1961 College Football Recap

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Final AP Top 20

Bowl Games with Top 20 Teams

Major Conference Champions

Heisman Trophy Voting

Other Major Award Winners

Consensus All-American Team

In 1950, Bear Bryant's Kentucky team ranked 7th in the final AP poll. Six years later, his Texas A&M team placed 5th. This year, his Alabama team was Number One.

Bryant moved around and the programs he took over turned around. The year before he took the Kentucky job the Wildcats were 2–8. The year before he went to A&M the Aggies were 4–5–1. And the year before he moved to Alabama the Crimson Tide was 2–7–1.

The Bear was a winner, but he had never had an undefeated team before this. The Tide went 10–0 during the regular season then beat Arkansas 10–3 in the Sugar Bowl.

Elsewhere, TCU was the spoiler of the year. The Horned Frogs only managed a 3–5–2 record, but they tied No.2 Ohio State, 7–7, and beat No.3 Texas 6–0 to ruin otherwise perfect seasons.

From 1961–62, the Big Ten didn't automatically send a representative to the Rose Bowl, a team from the conference was invited by the bowls's selection committee. Ohio State was invited in 1961, but the school's faculty council voted 28–25 to turn the offer down, citing its discomfort with OSU's overemphasis on sports.

Two-time All-America halfbacks Ernie Davis of Syracuse and Bob Ferguson of Ohio State finished only 53 points apart in the vote for the Heisman. Davis won, becoming the first black player to gain the prize. Ferguson was also black.

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