1954 College Football Recap
The game of the year should have been a No.1 vs No.1 battle in the Rose Bowl, but it never happened.
In 1950, United Press had joined rival Associated Press in the Top 20 business, using coaches instead of sportswriters. For four years both wire services agreed on who the national champion should be. In 1954, however, they didn't. AP picked the Big Ten's Ohio State, while UP crowned UCLA of the Pacific Coast Conference.
The Big Ten and PCC had agreed to make the Rose Bowl an exclusive rivalry back in 1946. Nine years later, it would have been the perfect setting for this dream game. Unfortunately, both conferences also had a “no repeat” rule that prevented teams from making two consecutive trips to Pasadena.
UCLA had played in the most recent Rose Bowl (losing to Michigan State), so the Bruins couldn't return. Instead, Ohio State faced PCC runner-up Southern Cal and won handily, 20–7.
Oklahoma, ranked by both polls, won its seventh straight Big Seven championship, but like UCLA was prevented from a return to the Orange Bowl by a conference “no repeat” rule.
Twenty-five-year-old Terry Brennan succeeded Frank Leahy at Notre Dame and brought the Irish in fourth. Ranked No.1 in September, ND suffered its only loss when upset by Purdue on Oct. 2.
Navy beat Army for the fourth time in five years then shut out Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl (the Middies first bowl appearance since 1924).
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