1968 college football season: Wikis


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In the 1968 college football season, the system of "polls and bowls" changed. The Associated Press returned to its pre-1961 system of ranking the Top 20 rather than the Top 10, and voted on the national champion after the bowl games, rather than before. 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 Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the "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). In 1968, the UPI issued its final poll before the bowls, but the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed.

The AP poll in 1968 consisted of the votes of as many as 49 sportswriters, though not all of them voted in every poll. With a Top 20 for the first time since the 1960 season, there were more matchups between ranked teams. Those who cast votes would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of 20 points for first place, 19 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined. In 1969, there were four regular season games that matched "Top Five" teams.



In the preseason poll released on September 9, 1968, the Purdue Boilermakers of West Lafayette, Indiana, were picked #1, followed by the defending champion USC Trojans of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Third was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of South Bend, Indiana, followed by theOklahoma Sooners of Norman, OK and the #5 Texas Longhorns of Austin. A second poll was taken on September 16 (with Texas and Oklahoma trading places at 4 and 5), although most teams would not begin play until the 21st.

September 21 #1 Purdue beat Virginia 44-6. #2 USC won at #15 Minnesota 29-20. #3 Notre Dame beat #5 Oklahoma 45-21 at South Bend. #4 Texas was tied by #11 Houston, 20-20, at home. In a proud moment for football in Indiana, Purdue remained at first, and Notre Dame rose to second, days before the annual meeting between the two schools. #10 Penn State, which had beaten Navy 31-6, took Oklahoma's place at fourth in the poll. #6 Florida, which had beaten Air Force 23-20 at a game in Tampa, took fifth. The poll was 1.Purdue 2.Notre Dame 3.USC 4.Penn State 5.Florida

September 28 #1 Purdue met #2 Notre Dame on the Irish's home grounds in South Bend, Indiana. The Boilermakers won, 37-22. #3 USC won at Northwestern 24-7. #4 Penn State beat Kansas State 25-9. #5 Florida won at Florida State 9-3. The poll was 1.Purdue 2.USC 3.Penn State 4.Florida 5.Notre Dame


October 5 #1 Purdue won at Northwestern, 43-6. #2 USC beat visiting Miami, 28-3. #3 Penn State won at West Virginia, 31-20.#4 Florida beat Mississippi State 31-14, but fell from the Top Five. #5 Notre Dame won at Iowa 51-28. With a 21-6 win over Oregon, Ohio State reached fourth place.

The poll was 1.Purdue 2.USC 3.Penn State 4.Ohio State 5.Notre Dame

October 12 #1 Purdue lost to #4 Ohio State in Columbus, 13-0. #2 USC won at #18 Stanford 27-24. #3 Penn State won at UCLA 21-6. #5 Notre Dame beat Northwestern 27-7. The #6 Kansas Jayhawks, who won 23-13 at #9 Nebraska, were fourth. The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Penn State 4.Kansas 5.Purdue

October 19 #1 USC beat Washington 14-7. #2 Ohio State beat Northwestern 45-21. #5 Notre Dame beat Illinois 58-8. #3 Penn State was idle. #4 Kansas beat Oklahoma State 49-14. #5 Purdue edged Wake Forest 28-27 and dropped to seventh. The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Kansas 4.Penn State 5.Notre Dame

October 26 #1 USC was idle. #2 Ohio State won at Illinois 31-24. #3 Kansas won at Iowa State, 46-25. #4 Penn State won at Boston College 29-0 #5 Notre Dame were upset in East Lansing, MI by unranked Michigan State 21-17. Tennessee, which had reached 4-0-1 the week before with a 10-9 win over Alabama, was fifth. The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Kansas 4.Penn State 5.Tennessee


November 2 #1 USC won at Oregon, 20-13 #2 Ohio State beat #16 Michigan State 25-20. #3 Kansas posted its 7th win, over visiting Colorado, 27-14. #4 Penn State slipped past Army, 28-24 and #5 Tennessee beat visiting UCLA 42-18 in Knoxville.

The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Kansas 4.Penn State 5.Tennessee

November 9 #1 USC turned back #11 California 35-17. #2 Ohio State stayed unbeaten as well, beating Wisconsin 43-8. #3 Kansas, however, lost to unranked Oklahoma, 27-23. #4 Penn State beat visiting Miami 22-7. #5 Tennessee lost to #18 Auburn in Birmingham, 28-14. #7 Michigan, with a 36-0 win over Illinois, rose to fourth. #9 Georgia, which was unbeaten (6-0-2) after a 51-0 win over Florida in Jacksonville, reached fifth. The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Penn State 4.Michigan 5.Georgia

November 16 #1 USC beat #13 Oregon State 17-13 in a game that would decide the Pac 8 title; Oregon State was 5-1, USC 6-0 in the conference that had been called the AAUW. #2 Ohio State won at unranked Iowa 33-27. #3 Penn State won its 8th straight, at Maryland, 57-13. #4 Michigan beat Wisconsin 34-9. #5 Georgia won at #12 Auburn, 17-3. The poll was 1.USC 2.Ohio State 3.Penn State 4.Michigan 5.Georgia

November 23 #1 USC beat UCLA 28-16 to stay unbeaten, as did #2 Ohio State, which met #4 Michigan in Columbus. Both teams were unbeaten in Big Ten conference play, and the game would determine who would go to Pasadena and who would stay home. Woody Hayes' Buckeyes triumphed over the Michigan Wolverines, 50-14. After seven weeks at second place, the Buckeyes took the lead from USC. #3 Penn State crushed the Pitt Panthers at Pittsburgh, 65-9. #5 Georgia was idle. Kansas, which had clinched the Big 8 title and the Orange Bowl bid with a 21-19 win at #13 Missouri, finished 9-1-0 and placed fifth. Though USC had more first place votes than Ohio State (24½ vs 21½), the Buckeyes were 10 points ahead overall (935-925). The poll was 1.Ohio State 2.USC 3.Penn State 4.Georgia 5.Kansas

November 30 #2 USC was tied by visiting #9 Notre Dame 21-21. #4 Georgia closed its season, with a record that, if not perfect, was unbeaten after a 47-8 win at home against Georgia Tech. At 8-0-2, the Bulldogs were SEC champs at went to the Sugar Bowl.

After a 0-1-1 start, the #6 Texas Longhorns had won their last eight, finishing with a 35-14 victory over Texas A & M on Thanksgiving Day. The Longhorns returned to the Top 5 after closing their season 8-1-1, including a 39-29 win over Arkansas that tied them for the SWC title and got them the Cotton Bowl bid. Ohio State had 34 of the 39 first place votes cast. The final regular season poll was 1.Ohio State 2.USC 3.Penn State 4.Georgia 5.Texas #3 Penn State beat Syracuse 30-12.

Bowl Games

Because #1 Ohio State and #2 USC were the champions of the Big Ten and Pac 8 conferences, respectively, they were automatically set to meet in the Rose Bowl. #3 Penn State accepted an invite to the Orange Bowl. Kansas, which shared the Big 8 crown with Oklahoma (even after losing to the Sooners) got the other bid. The Sugar Bowl featured the #1 SEC team against the #2 SWC team (Georgia vs. Arkansas) while the Cotton Bowl pitted the #1 SWC against the #2 SEC (Texas vs. Tennessee)

ROSE #1 Ohio State Buckeyes 27 #2 USC Trojans 16
ORANGE #3 Penn State Nittany Lions 15 #6 Kansas Jayhawks 14
SUGAR #9 Arkansas Razorbacks 16 #4 Georgia Bulldogs 2
COTTON #5 Texas Longhorns 36 #8 Tennessee Volunteers 13
LIBERTY #Ole Miss 34 Virginia Tech 17

When the sportswriters voted for the Top 20 after the bowl games, Rose Bowl winner Ohio State won the AP Trophy and the unofficial national championship, taking all but five of the 49 first place votes. Penn State, which had narrowly won the Orange Bowl, was second. The final poll was 1.Ohio State 2.Penn State 3.Texas 4.USC 5.Notre Dame 6.Arkansas 7.Kansas 8.Georgia 9.Missouri 10.Purdue 11.Oklahoma 12.Michigan 13.Tennessee 14.SMU 15.Oregon State 16.Auburn 17.Alabama 18.Houston 19.LSU and 20.Ohio University.

Other bowls:

BOWL Location Winner Loser
SUN El Paso Auburn 34 Arizona 10
GATOR Jacksonville Missouri 35 Alabama 10
TANGERINE Orlando Richmond 49 Ohio 42
ASTRO-BLUEBONNET Houston SMU 28 Oklahoma 27
PEACH Memphis LSU 31 Florida State 27

Heisman Trophy

O.J. Simpson, running back for the USC Trojans, was the overwhelming choice for the Heisman, with 2,853 points. Second was Leroy Keyes, running back for Purdue, with 1,103 points, followed by Terry Hanratty (QB-Notre Dame), Ted Kwalick (TE-Penn State) and Ted Hendricks (DE-Miami).

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 1968, the wire services disagreed as to the champion. UPI picked the San Diego State Aztecs #1, while the AP panel chose the North Dakota State Bison as #1. In the NAIA championship game, the Troy State Trojans (now a Division I-A team) defeated Texas A&I Javelinas 43-35.

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