The College Football Index: 1979

Welcome to the 1979 review of the College Football Index: the season where Alabama gave up just 67 points for the entire season, Ohio State came within one point of a national title and future Cleveland Browns and LA Rams running back, Charles White, won the Heisman Trophy

There were two team changes, with East Tennessee State moving up from I-AA and Hawaii Rainbow Warriors ceasing to be an Independent and moving to the Western Athletic Conference.

Welcome to 1979!

It is the International Year Of The Child and the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XIII.

Stampeding into 1979, the number 1 pre-season team was USC, but only just. They sat a few College Football Index points ahead of Oklahoma with Alabama sitting in third. The first games of the 1979 season kicked off on 1st September, with none of the top teams involved.

Week 1

An East Carolina victory over Western Carolina moved them up five places in the rankings to 11th, but the big moves came from McNeese State, who catapulted twelve places to move into the top 25 after their low scoring 6-3 win over Tulsa and Utah who dominated Long Beach State to move up fourteen places to 29th. 

Week 2

The big-hitters were back for Week 2. Alabama went above Oklahoma into 2nd and USC remained top. A big jump from Houston after their win at UCLA, seeing them move up seven places to sit 9th. Other big movers in Week 2 were Miami (OH), up sixteen places to 11th and Florida State up six places to 13th. The best performance indicator, how much a team improved from their season starting index, sat with New Mexico who improved their index rating by 55.17 points in just two weeks.

Week 3

USC remained top after demolishing Oregon State 42-5 and Oklahoma beat Iowa, but dropped to 4th due to Penn State’s 45-10 win over Rutgers. Alabama did not play but the strength of their index rating meant they stayed in 2nd. Florida State broke into the top ten after beating Arizona State and a big win for Nebraska over Utah State pushed them up into 7th.

Week 4

There was a change at the top. Although USC and Alabama won, another big Oklahoma win saw them go top, but only by 0.34 index points over USC. Florida State continued their rise, up into 7th after defeating Miami (FL). Arkansas and Michigan State moved into the top ten after wins over Oklahoma State and Miami (OH) respectively. From a performance indicator or form point of view, the five hot-streak teams with most improved index ratings were Wake Forest (126th), Washington (11th), Indiana State (83rd), Florida State (7th) and Maryland (20th).

Week 5

USC took back the top spot as they beat stronger opposition in LSU, opposed to Oklahoma’s emphatic 63-21 win over Rice. Alabama remained 3rd after beating Vanderbilt with Central Michigan in 4th as they beat Miami (OH). Rounding out the top five were Nebraska as they took care of Penn State 42-17. That defeat by Penn State saw them drop out the Top 10, which consisted of:

1. USC – 1245.03

2. Oklahoma – 1233.88

3. Alabama – 1227.81

4. Central Michigan – 1196.55

5. Nebraska – 1195.51

6. Arkansas – 1167.91

7. Notre Dame – 1165.43

8. Clemson – 1164.35

9. Florida State – 1163.62

10. Texas – 1151.94

Week 6

No movements in the top three, but Nebraska moved up to 4th above Central Michigan. Both teams won but Nebraska had a convincing 57-0 win over New Mexico State which gave them the advantage. Florida State closed in on a top five spot, sitting just behind Central Michigan, as they defeated Louisville 27-0. Notre Dame and Clemson stayed where they were after wins, but Arkansas dropped to 9th. Ohio State continued their steady rise up the rankings to 18th, with North Carolina and LSU breaking into the top 25 for the first time in 1979.

Week 7

All change at the top. Alabama, who have been threatening all season, defeated Florida 40-0. USC tied with Stanford to drop to 2nd and Oklahoma lost 16-7 to Texas which saw them drop down to 6th. Nebraska moved up into 3rd, Central Michigan sat 4th and with their win over Oklahoma, Texas moved into the top five. Arizona State and Georgia made massive gains moving up fifteen and fourteen places respectively to move into the Top 25.

The midway Top 25 looked like this:

1. Alabama – 1241.92

2. USC – 1233.44

3. Nebraska – 1215.37

4. Central Michigan – 1210.78

5. Texas – 1197.38

6. Oklahoma – 1194.43

7. Florida State – 1189.89

8. Arkansas – 1181.67

9. Notre Dame – 1180.23

10. Clemson – 1179.79

11. Michigan – 1175.21

12. Houston – 1169.51

13. BYU – 1142.12

14. Penn State – 1139.12

15. McNeese State – 1112.70

16. Ohio State – 1110.88

17. Washington – 1109.74

18. Yale – 1108.64

19. NC State – 1093.14

20. Navy – 1082.27

21. Purdue – 1074.94

22. Arizona State – 1072.32

23. Stanford – 1068.68

24. Temple – 1063.31

25. Georgia – 1056.58

Week 8

All of the top 4 won, with USC moving back to the number 1 spot with their 42-23 win over Notre Dame. Arkansas moved up to 5th as they took care of Texas 17-14. Clemson, Houston and Michigan all moved up, taking advantage of the Texas loss to Arkansas. Notre Dame and BYU both moved down and further down the top 25 two new teams were entering the fray. Pittsburgh moved up nine places into the top 25 after their 26-14 win over Washington, a defeat which knocked Washington completely outside the Top 25. Brown were the second team to move into the top 25 with their 28-7 win over Cornell, giving them a streak of four wins.

Week 9

Oklahoma were still trying to find a way out of 6th place, but with the top 4 teams again winning they stayed where they were. There could have been a move up into 5th, except that Houston defeated a strong Arkansas team to move up four places. Michigan moved into 8th after their 27-21 win over Indiana. Ohio State beat Michigan State 42-0 which helped enormously in their rise to 12th. Clemson dropped eight places after their 16-13 defeat to North Carolina State and Pittsburgh continued their rise after entering the top 25 the week before with a 24-7 win over Navy.

Week 10

Central Michigan tied with Toledo which allowed Oklahoma to move up into 4th after their 38-7 win over Oklahoma State. The top three remained the same but movements up in the top 25 included Texas, Notre Dame, McNeese State, Clemson, Yale, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Stanford. Teams moving into the top 25 for Week 10 were Stanford, Brown and East Carolina. Teams were now beginning to line-up for the run-in to the Bowl games.

The Run-in: Weeks 11-14

USC and Alabama remained as the first and second ranked teams for the last four weeks, but it was below where all the changes occurred. Oklahoma sat third in Week 11 only to see Nebraska move into that spot in Week 12. It was a mixed bag for Nebraska as they dropped to 8th in Week 13 and moved up one place to finish the regular season in 7th. Florida State maintained their 4th position for the last four weeks. Houston, who were not in the top 10 weeks 11 to 13, moved into 10th for the final week, with Ohio State improving to 9th. The top 25 after Week 14 were as follows:

1. USC – 1314.83

2. Alabama – 1305.64

3. Oklahoma – 1267.63

4. Florida State – 1236.83

5. Central Michigan – 1230.51

6. BYU – 1223.59

7. Nebraska – 1218.01

8. Arkansas – 1212.74

9. Ohio State – 1194.19

10. Houston – 1188.83

11. Texas – 1178.02

12. Pittsburgh – 1174.02

13. McNeese State – 1172.34

14. Purdue – 1151.83

15. Clemson – 1148.28

16. Michigan – 1118.42

17. Penn State – 1109.46

18. Notre Dame – 1107.76

19. East Carolina – 1106.33

20. Yale – 1101.32

21. Washington – 1084.28

22. Temple – 1071.33

23. Auburn – 1063.61

24. Chattanooga – 1053.59

25. NC State – 1049.30

Bowl Games

The first two Bowl games took place on 15th December. Syracuse beat McNeese State 31-7 to take the Independence Bowl in Shreveport and over in East Rutherford, Temple beat California 28-17 to win the Garden State Bowl. 

Six days later and Indiana beat BYU 38-37 to win the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The defeats for McNeese State and BYU dropped them down the rankings. The following day there were three Bowl games on offer.

LSU defeated Wake Forest to win the Tangerine Bowl, Penn State who sat 17th in the index ratings defeated Tulane 9-6 in the Liberty Bowl and over in El Paso the Sun Bowl was won by Washington who defeated Texas 14-7. That win for Washington moved them up six places, with Penn State moving up four.

Christmas Day saw an ever improving Pittsburgh team beat Arizona 16-10 in the Fiesta Bowl held in Tempe. This win moved Pittsburgh up into 7th in the rankings, the highest place they had achieved all season. Three days later North Carolina defeated Michigan 17-15 in the Gator Bowl. At the end of the regular season, North Carolina sat 29th, this Bowl win moved them up into 23rd, above Auburn and Chattanooga. This move up meant their rivals, North Carolina State, dropped out of the top 25 ranking. The very next day two teams not in the top 25, Missouri and South Carolina competed for the Hall Of Fame Classic with Missouri taking the honours.

On New Year’s Eve Baylor defeated Clemson to win the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and over in Houston, Purdue took the Bluebonnet Bowl with a 27-22 win over Tennessee.

Happy New Year!

Alabama beat Arkansas 24-9 to win the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Houston beat Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma defeated an improved Florida State team to take the Orange Bowl. USC, who had been pre-season number ones and had held that position for most of the season defeated Ohio State 17-16 in the Rose Bowl to rubber stamp that for the second season in succession they were the number one team in the index ratings.

The 1980 Draft

Number 3 ranked Oklahoma saw their running back Billy Sims go first pick in the 1980 draft to Detroit Lions. Texas ranked 14th had wide receiver Lam Jones picked second by the New York Jets and the Bengals selected Offensive Tackle, Anthony Munoz from USC in third. Penn State, another top 25 team, had Defensive Tackle Bruce Clark picked 4th by the Green Bay Packers and in 5th, the Baltimore Colts selected Texas A&M running back Curtis Dickey. Central Michigan, who finished 4th in the index ratings saw quarterback Gary Hogeboom selected pick 133 (Round five) by the Dallas Cowboys. Heisman Trophy winner Charles White was selected at pick number 27 by the Browns.

We move into the 1980s


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