Oct 302013
 

What if college football’s national championship was determined and passed on the same way as boxing titles? You’d have championship honors that could only be won by defeating the current title holder; thus the national championship would always be determined on a football field – not by a committee, computers, or pollsters.

The guys over at CollegeFootballBelt.com plotted out such a system. What they’ve created is a lineal championship of college football. Check out their site to see the fascinating results in more detail.

In reality such a system would never work, but that isn’t the point. The Belt – an imaginary award – is just an amusing way of looking at college football’s history. 

CollegeFootballBelt.com first awarded The Belt to the ’71 Nebraska Cornhuskers, because that is the team they felt was the best in their lifetimes. I thought it would be interesting to follow this concept from college football’s beginning, so I plotted a lineal championship starting with the sport’s first intercollegiate game; Princeton at Rutgers in 1869.

From 1869 to 1971, the  lineal championship was exchanged 149 times. At end of the 1971 season, the Cornhuskers were amazingly in possession of The Belt. Just as the concept’s originators had originally wanted. 

The Lineal College Football National Championship – (1869 – 1971)

Click here for a list of teams that held The Belt from 1972 to 2013. Baylor is the current holder of The Belt; they’ve been in possession of it since last November.

Rutgers defeated Princeton 6 games to 4  on November 6, 1869, in college football’s first intercollegiate game; thus Rutgers is the first lineal champion.

Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header. You can search for a specific team using the search box to the right.

Title HolderFromTo# of Title DefensesLost ToScore
Rutgers (NJ)11/6/186911/13/18690atPrinceton (NJ)0-8
Princeton (NJ)11/13/186911/30/187610nYale (CT)0-2
Yale (CT)11/30/187611/28/187810 (2 ties)nPrinceton (NJ)0-1
Princeton (NJ)11/28/187811/18/188226 (4 ties)atHarvard (MA)1-2
Harvard (MA)11/18/188211/25/18820vs.Yale (CT)0-1
Yale (CT)11/25/188211/21/188524 (1 tie)vs.Princeton (NJ)5-6
Princeton (NJ)11/21/188511/12/188716 (1 tie)atHarvard (MA)0-12
Harvard (MA)11/12/188711/24/18871nYale (CT)8-17
Yale (CT)11/24/188711/28/188928nPrinceton (NJ)0-10
Princeton (NJ)11/28/188911/27/189013 (1 tie)nYale (CT)0-32
Yale (CT)11/27/189011/30/189336nPrinceton (NJ)0-6
Princeton (NJ)11/30/189311/10/18947nPennsylvania0-12
Pennsylvania11/10/189410/24/189624vs.Lafayette (PA)4-6
Lafayette (PA)10/24/189610/23/189712 (1 tie)atPennsylvania0-46
Pennsylvania10/23/189711/5/189815atHarvard (MA)0-10
Harvard (MA)11/5/189811/24/190023 (1 tie)atYale (CT)0-28
Yale (CT)11/24/190011/23/190112 (1 tie)atHarvard (MA)0-22
Harvard (MA)11/23/190111/22/190211atYale (CT)0-23
Yale (CT)11/22/190211/14/190310vs.Princeton (NJ)6-11
Princeton (NJ)11/14/190310/15/19045atNavy (MD)9-10
Navy (MD)10/15/190410/29/19042 (1 tie)vs.Swarthmore (PA)0-9
Swarthmore (PA)10/29/190410/7/19054atPennsylvania4-11
Pennsylvania10/7/190510/13/190614 (2 ties)vs.Swarthmore (PA)0-4
Swarthmore (PA)10/13/190611/10/19063atNavy (MD)4-5
Navy (MD)11/10/190610/19/19078 (1 tie)vs.Harvard (MA)0-6
Harvard (MA)10/19/190711/9/19072vs.Carlisle (PA)15-23
Carlisle (PA)11/9/190711/7/19089 (1 tie)atHarvard (MA)0-17
Harvard (MA)11/7/190811/20/190910vs.Yale (CT)0-8
Yale (CT)11/20/190910/15/19104atArmy (NY)3-9
Army (NY)10/15/191010/29/19101vs.Harvard (MA)0-6
Harvard (MA)10/29/191011/4/19118 (1 tie)atPrinceton (NJ)6-8
Princeton (NJ)11/4/191111/2/19128atHarvard (MA)6-16
Harvard (MA)11/2/191210/23/191525 (2 ties)vs.Cornell (NY)0-10
Cornell (NY)10/23/191510/28/19167atHarvard (MA)0-23
Harvard (MA)10/28/191611/18/19162vs.Brown (RI)0-21
Brown (RI)11/18/191611/25/19160vs.Colgate (NY)0-28
Colgate (NY)11/25/191610/27/19172atBrown (RI)6-7
Brown (RI)10/27/191711/3/19170vs.Syracuse (NY)0-6
Syracuse (NY)11/3/191711/16/19187atMichigan0-15
Michigan11/16/191810/25/19194vs.Ohio St.3-13
Ohio St.10/25/191911/22/19192vs.Illinois7-9
Illinois11/22/191911/13/19205atWisconsin9-14
Wisconsin11/13/192011/19/19217 (1 tie)atChicago (IL)0-3
Chicago (IL)11/19/192110/28/19223vs.Princeton (NJ)18-21
Princeton (NJ)10/28/192210/20/19235vs.Notre Dame (IN)2-25
Notre Dame (IN)10/20/192311/10/19232atNebraska7-14
Nebraska11/10/192311/24/19231vs.Syracuse (NY)0-7
Syracuse (NY)11/24/192311/8/19246 (1 tie)vs.W.V. Wesleyan3-7
W.V. Wesleyan11/8/192410/17/19257atLehigh (PA)0-3
Lehigh (PA)10/17/192510/31/19251vs.Muhlenberg (PA)7-9
Muhlenberg (PA)10/31/192511/26/19252vs.Villanova (PA)9-23
Villanova (PA)11/26/19259/25/19260nLebanon Valley (PA)12-30
Lebanon Valley (PA)9/25/192610/2/19260atPenn St.0-35
Penn St.10/2/192610/16/19261atNotre Dame (IN)0-28
Notre Dame (IN)10/16/192611/27/19265atCarnegie Mellon (PA)0-19
Carnegie Mellon (PA)11/27/192610/15/19273vs.Wash. & Jeff. (PA)6-20
Wash. & Jeff. (PA)10/15/192710/13/19287 (2 ties)vs.Duquesne (PA)6-12
Duquesne (PA)10/13/192810/27/19281atGeneva (PA)0-7
Geneva (PA)10/27/192811/3/19280vs.Grove City (PA)6-12
Grove City (PA)11/3/192811/17/19281 (1 tie)atVillanova (PA)13-14
Villanova (PA)11/17/192811/9/19297 (1 tie)nBucknell (PA)0-9
Bucknell (PA)11/9/192911/23/19291atFordham (NY)0-14
Fordham (NY)11/23/192911/15/19307vs.Saint Mary's (CA)12-20
Saint Mary's (CA)11/15/193011/7/19317atOlympic AC (CA)0-10
Olympic AC (CA)11/7/193111/21/19310atLoyola Marymount (CA)0-13
Loyola Marymount (CA)11/21/193111/29/19310atSan Diego Marines (CA)0-7
San Diego Marines (CA)11/29/19319/24/19322atFresno St. (CA)0-12
Fresno St. (CA)9/24/193210/1/19320vs.West Coast Army (CA)6-7
West Coast Army (CA)10/1/193210/15/19321atStanford (CA)0-26
Stanford (CA)10/15/193210/22/19320vs.Southern California0-13
Southern California10/22/193211/11/193312 (1 tie)vs.Stanford (CA)7-13
Stanford (CA)11/11/19331/1/19342nColumbia (NY)0-7Rose Bowl
Columbia (NY)1/1/193410/20/19342vs.Navy (MD)7-18
Navy (MD)10/20/193411/17/19343vs.Pittsburgh (PA)7-31
Pittsburgh (PA)11/17/193410/19/19354atNotre Dame (IN)6-9
Notre Dame (IN)10/19/193511/9/19352vs.Northwestern (IL)7-14
Northwestern (IL)11/9/193511/21/19369 (1 tie)atNotre Dame (IN)6-26
Notre Dame (IN)11/21/193610/16/19373 (2 ties)atCarnegie Mellon (PA)7-9
Carnegie Mellon (PA)10/16/193710/22/19370atTemple (PA)0-7
Temple (PA)10/22/193711/6/19371 (1 tie)vs.Michigan St.6-13
Michigan St.11/6/19371/1/19382nAuburn (AL)0-6Orange Bowl
Auburn (AL)1/1/193810/8/19382 (1 tie)atTennessee0-7
Tennessee10/8/19381/1/194018nSouthern California0-14Rose Bowl
Southern California1/1/194010/26/19404 (2 ties)atStanford (CA)7-21
Stanford (CA)10/26/194010/11/19417atOregon St.0-10
Oregon St.10/11/194110/25/19410atWashington St.0-7
Washington St.10/25/194112/6/19414nTexas A&M0-7
Texas A&M12/6/19411/1/19420nAlabama21-29Cotton Bowl
Alabama1/1/194210/31/19425nGeorgia10-21
Georgia10/31/194211/21/19422nAuburn (AL)13-27
Auburn (AL)11/21/194210/14/1944 ¹3atGeorgia Tech0-27
Georgia Tech10/14/194411/4/19442atDuke (NC)13-19
Duke (NC)11/4/194410/6/19456vs.Navy (MD)0-21
Navy (MD)10/6/194512/1/19456 (1 tie)nArmy (NY)13-32
Army (NY)12/1/194510/25/194714 (2 ties)atColumbia (NY)20-21
Columbia (NY)10/25/194710/2/19485atHarvard (MA)24-33
Harvard (MA)10/2/194810/9/19480atCornell (NY)6-40
Cornell (NY)10/9/194810/23/19481vs.Army (NY)6-27
Army (NY)10/23/194812/2/195021 (1 tie)nNavy (MD)2-14
Navy (MD)12/2/195010/6/19511 (1 tie)vs.Princeton (NJ)20-24
Princeton (NJ)10/6/195110/11/19529vs.Pennsylvania7-13
Pennsylvania10/11/195211/1/19522 (1 tie)vs.Penn St.7-14
Penn St.11/1/195211/8/19520atSyracuse (NY)7-25
Syracuse (NY)11/8/19521/1/19532nAlabama6-61Orange Bowl
Alabama1/1/19539/18/19530nSouthern Mississippi19-25
Southern Mississippi9/18/195310/31/19534atMemphis (TN)13-27
Memphis (TN)10/31/195311/7/19530vs.Arkansas St.0-20
Arkansas St.11/7/195310/2/19544 (1 tie)atMississippi St.13-46
Mississippi St.10/2/195410/15/19541atMiami (FL)13-27
Miami (FL)10/15/195411/6/19542nAuburn (AL)13-14
Auburn (AL)11/6/195410/29/19559 (1 tie)atTulane (LA)13-27
Tulane (LA)10/29/195511/12/19551vs.Vanderbilt (TN)7-20
Vanderbilt (TN)11/12/195511/26/19551atTennessee14-20
Tennessee11/26/19551/1/195710nBaylor (TX)7-13Sugar Bowl
Baylor (TX)1/1/195710/5/19572atMiami (FL)7-13
Miami (FL)10/5/195710/11/19570vs.North Carolina13-20
North Carolina10/11/195710/19/19570atMaryland7-21
Maryland10/19/195710/26/19570vs.Tennessee0-16
Tennessee10/26/195711/16/19572nMississippi7-14
Mississippi11/16/195711/1/19588 (1 tie)atLouisiana St.0-14
Louisiana St.11/1/195811/7/195911atTennessee13-14
Tennessee11/7/195911/14/19590nMississippi7-37
Mississippi11/14/195911/4/196119 (1 tie)atLouisiana St.7-10
Louisiana St.11/4/196111/3/196210 (1 tie)vs.Mississippi7-15
Mississippi11/3/19621/1/196413 (2 ties)nAlabama7-12Sugar Bowl
Alabama1/1/19641/1/196510nTexas17-21Orange Bowl
Texas1/1/196510/16/19654atArkansas24-27
Arkansas10/16/19651/1/19665nLouisiana St.7-14Cotton Bowl
Louisiana St.1/1/19669/24/19661atRice (TX)15-17
Rice (TX)9/24/196610/1/19660atTennessee3-23
Tennessee10/1/196610/8/19660atGeorgia Tech3-6
Georgia Tech10/8/196611/26/19665atGeorgia14-23
Georgia11/26/196610/14/19674nMississippi20-29
Mississippi10/14/196711/18/19673 (1 tie)nTennessee7-20
Tennessee11/18/19671/1/19682nOklahoma24-26Orange Bowl
Oklahoma1/1/19689/21/19680atNotre Dame (IN)21-45
Notre Dame (IN)9/21/19689/28/19680vs.Purdue (IN)22-37
Purdue (IN)9/28/196810/12/19681atOhio St.0-13
Ohio St.10/12/196811/22/196915atMichigan12-24
Michigan11/22/19691/1/19700nSouthern California3-10Rose Bowl
Southern California1/1/197010/10/19704 (1 tie)atStanford (CA)14-24
Stanford (CA)10/10/197011/14/19704vs.Air Force (CO)14-31
Air Force (CO)11/14/197011/21/19700vs.Colorado19-49
Colorado11/21/197012/12/19700nTulane (LA)3-17Liberty Bowl
Tulane (LA)12/12/19709/18/19711atGeorgia7-17
Georgia9/18/197111/13/19717vs.Auburn (AL)20-35
Auburn (AL)11/13/197111/27/19710nAlabama7-31
Alabama11/27/19711/1/19720nNebraska6-38Orange Bowl
Nebraska1/1/19729/9/19720atUCLA17-20

 

¹ In 1942, Auburn won The Belt in their last game of the season. The following year (1943) they didn’t field team.

 

Game scores were retrieved from College Football Data Warehouse.

 

 

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