The 1973 NCAA Division I football season was the first for the NCAA's current three-division structure. Effective with the 1973–74 academic year, schools formerly in the NCAA "University Division" were classified as Division I (later subdivided for football only in 1978 (I-A and I-AA) and renamed in 2006 into today's Division I FBS and FCS). Schools in the former "College Division" were classified into Division II, which allowed fewer athletic scholarships than Division I, and Division III, in which athletic scholarships were prohibited.

In its inaugural season, Division I had two NCAA-recognized national champions, and they faced each other at year's end in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve. The New Orleans game matched two unbeaten teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide (11–0), ranked No. 1 by AP and UPI, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10–0), ranked No. 3 by AP and No. 4 by UPI.

While both wire services ranked Alabama first at the end of the regular season, the final AP poll was after the bowl games. By agreement with the American Football Coaches' Association, however, UPI bestowed its championship before the postseason bowl games, and Alabama was crowned champion by UPI on December 4.[2][3] UPI ranked Notre Dame fourth: one coach had given the Irish a first place vote, compared to 21 for Alabama. (In the next season, the final coaches' poll was after the bowls.)[4]

In a game where the lead changed six times, Notre Dame won by a single point, 24–23, to claim the AP national championship. During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for major college football teams that would become Division I-A in 1978. The NCAA Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). In 1973, the UPI issued its final poll before the bowls, but the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed. The AP poll in 1973 consisted of the votes of as many as 63 sportswriters and broadcasters, though not all of them voted in every poll. UPI's voting was made by 34 coaches. Those who cast votes would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of 20 points for first place, 19 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.

Conference and program changes

School 1972 Conference 1973 Conference
Memphis State Tigers Missouri Valley Independent
Abilene Christian Wildcats Southland Lone Star (D-II)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos PCAA Dropped Football

September

October

November

December

LSU at Tulane, December 1
LSU at Tulane, December 1

In the final regular season poll, the top six schools were unbeaten: No. 1 Alabama (11–0), No. 2 Oklahoma (10–0–1), No. 3 Notre Dame (10–0), No. 4 Ohio State (9–0–1), No. 5 Michigan (10–0–1), and No. 6 Penn State (11–0). The other major college unbeaten, Miami (Ohio) (10–0), was No. 15.

Alabama and Notre Dame accepted invitations to play in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship. Oklahoma was on probation for having used an ineligible player (Kerry Jackson) in three 1972 games and was ineligible to play in a bowl game; therefore, the Orange Bowl featured independent Penn State and SEC runner-up LSU (No. 13 in the final poll) rather than a Big 8 team. Because Big Ten rules allowed only one team to participate in postseason play, Michigan was forced to stay home while Ohio State matched up against No. 7 USC in the Rose Bowl. No. 11 Texas Tech had an impressive 10−1 record, but an early-season loss to Texas cost the Red Raiders the SWC championship and the conference's automatic Cotton Bowl bid. The eighth-ranked Longhorns struggled in non-conference play but blew through their SWC opponents for their sixth straight title, with an incredible 40−2 conference record since 1968. They would play the Big 8 runner-up, No. 12 Nebraska, in the Cotton Bowl.

Rule changes

Conference standings

1973 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 16 NC State $ 6 0 0 9 3 0
No. 20 Maryland 5 1 0 8 4 0
Clemson 4 2 0 5 6 0
Virginia 3 3 0 4 7 0
Duke 1 4 1 2 8 1
North Carolina 1 5 0 4 7 0
Wake Forest 0 5 1 1 9 1
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll[5]
1973 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 3 Oklahoma $ 7 0 0 10 0 1
No. 7 Nebraska 4 2 1 9 2 1
No. 18 Kansas 4 2 1 7 4 1
No. 17 Missouri 3 4 0 8 4 0
Oklahoma State 2 3 2 5 4 2
Colorado 2 5 0 5 6 0
Kansas State 2 5 0 5 6 0
Iowa State 2 5 0 4 7 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 2 Ohio State + 7 0 1 10 0 1
No. 6 Michigan + 7 0 1 10 0 1
Minnesota 6 2 0 7 4 0
Illinois 4 4 0 5 6 0
Michigan State 4 4 0 5 6 0
Purdue 4 4 0 5 6 0
Northwestern 4 4 0 4 7 0
Wisconsin 3 5 0 4 7 0
Indiana 0 8 0 2 9 0
Iowa 0 8 0 0 11 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Ivy League football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Dartmouth $ 6 1 0 6 3 0
Harvard 5 2 0 7 2 0
Penn 5 2 0 6 3 0
Yale 5 2 0 6 3 0
Brown 4 3 0 4 3 1
Cornell 2 5 0 3 5 1
Columbia 1 6 0 1 7 1
Princeton 0 7 0 1 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1973 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 15 Miami $ 5 0 0 11 0 0
Kent State 4 1 0 9 2 0
Bowling Green 2 3 0 7 3 0
Ohio 2 3 0 5 5 0
Western Michigan 1 4 0 6 5 0
Toledo 1 4 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Tulsa + 5 1 0 6 5 0
North Texas State + 5 1 0 5 5 1
Louisville 3 2 0 5 6 0
New Mexico State 3 2 0 5 6 0
Wichita State 2 4 0 4 7 0
Drake 1 5 0 2 9 0
West Texas State 1 5 0 2 9 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
1973 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
San Diego State $ 3 0 1 9 1 1
San Jose State 2 0 2 5 4 2
Pacific (CA) 2 1 1 7 2 1
Fresno State 1 3 0 2 9 0
Long Beach State 0 4 0 1 9 1
  • $ – Conference champion
1973 Pacific-8 Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 8 USC $ 7 0 0 9 2 1
No. 12 UCLA 6 1 0 9 2 0
Stanford 5 2 0 7 4 0
Washington State 4 3 0 5 6 0
California 2 5 0 4 7 0
Oregon 2 5 0 2 9 0
Oregon State 2 5 0 2 9 0
Washington 0 7 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Southern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
East Carolina $ 7 0 0 9 2 0
Richmond 5 1 0 8 2 0
William & Mary 3 2 0 6 5 0
Furman 3 3 0 7 4 0
Appalachian State 2 2 0 3 7 1
VMI 2 4 0 2 9 0
Davidson 1 6 0 2 8 0
The Citadel 1 6 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1973 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 4 Alabama $ 8 0 0 11 1 0
No. 13 LSU 5 1 0 9 3 0
Ole Miss 4 3 0 6 5 0
No. 19 Tennessee 3 3 0 8 4 0
Georgia 3 4 0 7 4 1
Florida 3 4 0 7 5 0
Kentucky 3 4 0 5 6 0
Auburn 2 5 0 6 6 0
Mississippi State 2 5 0 4 5 2
Vanderbilt 1 5 0 5 6 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 14 Texas $ 7 0 0 8 3 0
No. 11 Texas Tech 6 1 0 11 1 0
Rice 4 3 0 5 6 0
SMU 3 3 1 6 4 1
Arkansas 3 3 1 5 5 1
Texas A&M 3 4 0 5 6 0
TCU 1 6 0 3 8 0
Baylor 0 7 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 9 Arizona State + 6 1 0 11 1 0
Arizona + 6 1 0 8 3 0
Utah 4 2 0 7 5 0
BYU 3 4 0 5 6 0
New Mexico 3 4 0 4 7 0
Wyoming 3 4 0 4 7 0
Colorado State 2 4 0 5 6 0
UTEP 0 7 0 0 11 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1973 NCAA Division I independents football records
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 Notre Dame     11 0 0
No. 5 Penn State     12 0 0
No. 9 Houston     11 1 0
Temple     9 1 0
No. 20 Tulane     9 3 0
Memphis State     8 3 0
Tampa     8 3 0
Boston College     7 4 0
South Carolina     7 4 0
Utah State     7 4 0
Air Force     6 4 0
Southern Miss     6 4 1
Northern Illinois     6 5 0
Rutgers     6 5 0
West Virginia     6 5 0
Pittsburgh     6 5 1
Colgate     5 5 0
Dayton     5 5 1
Xavier     5 5 1
Georgia Tech     5 6 0
Holy Cross     5 6 0
Miami (FL)     5 6 0
Cincinnati     4 7 0
Marshall     4 7 0
Navy     4 7 0
Southern Illinois     3 7 1
Villanova     3 8 0
Syracuse     2 9 0
Virginia Tech     2 9 0
Army     0 10 0
Florida State     0 11 0
Rankings from AP Poll

[6]

Bowl games

Major bowls

Monday, December 31, 1973
Tuesday, January 1, 1974

Alabama and Notre Dame had never met in a college football game before their encounter in the Sugar Bowl, which was played on New Year's Eve at Tulane Stadium, with kickoff at 7:15 pm CST.[7] Two legendary coaches, Bear Bryant and Ara Parseghian brought their teams to New Orleans, and the game was a thriller. The Irish scored first, but missed the extra point. After Alabama took a 7–6 lead, freshman Al Hunter returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and a two-point conversion put Notre Dame up 14–7. Alabama went ahead 17–14 in the third, but a fumble on their own 12-yard line gave the Irish a chance to make it 21–17. In the fourth quarter, Bama got back the lead on a trick play, as quarterback Richard Todd handed off to running back, Mike Stock, who then fired a touchdown pass back to Todd; but Bill Davis, who had made 51 of 53 extra point attempts in his career, was wide right, and the score stayed 23–21. In the final minutes, Notre Dame's Bob Thomas (who had missed the earlier point after try) kicked a 19-yard field goal that gave the team the 24–23 win.[8][9] Asked whether Notre Dame would be voted No. 1, Coach Parseghian replied, "Certainly. What was the final score?"[10]

BOWL
SUGAR No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 24 No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide 23
COTTON No. 12 Nebraska Cornhuskers 19 No. 8 Texas Longhorns 3
ROSE No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes 42 No. 7 USC Trojans 21
ORANGE No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions 16 No. 13 LSU Tigers 9

The final AP writers' poll was split. Notre Dame received a majority of the first place votes, 33 out of 60, followed by No. 2 Ohio State (11 votes) and No. 3 Oklahoma (16 votes, but fewer points overall). The fourth spot (held by Notre Dame in the final UPI poll) went to Alabama. UPI, who crowned Alabama as national champion at the end of the regular season,[2] would begin holding the coaches' poll after the bowl games beginning with the 1974 season.[4]

Other bowls

Bowl City State Date Winner Score Runner-up
Sun El Paso Texas December 29 Missouri 34–17 Auburn
Gator Jacksonville Florida December 29 No. 11 Texas Tech 28–19 No. 20 Tennessee
Tangerine Gainesville Florida December 22 No. 15 Miami (Ohio) 16–7 Florida
Astro-Bluebonnet Houston Texas December 29 No. 14 Houston 47–7 No. 17 Tulane
Liberty Memphis Tennessee December 17 No. 16 N.C. State 31–18 No. 19 Kansas
Peach Atlanta Georgia December 28 Georgia 17–16 No. 18 Maryland
Fiesta Tempe Arizona December 21 No. 10 Arizona State 28–7 Pittsburgh

Heisman Trophy

Running back John Cappelletti had the third best year in Penn State history when he gained 1,117 yards rushing in 1972. As a senior in 1973, he had the second best year in school history rushing for 1,522 yards.[11] In his two-year running career, he gained 100 yards in the thirteen games and had a career total of 2,639 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns for an average of 120 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. Cappelletti's acceptance speech on December 13 at the Heisman Dinner (with new Vice President Gerald Ford next to him on the dais)[12] was considered the most moving ever given at these ceremonies, as he honored his 11-year-old brother Joey, a victim of leukemia.[13][14][15]

  1. John Cappelletti, RB - Penn State, 1,057 votes
  2. John Hicks, OT - Ohio State, 524
  3. Roosevelt Leaks, RB - Texas, 483
  4. David Jaynes, QB - Kansas, 394
  5. Archie Griffin, RB - Ohio State, 326
  6. Randy Gradishar, LB - Ohio State, 282
  7. Lucious Selmon, NG - Oklahoma, 250
  8. Woody Green, RB - Arizona State, 247
  9. Danny White, QB - Arizona State, 166
  10. Kermit Johnson, RB - UCLA, 122
  11. Tony Dorsett, RB - Pittsburgh, 118
  12. Lynn Swann, SE - USC, 108
  13. Anthony Davis, RB - USC, 104
  14. Condredge Holloway, QB - Tennessee, 98

Source:[11][16][17][18]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2008-12-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Tide gets top UPI rating". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). UPI. December 4, 1973. p. 8.
  3. ^ "It's official: 'Bama wins national title". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). UPI. December 5, 1973. p. 1C.
  4. ^ a b "Trojans win national grid crown". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). UPI. January 3, 1975. p. 6.
  5. ^ "1973 Atlantic Coast Conference Year Summary". sports-reference.com. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  6. ^ "The college football review". Eugene Register-Guard. (team results). December 3, 1973. p. 7B.
  7. ^ "Alabama, Notre Dame play own 'super' bowl tonight". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 31, 1973. p. 11.
  8. ^ "Irish see-saw past gambling 'Bear,' 'Bama, 24-23". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 1, 1974. p. 13.
  9. ^ "Irish best in country?". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. January 1, 1974. p. 21.
  10. ^ "Notre Dame lays claim to No. 1 rating," Tucson Daily Citizen, Jan. 1, 1974, p34
  11. ^ a b "Cappelletti walks away with the Heisman". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 4, 1973. p. 3B.
  12. ^ "Gerald Ford lauds game of football". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 14, 1973. p. 5B.
  13. ^ "Cappelletti dedicates Heisman to critically ill brother, Joseph". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 14, 1973. p. 18.
  14. ^ "'Capp' salutes brother". Pittsburgh Press. December 14, 1973. p. 39.
  15. ^ Scarcella, Rich (February 28, 2007). "Cappelletti's Heisman speech still memorable". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). p. D1.
  16. ^ "John Cappelletti". Heisman Trophy. 1973. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Whited, Gordon S., Jr. (December 5, 1973). "Cappelletti wins 39th Heisman Trophy". New York Times. p. 57.
  18. ^ "Cappelletti winner of Heisman". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 5, 1973. p. 17.