1952 college football season: Wikis


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The 1952 college football season ended with the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans winning the national championship, with a 9-0-0 record. Although the Spartans had would become members of the Big Ten conference for football in 1950, full participation would not come until 1953, and under the terms of their entry into the conference, they were not allowed to participate in postseason play. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, also unbeaten at 11-0-0, placed second in the poll and played in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day in New Orleans.

During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the college football teams that would later be described as "Division I-A". The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in the annual NCAA Football Guide of the "unofficial" national champions. The AP poll in 1952 consisted of the votes of as many as 270 sportswriters [3].

Though not all writers voted in every poll, each would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of 10 points for first place, 9 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined. Although the rankings were based on the collective opinion of the representative sportswriters, the teams that remained "unbeaten and untied" were generally ranked higher than those that had not. A defeat, even against a strong opponent, tended to cause a team to drop in the rankings, and a team with two or more defeats was unlikely to remain in the Top 20. Generally, the top teams played on New Year's Day in the four major postseason bowl games: the Rose Bowl (near Los Angeles at Pasadena), the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), the Orange Bowl (Miami), and the Cotton Bowl (Dallas).



September 20 Maryland won at Missouri 13-10, and Texas won at LSU 35-14. In the preseason poll released on September 22, 1952, the Michigan State Spartans were rated first, followed by the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland actually had more first place votes 79 to 77, but MSU had an edge on points, 1720-1696. The remainder of the Top Five was #3 Georgia Tech (which beat The Citadel 54-6), #4 Oklahoma and #5 Illinois. Defending champion Tennessee was 6th. As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games.

On September 27 #1 Michigan State won at Michigan, 27-13. #2 Maryland beat Auburn 13-7 in Birmingham #3 Georgia Tech narrowly beat Florida 17-14 and fell to 6th place in the next poll. #4 Oklahoma visited Colorado and was tied, 21-21. #5 Illinois, which beat Iowa State 33-7, rose to second place in the next poll. #8 California, which was 2-0-0 after a 28-14 win over Missouri, and #11 Texas (which had won at North Carolina 28-7), took their places. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Illinois 3.Maryland 4.California 5.Texas


October 4 #1 Michigan State narrowly defeated Oregon State 17-14 at Portland. #2 Illinois lost at #8 Wisconsin, 20-6, and would end up finishing 1952 with a losing (4-5-0) record. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Badgers were catapulted to first place in the next poll. #3 Maryland beat Clemson 28-0. #4 California won at Minnesota, 49-13. #6 Georgia Tech, which beat SMU 20-7 in Dallas, returned to the Top Five: 1.Wisconsin 2.Michigan State 3.California 4.Maryland 5.Georgia Tech

October 11 The new #1, Wisconsin, lost at Columbus to unranked Ohio State, 23-14. #2 Michigan State beat visiting Texas A&M 48-6. #3 California beat Oregon at Portland, 41-7. #4 Maryland won at Georgia, 37-0. #5 Georgia Tech beat Tulane 14-0. #6 Duke, which won at South Carolina 33-7, was fifth in the next poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Maryland 3.California 4.Georgia Tech 5.Duke

October 18 #1 Michigan State beat visiting Syracuse 48-7. #2 Maryland beat Navy 38-7. #3 California beat Santa Clara 27-7. #4 Georgia Tech beat Auburn 33-0. #5 Duke won at N.C. State, 57-0, but was still bounced out of the top five. #6 Oklahoma, which had won at #8 Kansas 42-20, was third in the next poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Maryland 3.Oklahoma 4.California 5.Georgia Tech

October 25 #1 Michigan State beat #17 Penn State 34-7. #2 Maryland beat LSU 34-6. #3 Oklahoma beat Kansas State 49-6. In Los Angeles, a matchup of unbeaten teams pitted #4 California (5-0-0) against the 5-0-0 and #7 USC Trojans. USC won 10-0. Cal would lose this and the next two games after its perfect start. #5 Georgia Tech beat Vanderbilt 30-0. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Maryland 3.Oklahoma 4.Georgia Tech 5.USC


November 1 #1 Michigan State narrowly won at #8 Purdue, 14-7. #2 Maryland won at Boston University, 34-7. #3 Oklahoma won at Iowa State 41-0. #4 Georgia Tech (6-0-0) faced unbeaten #6 Duke (also 6-0-0) and won 28-7. #5 USC was idle, and its place was taken by #7 UCLA, which handed #11 California a 28-7 defeat. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Maryland 3.Georgia Tech 4.Oklahoma 5.UCLA

November 8 #1 Michigan State won at Indiana 41-14. #2 Maryland was idle. #3 Georgia Tech beat Army 45-6. #4 Oklahoma lost at #10 Notre Dame, 27-21, and dropped back out of the Top Five. #5 UCLA beat visiting Oregon State 57-0. #6 USC rose to fifth after a 54-7 win at Stanford. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Georgia Tech 3. Maryland 4.UCLA 5.USC

November 15 Unbeaten #1 Michigan State hosted once-beaten (5-1-1) #6 Notre Dame and won 21-3. In Atlanta, unbeaten (8-0-0) #2 Georgia Tech faced once-beaten (7-1-0) #12 Alabama and won, 7-3. And on the road, unbeaten (7-0-0) #3 Maryland faced unbeaten (6-0-2) lost at #11 Mississippi, 21-14. #4 UCLA was idle. #5 USC beat #17 Washington 33-0. #8 Oklahoma, which had beaten Missouri 47-7, returned to the Top Five. The poll: 1.Michigan State 2.Georgia Tech 3.UCLA 4.USC 5.Oklahoma

November 22 #1 Michigan State won 62-13 over Marquette to close its season unbeaten. #2 Georgia Tech stayed unbeaten as it beat Florida State 30-0. Both unbeaten, #3 UCLA (8-0-0) and #4 USC (8-0-0) met in Los Angeles, with USC winning 14-12 to take the crown of the Pacific Coast Conference and a trip to the Rose Bowl. #5 Oklahoma beat Nebraska 34-13. The new poll: 1.Michigan State 2.USC 3.Georgia Tech 4.Oklahoma 5.UCLA

November 29 #1 Michigan State had closed its season. #2 USC hosted #7 Notre Dame and lost 9-0. #3 Georgia Tech finished its season unbeaten (11-0-0) and was invited to the Sugar Bowl to face unbeaten, but twice tied (8-0-2) and #6 Mississippi. #4 Oklahoma closed its season at Oklahoma State, winning 54-7 to finish 8-1-1. In the Final AP poll, released December 1, #1 Michigan State was the champion, followed by #2 Georgia Tech, #3 Notre Dame, #4 Oklahoma, and #5 USC.

Final AP Top 20

The final rankings were made on November 29, after the regular season and without consideration of the postseason bowl games:

1. Michigan State Spartans (9-0-0) Big Ten
2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-0-0) SEC
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2-1) Indep.
4. Oklahoma Sooners (8-1-1) Big 7
5. USC Trojans (9-1-0) Pacific
6. UCLA Bruins (8-1-0) Pacific
7. Mississippi Rebels (8-0-2) SEC
8. Tennessee Volunteers (8-1-1) SEC
9. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2-0) SEC
10. Texas Longhorns 8-2-0 SWC
11. Wisconsin Badgers (6-2-1) Big Ten
12. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-1-1) Missouri Val.
13. Maryland Terrapins (7-2-0) Southern
14. Syracuse Orangemen (7-2-0) Indep.
15. Florida Gators (6-3-0) SEC
16. Duke Blue Devils (8-2-0) Southern
17. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-3-0) Big Ten
18. Purdue Boilermakers (4-3-2) Big Ten
19. Princeton Tigers (8-1-0) Ivy
20. Kentucky Wildcats (5-3-2) SEC

Bowl games

As late as 1952, many colleges, and some football conferences, did not participate in postseason bowl games. #1 Michigan State had joined the Big Ten conference in 1950 for football, but as part of the terms of membership, was ineligible to play in a bowl game until the 1953 season. #3 Notre Dame had a policy against playing in postseason games. [4] #4 Oklahoma was a member of the Big 7 conference (which later, as the Big 8 and Big 12, would send its best team to the Orange Bowl), and that conference banned post-season games. The Oklahoma University Board of Regents considered a motion to allow the team to accept an invitation from the Orange Bowl, and passed a resolution that stated that "Oklahoma belongs to the Big Seven Conference and has follwed its rules in the past and should follow them in the future." [5]. Thus, three of the nation's four "top teams" did not play in a bowl game. The exception was Georgia Tech, which played as the SEC champ in the Sugar Bowl. In a forerunner of the SEC championship game, the two best teams in the conference met, with #7 Ole Miss accepting the invitation to play against Tech.

SUGAR BOWL #2 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 24 #7 Mississippi Rebels 7
ROSE BOWL #5 USC Trojans 7 #11 Wisconsin Badgers 0
COTTON BOWL #8 Tennessee Volunteers 16 #10 Texas Longhorns 0
ORANGE BOWL #9 Alabama Crimson Tide 61 #14 Syracuse Orangemen 6

See also


  1. ^ http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1952.htm
  2. ^ http://www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?appollid=141
  3. ^ appollarchive.com/football/ap
  4. ^ "Bowl Scramble Underway Across Nation Today," Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News, Nov. 8, 1952, p8
  5. ^ "Oklahoma U. Regents Turn Down Bowl Offer," Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 21, 1952, p14


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