A year ago, Alabama's football team had to settle for being half a national champion, the consequence of divergent voter opinions in the two wire service polls. This season the Crimson Tide went 12-0 to secure the top ranking in both tabulations.
With a convincing 24-9 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas that left it with the nation's only perfect record. Alabama helped clarify what is often a confusing situation. In fact, voters in both the United Press International coaches' and the Associated Press writers' polls managed to agree on the first five teams.
Coming after Alabama were Southern Cal (11-0-1), Oklahoma (11-1), Ohio State (11-1), and Houston (11-1).
Right before the bowl games, undefeated Ohio State slipped ahead of Alabama in the AP poll, a quirk that caused a great deal of consternation among Tide rooters.This sudden shift of opinion threatened another divided vote for No. 1 in the final polls, an outcome prevented by the Buckeyes' 17-16 Rose Bowl loss to Southern Cal.
In addition to Alabama and Ohio State, Florida State and Brigham Young had entered the post-season boasting unblemished records. But FSU's Cinderella Seminoles were manhandled by Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 24-7, and dropped from fourth to eighth in the UPI rankings. Brigham Young also slipped on the UPI charts, going from ninth to 12th following a heartbreaking 38-37 loss to Indiana in a wild Holiday Bowl.
Other teams in the final UPI ratings are No. 6 Pittsburgh (11-1); No. 7 Nebraska (10- 2); No. 9 Arkansas (10-2); No. 10 Purdue (10- 2); No. 11 Washington (10-2); No. 13 Texas (9- 3); No. 14 North Carolina (8-3-1); No. 15 Baylor (8-4); No. 16 Indiana (8-4); No. 17 Temple (10-2); No. 18 Penn State (8-4 ); No. 19 Michigan (8-4); and No. 20 Missouri (7-5).