I have not been following college football this season. Like, at all. I've hit my breaking point with scandals, corruption, and a decade of covered-up child rape being made out to be somehow a lesser concern than maintaining the football team. I just can't take it anymore. But in any case, it has apparently happened that one of the scandal-ridden teams, Ohio St., has made it through the season undefeated. They are ineligible to compete in a bowl this season, though.
This has led a writer for Sportige going by the name Morgan to look back at some other teams that got through the regular season undefeated, yet didn't get into the title game. He has a fairly short list, though. He mentions Utah in 2008 and Boise St. in 2006, but skips right on over the less-heralded Hawaii in 2007. And he doesn't look any further back than 2004.
Let me try, Morgan. Let me do this for you, properly. I'll do you one better. I provide here the complete list of teams that went into bowl season undefeated, going off the information provided from Wikipedia, as well as College Poll Archive and Sports Reference. All of them, all the way back to the first matches between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, whether they hit the title game or not, and remember for most of college football history, there wasn't a title game per se. Or even bowls, in which case it's simply a matter of running the table outright. Ties are allowed here, though teams that tied are shown in italics. (We are ignoring any NCAA-adjusted results. What happened on the field happened.)
Regular seasons were a tad shorter in earlier seasons, as you'll see in evidence. There were also fewer bowl games, meaning most of the earlier teams didn't see those perfect seasons spoiled in the bowls. In the really early days, there weren't even enough bowl games to handle all the undefeateds. For example, in 1933, there were only two bowl games, and five undefeated teams. Only one of those undefeateds, Centenary of Louisiana, was invited to a bowl. They tied Arkansas 7-7 in the Dixie Classic in Dallas. One year earlier in 1932, there were nine undefeateds and only the Rose Bowl to settle things, which to its credit did actually invite two of them, USC and Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, traveling to USC's hometown using 1932 travel methods, was duly smacked around to the tune of 35-0. (They did, however, leave out fellow undefeated Colgate, which had not even been scored upon all year.)
And of course, in the really, really early days, there were no bowls at all.
So. Shall we?
2012: Ohio St., Notre Dame
2010: Auburn, Oregon, TCU
2009: Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, TCU, Boise St.
2008: Utah, Boise St.
2006: Ohio St., Boise St.
2005: USC, Texas
2004: USC, Auburn, Utah
2002: Miami (FL), Ohio St.
2001: Miami (FL)
1999: Florida St., Virginia Tech, Marshall
1998: Tennessee, Tulane
1997: Michigan, Nebraska
1996: Florida St., Arizona St.
1995: Nebraska, Florida, Toledo
1994: Nebraska, Penn St., Texas A&M
1993: Nebraska, West Virginia, Auburn (all of which came in behind one-loss Florida State in the polls, by the way)
1992: Miami (FL), Alabama, Texas A&M, Michigan
1991: Miami (FL), Washington
1990: Georgia Tech
1988: Notre Dame, West Virginia
1987: Oklahoma, Miami (FL), Syracuse
1986: Miami (FL), Penn St.
1985: Penn St., Bowling Green, Fresno St.
1983: Nebraska, Texas
1982: Georgia, SMU
1979: Ohio St., Alabama, USC, Florida St., BYU, Central Michigan, McNeese St.
1978: Penn St.
1976: Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Maryland
1975: Arizona St., Arkansas St., Ohio St.
1974: Miami (OH), Oklahoma, Alabama
1973: Miami (OH), Penn St., Notre Dame, Ohio St., Michigan, Oklahoma, Alabama
1971: Nebraska, Alabama, Michigan, Toledo
1970: Arizona St., Toledo, Nebraska, Dartmouth, Toledo, Texas, Ohio St.
1969: Texas, USC, San Diego St., Penn St., Toledo
1968: Ohio St., Penn St., Yale, Harvard, USC, Georgia, Ohio
1966: Notre Dame, Michigan St., Alabama
1965: Michigan St., Arkansas, Nebraska, Dartmouth
1964: Notre Dame, Alabama, Arkansas, Princeton
1963: Texas, Memphis, Mississippi
1962: Mississippi, USC, Dartmouth, Texas
1961: Ohio St., Alabama, Rutgers, Utah St. (this year is notable for the fact that the Ohio St. faculty voted to decline the invitation the Buckeyes received to the Rose Bowl, worried that the school was placing too much emphasis on sports and not enough on education)
1960: Mississippi, Yale, New Mexico St.
1958: Auburn, LSU, Air Force, Army
1957: Auburn, Arizona St., VMI
1956: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Miami (FL), Wyoming
1955: Oklahoma, Maryland, Miami (OH)
1954: UCLA, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Virginia Tech
1953: Maryland, Notre Dame
1952: Michigan St., Georgia Tech, Mississippi
1951: Illinois, Maryland, Georgia Tech, San Francisco, Princeton, Michigan St., Tennessee
1950: Oklahoma, Army, California, Princeton, Clemson, Wyoming, Miami (FL)
1949: Notre Dame, Army, Oklahoma, California
1948: Michigan, Clemson, Army, Notre Dame, North Carolina, California
1947: Michigan, SMU, Notre Dame, Penn St., Pennsylvania, Kansas
1946: Georgia, Army, Hardin-Simmons, Notre Dame, UCLA
1945: Indiana, Alabama, Oklahoma St., Army
1944: Ohio St., USC, Yale, Tennessee, Army, Norman Pre-Flight, Randolph Field
1943: Purdue, Colorado College, Tulsa
1942: Tulsa, Hardin-Simmons
1941: Minnesota, Utah, Notre Dame, Duquesne, Duke
1940: Minnesota, Mississippi St., Stanford, Boston College, Hardin-Simmons, Tennessee
1939: Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Georgetown, Cornell, Duquesne, Tennessee, Tulane
1938: TCU, Tennessee, Villanova, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Duke
1937: California, Dartmouth, Holy Cross, Fordham, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Santa Clara, Colorado, Alabama
1936: Alabama, Utah St., LSU
1935: Minnesota, Princeton, SMU
1934: Minnesota, Alabama, Stanford, Temple
1933: Minnesota, Michigan, LSU, Centenary (LA), Princeton
1932: Purdue, Michigan, Colgate, Auburn, USC, TCU, Tennessee, Centenary (LA), Pittsburgh
1931: Tennessee, Bucknell, Tulane
1930: Michigan, Washington St., Alabama, Notre Dame, Marquette, Utah
1929: Purdue, SMU, TCU, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Tulane, Utah, Notre Dame, Fordham
1928: Utah, Tennessee, USC, Georgia Tech, Detroit Mercy
1927: Minnesota, Illinois, Washington & Jefferson, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Pittsburgh
1926: SMU, Stanford, Alabama, Utah, Navy, Brown
1925: Washington, Tulane, Alabama, Colgate, Dartmouth
1924: California, Notre Dame, Dartmouth, Yale, Gonzaga, Stanford, SMU
1923: Michigan, Illinois, Texas, SMU, Colorado, California, Kansas, Yale, Cornell
1922: West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Princeton, Michigan, Iowa, Drake, Army, Cornell, California
1921: Iowa, California, Washington & Jefferson, Penn St., Cornell, Lafayette, Vanderbilt (the first season with more than just the Rose Bowl)
1920: Texas, California, VMI, Notre Dame, Penn St., Princeton, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Harvard, TCU, Ohio St.
1919: Texas A&M, Harvard, Notre Dame, Centre
1918: Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington (MO), Colorado Mines, Virginia Tech, Great Lakes Navy, Presbyterian, Mare Island Marines
1917: Washington St., Utah St., Denver, Georgia Tech, Ohio St., Mare Island Marines, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M
1916: Ohio St., Colorado St., Georgia Tech, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Army, Pittsburgh
1915: Washington St., Cornell, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado St., Georgia Tech (the first season with a bowl game after 1901)
1914: Illinois, Texas, Colorado Mines, Nebraska, Harvard, Auburn, Tennessee, Army, Washington & Lee
1913: Chicago, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Washington & Jefferson, Harvard, Auburn
1912: Wisconsin, Penn St., Harvard
1911: Minnesota, Colorado, Navy, Princeton, Florida, Penn St.
1910: Baylor, Pittsburgh, Harvard, Navy, Vanderbilt
1909: Missouri, Penn St., Texas A&M, Arkansas, Lafayette, Yale, Colorado
1908: Chicago, Virginia, LSU, Pennsylvania, Harvard, Kansas
1906: Wisconsin, Colorado Mines, Yale, Clemson, Princeton
1905: Chicago, Pennsylvania, Yale, Colorado Mines, Georgia Tech
1904: Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado Mines, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Pennsylvania, Dartmouth
1903: Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Princeton
1902: Michigan,Yale, Nebraska
1901: Harvard, Wisconsin, Michigan (the first season with a bowl game)
1900: Yale, Iowa, Minnesota
1899: Chicago, Iowa, Harvard
1898: Harvard, Michigan, Princeton
1897: Yale, Pennsylvania
1896: Princeton, Lafayette
1895: Yale, Pennsylvania
1894: Yale, Pennsylvania
1893: Minnesota, Princeton
1892: Yale, Purdue, Minnesota
1886: Yale, Princeton
1884: Princeton, Yale
1881: Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton
1880: Princeton, Yale
1879: Princeton, Yale
1878: Princeton, Columbia (Columbia played two games and tied them both, but technically that means they were undefeated- that ought to tell you how haphazard and short schedules were this far back and how small the field was)
1877: Amherst, Yale, Princeton (Amherst went a whopping 1-0, beating Tufts 8-4; Yale and Princeton were declared co-champions; nobody in the eight-team field played more than four games)
1876: Rutgers, Yale (Rutgers also went 1-0, beating Stevens 3-2)
1875: Harvard, Princeton
1874: Princeton, Yale, Harvard (Harvard is iffy; they've been declared co-champions by the NCAA, but their two games were against McGill, a Canadian college from Montreal, and played by two different rulesets; they won one and tied another-- it was an important development in the sport's history, just not really part of the season proper)
1873: Princeton (beat Yale 3-0 in their only game)
1872: Princeton, Yale (both 1-0)
1871: None (nobody scheduled any games, so... everybody, perhaps?)
1870: Princeton (beat Rutgers 6-2 in their only game)
1869: None (Princeton and Rutgers only had each other to play and the sport was way, way different; they split the two-game set)