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 AP poll in 1963 consisted of the votes of 56 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. 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 10. 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 Classic (Dallas).

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. At the end of the 1963 season, the #1 and #2 teams (Texas and Navy) met in the Cotton Bowl Classic, with Texas winning 28 to 6.

In the preseason poll for 1963, the University of Southern California Trojans (USC), who had been the 1962 national champions, were #1 with 484 points, followed by the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at #2 with 389 points

September Edit

In the preseason poll released on September 16, 1963, the USC Trojans were #1, followed by Southeastern Conference (SEC) rivals, the Ole Miss Rebels) and the Alabama Crimson Tide at #2 and #3. The Oklahoma Sooners were #4 and the Texas Longhorns were #5.[3]

On a Friday night game, #5 Texas beat hapless Tulane 21-0 in New Orleans with the help of its "shoeless kicker", Tony Crosby and halfback Phil Harris.[4] September 21, the next day #1 USC shut out Colorado on a muddy field at Boulder, 14-0, with the Trojans' Pete Beathard running for two scores.[5] #2 Ole Miss was held to a scoreless tie at Memphis State, and the 0-0 result was enough to take the Rebels out of the poll. #3 Alabama defeated Georgia at Athens 32-7. After falling behind 14-0 at home, #4 Oklahoma rallied to beat Clemson 31-14.[6] In the poll that followed, the results were 1.USC 2.Alabama 3.Oklahoma 4.Texas, with Navy moving from 9th to 5th on the strength of a 51-7 win at West Virginia. The following weekend would see the #3 Sooners playing the #1 Trojans at Los Angeles.

On September 28, #1 USC was beaten at home at the Los Angeles Coliseum by #3 Oklahoma, 17-12, in a game played in 105° heat.[7] Tulane, which had been shut out by Texas the weak before, went scoreless again in a 28-0 loss to #2 Alabama. #4 Texas defeated Texas Tech at home, 49-7. #5 Navy shut out William & Mary at Annapolis, 28-0. In the poll, Oklahoma took over first place, Alabama stayed at second, Texas moved up to third. Big Ten rivals Northwestern (winning 34-21 over Indiana) and Wisconsin (which beat Notre Dame 14-9 at South Bend) moved into the 4th and 5th spots, respectively.


Both #1 Oklahoma and #5 Wisconsin were idle on October 5. #3 Texas beat Oklahoma State at home, 34-7. #2 Alabama beat Vanderbilt in Nashville, 21-6. #4 Northwestern lost at Illinois, 10-9, due to a missed extra point and a bad punt that went only five yards and set up the Illini's touchdown. Jim Plankenhorn connected on a point after and a field goal.[8] When the poll was released the Sooners were #1 and the Longhorns #2 as the two teams prepared to meet in Dallas. Alabama fell to #3, Navy rose from 6th place to 4th and Wisconsin remained at #5.

Three of the top five teams played at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas the next weekend. In a Friday night game, #5 Navy lost to Southern Methodist University (SMU) 32-28. After Navy had gone ahead 28-26 in the final three minutes, a pass interference call set up the Mustangs' touchdown. Roger Staubach drove his team to the 7 yard line with :01 to play, but his pass attempt was batted down in the end zone by Tommy Caughren.[9] Hours later on October 12, at the same venue, the #1 Oklahoma Sooners played against the #2 Texas Longhorns before a crowd of 75,504. Texas won the game 28-7 to take over the top ranking.[10] Third-ranked Alabama lost on its home field to unranked Florida, 10-6. Joe Namath scored for the Tide with 2:05 left, but tries for the 2-point conversion and an onside kick both failed.[11] #5 Wisconsin hosted Purdue, winning 38-20. A crowd of 101,450 watched Michigan and Michigan State play to a 7-7 tie in Ann Arbor. Texas and Wisconsin were ranked first and second in the next poll, followed by the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). Ohio State and Ole Miss, both with 2-0-1 records, were 4th and 5th.

In Week Five (October 19, the top three teams managed narrow wins. Halfback Tommy Ford ran for two scores to help the #1 Texas Longhorns beat Arkansas at Little Rock, 17-13.[12] #2 Wisconsin won 10-7 at Iowa. Paul Krause of the Hawkeyes' went for a win instead of a tie with 99 seconds left, and was stopped a foot short of a first down after a fake field goal attempt,[13] and the #3 Pitt Panthers came from behind to beat West Virginia, 13-10.[14] Previously unbeaten and #4 Ohio State was crushed by USC at before 63,883 fans in Los Angeles, 32-3.[15] #5 Ole Miss became the third Top Five team to shut out Tulane, 21-0. Tulane would go scoreless in six games in 1963 and finish with a 1-8-1 record. Ohio State's Big Ten rival, Illinois (which had beaten Minnesota 16-6), replaced the Buckeyes at the #4 spot in the next poll, which was 1.Texas 2.Wisconsin 3.Pittsburgh 4.Illinois 5.Mississippi.

Week Six began with a Friday night 18-12 come-from-behind win by #4 Illinois over UCLA at Los Angeles.[16] The next day, October 26 #1 Texas beat Rice at home, 10-6, as Tommy Nobis blocked an extra point, and shoeless Tony Crosby made a field goal.[17] #2 Wisconsin lost 13-10 to Ohio State at home, when Matt Snell drove over for a score with 2:13 left.[18] Roger Staubach's passing and a defense that made four interceptions drove #10 Navy to a 24-12 upset of #3 Pittsburgh at Annapolis.[19] #5 Mississippi beat Vanderbilt 27-7. Texas remained at #1 in the next poll, followed by 2.Illinois 3.Mississippi 4.Navy and, at the fifth spot, the Auburn Tigers.


On November 2, all of the top five teams won. #1 Texas stayed unbeaten by defeating SMU at Dallas, 17-12, as Crosby made his 21st consecutive point after.[20] #2 Illinois rolled over Purdue at home, 41-21 as Jim Grabowski scored three touchdowns[21] and #3 Mississippi overwhelmed LSU 37-3 at Baton Rouge. #4 Navy handed Notre Dame its second straight loss on Staubach's passing, 35-14 in South Bend[22] and #5 Auburn won at home over Florida, 19-0. The poll remained unchanged.

November 9, #1 Texas won their eighth straight, 7-0, by shutting down Baylor's passing game. Longhorns QB Duke Carlisle, playing on defense, intercepted Don Trull's end zone pass with 0:22 to play, then ran out the clock.[23] Previously unbeaten, #2 Illinois had an 8-7 lead with minutes left in a game at home against Michigan, when a fumble gave the Wolverines the ball 11 yards from goal, setting up Mel Anthony's winning score for a 14-8 upset.[24] #3 Mississippi shut out visiting Tampa, 41-0, #4 Navy mauled Maryland 42-7 at home, and #5 Auburn fell 13-10 to Mississippi State at Jackson.[23] Texas, the only major team to remain unbeaten, kept the #1 spot, while the Navy Midshipmen rose to second, and Mississippi stayed at #3. Michigan State and Oklahoma were fourth and fifth.

November 16, #1 Texas went to 9-0-0, with a 17-0 home win over Texas Christian. #2 Navy won 38-25 at Duke and #3 Mississippi shutout Tennessee, 20-0, at a game in Memphis. #4 Michigan State was trailing Notre Dame 7-6 at home in the fourth quarter, but Sherm Lewis ran 85 yards from scrimmage to win the game, 12-7. Both of the Spartan's 2 point attempts failed.[25] #5 Oklahoma won at Missouri 13-3, but dropped out of the poll and were replaced by Pittsburgh (which had trounced Army, 28-0) at the fifth spot. Texas, Navy, Ole Miss and Michigan State stayed at the top four spots.

Most of the games that had been scheduled for November 23, 1963 were postponed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy the day before.[26] North Carolina State had played a night game against Wake Forest, winning 42-0, on Friday the 22nd, and the Big Ten games were set to continue until Michigan Governor George Romney received a Saturday morning cancellation.[27] The Pitt - Penn State game was postponed. The annual Oklahoma-Nebraska game, which would determine the Big Eight championship, was played as scheduled in Lincoln. Nebraska won 29-20, finishing 7-0 in Big 8 play ahead of the 6-1 Sooners. The same day, Auburn beat Florida State 21-15. The AP poll remained at 1.Texas 2.Navy 3.Mississippi 4.Michigan State and 5.Pitt.

On Thanksgiving Day, #1 Texas traveled to College Station to face Texas A & M, and were down 13-9 with only minutes left in the game, when Tommy Wade's pass was picked off by A & M's John Bortheron. Bortheron fumbled, however, and Texas recovered on the 44 to continue the drive. Duke Carlisle scored the inning touchdown with 1:19 left, and the Longhorns won 15-13 to finish with a 10-0-0 record.[28]

#4 Michigan State lost 13-0 at home to #8 Illinois in a game that determined the Big Ten championship. The Illini, who had gone 0-9-0 two years earlier, finished 7-1-1 in 1963. With a 5-1-1 record, Illinois earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, while the Spartans' season ended with a 4-1-1 second place finish[29]

November 30 saw unbeaten #3 Mississippi go for a field goal and a tie against Mississippi State, rather than to try for a touchdown from the 3 yard line on fourth down. Billy Carl Irwin's 20 yard field goal gave the Rebels a 10-10 result, sufficient to avoid embarrassment, an unbeaten 7-0-2 record, and the SEC championship. After the game, Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play against fellow SEC member Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. "Ole Miss. Ties Miss. State," The Post-Standard (Syracuse), Dec 1, 1963, p31

The #5 Pittsburgh Panthers beat the Miami Hurricanes in Florida, 31-20. In the subsequent poll Texas and Navy remained at #1 and #2, Illinois was third, Pitt rose to fourth. The #9 Auburn Tigers, who had beaten #6 Alabama 10-8 at Birmingham, rose to fifth place. On December 7, Pitt beat Penn State 22-21. Also, #2 Navy played in the annual Army–Navy Game in Philadelphia. American television viewers were introduced to instant replay after Army's quarterback Rollie Stichweh scored on a two yard run for the game's first score. CBS commentator Lindsey Nelson had to explain to the home audience that they were not watching Army score again, saying "Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is a tape of Army's touchdown. This is not live...".[30] Staubach went on to lead Navy to a 21-15 win, after which the players then voted to accept an invitation to play #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic. In the final AP Poll, the top five remained unchanged, confirming a showdown between the #1 and #2 teams in Dallas.

Conference standingsEdit

The following is an incomplete list of conference standings:

1963 AAWU football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Washington 4 1 0     6 5 0
USC 3 1 0     7 3 0
UCLA 2 2 0     2 8 0
Washington State 1 1 0     3 6 1
California 1 3 0     4 5 1
Stanford 1 4 0     3 7 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1963 Big 8 football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#6 Nebraska 7 0 0     10 1 0
#9 Oklahoma 6 1 0     8 2 0
Missouri 5 2 0     7 3 0
Kansas 3 4 0     5 5 0
Iowa State 3 4 0     4 5 0
Colorado 2 5 0     2 8 0
Kansas State 1 5 0     2 7 0
Oklahoma State 0 6 0     1 8 0
Rankings from AP Poll
1963 Big Ten football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#3/4 Illinois 5 1 1     8 1 1
#10/10 Michigan State 4 1 1     6 2 1
Ohio State 4 1 1     5 3 1
Purdue 4 3 0     5 4 0
Northwestern 3 4 0     5 4 0
Wisconsin 3 4 0     5 4 0
Michigan 2 3 2     3 4 2
Iowa 2 3 1     3 3 2
Minnesota 2 5 0     3 6 0
Indiana 1 5 0     3 6 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll
1963 SEC football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#7/7 Ole Miss 5 0 1     7 1 2
#5/6 Auburn 6 1 0     9 2 0
#8/9 Alabama 6 2 0     9 2 0
#NR/11 Mississippi State 4 1 2     7 2 2
LSU 4 2 0     7 4 0
Georgia Tech 4 3 0     7 3 0
Florida 3 3 1     6 3 1
Tennessee 3 5 0     5 5 0
Georgia 2 4 0     4 5 1
Vanderbilt 0 5 2     1 7 2
Kentucky 0 5 1     3 6 1
Tulane 0 6 1     1 8 1
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll

Bowl gamesEdit

Despite a 9-1-0 finish and a #4 ranking, the Pitt Panthers were not invited to a post-season bowl game. The bowls, who feared inviting Pitt before their season finale against Penn State, signed other teams, leaving Pitt without a bowl invitation. The 1963 Panthers were perhaps the best team of the modern football era not to appear in a bowl.[31] When they did beat Penn State, it was too late. The Sugar Bowl selected a second SEC team, 3rd place finisher Alabama, to face SEC champ Ole Miss, while 2nd place Auburn was picked by the Orange Bowl to meet Big 8 champion Nebraska. The Rose Bowl pitted Big Ten titlist Illinois against unranked Washington, which was 6-5 overall but which had won the AAWU crown by going 4-1 in conference play.

In the Cotton Bowl Classic, the Longhorns' Duke Carlisle guided Texas to a score six plays after kickoff and to a 21-0 lead by halftime. Navy's Roger Staubach saw a second defeat at Dallas (after an earlier loss to SMU), but would go on to a remarkable career there in the NFL. Staubach ran two yards for a touchdown late in the game in the 28-6 loss. Navy Coach Wayne Hardin said after the game that there was "no team more deserving of being No. 1 than Texas."[32] Alabama won the Sugar Bowl 12-7 on four field goals by Tim Davis, including 46 and 48 yards.[33] Auburn drove down to the 11 yard line with 90 seconds left, but Nebraska batted down Jimmy Sidle's 4th down pass attempt to preserve a 13-7 win.[34] And after taking a 7-3 lead at halftime, on a touchdown by Dave Kopay, Washington fell to a comeback attempt led by Jim Grabowski and Dick Butkus in the Rose Bowl.[35]

COTTON BOWL #1 Texas Longhorns 28 #2 Navy Midshipmen 7
ROSE BOWL #3 Illinois Fighting Illini 17 Washington Huskies 7
ORANGE BOWL #6 Nebraska Cornhuskers 13 #5 Auburn Tigers 7
SUGAR BOWL #8 Alabama Crimson Tide 12 #7 Mississippi Rebels 7

Other bowls:

BOWL Location Winner Loser
SUN El Paso Oregon 21 SMU 14
GATOR Jacksonville North Carolina 35 Air Force 0
TANGERINE Orlando Western Kentucky 27 Coast Guard 0
BLUEBONNET Houston Baylor 14 LSU 7
LIBERTY Philadelphia Mississippi State 16 N.C. State 12

Other championsEdit

Many schools that are now in the NCAA's "Division I-A" or "Division I-AA" were ranked in the "small college poll", taken by both the UPI (coaches) and AP (a panel of writers). In 1963, the UPI ranked the Blue Hens of the University of Delaware as #1. The N.I.U. Huskies of (Northern Illinois University) were #2 in the UPI poll, and #1 for the AP panel. In the NAIA championship game, the Camellia Bowl played in Sacramento on December 14, the St. John's College (of Minnesota) Johnnies beat the Prairie View A&M University Panthers, 33-27.

See alsoEdit


  4. "Harris Gets Two TDs in Texas Win," The Express and News (San Antonio), September 21, 1963, p1-B
  5. "USC Escapes Eager Buffs," San Antonio Light September 22, 1963, p3-C
  6. "Sooners Rally To Beat Clemson," San Antonio Light September 22, 1963, p4-C
  7. "OU Nicks Trojans on Early Drives," The Ada Evening News (Ada, OK), September 29, 1963
  8. "Illinois Upsets Wildcats, 10-9", Wisconsin State Journal, October 6, 1963, p2-1
  9. "SMU Stuns Navy," San Antonio Express and News, October 12, 1963, p1-D
  10. "Hard Hitting Steers Bomb Sooners," San Antonio Light, October 13, 1963, pC-1
  11. "Gators Stun 'Bama 10-6", Panama City Herald, October 6, 1963, p2-1
  12. "Longhorns Slap Down Razorbacks," Oakland Tribune, October 20, 1963, p51
  13. "Iowa Edged By Badgers" Oakland Tribune, October 20, 1963, p51
  14. "Pitt Edges Mountaineers," Oakland Tribune, October 20, 1963, p51
  15. "USC Power Buries Ohio State," Oakland Tribune, October 20, 1963, p51
  16. "Illinois Defeats Bruins, 18-12" Reno Evening Gazette, October 26, 1963, p10
  17. "Crosby Kicks Bring Win" Express and News (San Antonio) Oct. 27, 1963, p1-C
  18. "Wisconsin Nipped By Buckeyes, 13-10" Express and News (San Antonio) Oct. 27, 1963, p2-C
  19. "Navy Sinks Pitt By 24-12 Margin," Express and News (San Antonio) Oct. 27, 1963, p2-C
  20. "Crosby's Toe Boots Texas to 17-12 Win," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 3, 1963, p3/3
  21. "Illinois Rips Purdue, 41-21," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 3, 1963, p2/3
  22. "Staubach Steers Navy to 35-14 Rout of Irish," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 3, 1963, p3/3
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Steers Stay Unbeaten 7-0," Kingsport Times-News, Nov. 10, 1963, p1-C
  24. "Michigan Derails Illini On Late Touchdown," Kingsport Times-News, Nov. 10, 1963, p4-C
  25. "Spartans Tip Irish on Lewis Scamper," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 17, 1963, p2/3
  26. "Illini-Spartan Battle Still On," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 23, 1963, p1/3
  27. "Big Ten Showdown Tilt Set Despite Romney's Protest"
  28. "Texas Ends Season With Perfect Mark," Oakland Tribune, November 29, 1963, p48
  29. "It's Rose Bowl For Illinois," Southern Illinoisan, November 29, 1963, p11
  30. Keith Dunnavant, The Fifty-Year Seduction (St. Martin's Press, 2004), p61
  31. "Pitt Snubbed by Bowl Committees Despite Best Season Since 1937;The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.), December 9, 1963, p6
  32. "Dallas Aglow With Texas Smirks, Ruddy Navy Faces," San Antonio Light, January 2, 1964, p18
  33. "'Obscure' Star Tide Hero," San Antonio Light, January 2, 1964, p19
  34. "68-Yard Run Off 2-Yard Play Decider," San Antonio Light, January 2, 1964, p19
  35. "Douglas Loss Killed Huskies," Oakland Tribune, January 2, 1964, p45

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