The 1941 college football regular season was the 73rd season of intercollegiate football in the United States. Competition included schools from the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Big Six Conference, the Southern Conference, the Southwestern Conference, and numerous smaller conferences and independent programs.
The top five teams in the final AP Poll were as follows:
- Minnesota, under head coach Bernie Bierman, compiled a perfect 8–0 record, won the Big Ten championship, and was ranked No. 1. It was Minnesota's fifth national championship in eight years.
- Duke compiled a 9–0 record in the regular season, won the Southern Conference championship, and was ranked No. 2.
- Notre Dame, led by head coach Frank Leahy, compiled an 8–0–1 record and was ranked No. 3.
- Texas, led by head coach Dana X. Bible, compiled an 8–1–1 record and was ranked No. 4. Texas was recognized as national champion by Berryman QPRS, James Howell, and the Williamson System.
- Michigan, led by head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled a 6–1–1 record and was ranked No. 5.
In the four major bowl games, No. 2 Duke lost to PCC champion Oregon State in the Rose Bowl, No. 6 Fordham defeated No. 7 Missouri in the Sugar Bowl, No. 14 Georgia defeated unranked TCU in the Orange Bowl, and No. 20 Alabama defeated No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies in the Cotton Bowl. The Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena, California, to Durham, North Carolina, due to security concerns on the West Coast following the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Minnesota halfback Bruce Smith won the 1941 Heisman Trophy. Players recognized as consensus picks on the 1941 All-America team included Harvard guard Endicott Peabody (selected unanimously by all nine official selectors), Michigan fullback Bob Westfall (8/9), Minnesota tackle Dick Wildung (8/9), Stanford quarterback Frankie Albert (7/9), Bruce Smith (7/9), Alabama end Holt Rast (6/9), Missouri center Darold Jenkins (6/9), Virginia halfback Bill Dudley (5/9), Georgia halfback Frank Sinkwich (5/9), and Notre Dame end Bob Dove (5/9).
Conference and program changesEdit
September 20 Tennessee beat Furman 32-6 and Boston College beat St. Anselm, 78-0.
In Seattle, defending champion Minnesota beat Washington 14-6, while in New Orleans, Boston College fell to Tulane, 21-7. Stanford beat Oregon 19-15, Michigan beat Michigan State 19-7, Texas won at Colorado, 34-6 and Duke beat Wake Forest 43-14. Tennessee was idle
October 4 Minnesota was idle. Tennessee lost at Duke, 19-0. In New York, Fordham beat SMU 16-10. Elsewhere, it was Stanford over UCLA 33-0, Michigan over Iowa 6-0, Northwestern beating Kansas State 51-3 and Texas defeating LSU 34-0.
October 11 Minnesota beat Illinois 34-6, Northwestern beat Wisconsin 41-14, and Michigan beat Pittsburgh 40-0. In Baltimore, Duke beat Maryland 50-0, while in Dallas, Texas beat Oklahoma 40-7. Fordham won at North Carolina 27-14. Stanford lost at Oregon State 10-0.
In the poll that followed, Minnesota was ranked #1, followed by Texas, Duke, Fordham, Northwestern and Michigan.
October 16 the penalty flag is used for the first time in the 1941 Oklahoma City vs. Youngstown football game in Youngstown, Ohio.
October 18 #1 Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 39-0. #2 Texas defeated Arkansas 48-14. #3 Duke beat visiting Colgate 27-14, and #4 Fordham beat West Virginia 27-0.
In Ann Arbor, #6 Michigan beat visiting #5 Northwestern 14-7. #7 Navy beat Cornell 14-0 in Baltimore. In the next poll, Michigan and Navy moved up while Fordham and Northwestern dropped out of the top five.
October 25 The biggest game of the year took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as #1 Minnesota defeated
#3 Michigan, 7-0.
#2 Texas beat Rice 40-0. #4 Duke won at Pittsburgh 27-7. #5 Navy and Harvard played to a 0-0 tie. #6 Fordham beat TCU 28-14, while #9 Texas A&M won at Baylor 48-0, to reach 5-0-0. In the vote that followed, Minnesota received 60 first place votes, and Texas received 53. When the points were tallied, they both had 1,161 points and were tied for #1.
November 1 In Dallas, #1 Texas beat SMU 34-0, while in Minneapolis, the other #1, Minnesota, edged #9 Northwestern 8-7. In New York, #3 Fordham defeated Purdue 17-0, and in Atlanta, #4 Duke won at Georgia Tech 14-0. In Little Rock, #5 Texas A&M beat Arkansas 7-0. Texas was the new #1 the following week, followed by Minnesota, Fordham, Duke and Texas A&M, all unbeaten and untied.
November 8 #1 Texas and Baylor played to a 7-7 tie. #2 Minnesota beat Nebraska 9-0. #3 Fordham lost at Pittsburgh 13-0. #4 Duke won at Davidson 56-0. #5 Texas A&M beat SMU 21-10. #7 Notre Dame beat Navy 20-13 in Baltimore and moved into the Top Five as Fordham dropped out.
November 15 #1 Minnesota won at Iowa 34-13. #2 Texas lost to Texas Christian (TCU) 14-7. #3 Duke beat North Carolina 20-0.
In Houston, #4 Texas A&M beat Rice 19-6. #5 Notre Dame won at #8 Northwestern 7-6. #7 Michigan, which beat Columbia, 28-0, moved up as Texas dropped out.
November 22 #1 Minnesota closed its season with a 41-6 win over Wisconsin in Minneapolis. #2 Texas A&M was idle as it prepared for its Thanksgiving game. #3 Duke won its season closer at N.C. State 55-6 to get a bid to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. Fifteen days later, the bombing of Pearl Harbor called into question whether Southern California would be safe from a Japanese attack on New Year's Day. On December 15, bowl officials and U.S. Army officers met in San Francisco and decided to hold the game at Duke's stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
#4 Notre Dame beat USC 20-18. #5 Michigan closed its season with a 20-20 tie #14 against Ohio State. The Top four remained the same, but #6 Duquesne (which had finished its season at 8-0-0) replaced Michigan at #5. On Thanksgiving Day #2 Texas A&M lost to Texas 23-0.
Major conference standingsEdit
Minor conference standingsEdit