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National titles: Who decides? Mostly, the schools

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National titles: Who decides? Mostly, the schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Quick, name the college football team that has won the most national championships. Alabama? Notre Dame? Princeton?

If you gave any of those answers, and maybe a few others, you might be right. Because over the years there have been a lot of organizations using different methods to determine who they think is national champion.

No wonder ``mythical'' is the word that often precedes national title.

``There is no official standard because there is no official national champion,'' said Kent Stephens, historian at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend. ``It all depends on the standard the school wishes to utilize. The national champion is in the eye of the beholder.''

This explains how Princeton can claim 28 national championships, starting with the first one in 1869. The Tigers went 1-1 that season against Rutgers in the only two games played in college football that year. They were retroactively crowned champion by several ranking organizations.

Among more traditional powerhouses, Alabama claims the most national championships with 14, followed by Notre Dame with 11, which is the same number Southern California and Michigan say they deserve.

The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide are tied at eight for the number of times they have been declared national champions by The Associated Press since the wire service started its poll in 1936. One of the teams will be awarded its ninth AP title in the wee hours of Jan. 8, after the BCS title game.

The biggest difference between the number of overall national championships Alabama and Notre Dame claim is the way they add up their titles.

Notre Dame senior associate athletic director John Heisler said the school only counts seasons when it feels as if most of the rating services agreed the Fighting Irish were the champs.

``When there isn't any debate, that Notre Dame would be considered the consensus national champions,'' Heisler said.

Alabama associate athletic director Doug Walker said The Tide feels its claim is just as solid.

``We acknowledge that some question one of our claimed national championships, the title from 1941, but we do claim 14 football national championships,'' he said.

Here are some of the national championships involving Alabama and Notre Dame.

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1924 - Notre Dame, led by the famed Four Horsemen, finished 10-0. There was no national champion declared at the time, but two years later University of Illinois economics professor Frank Dickinson devised a mathematical point system to determine a national champion, Stephens said. Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne persuaded Dickinson to retroactively determine a national champion for the 1925 (Dartmouth) and 1924 seasons. Others also were retroactively declared national champions.

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1930 - Alabama, coached by Wallace Wade, posted a 10-0 record, shutting out eight of its opponents, including a 24-0 win over Washington State in the Rose Bowl. Alabama is named the national champion by College Football Researchers. Notre Dame, in its last season under Knute Rockne, also went 10-0, including wins over Army and Southern California in the final two games. The Fighting Irish were named national champion by multiple organizations. Parke Davis calls Alabama and Notre Dame co-champions.

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1941 - Alabama posts a 9-2 record, finishes ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll but is ranked No. 1 by Houlgate. Minnesota (8-0) is ranked No. 1 by AP and several other groups. Notre Dame (8-0-1) finishes the season ranked No. 3.

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1964 - Alabama (10-1), led by Joe Namath, is named No. 1 in both the AP and coaches poll at the end of the regular season. Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 for the last month of the season, but was upset in the season finale by Southern California 20-17 when Craig Fertig completed a 15-yard TD pass to Rod Sherman with 1:33 left. The Irish finish No. 3 while Alabama then loses 21-17 to Texas in the Orange Bowl when the officials rule Namath didn't make it into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.

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1966 - Notre Dame (9-0-1) was ranked No. 1 by the AP and coaches at the end of the regular season, the only blemish on its record was a 10-10 tie against No. 2 Michigan State. Some criticized Irish coach Ara Parseghian for settling for a tie instead of going for the victory. Defending national champion Alabama (11-0) finished No. 3. Berryman named Alabama national champion, but the school does not count it.

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1973 - Alabama (11-1) finishes the regular season undefeated and is declared the national champion in the coaches poll, where the Irish were ranked No. 4. Notre Dame (11-0) then beats Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl after Bob Thomas kicked the game-winning field goal with 4:26 remaining. The AP names Notre Dame national champion.

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1977 - Notre Dame (11-1), after losing 20-13 to Mississippi in the second game of the season, wins the rest of its games, including a 38-10 rout of Texas in the Cotton Bowl, and is ranked No. 1 by in the AP and coaches poll. Alabama (11-1), after losing 31-24 to Nebraska in the second game, wins the rest of its games, including a 35-6 win over Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide winds up No. 2.

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One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is made up of a 36-year-old tackle who showed up on July 31 and a guard who's played a grand total of two games at the position. The other side, meanwhile, features a third-round pick who signed a pricey extension in 2017 at tackle and a two-time Pro Bowler at guard.

The first pair, somehow, is holding up OK through two contests this year. It's the second pair that's having trouble. And no one really expected that to be the case.

In Washington's Week 1 loss against Philadelphia, Morgan Moses — the one with the hefty contract — committed two penalties, a holding and a false start. Another holding call was declined.

In the team's Week 2 loss to Dallas, meanwhile, Brandon Scherff — the one with the Pro Bowls — was whistled for holding twice.

Beyond the penalties, though, Moses and Scherff haven't helped out the running backs. At all.

So far, according to the NFL's logs, the Burgundy and Gold have had 11 runs to the left for 46 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.18 yards per carry. There have been 14 carries to the right, on the other hand, for just 27 yards, which comes out to an average of 1.92 yards per carry.

To be fair, it's not like Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers are totally tearing it up at left tackle and left guard. But those stats show they've been surprisingly effective as run blockers and, overall, they're giving the Redskins all they could've hoped for. Moses and Scherff simply aren't.

Now, on the list of problems Jay Gruden's squad is facing, the defense's discouraging start is at the top, while injuries and poor adjustments follow. They need to seriously evaluate how they're trying to stop opposing offenses and what they are (or aren't) doing at halftime.

But Moses and Scherff's slumps are high up on that list of problems as well, because they were supposed to be two reliable veterans and pave the way when they were asked to.

Instead, they're holding the offense back, sometimes literally, sometimes because of sloppy play. The right side of the O-line is currently on the wrong side of things, which wasn't supposed to be the story up front.

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Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

After two games, the Redskins defense clearly does not appear ready for some of the expectations that arrived before the season. That's obvious. What isn't is why. 

In consecutive losses, Washington's defense has given up more than 30 points-per-game and more than 400 yards-per-game. With just two sacks, the defensive front hasn't generated much pressure at all. The sack numbers are low, but opposing quarterbacks aren't taking many hits or pressures either. Heck, on Sunday against Dallas, Dak Prescott completed every pass he threw during the second half. 

Before the year started, the Redskins defense looked poised for a breakout. The team had strong young talent up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis. The edge rushers were a pair of first-round picks in veteran Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat. Landon Collins was supposed to provide Pro Bowl play at safety. 

It just hasn't worked. 

The biggest Redskins struggles have come on third down. The defense just can't get on the field. In a Week 1 loss, the Eagles converted 11 of 17 third downs and went on long drives throughout the second half. Against the Cowboys in a Week 2 loss, Dallas never punted in the second half.

Against Philly, the Redskins gave up 4 yards-per-carry, which is usually a losing formula. Against Dallas, the Redskins gave up more than 6-yards-per-carry, which is definitely a losing formula. 

There are plenty of stats to show how bad the Redskins defense has been. These are just a sample. The bigger issue, however, is why it's happening.

And there aren't easy answers.

Injuries are a part of the equation. Losing Allen hurts a lot, as does losing cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau for the Dallas game. But still, injuries aren't a full explanation. 

Scheme is part of the problem. The Redskins tend to play conservative defense, without much blitzing or disguised looks. And if the defensive front isn't getting home, it's big trouble for the secondary when the quarterback has plenty of time. 

Coaching is a problem too. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is in charge of the conservative scheme. He could change that, and maybe should change that, but so far he has not. In his post-game comments, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said his staff isn't "reaching" the defensive players yet. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. 

Players also need to play better. Sweat, Ioannidis and Kerrigan aren't generating much pass rush, and that's a major problem. Josh Norman needs to be better too. 

There are no easy fixes here. There's no silver bullet, no singular answer. 

Gruden said there would be no coaching changes because it's so early in the season. That doesn't mean the questions won't keep coming. 

"There are no excuses to be had. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to play better," the coach said of his defense after the 31-21 loss to Dallas.

"We’re minus a couple pieces in the secondary, that has an issue. But really, we should be better than this."

Through two games, the Redskins defense should be much better than it has been. Gruden knows it. Fans do too. 

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