The 1920 NCAA football season had no clear-cut champion, with the Official NCAA Division I Football Records Book listing California, Georgia, Harvard, Notre Dame, and Princeton as national champions. Only California and Princeton claim national championships for the 1920 season. Andy Smith's Pacific Coast Conference champion California "Wonder Team" was the first national champion from the Pacific Coast. Princeton and Harvard were undefeated and with one tie to each other. Notre Dame was led by its first Walter Camp All-American, George Gipp, who died before the year was over.
In the south, fans of either side in Georgia were happy. Georgia and Georgia Tech were both undefeated in Southern play. Georgia Tech lost to Pitt, which was undefeated with two ties. No team scored through Georgia's line, and its backfield was known as the "ten second backfield".Jimmy Leech of VMI's "Flying Squadron" led the nation in scoring. One writer claimed "he is one of the greatest broken field runners the country has ever seen."
In the Rose Bowl, Cal defeated Ohio State 28-0. Brick Muller completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Brodie Stephens after receiving a toss from Pesky Sprott, at the time thought impossible.