1922 college football season
|1922 NCAA football season|
|Total # of teams||109|
|Number of bowls||2|
|Bowl games||December 25, 1922 – January 1, 1923|
|Champions||California Golden Bears
Cornell Big Red
The 1922 NCAA football season had a number of unbeaten and untied teams, and no clear-cut champion. Three different "retro polls", taken years later and based on opinions drawn from historical research, reached different conclusions. The Helms Athletic Foundation, founded in 1936, declared retroactively that Cornell University (8-0-0) was the best, while the College Football Researchers' Association (CFRA) recognized shared between Drake University (7-0-0) and Princeton University (8-0-0); and the National Championship Foundation (NCF) cited the University of California (9-0-0) as best.
The other unbeaten and untied team was the University of Iowa, which canceled its game with unbeaten Drake University that year. Other teams that had no defeats in 1922 were West Virginia University (10-0-1), Vanderbilt University (8-0-1), the University of Michigan (6-0-1), and the United States Military Academy (Army), which had an 8-0-2 record.
The Southern Conference would begin its first season of football in 1922.
The 1922 season included the new "try for a point" rule. One was allowed to either kick an extra point after a touchdown as usual, or to place the ball anywhere beyond the five yard line and try to score either by touchdown or by a kick, and receive the one point if successful. On the "try for a point," any foul by the defense awarded the offense the point, and any foul by the offense made the try no good.
September 30 Harvard beat Middlebury 20-0, Princeton beat Johns Hopkins 30-0, and Cornell beat St. Bonaventure 55-6. Vanderbilt opened its season with a 38-0 win over Middle Tennessee Normal (now MTSU). Baylor beat North Texas 55-0 California beat Santa Clara 45-14.
October 7 Princeton defeated Virginia 5-0, Harvard beat Holy Cross 20-0, and Cornell beat Niagara 66-0 Vanderbilt beat Henderson-Brown College 33-0 North Carolina lost to Yale at New Haven, 18-0. Iowa beat Knox College 61-0, and Michigan defeated Case 48-0 Drake opened its season with a win over Cornell College of Iowa, 16-0 Baylor beat Hardin-Simmons 42-0 In a meeting with the visiting Mare Island Marines service team, California routed them 80-0.
In Nashville, Michigan and Vanderbilt played to a 0-0 tie. After beating Duke 20-0 in a Thursday game, North Carolina beat South Carolina, 10-7. Drake defeated Kansas 6-0. California beat St. Mary's 41-0.
October 21 In Dallas, Vanderbilt and Texas, both unbeaten, met, with the Commodores winning 20-10. In Houston, Baylor defeated Rice 31-0. North Carolina won at NC State, 14-9. Harvard had been shocked the year before in a 6-0 upset by the "Prayin' Colonels" of Centre College of Danville, Kentucky. In the rematch, the Crimson beat Centre 24-10. Princeton recorded another shutout, blanking Maryland 26-0.
Cornell defeated Colgate 14-0
October 28 In the first football game ever broadcast on the radio Princeton (4-0-0) traveled to the University of Chicago (3-0-0) for a rematch of Chicago's 1921 win. The game was witnessed by 32,000 fans, and listened to on New York's WEAF radio station. John Thomas ran for three touchdowns and Chicago's Maroons led 18-7 as the fourth quarter began, but a 40 yard interception return closed the gap. In the closing minutes, and Harry Crum was buried under a pile of players as he plunged toward the goal line, and when the mass was untangled, it was a touchdown. With the help of a better kicking game, Princeton won 21-18 
California was 4-0-0, and USC was 5-0-0, when the teams met in Pasadena. Cal had a 2-0 lead at halftime, and held off USC on two goal line stands, before scoring a touchdown and a field goal to win 12-0.
Michigan beat Michigan State 63-0, having outscored its opponents 154-0 in its first five games. Vanderbilt won at Tennessee, 14-6. Baylor beat Texas A&M 13-7 Drake defeated Iowa State 14-7 In New Orleans, North Carolina defeated Tulane 19-12. California defeated Washington State, 61-0.
November 11 Princeton and Harvard were both unbeaten(6-0-0) when the Tigers travelled to Cambridge to face the Crimson. Princeton had not won on Harvard's home field since 1896, and 54,000 turned out to watch. Although both teams were unbeaten, Harvard was heavily favored to overcome the young Tiger team, and led 3-0 early in the game. On the 18 yard line, though, the Tigers outsmarted Harvard with a triple pass that set up Harry Crum's touchdown run, and went on to win 10-3. Grantland Rice wrote the next day, "Crimson shadows around Cambridge way were thicker tonight than the Chinese wall and as deep as the darkness of Stygia itself..." 
In Seattle, California (7-0-0) faced Washington (5-0-0) in a battle of unbeatens, and handed the Huskies their first defeat, 45-7.
November 18 Princeton beat Yale, 3-0, to close a perfect season. Cornell beat Albright, 48-14 Harvard lost its second straight game, falling 3-0 to Brown Iowa won at Ohio State 12-9 to stay unbeaten. Drake defeated Grinnell College. 21-0 Baylor beat Oklahoma State, 10-0 Vanderbilt won at Georgia 12-0 At Charlotte, NC, North Carolina defeated Davidson 20-6. California defeated Nevada, 61-13.
November 25 Harvard won at Yale, 10-3. California closed its season with a 28-0 win at Stanford. Iowa closed its season at 7-0-0 with a win over Northwestern 37-3, Michigan won at Minnesota 16-7; Drake won at Mississippi State in Starkville, 48-6 Vanderbilt beat Sewanee, 26-0, to close at 8-0-1.
November 30 was Thanksgiving Day in 1922. In Philadelphia, Cornell defeated Penn 6-3. In Dallas, Baylor defeated SMU, 24-0, to win the Southwest Conference title. The following week, Baylor lost to the Haskell Indians team, 21-20. North Carolina closed its season with a 10-7 win at Virginia, to finish at 9-1-0
Though it had a record of 9-1-0 overall, USC was actually the fourth best team in Pacific Coast Conference play, behind California, Oregon and Washington, having been defeated by PCC champion California. Penn State had won its first five games, then only one of the next five, and had a 6-3-1 record at season's end. USC defeated Penn State 14-3.
The following is a potentially incomplete list of conference standings:
- The 2001 ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac (Hyperion ESPN Books, 2000), p153
- "New Rule." Appleton Post Crescent [Appleton, Wisconsin] 23 Sept. 1922: 9.
- Michael Oriard, King Football: Sport and Spectacle (UNC Press 2004), p41
- "Princeton Gets Revenge Defeating Chicago, 21-18," Decatur (Ill.) Daily Review, Oct. 29, 1922, p6.
- "Bears Tear Through Trojan Defense in the Final Quarter," Oakland Tribune, Oct. 29, 1922, p. 1-D
- Grantland Rice, "Tiger Gets Good Grip on John Harvard's Flanks and Wins 10-3," Syracuse Herald, Nov. 12, 1922, p13