1964 college football season

1964 college football season

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 AP poll in 1964 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 1964, Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) was #1 with 425 points and Oklahoma University second with 400 points. [ www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/ ] As the regular season progressed, a new poll would be issued on the Monday following the weekend's games. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Both services issued their final polls at the close of the regular season, but before teams competed in bowl games.

The Associated Press presented the "AP Trophy" to the winner. As such, the University of Alabama qualified as the national champion due to its 10-0-0 regular season record and its #1 finish in the AP poll. The University of Arkansas also had a 10-0-0 regular season in 1964, and finished #2 in the final AP poll. On New Year's day, the Crimson Tide lost to the #5 ranked Texas Longhorns in the Orange Bowl, to finish the season with a 10-1 record, and the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the 7th ranked University of Nebraska 10-7 in the Cotton Bowl. Since there were no further polls, however, once-beaten Alabama's national championship was unaffected, despite the fact that Arkansas had beaten Texas during the season.


In the preseason poll released on September 14, 1964, Mississippi (Ole Miss) was ranked first and Oklahoma second. Big Ten rivals Illinois and Ohio State were ranked #3 and #5 respectively, while 1963 champion Texas was #4. On September 19, #1 Mississippi beat Memphis State 30-0 at home, while #2 Oklahoma beat Maryland 13-3 on the road at College Park. #4 Texas defeated Tulane 31-0 at home.

The following week (September 26), #1 Mississippi was upset by a late Kentucky touchdown at Jackson, losing 27-21. #2 Oklahoma was crushed by Southern California (USC), 40-14, before a record home crowd. #3 Illinois beat California at Berkeley 20-14, and #4 Texas defeated Texas Tech 23-0. #5 Ohio State defeated Southern Methodist (SMU) at home, 27-8. In the poll that followed, the Texas were the new #1 and USC #2, followed by 3.Illinois 4.Alabama and 5.Ohio State.


On October 3, #1 Texas beat Army 17-6 at home. Meanwhile, #2 USC lost at Michigan State, 17-7 and #3 Illinois won 17-6 over Northwestern. #3 Alabama beat Tulane in a "neutral site" game at Mobile, 36-6. #5 Ohio State beat Indiana at home, 17-9. Previously unranked Kentucky, which beat Auburn at Birmingham, 20-0 to gain a spot in the next poll, which was 1.Texas 2.Illinois 3.Alabama 4.Ohio State and 5.Kentucky.

Top ranked Texas beat Oklahoma 28-7 at Dallas on October 10. In a Big 10 showdown at Champaign, Illinois, #4 Ohio State beat the #2 Illini 26-0. #3 Alabama beat North Carolina State 21-0. #5 Kentucky, previously 3-0, was demolished at Tallahassee, falling 48-6 to Florida State and beginning a four game losing streak en route to a 5-5-0 season. #8 Michigan won at Michigan State 17-10. The poll was 1. Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Alabama 4.Notre Dame and 5.Michigan, all unbeaten.

On October 17, #8 Arkansas edged the #1 Longhorns at Austin, 14-13. #2 Ohio State shut out the USC Trojans at home in Columbus, 17-0. #3 Alabama and #4 Notre Dame remained unbeaten, defeating Tennessee (19-8) and UCLA (24-0) respectively. #5 Michigan narrowly lost to Purdue 21-20. Ohio State was the new #1#6 Nebraska, which had shut out Kansas State 47-0 (and outscored its opponents 171-34 in five wins), took over fifth place. The rankings were 1.Ohio State 2.Notre Dame 3.Alabama 4.Arkansas 5.Nebraska.

October 24 had #1 Ohio State over Wisconsin at home, 28-3. #2 Notre Dame beat Stanford 26-7, #3 Alabama survived Florida 17-14. #4 Arkansas beat Wichita State 17-0, and #5 Nebraska beat Colorado 21-3. The top five remained the same in the next poll.

October 31, #1 Ohio State narrowly beat Iowa 21-19, while #2 Notre Dame easily defeated Navy 40-0. In the next poll, the Fighting Irish rose took the #1 spot from Ohio State. #3 Alabama (23-6 over Ole Miss), #4 Arkansas (17-0 over Texas A&M) and #5 Nebraska (9-0 over Missouri) remained unbeaten.


November 7, #1 Notre Dame beat the Pitt Panthers at Pittsburgh 17-15. Meanwhile, #2 Ohio State's first loss was a shut out at home by unranked (3-4-0) Penn State, 27-0. #3 Alabama (17-9 over LSU), #4 Arkansas (21-0 vs. Rice) and #5 Nebraska (14-7 over Kansas) stayed unbeaten, and moved up to 2, 3 and 4 in the poll. Texas(7-1), whose lone loss had been to Arkansas, was fifth after its 20-14 win at Baylor.

November 14, #1 Notre Dame hosted Michigan State and beat them 34-7. #2 Alabama beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta, 14-7, to stay unbeaten, as did #3 Arkansas (44-0 over SMU) and #4 Nebraska (27-14 vs. Oklahoma State). #5 Texas won 28-13 over TCU. The poll remained unchanged (1.Notre Dame 2.Alabama 3.Arkansas 4.Nebraska 5.Texas)

November 21, #1 Notre Dame beat Iowa at home at South Bend, 28-0. #3 Arkansas won 17-0 over Texas Tech to close its season unbeaten (10-0-0). #4 Nebraska suffered its first loss, at Oklahoma, 17-7. In the November 23 AP poll, unbeaten Notre Dame, Alabama and Arkansas were first, second and third, followed by Michigan and Texas. Thanksgiving Day saw #2 Alabama finish the regular season unbeaten with a 21-14 win over Auburn at Birmingham, and #5 Texas beat Texas A&M 26-7 to finish 10-1. That Saturday (November 28, #1 Notre Dame narrowly lost, 20-17, to USC at Los Angeles. With only Alabama and Arkansas remaining unbeaten, both with records of 10-0-0, the final AP poll was taken on November 30. Alabama took over the #1 spot and recognition as the NCAA national champion. Notre Dame, Michigan and Texas rounded out the top five.

Although Alabama was the SEC champ, a "no repeat" rule prevented it from going to the Sugar Bowl for a second straight year. The Orange Bowl had invited Alabama and Texas on November 21. [ "Orange Bowl Wants Tide, Longhorns," "Kingsport Times News" November 22, 1964, pC-1 ] The Cotton Bowl had invited then-unbeaten Nebraska on November 15 to play unbeaten Southwestern Conference champion Arkansas. [ "Nebraska Agrees to Play Arkansas in Cotton Bowl," "The Post Standard" (Syracuse, NY) November 16, 1964, p17 ] As such, there would be no #1 vs. #2 matchup in the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame declined to play in a bowl game.

Bowl Games

In the Orange Bowl, #1 Alabama, led by quarterback Joe Namath, fell to #5 Texas 21-17 in a controversial game. Down by four and facing 4th-and-goal at the Texas 1, Joe Namath ran a quarterback sneak. He insisted later that he had broken the plane to score, but the officials ruled that he had been downed short of the goal. In the Cotton Bowl, Arkansas quarterback Fred Marshall drove #2 Arkansas to a touchdown with 4:41 left to beat #7 Nebraska 10-7. Notable members of the 1964 Arkansas team include Jerry Jones, later the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, and Jimmy Johnson, whom Jones would hire as coach of the Cowboys. #4 Michigan routed #8 Oregon State 34-7 in the Rose Bowl, while in the Sugar Bowl, #7 LSU beat unranked Syracuse 10-7 on a late field goal.

A five member committee of the Football Writers Association of America awarded Arkansas the "Grantland Rice Trophy" as the #1 team in a poll taken after the bowl games. The Helms Athletic Foundation, which took polls after the bowl games, named the University of Arkansas Razorbacks as 1964 National Champions. Notre Dame was named as the National Football Foundation's national champion. In 1965, the AP's final poll came after the bowl games, an arrangement that became permanent in 1968. UPI followed suit in 1974. Both Arkansas and Alabama claim the National Championships for 1964.

Other bowls:

Other champions

The schools that are now in the NCAA's "Division I-AA" were ranked (along with smaller schools) in the "small college poll" taken by both the UPI (coaches) and AP (a panel of writers). In 1964, UPI ranked the 8-0-0 Golden Eagles of Los Angeles State University as #1 (the school is now California State University at Los Angeles, and has no football team). The 8-0-0 Wittenberg College Tigers (now a Division III team) were 2nd in the UPI poll, and #1 choice for the AP panel. In the NAIA championship game, the Cobbers of Minnesota's Concordia College and the Bearkats of Sam Houston State University played to a 7-7 tie.


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