The 1946 college football season finished with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish crowned as the national champion in the AP Poll, the Georgia Bulldogs recognized as national champion by the Williamson poll and United States Military Academy named as national champion in various other polls and rankings. The Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens were recognized by the AP as the small college national champion. Notre Dame and Army both won all of their games, with the exception of their November 9 meeting at New York's Yankee Stadium, where they had played to a 0-0 tie in a #1 vs #2 matchup regarded as a "Game of the Century". Neither team played in bowl game that 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 the Associated Press poll of sportswriters (the UPI Coaches poll would not start until 1950). The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in the annual NCAA Football Guide of the "unofficial" national champions.
Georgia and UCLA would finish the regular season as the only unbeaten and untied teams. UCLA lost in the Rose Bowl and Georgia was victorious in the Sugar Bowl.
Several new bowl games would debut, among them the Tangerine Bowl (later known as the Citrus Bowl and currently known as the VRBO Citrus Bowl).
Conference and program changes
- Three conferences began football play in 1946:
The Associated Press did not poll the writers until the third week of the season. Among the teams that had been ranked highest at the end of 1946, the two service academies—Army and Navy, as well as Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma State, several had faltered before the first poll. Army beat Villanova 35-0 on September 21, and Oklahoma State beat Denver, 40-7, but Indiana lost to the University of Cincinnati, 15-6. Also on September 21, Houston of the Lone Star Conference played its first ever football game against Louisiana–Lafayette of the Louisiana Intercollegiate Conference, in which Houston was defeated by a score of 13-7.
On September 28, Army beat Oklahoma 21-7, and Navy beat Villanova 7-0. Alabama edged Southern Mississippi in a game at Montgomery, 13-12. Indiana lost again, 21-0 at Michigan, and OK State was tied 21-21 by Arkansas. Notre Dame won at Illinois, 26-6, and UCLA beat Oregon State 50-7.
On October 5, Army beat Cornell 46-21. Navy lost at Columbia and dropped the rest of its games, finishing 1-8-0. Oklahoma State lost 54-6 at Texas and would finish at 3-7-1. Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 33-0. Michigan beat Iowa 14-7. UCLA won at Washington, 39-13. In the poll that followed, One voter split his first place vote between Texas, Army, and Notre Dame, who received 69⅓, 21⅓ and 15⅓ votes respectively. Michigan and UCLA rounded out the Top Five.
October 12 In Dallas, #1 Texas beat Oklahoma 20-13. #2 Army and #4 Michigan met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the visiting Cadets won 20-13. #3 Notre Dame beat Purdue 49-6. #5 UCLA beat #17 Stanford 26-6.
October 19 #1 Army beat #11 Columbia 48-14. #2 Notre Dame was idle. #3 Texas beat #14 Arkansas 20-0. #4 UCLA won at California 13-6. #5 Michigan and #10 Northwestern played to a 14-14 tie. #9 Tennessee beat #7 Alabama 12-0.
October 26 At the Polo Grounds in New York, #1 Army beat #13 Duke 19-0. #2 Notre Dame won at #17 Iowa, 49-6. In Houston, #3 Texas lost to #16 Rice, 18-13. #4 Tennessee lost to unranked Wake Forest, 19-6. #5 UCLA beat Santa Clara 33-7. #6 Penn beat Navy 32-19 and #7 Georgia won at Furman, 70-7
#1 Army beat West Virginia, 19-0.
In Baltimore, #2 Notre Dame defeated Navy 28-0.
#3 Pennsylvania lost to Princeton, 17-14.
#5 Georgia beat #15 Alabama 14-0.
#4 UCLA had beaten St. Mary's, 46-20, in a Friday night game. #8 Rice beat Texas Tech 41-6.
November 9 A crowd of 74,000 turned out at New York's Yankee Stadium to watch #1 Army and #2 Notre Dame in a meeting of the nation's two unbeaten and untied teams. Both teams missed scoring opportunities. In the opening quarter, Army recovered a fumble on the Irish 24, but was stopped on fourth down at the 13 yard line. The Irish drove to the Army three yard line in the second quarter but no further. Army reached the Irish 20 yard line in the third quarter, but Notre Dame's Terry Brennan picked off a pass from Glenn Davis. In the last quarter, a bad punt was returned by Davis to the Irish 39 yard line, but they forced a fumble and stopped any further scoring chances. The game ended in a scoreless tie, 0-0.
. In Jacksonville, #3 Georgia beat Florida 33-14.
In Portland, #4 UCLA beat Oregon 14-0. #5 Rice lost in Little Rock to Arkansas, 7-0. #9 Penn returned to the Top Five after beating Columbia in New York's "other" football game, 41-6.
In its third meeting against a Top Five team, #1 Army beat #5 Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, 34-7. #2 Notre Dame beat Northwestern, 27-0. #3 Georgia beat Auburn 41-0 in a neutral site in Columbus, Georgia. #4 UCLA beat Montana 61-7. #9 Illinois beat #13 Ohio State, 16-7.
#1 Army was idle.
#2 Notre Dame beat Tulane in New Orleans, 41-0.
#3 Georgia won at Chattanooga, 48-27.
#4 UCLA defeated #10 USC 13-6.
#5 Illinois won at Northwestern, 20-0, to close its season with an 8-1-0 record
#1 Army barely beat a 1-7-0 Navy team, 21-18.
#2 Notre Dame beat #16 USC, 26-6
#3 Georgia defeated #7 Georgia Tech 35-7.
#4 UCLA beat Nebraska 18-0 and accepted an invitation to face #5 Illinois in the Rose Bowl.
The following is a potentially incomplete list of conference standings:
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2009-01-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- ^ appollarchive.com/football/ap
- ^ "Fighting Irish Battle Army to 0-0 Stalemate", The Post-Standard (Syracuse), Nov. 10, 1946, p13