1939 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

The 1939 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team was an American football team that represented the University of Nebraska in the Big Six Conference during the 1939 college football season. In its third season under head coach Biff Jones, the team compiled a 7–1–1 record (4–1 against conference opponents), finished second in the Big Six, and was ranked No. 18 in the final AP Poll. The Cornhuskers outscored opponents by a total of 115 to 70.[1] They were also ranked at No. 9 in the 1939 Williamson System ratings,[2] at No. 8 in the Boand System ratings,[3] and at No. 23 in the Litkenhous Ratings.[4]

1939 Nebraska Cornhuskers football
ConferenceBig Six Conference
APNo. 18
Record7–1–1 (4–1 Big 6)
Head coach
Offensive schemeSingle-wing
Home stadiumMemorial Stadium
← 1938
1940 →
1939 Big Six Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 6 Missouri $ 5 0 0 8 2 0
No. 18 Nebraska 4 1 0 7 1 1
No. 19 Oklahoma 3 2 0 6 2 1
Kansas 1 4 0 2 6 0
Iowa State 1 4 0 2 7 0
Kansas State 1 4 0 4 5 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The team played its home games at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Before the season


Coach Jones was under some scrutiny upon the start of his third year at the helm of the program, as it wasn't entirely clear if his successful first year in 1937 was a product of his leadership or a remnant of former head coach Dana X. Bible's legacy. After suffering a 3-5-1 campaign in 1938, the most losses in a single season since 1899, coach Jones needed to get the program back on its feet.


September 302:00 p.m.at Indiana*T 7–718,000[5]
October 72:00 p.m.Minnesota*W 6–033,000[6]
October 142:00 p.m.at Iowa StateW 10–711,770
October 212:00 p.m. No. 19 Baylor*No. 16
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 20–0
October 282:00 p.m.at Kansas StateNo. 10W 25–9
November 42:00 p.m.at MissouriNo. 10L 13–2718,000[7]
November 112:00 p.m.Kansas 
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
W 7–0
November 181:00 p.m.at Pittsburgh*W 14–1330,000[8]
November 252:00 p.m. No. 14 Oklahoma
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
W 13–7
  • *Non-conference game
  •  Homecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Central time



Abel, George #47 G
Alfson, Warren #22 G
Ashburn, Jack #55 E
Behm, Forrest #33 T
Blue, Wayne #39 HB
Burruss, Robert #49 C
Carper, Charles #58 E
DeFruiter, Robert #46 HB
Dobson, Adna #53 G
Francis, Vike #38 FB
Fuenning, Sam #57 G
Haynes, Edgar #36 T
Herndon, Clarence #34 T
Herrmann, William #29 G
Hopp, Harry #37 FB
Kahler, Robert #35 HB
Kahler, Royal #42 T
Kelly, Howard #56 C
Klum, Arlo #51 G
Knickrehm, Hubert #40 T
Knight, George #21 QB
Leik, Francis #60 T
Ludwick, Robert #30 E
Luther, Walter #27 HB
Meier, Fred #20 C


Monsky, Hubert #45 G
Muskin, Leonard #43 T
Myers, Lynn #64 G
Nelson, Jack #65 T
Petsch, Roy #13 QB
Porter, George #18 HB
Preston, Fred #52 E
Prochaska, Jerome #32 E
Prochaska, Ray #31 E
Ramey, Robert #16 C
Rohn, Henry #15 FB
Rohrig, Herman #25 HB
Rubottom, Don #10 HB
Schwartzkopf, Ed #17 G
Schwartzkopf, Sam #54 T
Seeman, George #41 E
Simmons, Kenneth #19 HB
Stearns, George #48 G
Thompson, Marvin #44 HB
Thompson, Theos #26 HB
Vincent, Jack #23 HB
Waddick, Donald #24 E
Ziegler, Donald #50 E
Zorn, Howard #68 G


Coaching staff

Name Title First year
in this position
Years at Nebraska Alma mater
Lawrence Mcceney "Biff" Jones Head coach 1937 1937–1941 Army
W. Harold Browne Assistant coach 1930 1930–1940
Roy Lyman 1936 1936–1941
Harold Petz 1938 1936, 1938–1940
Charles Armstrong 1937 1937–1942, 1944
Adolph J. Lewandowski 1937 1937–1944 Nebraska
Paul Amen 1938 1938–1941
Glenn Presnell 1938 1938–1942, 1946 Nebraska
Robert Mills 1939 1939
William Pfeiff 1939 1939, 1942


Game summaries



Nebraska at Indiana
1 2Total
Nebraska 7
Indiana 7

Indiana scored first and held Nebraska off with the narrow 7-0 lead for most of the rest of the game. Finally, as time was running out, the Cornhuskers pulled up to the Hoosier 1 yard line. After two subsequent scoring attempts were turned away, Nebraska executed a reverse around the right and scored with less than 90 seconds remaining to play. Indiana responded valiantly, quickly driving from their own 35 to the Nebraska 10 before a turnover ended their last hope with 35 seconds still on the clock. Indiana thus remained winless against Nebraska in all four of their attempts.[13][14]


Minnesota at Nebraska
1 234Total
Minnesota 0 000 0
Nebraska 0 600 6

Nebraska brought old nemesis Minnesota to Lincoln and attacked the Gophers with a powerful running offense, while the Cornhusker defense put up an outstanding effort to keep Minnesota off the scoreboard all day long. Nebraska threw only a single pass during the contest, and made their lone score using the same play that slipped past Indiana in the previous game. The rare win was savored by the Cornhuskers, but Nebraska had a long way to go if they ever hoped to even up the series, as the Gophers still held a dominating edge of 15-4-2 over the Cornhuskers.[13][14]

Iowa State

Nebraska at Iowa State
1 234Total
Nebraska 3 070 10
Iowa State 0 007 7

Nebraska opened the 1939 conference slate with a relatively easy win over Iowa State, running out to a 10-0 lead by the start of the 4th quarter. The Cyclones did manage a late rally to put up 7 late points, but the Cornhuskers successfully avenged the previous year's upsetting loss to Iowa State and padded the series lead over the Cyclones to 28-5-1.[13][14]


#19 Baylor at #16 Nebraska
1 234Total
#19 Baylor 0 000 0
• #16 Nebraska 6 0140 20
  • Date: October 21
  • Location: Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska

Baylor met Nebraska for the first time in what was presented initially as a marquee matchup of two highly touted lines. The day belonged to Nebraska all the way, however, as the Cornhuskers pulled up to a 6-0 lead by the half before breaking away with two more touchdowns in the 3rd quarter on their way to blanking the Bears in Lincoln.[13][15]

Kansas State

#10 Nebraska at Kansas State
1 2Total
• #10 Nebraska 25
Kansas State 9
See also 1939 Nebraska vs. Kansas State football game

Kansas State found the scoreboard first on an early field goal, but a punt returned for a touchdown turned the tide, and two Wildcat fumbles later on handed additional points to the Cornhuskers, who never looked back. It was Nebraska's fourth straight win over Kansas State as the series was advanced to 20-2-2 all time.[13][15]

The game was the second televised college football game of all time, and the first ever televised homecoming game.[16][17]


#10 Nebraska at Missouri
1 2Total
#10 Nebraska 13
Missouri 27

Missouri handed Nebraska its first and only loss of the season in Columbia, easily holding Nebraska off by a two-touchdown margin to hold onto the Missouri-Nebraska Bell. It was the second straight Tiger victory, but Missouri still lagged in the series 8-22-3.[13][15]


Kansas at Nebraska
1 234Total
Kansas 0 000 0
Nebraska 7 000 7
  • Date: November 11
  • Location: Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska

The Cornhuskers wasted no time in finding the scoreboard early on, but wasted two scoring attempts soon afterward to lost fumbles. The game remained fairly evenly matched thereafter, until a late spirited attack by the Jayhawks put a brief minor scare in Nebraska before being warded off. This was the 14th straight game dropped to the Cornhuskers, and the Jayhawks fell to 9-34-3 against the Cornhuskers in the series.[13][18]


Nebraska at Pittsburgh
1 2Total
Nebraska 14
Pittsburgh 13

The bitter rivalry with Pittsburgh was continued when the Cornhuskers arrived for the game at Pitt Stadium with hopes to end the long streak of Nebraska futility against the Panthers. The Cornhuskers battled to a slim 7-6 halftime lead, a margin which would eventually prove enough for the win after both teams each managed a second half touchdown apiece. Nebraska's six-game losing streak and twelve-game winless streak against Pittsburgh, both all-time program records to date, were snapped at last. Still, this was only Nebraska's second win against Pittsburgh in all 14 attempts, leaving a long way for the Cornhuskers to go to catch up.[13][18]


#14 Oklahoma at Nebraska
1 234Total
#14 Oklahoma 7 000 7
Nebraska 0 1300 13
  • Date: November 25
  • Location: Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska

Oklahoma, a recent source of frustration to Nebraska after defeating the Cornhuskers in the previous year and drawing up a tie the year before that, once again fell to Nebraska as the Cornhuskers wrapped up the conference slate with just one loss overall, to Big 6 champion Missouri. Though the Sooners scored early, Nebraska promptly answered before the half to take the lead, and no further scores were attained by either team afterwards. Nebraska improved in the series to 13-3-3.[13][18]

After the season


Coach Jones redeemed himself in a convincing manner following the disappointing 1938 season. Although Nebraska did not bring home a conference title this year, the Cornhuskers were able to defeat both bitter rivals Minnesota and Pittsburgh in the same season for the first time ever, and wrapped up the season with a defeat of #14 Oklahoma to move into the rankings themselves in the postseason poll. Coach Jones saw his overall career record at Nebraska bounce back substantially, to 16-7-4 (.667), while his conference total also improved to 9-4-2 (.667). The Cornhuskers now owned an overall record of 286-96-31 (.730) and a Big 6 conference record of 96-15-11 (.832).


Award Name(s)
All American 2nd team Warren Alfson
All Big 6 Warren Alfson, Herman Rohrig



  1. ^ "1939 Nebraska Cornhuskers Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Paul Williamson (December 8, 1941). "Texas Aggies Ranked Nation's Top". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Azzi Ratem (William F. Boand) (December 5, 1939). "Azzi Ratem Puts Huskers Eighth". Evening World-Herald. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ E. E. Litkenhous (December 31, 1939). "Vols Second In Final Litkenhous Grid Rankings; Southern California Tenth". Johnson City Sunday Press. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ W. Blaine Patton (October 1, 1939). "Indiana, Nebraska Tie: Late Passes Get Huskers 7-7 Deadlock". The Indianapolis Star. p. Sports 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ John Bentley (October 8, 1939). "Nebraska Beats Minnesota, 6-0". Sunday Journal and Star. p. A1 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Harold Claasen (November 5, 1939). "Christman's 'Flips' Beat Nebraska: Missouri Upsets Dope And Huskers Lose 27 To 13". The Sedalia Democrat and Capital. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Tom Hopkins (November 19, 1939). "Fumbles Help Nebraska Beat Pitt". Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. p. Pat 3-2. Retrieved November 30, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Nebraska Football 1939 Roster". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  10. ^ "Nebraska head coaches". HuskerMax. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  11. ^ "Assistant coaches". HuskerMax. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  12. ^ "1940 Cornhusker - University of Nebraska Yearbook (Page 172)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The 1930s". HuskerMax. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c "1940 Cornhusker - University of Nebraska Yearbook (Page 174)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  15. ^ a b c "1940 Cornhusker - University of Nebraska Yearbook (Page 176)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  16. ^ "Televised Game". Morning Chronicle. Manhattan, Kansas. October 28, 1939.
  17. ^ Janssen, Mark (October 7, 2010). "Purple Pride vs. Big Red – 4-0 vs. 4-0". Kansas State Wildcats. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  18. ^ a b c "1940 Cornhusker - University of Nebraska Yearbook (Page 178)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  19. ^ "1940 Cornhusker - University of Nebraska Yearbook (Page 173)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2010.