 24, 1990 Notre Dame (5) beats USC

Jan 1 1991 Colorado (2) beats ND

Sept 14, 1991 Baylor (3) beats Colorado

Oct 12, 1991 Rice (4) beats Baylor

Oct 19, 1991 TCU (3) beats Rice

Oct 26, 1991 Baylor (4) beats TCU

Nov 16, 1991 Texas Tech (2) beats Baylor

Sep 3, 1992 Oklahoma (4) beat Tx Tech

Sept 18, 1992 USC (8) beats Okla

Oct 3, 1992 Washington (6) beats USC

Nov 7, 1992 Arizona (2) beats Wash

Nov 14, 1992 USC (9) beats AZ

Nov 21, 1992 UCLA (7) beats USC

Sept 4, 1993 California (2) beats UCLA

Oct 9, 1993 Washington (7) beats Cal

Oct 16, 1993 UCLA (8) beats Wash

Nov 13, 1993 Arizona State (3) beats UCLA

Nov 26, 1993 Arizona (3) beats AZ ST

Oct 08, 1994 Colorado St (1) St beats AZ

Oct 22, 1994 Utah (1) beats CO ST

Nov 5, 1994 New Mexico (1) beats Utah

Nov 12, 1994 Wyoming (1) beats New Mex

Sept 9, 1995 Air Force (2) beats Wyoming

Sept 16, 1995 Colorado S (2)t beats Air Force

Sept 30, 1995 BYU (1) beats Co St

Oct 14, 1995 Arizona St (4) beats BYU

Nov 24, 1995 Arizona (4) beats AZ St

Sept 07, 1996 Iowa (2) beats Ariz

Sept 21, 1996 Tulsa (1) beats Iowa

Oct 19, 1996 BYU (2) beats Tulsa

Sept 6, 1997 Washington (8) beats BYU

Sept 20, 1997 Nebraska (4) beats Wash

Oct 10, 1998 Texas A&M (3) beats Nebraska

Nov 27, 1998 Texas (4) beats TX AM

Aug 28, 1999 NC St (2) beats Texas

Sept 18, 1999 Florida St (2) beats NC St

Oct 7, 2000 Miami FL (3) beats Fla St

Jan 3 2003 Ohio St (6) beats Miami FL

Oct 11, 2003 Wisconsin (3) beat OH St

Oct 18, 2003 Purdue (3) beats Wisc

Oct 25, 2003 Michigan (7) beats purdue

Jan 1 2004 USC (10) beat Mich

Jan 4 2006 Texas (5) beats USC

Sept 10, 2006 Ohio St (7) beats Texas

Jan 08, 2007 Florida (3) beats Oh St

Sept 29, 2007 Auburn (5) beats Florida

Oct 20, 2007 LSU (6) beats Auburn

Nov 23, 2007 Arkansas (2) beats LSU

Jan 1 2008 Missouri (4) beats Arkansas

Oct 11, 2008 Oklahoma St (1) beats Missouri

Oct 25, 2008 Texas (6) beats Okla St

Nov 1, 2008 Texas Tech (3) beats Texas

Nov 22, 2008 Oklahoma (5) beats Tx Tech

Jan 8 2009 Florida (4) beats Okla

Dec 5, 2009 Alabama (10) beats Florida

Oct 9, 2010 South Carolina (2) beats Bama

Oct 16, 2010 Kentucky (1) beats SC

Oct 23, 2010 Georgia (6) beats Kentucky

Oct 30, 2010 Florida (5) beats Georgia

Nov 13, 2010 South Carolina (3) loses to Florida

Dec 4, 2010 Auburn (6) beats South Carolina

Sep 17, 2011 Clemson (3) beats Auburn

Oct 29, 2011 Georgia Tech (3) beats Clemson

Nov 10, 2011 Virginia Tech (1) beats Ga Tech

Dec 3, 2011 Clemson (4) beats Va Tech

Jan 4, 2012 West Virginia (2) beats Clemson

Oct 13, 2012 Texas Tech (4) beats W Va

Oct 22, 2012 Kansas St (1) beats Tx Tech

Nov 17, 2012 Baylor (5) beats Kan St

Baylor hasn't lost since, including a December 27, 2012 over UCLA in the Holiday Bowl. Therefore, Baylor holds college football's crown, and will until they lose.

Congratulations, Baylor Bears!

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