Let’s take a break from handicapping college football and look back through history at the times the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the AP poll faced off on the gridiron. For those that don’t know the AP Poll was started back in 1936. It’s basically the press’ version of their power rankings, though it’s more bias than others.
It wasn’t until the 8th year of its existence did we get the elusive matchup with the top two teams in the country. In October of 1943, No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan clashed on the field. The Fighting Irish won the contest in convincing fashion 35-12.
That very same year in November, the Irish again played the No. 2 team. This time it was Iowa. A much closer affair, but they managed to win 14-13.
It again happened in 1945, when No. 1 Army faced two different teams ranked No. 2. Like the Irish, the Knights won both contests.
College Football AP Poll (Top 25): History & Results of No. 1 vs No. 2
Each of the first six occurrences with #1 vs. #2 all came during the regular season. It wasn’t until 1963 when No. 1 USC faced No. 2 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl that it came in a bowl game.
It’s a lot different today. Teams don’t schedule out of conference like they use to. It limits the possibilities of it happening, as you essentially now need two teams from the same conference for it two happen.
History supports that. Since 2007, the only time No. 1 faced No. 2 in the regular season was in 2011 with Alabama and LSU. These two SEC West rivals played a 9-6 overtime classic, which the Tigers won. The SEC bias was in full force at that time and these two actually rematched in the BCS title game. It’s the only time the same two teams met as #1 and #2 in the same year.
History also suggest that there’s a good chance the Crimson Tide will be involved. Alabama has participated in 8 of the last 10 meetings.
Each of the last three instances has been Alabama vs Clemson. Last year the Tigers rolled to a 44-16 win in the title game. While a great result for Clemson backers, the game as a whole didn’t even sniff the previous two meetings. The prior two might be two of the best all-time. The two championship games between Alabama and Clemson in 2016 and 2017 were as good as it gets.
We should continue to see a lot of these matchups in the new playoff format. The big question is when will be treated to one of these epic battles during the regular season.
Check out our NCAAF betting odds to see which teams are expected to be ranked in the Top 25 this year.
#1 vs #2 – Look Back at Each Time Top Two Teams Faced Off in NCAAF
|Date||No. 1||No. 2||Score||Regular Season(RS)/Bowl|
|Jan. 7, 2019||Alabama||Clemson||16-44||Playoffs|
|Jan. 9, 2017||Alabama||Clemson||31-35||Playoffs|
|Jan. 11, 2016||Clemson||Alabama||45-40||Playoffs|
|Jan. 6, 2014||Florida St||Auburn||34-31||BCS|
|Jan. 7, 2013||Notre Dame||Alabama||14-42||BCS|
|Jan. 9, 2012||LSU||Alabama||0-21||BCS|
|Nov. 5, 2011||LSU||Alabama||9-6 (OT)||RS|
|Jan. 10, 2011||Auburn||Oregon||22-19||BCS|
|Jan. 7, 2010||Alabama||Texas||37-21||BCS|
|Dec. 5, 2009||Florida||Alabama||13-32||SEC Champ|
|Jan. 8, 2009||Florida||Oklahoma||24-14||BCS|
|Dec. 6, 2008||Alabama||Florida||20-31||SEC Champ|
|Jan. 7, 2008||Ohio St||LSU||24-38||BCS|
|Jan. 8, 2007||Ohio St||Florida||14-41||BCS|
|Nov. 18, 2006||Ohio St||Michigan||42-39||RS|
|Sept. 9, 2006||Ohio St||Texas||24-7||RS|
|Jan. 4, 2006||USC||Texas||38-41||Rose|
|Jan. 4, 2005||USC||Oklahoma||55-19||Orange|
|Jan. 3, 2003||Miami (FL)||Ohio St||24-31 (2OT)||Fiesta|
|Jan. 4, 2000||Florida St||Virginia Tech||46-29||Sugar|
|Jan. 4, 1999||Tennessee||Florida St||23-16||Fiesta|
|Nov. 30, 1996||Florida||Florida St||21-24||RS|
|Jan. 2, 1996||Nebraska||Florida||62-24||Fiesta|
|Jan. 1, 1994||Florida St||Nebraska||18-16||Orange|
|Nov. 13, 1993||Florida St||Notre Dame||24-31||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1993||Miami (FL)||Alabama||13-34||Sugar|
|Nov. 16, 1991||Florida St||Miami (FL)||16-17||RS|
|Sept. 16, 1989||Notre Dame||Michigan||24-19||RS|
|Nov. 26, 1988||Notre Dame||USC||27-10||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1988||Oklahoma||Miami (FL)||16-20||Orange|
|Nov. 21, 1987||Nebraska||Oklahoma||7-17||RS|
|Jan. 2, 1987||Miami (FL)||Penn St||10-14||Fiesta|
|Sept. 27, 1986||Oklahoma||Miami (FL)||16-28||RS|
|Oct. 19, 1985||Iowa||Michigan||12-10||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1983||Georgia||Penn St||23-27||Sugar|
|Sept. 26, 1981||USC||Oklahoma||38-24||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1979||Penn St||Alabama||7-14||Sugar|
|Jan. 1, 1972||Nebraska||Alabama||37-6||Orange|
|Nov. 25, 1971||Nebraska||Oklahoma||35-31||RS|
|Dec. 6, 1969||Texas||Arkansas||15-14||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1969||Ohio St||USC||27-16||Rose|
|Sept. 28, 1968||Purdue||Notre Dame||37-22||RS|
|Nov. 19, 1966||Notre Dame||Michigan State||0-0||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1964||Texas||Navy||28-6||Cotton|
|Oct. 12, 1963||Oklahoma||Texas||7-28||RS|
|Jan. 1, 1963||USC||Wisconsin||42-37||Rose|
|Nov. 9, 1946||Army||Notre Dame||0-0||RS|
|Dec. 1, 1945||Army||Navy||32-13||RS|
|Nov. 10, 1945||Army||Notre Dame||48-0||RS|
|Dec. 2, 1944||Army||Navy||23-7||RS|
|Nov. 20, 1943||Notre Dame||Iowa||14-13||RS|
|Oct. 9, 1943||Notre Dame||Michigan||35-12||RS|