About half of college football’s programs in the marquee Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern conferences plus Notre Dame lie north of the Sun Belt. That’s 30 or 33 of 66, depending on whether you include Virginia, Kentucky and Louisville (all just north of the 38th parallel).
And this isn’t the way the college football world always tilted. The Associated Press established the first wire-service poll in 1936, and cold-weather teams — led by Notre Dame, Minnesota, Army, Ohio State — won 15 of its first 19 national titles. Then came Oklahoma’s 47-game winning streak and the rise of the Bear Bryant-powered SEC.
In the half-century before the BCS, Northern teams won or shared consensus national titles more than half the time (28 of those 50 years). The period ended with Nebraska’s mid-’90s flourish.