Football Research

The Lost Century of Sports Collection is proud to offer a guest page to Tex Noel, Executive Director of The Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association. Tex has been compiling detailed and fascinating college football statistics from the first intercollegiate game in 1869 through 1936. He has graciously offered to provide some of of his research to Please feel free to contact Tex at his email


College Football’s Lost Century: 1869-1900

By Tex Noel ©

From the playing of the initial college football game in 1869 and over the course of the next 31 autumns, countless memories by players, teams and even coaches would send the sport on a course of making monumental memories in the 19th century.

However, as the name of this site indicates, many of college football’s accomplishments have been lost in a forgotten century—BUT NOT ALL OF THEM.

From 1991-2008, I spent the majority of my time pouring through histories, media guides, records and anything that I could get my hands on…turning my findings into a twice-published book. The stats are now stored on a database known as Stars-Era_StatBase.

The history of the sport’s formative seasons will come alive as you learn more during this era—From A Different sit back and enjoy a trip back into College Football’s Lost Century!!

Before we start, if you want to know what player had the highest number of passing stats from 1869-1900, you won’t find any! WHY? Throwing the ole inflated pigskin down the field to get into a better position to score would not take place until 1906. Before then the ball was passed in the air but was never thrown forward.

Annual Statistical Events

The Lost Century Era – 1869-1900

1869…Rutgers and Princeton agree to play a game of foot ball. Rutgers won the very first game, 6 goals to 4 goals, with Princeton taking the rematch a week later, 8-0.

1870…Participants from the inaugural game a year before would also be part of the scoring accomplishment this season; as game winners were determined by the teams scoring the most goals. Princeton would outscore its historic counterpart, 6 goals-2; while Rutgers also scored 6 times in its victory over Columbia, by the same score.

1871…History records no games were played this year. However, in depth research by historian Melvin I. Smith has proven otherwise. Princeton met the Princeton Seminary in 3 games this season and was victorious in all three.

1872…Yale began its entry into college foot ball in a most memorable way…one that would continue over the next 15 seasons, winning 93 of 98 games (losses coming to: Princeton-3; Harvard and Columbia.) Scoring stats from these games reveal the following: Yale scored 3001 points (550 Goals, Touchdowns, 219….while allowing just 56 points on 19 goals and 9 touchdowns).

1873…Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers and Yale met in New York to create a code of rules based on the Association style of the game.

1874…Harvard, after suffering an opening game loss to Tufts by a score of 1 goal and 1 touchdown to zero (the early score read this way: Tufts 1-g, 1-t—0) won its next 5 games, finishing the season 5-0-1, scoring 42 points while allowing just 6.

1875…The captains of Yale and Harvard met in a game of Rugby. The former agreed to play under concessions in the Rugby Code; thus the contest was called “Concessions Rules” to modify rules allowed. Harvard was declared the winner 4-goals to zero.

1876…Princeton invited Columbia, Harvard and Yale to meet at the Massasoit House in Springfield, Massachusetts, for the purpose of adopting the Rugby Union Code, thus forming the Intercollegiate Football Association. Initial scoring rules called a goal to equal 4 touchdowns and a game was decided by a majority of touchdowns; with games being played in 45 minute halves.

1877…Participating teams played with 15 men per starting unit, listed as:  9 men in the rush line; 1 quarter-back; 2 half-backs; 1 three-quarter back and 2 full-backs.

1878…The third of a 10-year period (1876-1885) where two judges and a single referee enforced the rules of the day.  In 1876 the rules committee stated: “There shall be two judges, one for each side and also a referee to whom disputed points shall be refereed and whose decision shall be final.”

1879…Yale embarked on a streak of 47 games without a loss (going 42-0-5); this would standard for such games of the era.

1880…The playing field was reduced from 140 by 70 yards, to 110 x 53. A smaller playing area also meant a reduction in the number of participants: 15 to 11.

1881…Alexander Moffatt, who played for Princeton (1881-83), was the lone player who participated in early games (pre-1885) to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He scored 136 points his senior season.

1882…This season teams played under downs and yards. “If on three consecutive fairs downs a team shall not have advanced the ball 5 yards or lost 10 yards, they must give up the ball to the other side at the spot where the fourth down was made.”

1883…First scoring values (FG-5, XP-4, TD-2, SAF-1) were introduced in November. They were changed again in 1884: 5-4-2-2, respectively.

1884…Yale’s Wyllys Terry rambled 115 yards for a touchdown which would lead his team to a 46-0 victory. Please note: Terry was 5 yards deep in his own end zone—the length of the field was 110 yards long.  A week before this contest, Yale blanked Dartmouth 113-0, the first game ever for a team to score at least 100 points.

1885…Playing a 9-game schedule, Princeton (9-0-0) became the first college football team to score over 500 points-in-a season, scoring 645 points while surrendering 25.

1886…After its faculty forbade participating in games the year before, Harvard makes a comeback with a record-shattering performance—one that would last until 2004. Harvard scored 765 points, a mark that would last until Pittsburg KS registered the first 800+ scoring season with 837 points. (Since broken in 2014 by Mount Union, 878 points.)

1887…Princeton’s Knowlton “Snake” Ames scored 219 points, only to surpass it a year later with 243, finishing his career with 730 total points—a mark that would not be surpassed in the game’s first 69 years of play (1869-1936).

1888…This was the first season of playing college football for the Virginia Cavaliers. The team had a winning record and would have a winning record over the next 28 seasons—ending in 1915. This is the record for consecutive winning seasons by a team starting from its first season of competition for a team in not only the Lost Century-era but all of college football 1869-1936 aka the Stars-era.

1889…Walter Camp (Rules Committee expert and “The Father of Football”) and Caspar Whitney (a noted sportswriter of the day) release a mythical team of 11 players…aka as the All-American Team. The team consisted of players from 3 colleges: Princeton with 5 and Yale and Harvard both with 3 players selected. (A breakdown per position shows: Ends-Yale and Harvard; Line-Princeton and Yale 2 each and Harvard; and Backs-3 were from Princeton with a Harvard player filling the other spot.)

1890…A season finale victory by Yale against Harvard, 32-0, starts Yale’s string of 35 consecutive games winning by blanking with an average margin of victory of 35.97; scoring 1259 points.  Pennsylvania’s 14-6 victory snapped the streak.

1891…Over the next decade (1891-1900), Pennsylvania won at a clip of .906 (just one of 9 colleges with a winning percentage over .900). With 125 wins—the most by any team during the Stars-era of 1869-1936. The Quakers’ Won-Lost record would reveal: 125-12-45 standard.

1892…George Woodruff began his coaching career at the University of Pennsylvania, like no other coach in the game’s history had—winning 15 of the team’s 16 games.

1893…A pair of small colleges from the state of Iowa would play each other twice during the season. Iowa Wesleyan defeated Parsons in both games by the identical score of 16-0.

1894…Playing time was reduced from 90 minutes to 70 (two halves of 35 minutes each). Addition in the rules… no player shall lay his hands upon an opponent unless the opponent had the ball.

1895…College football historian Parke H. Davis begins his three-year career as coach at Lafayette; compiling a 6-2-0 slate. His career mark at the school was: 26-4-2.

1896…Lafayette defeated Pennsylvania, 6-4, snapping the Quakers’ 34-game winning streak. Penn would start a new streak in its next game—and it would cover 31 games.

1897…This was the last season (1888-97) in which touchdowns were valued at 5 points each.

1898…Wisconsin’s Pat O’Dea, originally from Australia, converted a pair of 60-yard drop kick goals from the field; keying his team to a season finale victory, 47-0 against Chicago. (This was part of the 50 points he scored during the season.)

1899…Sewanee travels the country, by train, covering 2500 miles. The team played an 11-game season, winning 10 by shutout. Their five wins came in a span of six days against Texas (12-0), Texas A&M (10-0), Tulane (23-0), LSU (34-0), and Ole Miss (12-0).

1900…Pennsylvania ends the Lost Century-era by completing an 11-year period (1890-1900) compiling a record of 136-15-2.

Worth noting: Most college football during the Lost Century was played by teams in the East. The sport spread nationwide in the early 1890s.

Longest Consecutive Winning Seasons

Lost Century Era – 1876-1900

Princeton – 25 seasons: 1876-1900
Yale – 25 seasons: 1876-1900
Harvard – 20 seasons: 1881-1900
Pennsylvania – 18 seasons: 1883-1900
Virginia – 13 seasons: 1888-1900
Michigan – 9 seasons: 1892-1900
Notre Dame – 7 seasons: 1893-1900
Texas – 7 seasons: 1893-1900

Teams Scoring 500+ Points in Season

During the Lost Century Era

1885 Princeton – Record: 9-0
Points scored: 645 – Per game avg.: 71.67
Points allowed: 25 – Per game avg.: 2.78
Avg. victory margin: 68.89

1886 Harvard – Record: 12-2
Points scored: 765 – Per game avg.: 54.64
Points allowed: 41 – Per game avg.: 2.93
Avg. victory margin: 63.42

1886 Yale – Record: 9-0-1
Points scored: 687 – Per game avg.: 68.7
Points allowed: 40 – Per game avg.: 0.4
Avg. victory margin: 76.33

1887 Harvard – Record: 10-1
Points scored: 660 – Per game avg.: 60
Points allowed: 23 – Per game avg.: 2.09
Avg. victory margin: 54.6

1887 Yale – Record: 9-1
Points scored: 515 – Per game avg.: 57.22
Points allowed: 12 – Per game avg.: 1.33
Avg. victory margin: 55.89

1888 Yale – Record: 13-0
Points scored: 694 – Per game avg.: 53.38
Points allowed: 0 – Per game avg.: 0
Avg. victory margin: 53.38

1888 Harvard – Record: 12-1
Points scored: 635 – Per game avg.: 48.85
Points allowed: 32 – Per game avg.: 2.46
Avg. victory margin: 41

1888 Princeton – Record: 11-1
Points scored: 607 – Per game avg.: 50.58
Points allowed: 16 – Per game avg.: 1.33
Avg. victory margin: 54.36

1889 Yale – Record: 15-1
Points scored: 665 – Per game avg.: 41.56
Points allowed: 31 – Per game avg.: 1.94
Avg. victory margin: 42.93

1890 Harvard – Record: 11-0
Points scored: 553 – Per game avg.: 50.27
Points allowed: 12 – Per game avg.: 1.09
Avg. victory margin: 49.18

1891 Harvard – Record: 13-1
Points scored: 588 – Per game avg.: 42
Points allowed: 22 – Per game avg.: 1.57
Avg. victory margin: 44.46

1899 Chicago – Record: 16-0-2
Points scored: 505 – Per game avg.: 28.06
Points allowed: 28 – Per game avg.: 1.56
Avg. victory margin: 29.81

College Football Hall of Fame Coaches

Careers Started in the Lost Century Era

Amos Alonzo Stagg
School(s): Springfield (MA), Chicago, Pacific (CA)
Coaching Years: 1890-1946
Inducted: 1951

Bennie Owen
School(s): Washburn (KS), Bethany (KS), Oklahoma
Coaching Years: 1900-1926
Inducted: 1951

Fielding “Hurry-up” Yost
School(s): Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Kansas, Stanford, Michigan
Coaching Years: 1897-1926
Inducted: 1951

Glen Hall
School(s): Illinois, Dartmouth
Coaching Years: 1892-1893
Inducted: 1951

Henry Williams
School(s): Army, Minnesota
Coaching Years: 1891-1921
Inducted: 1951

Percy Haughton
School(s): Cornell, Harvard, Columbia
Coaching Years: 1899-1924
Inducted: 1951

Pop Warner
School(s): Georgia, Cornell, Carlisle, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Temple
Coaching Years: 1895-1938
Inducted: 1951

Walter Camp
School(s): Yale, Stanford
Coaching Years: 1888-1895
Inducted: 1951

Frank Cavanaugh
School(s): Cincinnati, Holy Cross, Dartmouth, Boston College, Fordham
Coaching Years: 1898-1932
Inducted: 1954

John Heisman
School(s): Oberlin, Akron, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson, Rice
Coaching Years: 1892-1927
Inducted: 1954

Edward Robinson
School(s): Nebraska, Brown, Maine
Coaching Years: 1896-1925
Inducted: 1955

George Woodruff
School(s): Pennsylvania, Illinois, Carlisle
Coaching Years: 1892-1905
Inducted: 1963

George Sanford
School(s): Columbia, Rutgers
Coaching Years: 1899-1923
Inducted: 1971

College Football Hall of Fame Players

Played in the Lost Century Era

Alex Moffat, Princeton halfback, 1881-1883 – inducted 1971

Hector Cowan, Princeton tackle, 1885-1889 – inducted 1951

Amos Alonzo Stagg, Yale end, 1885-1889 – inducted 1951

Pa Corbin, Yale center, 1886-1888 – inducted 1969

Knowlton Ames, Princeton fullback, 1886-1889 – inducted 1969

Andy Wyant, Chicago & Bucknell center/guard, 1887-1894 – inducted 1962

Pudge Heffelfinger, Yale guard, 1888-1891 – inducted 1951

Bum McClung, Yale halfback, 1888-1891 – inducted 1963

George Brooke, fullback, Pennsylvania & Swarthmore, 1889-1895 – inducted 1969

Marshall Newell, Harvard tackle, 1890-1893 – inducted 1957

Phil King, Princeton quarterback, 1890-1893 – inducted 1962

Frank Hinkey, Yale end, 1891-1894 – inducted 1951

Arthur Wheeler, Princeton guard, 1892-1894 – inducted 1969

Bill Hickok, Yale guard, 1892-1894 – inducted 1971

Charles Brewer, Harvard fullback, 1892-1895 – inducted 1971

Langdon Lea, Princeton end/tackle, 1892-1895 – inducted 1964

William Henry Lewis, Harvard center, 1892-1993 – inducted 2009

William Wyckoff, Cornell quarterback, 1893-1895 – inducted 1970

Sam Thorne, Yale halfback, 1893-1895 – inducted 1970

Charlie Gelbert, Pennsylvania end/guard, 1893-1896 – inducted 1960

Charles Wharton, Pennsylvania guard, 1893-1896 – inducted 1963

Charles Rinehart, Lafayette guard, 1893-1897 – inducted 1964

John Minds, Pennsylvania fullback, 1894-1897 – inducted 1962

Gary Cochran, Princeton end, 1894-1897 – inducted 1971

John Outland, Kansas 1895; & Pennsylvania tackle/halfback, 1897-1899 – inducted 2001

Bert Herschberger, Chicago fullback, 1895-1898 – inducted 1970

Eddie Rogers, end, Carlisle 1896-1898; & Minnesota 1900-1903 – inducted 1968

Art Poe, Princeton end, 1896-1899 – inducted 1969

Art Hillebrand, Princeton tackle, 1896-1899 – inducted 1970

Bill Edwards, Princeton guard, 1896-1899 – inducted 1971

Pat O’Dea, Wisconsin fullback, 1896-1899 – inducted 1962

Henry Seibels, University of the South halfback, 1896-1900 – inducted 1973

Bill Reid, Harvard fullback, 1897-1899 – inducted 1970

Truxton Hare, Pennsylvania guard, 1897-1900 – inducted 1951

Gordon Brown, Yale guard, 1897-1900 – inducted 1954

Winchester Osgood, halfback, Cornell 1888-1892; & Pennsylvania 1893-1894 – inducted 1970

Neil Snow, Michigan end/fullback, 1898-1901 – inducted 1960

Charles Daly, quarterback, Harvard 1898-1900; & Army 1901-1902 – inducted 1951

Willie Heston, halfback, San Jose State 1898-1900; & Michigan 1901-1904 – inducted 1954

Bill Morley, Columbia halfback, 1899-1901 – inducted 1971

Dave Campbell, Harvard end, 1899-1901 – inducted 1958

Paul Bunker, Army halfback/tackle, 1899-1902 – inducted 1969

Harold Weekes, Columbia halfback, 1899-1902 – inducted 1954

Bill Warner, Cornell guard, 1899-1902 – inducted 1971

James Johnson, quarterback, Carlisle 1899-1903; & Northwestern 1904-1905 – inducted 1969

Zora Clevenger, Indiana halfback, 1900-1903 – inducted 1968

Louis Salmon, Notre Dame fullback, 1900-1903 – inducted 1971

Henry Phillips, University of the South guard, 1900-1905 – inducted 1959

Hunter Carpenter, halfback, Virginia Tech 1900-1903, 1905; & North Carolina 1904 – inducted 1957