1965 college football season: Wikis


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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 "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Prior to 1965, both services issued their final polls at the close of the regular season, but before teams competed in bowl games. For the 1965 season, the AP took its final poll after the postseason games, an arrangement made permanent in 1968. The Associated Press presented the "AP Trophy" to the winner.

The AP poll in 1965 consisted of the votes of 55 sportswriters, each of whom 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. In the preseason poll for 1965, the writers cast first place votes for 9 different teams, and the range of points between the highest six finishers ranged from 252 to 311 points. Nebraska was #1 in the preseason rankings, followed by 2.Texas 3.Notre Dame 4.Michigan 5.Alabama 6.Arkansas.[3]. As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games.

At season's end, Michigan State, Arkansas and Nebraska were all unbeaten, with records of 10-0-0, and as champions of the Big Ten, Southwestern and Big 8 conferences, respectively, they played in three separate bowl games (Rose, Cotton and Orange). Arkansas and Michigan State lost in their bowl games, and Alabama defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. In the poll taken after the bowls, Alabama was crowned the national champion by the Associated Press. The school had been #1 in the UPI coaches' poll at the end of the 1964 season.


The AP Regular Season Poll

In the preseason poll released on September 13, 1965, the top five teams were from different conferences. First place was the Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 8) followed by Texas (Southwest), independent Notre Dame, Michigan of the Big Ten and Alabama from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Arkansas, the SWC rival to Texas, was #6, followed by USC from the AAWU (which would later be the "Pacific 8" and then the "Pac-10".


In Week One (September 18) Alabama and USC both fell out of the Top Ten. USC played Minnesota to a 20-20 tie on a Friday night game in Los Angeles while #5 Alabama narrowly lost to Georgia, 18-17. #1 Nebraska beat Texas Christian (TCU) at home, 34-14. #2 Texas shut out Tulane 31-0, #3 Notre Dame crushed California 48-6 at Berkeley, and #4 Michigan won 31-24 at North Carolina. Following the 48-6 win, Notre Dame rose to #1 in the next poll, Nebraska and Texas fell to 2nd and 3rd, Michigan stayed at 4th and Arkansas (which had beaten Oklahoma State 28-14) was 5th. Michigan State defeated UCLA 13-3 at East Lansing and was #7.

On September 25, #1 Notre Dame stayed in Indiana as it lost to #6 Purdue 25-21 at West Lafayette. #2 Nebraska won 27-17 over Air Force in Colorado Springs. #3 Texas beat Texas Tech 33-7. #4 Michigan barely won over unranked California 10-7 and #5 Arkansas 20-12 defeated Tulsa. In next poll, Texas, Purdue and Nebraska had had 15, 14 and 13 first place votes in a tight race for #1, #2 and #3. Arkansas rose to 4th, while the LSU Tigers, coming from a 42-14 win over Rice, placed fifth. Michigan State rose to 6th, while Michigan and Notre Dame fell to 7th and 8th place respectively.


October 2, #1 Texas hosted Indiana and beat them at home, 27-12. Purdue, which was also visiting Texas, played SMU to a 14-14 tie at Dallas. #3 Nebraska shut out Iowa State 44-0, while #4 Arkansas blanked Texas Christian 28-0. In an SEC matchup at Gainesville, visiting #5 LSU fell to the Florida Gators 14-7. #10 Georgia beat #7 Michigan in Ann Arbor, 15-7, which would be sufficient to put it into the Top Five, while Michigan State beat Illinois at home, 22-12. The next poll was 1.Texas 2.Nebraska 3.Arkansas 4.Georgia and 5.Michigan State

In October 9 play, all five of the top teams remained unbeaten. #1 Texas shut out Oklahoma, 19-0 at Dallas. #2 Nebraska held visiting Wisconsin scoreless 37-0. #3 Arkansas won at Baylor, 38-7 and #4 Georgia beat Clemson at home, 23-9. #5 Michigan State followed Georgia's visit to Ann Arbor with one of its own, beating Michigan 24-7. The Spartans and Bulldogs traded places in the next poll, which was 1.Texas 2.Nebraska 3.Arkansas 4.Michigan State 5.Georgia

On October 16 the #1 Texas Longhorns met the #3 Arkansas Razorbacks at Fayetteville in a Southwestern Conference matchup between the two 4-0-0 teams. Arkansas won 27-24. Meanwhile, #2 Nebraska recorded its third straight shutout, a 41-0 win at Kansas State. In a game that ultimately decided the Big-10 title, #4 Michigan State beat Ohio State 32-7. #5 Georgia lost to Florida State at Tallahassee, 10-3. Arkansas was the new #1 in the poll that followed, followed by Michigan State and Nebraska. The USC Trojans, who had beaten Stanford 14-0 and remained unbeaten (4-0-1) were #4 while Texas dropped from first to fifth.

October 23: The #1 Arkansas Razorbacks played North Texas State at Little Rock, winning 55-20. #2 Michigan State won 14-10 at Purdue and #3 Nebraska beat Colorado 38-13. The #4 USC Trojans fell to #7 Notre Dame at South Bend, 28-7. #5 Texas lost its second straight game, with Rice winning 20-17. After its 4-0 start, the Longhorns would finish the season 6-4-0. In the next poll, Michigan State received fewer 1st place votes than Arkansas, but had 7 more points overall, 473-466, while Nebraska was third. The three teams were the last to remain unbeaten, all with 6-0-0 records. Notre Dame was fourth, and LSU, 5-1-0 after beating South Carolina 21-7, rose from ninth to fifth.

October 30 #1 Michigan State overwhelmed Northwestern 49-7 at home in East Lansing. Playing in Little Rock, #2 Arkansas shut out Texas A & M 31-0. #3 Nebraska won a close one, 16-14, at Missouri and #4 Notre Dame won 29-3 over Navy. The #5 LSU Tigers were shut out at home by Mississippi, 23-0. Meanwhile, #10 Alabama beat Mississippi State at Jackson, Miss., 10-7 to take LSU's place at #5. The Top 4 stayed the same: 1.Michigan State 2.Arkansas 3.Nebraska 4.Notre Dame 5.Alabama.


On November 6, the #1 Michigan State Spartans went to 8-0-0 with a 35-0 win at Iowa. #2 Arkansas won 31-0 at Rice. #3 Nebraska won 42-6 over Kansas. All three remained unbeaten, with 8-0 records. #4 Notre Dame rolled over the Pitt Panthers, 69-13, at Pittsburgh, and #5 Alabama won 31-7 at LSU to take the SEC title and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

November 13 The Top 3 schools extended their records to 9-0-0. #1 Michigan State beat Indiana 27-13 to guarantee itself the Big Ten title and the trip to Pasadena. #2 Arkansas beat SMU 24-3 at Dallas, with only one game left in SWC play, a match against second place Texas Tech. #3 Nebraska had a surprisingly difficult game against the 1-6-0 Oklahoma State Cowboys, winning 21-17 at Stillwater, OK. #4 Notre Dame shut out visiting North Carolina, 17-0, and #5 Alabama beat South Carolina 35-14 at home.

November 20: With its Big Ten title assured, #1 Michigan State hosted its most difficult opponent yet, #4 Notre Dame, with hopes of finishing its season unbeaten. The Spartans won, 12-3. Though unbeaten, #2 Arkansas was only a game ahead of SWC rival Texas Tech (6-0 vs. 5-1) in conference play. The two met at Arkansas, and the Razorbacks beat the Red Raiders 42-24 to get a spot in the Cotton Bowl. In Los Angeles, #7 UCLA beat #6 USC 20-16 to win the AAWU (Pac 8) title and the right to meet Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. Thanksgiving Day, #3 Nebraska beat Oklahoma at home in Lincoln, 21-9 to gain the Big 8 title and the Orange Bowl spot. #5 Alabama and Auburn University both had the week off. When they met in their annual season closer at Birmingham November 27, the Crimson Tide beat the Tigers 30-3. On the following Saturday (December 4) #4 UCLA lost to Tennessee 37-34 in a game marred by a questionable pass intereference call and a lost down for UCLA. The next AP poll was 1.Michigan State 2.Arkansas 3.Nebraska 4.Alabama and 5.Tennessee. For the first time, the Associated Press made plans to take its final poll after the post-season bowl games.

Bowl games

ROSE #7 UCLA Bruins 14 #1 Michigan State Spartans 12
COTTON LSU Tigers 14 #2 Arkansas Razorbacks 7
ORANGE #4 Alabama Crimson Tide 39 #3 Nebraska Cornhuskers 28
SUGAR #6 Missouri 20 Florida Gators 18
BLUEBONNET #5 Tennessee 27 Tulsa 6
GATOR Georgia Tech 31 #10 Texas Tech 21

It was a day of upsets as #2 Arkansas lost to LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Then came an even bigger stunner when #1 Michigan State lost to 13 point underdog UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 14-12. Trailing 14-6 in the final minute, Michigan State scored and went for a tying 2-point conversion but was stopped just short of the goal line. With #2 Arkansas and #1 Michigan State losing, that meant the Orange Bowl game between #3 Nebraska and #4 Alabama would determine the national champion. Alabama, led by QB Steve Sloan, beat Nebraska 39-28 to claim the national title. The final poll was 1. Alabama, 2. Michigan State, 3. Tennessee, 4. Arkansas, and 5. UCLA.

Other champions

The schools that are now in the NCAA's "Division I-AA" were ranked in the "small college poll", taken by both the UPI (coaches) and AP (a panel of writers). In 1966, both services ranked the (10-0-0) North Dakota State Bison #1. The UPI coaches' poll had Los Angeles State (8-1-0) 2nd, while the AP poll had Middle Tennessee State (10-0-0) as the #2 team.[4] North Dakota State beat Grambling 20-7 in the Pecan Bowl, one of four regional bowl games for smaller programs. In the NAIA championship game, the St. John's College (of Minnesota) Johnnies defeated the Linfield College Wildcats 33-0.


  1. ^ http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1965.htm
  2. ^ http://www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?appollid=296
  3. ^ www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/
  4. ^ "Pecan Bowl-Bound Bisons No. 1," Abilene Reporter-News, November 24, 1965, p4-A


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