1970 college football season

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The 1970 college football season was marked by tragedy, due to two airplane crashes. On October 2, one of the planes carrying the Wichita State football team crashed on the way to a game against Utah State, killing 31 people on board, including 14 players. Then, on November 14, the charter for the Marshall Thundering Herd crashed on the way home from a game against East Carolina, killing all 75 persons. At season's end, the Nebraska Cornhuskers won the AP national championship after Texas and Ohio State both lost in the postseason on New Year's Day.

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). Until 1974, the UPI issued its final poll before the bowls, but beginning in 1968 (also 1965), the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed. The AP poll in 1970 consisted of the votes of as many as 52 sportswriters, though not all of them voted in every poll. 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 the preseason poll released on September 7, Texas was placed #1 with 19 1st place votes. Ohio State and USC followed, with 7 and 6 votes, and Arkansas and Mississippi, each with a vote. USC beat Alabama 42–21 at Birmingham, and Arkansas lost to #10 Stanford 34–28 at Little Rock on September 12. In the poll that followed, Stanford took the place of Arkansas, while the rest of the Top 5 was the same: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.USC 4.Stanford 5.Mississippi.

September 19: Number 1 Texas won in Austin against California 56–15. In Los Angeles, #3 USC tied Nebraska 21–21. #4 Stanford beat San Jose State 34–3. #5 Mississippi opened with a 47–13 win at Memphis State. #7 Penn State, which had beaten Navy 55–7, reached the Top Five. Poll: 1.Ohio State 2.Texas 3.Stanford 4.Mississippi 5.Penn State

September 26: #1 Texas won in Lubbock over Texas Tech, 35–13. #2 Ohio State opened its season at home in Columbus, beating Texas A&M 56–13. #3 Stanford (in a battle between Jim Plunkett and Dan Fouts) won at Oregon 33–10. #4 Mississippi escaped a loss to Kentucky in Jackson, 20–17 and fell to 5th. #5 Penn State lost at Colorado 41–13. #7 USC returned to 6th place with a 48–0 win at Iowa. #6 Notre Dame, which had beaten Purdue 48–0, rose to 4th. The new poll was 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Stanford 4.Notre Dame 5.Mississippi 6. USC.


October 3: #1 Texas squeaked by UCLA at home 20–17 on a touchdown in the last 20 seconds. #2 Ohio State beat Duke at home 34–10. #3 Stanford lost to Purdue 26–14. #4 Notre Dame beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 29–0. #4 Mississippi earned a 48-23 win in Jackson over Alabama. #5 USC beat visiting Oregon State 45–13 Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Mississippi 5.USC

October 10: #1 Texas defeated Oklahoma in Dallas, 41–9. #2 Ohio State beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 29–0. #3 Notre Dame beat Army at home, 51–10. #4 Mississippi won at Georgia 31–21. #5 USC lost at Stanford 24–14. #6 Nebraska, which had tied USC earlier, rose to fifth after its 21–7 win over Missouri gave it a 4–0–1 record. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Mississippi 5.Nebraska

October 17: #1 Texas was idle. #2 Ohio State beat Minnesota at home, 28–8. #3 Notre Dame won at Missouri, 24–7. #4 Mississippi lost at home in Oxford to Southern Mississippi, 30–14. #5 Nebraska won at Kansas 41–20. #6 Michigan, which had beaten Michigan State 34–20 at home to reach 5–0, got into the top five. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan

October 24: #1 Texas defeated Rice 45–21 in Houston. #2 Ohio State won at Illinois 48–29. #3 Notre Dame was idle. #4 Nebraska beat Oklahoma State 65–31. #5 Michigan beat Minnesota 39-13 at home. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan

October 31: #1 Texas beat SMU at home 42–15. #2 Ohio State beat Northwestern 24–10. #3 Notre Dame defeated Navy 56–7 in Philadelphia. #4 Nebraska won at Colorado 29–13. #5 Michigan won at Wisconsin 29–15. Despite reaching 6–0, Ohio State dropped to #3. The poll was : 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan


November 7 #1 Texas won at Baylor 21-14. #2 Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 46-14 at home. #3 Ohio State won at Wisconsin 24-7. #4 Nebraska won at Iowa State 54-29. #5 Michigan beat visiting Illinois 42-0. Notre Dame took over the top spot from Texas. Poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Texas 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan

November 14 #1 Notre Dame survived visiting Georgia Tech, 10-7, and lost its top ranking. #2 Texas, which won at Texas Christian, 58-0, returned to #1. #3 Ohio State eked out a win at Purdue 10-7 . #4 Nebraska beat visiting Kansas State 51-13, and #5 Michigan shut out Iowa 55-0. . Poll: 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan

November 21 As #1 Texas prepared for a Thanksgiving Day game, #2 Notre Dame won, but just barely, beating visiting LSU 3-0. #3 Ohio State finished its season with a 20-9 win in Columbus over #5 Michigan to go to the Rose Bowl. #4 Nebraska beat Oklahoma 28-21 at home to finish its season unbeaten. Arkansas won at Texas Tech 24-10, to reach the Top Five.

Poll: 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Arkansas

On Thanksgiving Day, #1 Texas beat Texas A & M at home 52-14 to reach 9-0-0. That Saturday, November 28 #2 Notre Dame lost to USC in Los Angeles, 38-28. #4 Nebraska and Arkansas were idle. #7 Tennessee, which had beaten Vanderbilt 24-6 in Nashville to finish its season at 9-1-0, rose to fifth in the poll. The poll was: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Nebraska 4.Arkansas 5.Tennessee.


December 5 #1 Texas beat Arkansas at Austin 42-7 to close a perfect season at 10-0-0. LSU crushed Ole Miss 61-17 at Baton Rouge to clinch the Southeastern Conference championship and rise into the top 5.

Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Nebraska 4.Tennessee 5.LSU

Conference standings

The following is an incomplete list of conference standings:

1970 Big 8 football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
#1 Nebraska700  1101
#20 Oklahoma520  741
Kansas State520  650
Colorado340  650
Missouri340  560
Kansas250  560
Oklahoma State250  470
Iowa State160  560
Rankings from AP Poll
1970 Big Ten football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
#5/2 Ohio State 700  910
#9/7 Michigan610  910
Northwestern610  640
Iowa331  361
Wisconsin340  451
Michigan State340  460
Minnesota241  361
Purdue250  460
Illinois160  370
Indiana160  190
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll
1970 Pacific-8 football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
#8 Stanford 610  930
Washington430  640
Oregon430  641
UCLA430  650
California430  650
#15 USC340  641
Oregon State340  650
Washington State070  1100
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1970 SEC football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
#7/6 LSU 500  930
#4/4 Tennessee410  1110
#10/9 Auburn520  920
#20 Ole Miss420  740
Florida330  740
Georgia330  550
Alabama340  651
Mississippi State340  650
Vanderbilt150  470
Kentucky070  290
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll
1970 Southern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
William & Mary  31    57 
The Citadel 42    56 
Furman 32    83 
East Carolina 22    38 
Richmond 33    46 
Davidson 24    28 
VMI 14    110 
† – Conference champion

Bowl games

Major bowls

Cotton#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish24#1 Texas Longhorns11
Orange#3 Nebraska Cornhuskers17#5 LSU Tigers12
Sugar#4 Tennessee Volunteers28#11 Air Force Falcons13
Rose#12 Stanford Indians*27#2 Ohio State Buckeyes17
*Stanford changed its nickname to the "Cardinals" in 1972 and the singular "Cardinal" in 1981.

In the Cotton Bowl, #6 Notre Dame gained revenge for its narrow defeat to #1 Texas in the previous year's Cotton Bowl by upsetting the #1 Longhorns, 24–11. Notre Dame Head coach Ara Parseghian created a "wishbone defense", positioning his linebackers to mirror the Texas running backs and the Irish held the high-powered Texas running game in check.

In Pasadena, #2 Ohio State, the Big Ten champions, were positioned to claim the national championship as they took the field as heavy favorites against 8–3 #12 Stanford of the Pac-8. The Buckeyes overcame a 10–0 early deficit to take a 14–10 lead on two touchdowns by John Brockington. OSU was still ahead 17–13 after three quarters. But Stanford, led by the passing of Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett, scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to stun Ohio State 27-17.[3]

With the door open, #3 Nebraska of the Big 8 seized the opportunity that night in Miami in the Orange Bowl against stubborn #5 LSU of the SEC. Down 12-10 after three quarters, the Huskers scored a fourth quarter touchdown and shut down the Tigers to prevail 17–12 on the new Poly-Turf and claim the national title.

Other bowls

SunEl PasoGeorgia Tech17Texas Tech9
TangerineOrlandoToledo40William & Mary12
BluebonnetHoustonAlabama (tie)24Oklahoma24
PeachAtlantaArizona State48North Carolina26
PasadenaPasadenaLong Beach State24Louisville (tie)24

Other champions

The schools that are now in the NCAA's "Division I-AA" were ranked in the "college division poll", taken by both the UPI (coaches) and AP (a panel of writers). In 1970, UPI and AP ranked the Arkansas State Indians (10-0-0) #1. The 34 coaches on the UPI board followed with #2 Tampa (10-0-0), #3 Montana (10-0-0), #4 North Dakota State (8-0-1) and #5 Tennessee State (10-0-0). AP ranked Montana 2nd, North Dakota State 3rd, Tampa 4th and Tennessee State 5th [4] Arkansas State went on to beat 10th ranked Central Missouri State in the Pecan Bowl, 38-21. In the NAIA playoffs, Texas A & I beat Wofford 48-7 (Division I) and Westminster beat Anderson 21-16 (Division II)

Heisman Trophy

  1. Jim Plunkett, QB - Stanford, 2,229 points
  2. Joe Theismann, QB - Notre Dame, 1,410 points
  3. Archie Manning, QB - Mississippi, 849 points
  4. Steve Worster, FB - Texas, 398 points
  5. Rex Kern, QB - Ohio State, 188 points
  6. Pat Sullivan, QB - Auburn, 180 points - (only junior in top 10)
  7. Jack Tatum, DB - Ohio State, 173 points
  8. Ernie Jennings, WR - Air Force, 118 points
  9. Don McCauley, RB - North Carolina, 57 points
  10. Lynn Dickey, QB - Kansas State, 49 points[5]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1970.htm
  2. ^ http://www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?appollid=362
  3. ^ "Bucks Go Ker-Plunk, 27-17," Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach), January 2, 1971, p C-1
  4. ^ "Arkansas State Wins Small College Crown," European Stars and Stripes, Dec. 3, 1970, p22; "No. 1 Reflects Program At Arkansas St.," The Bee (Danville, VA), Dec. 3, 1970, p13
  5. ^ Heisman.com - 1970 Heisman - Jim Plunkett