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1949 Big Nine Conference football season

The 1949 Big Nine Conference football season was the 54th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Nine Conference (also known as the Western Conference and the Big Ten Conference) and was a part of the 1949 college football season.

1949 Big Nine Conference football season
SportAmerican football
Number of teams9
Top draft pickClayton Tonnemaker
Co-championsOhio State, Michigan
Season MVPRed Wilson
Football seasons
← 1948
1950 →
1949 Big Nine football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 6 Ohio State + 4 1 1     7 1 2
No. 7 Michigan + 4 1 1     6 2 1
No. 8 Minnesota 4 2 0     7 2 0
Wisconsin 3 2 1     5 3 1
Illinois 3 3 1     3 4 2
Iowa 3 3 0     4 5 0
Northwestern 3 4 0     4 5 0
Purdue 2 4 0     4 5 0
Indiana 0 6 0     1 8 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll

Ohio State and Michigan tied for the 1949 Big Ten championship. Ohio State, under head coach Wes Fesler, compiled a 7–1–2 record and was ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll. The Buckeyes defeated California in the 1950 Rose Bowl by a 17–14 score. Center Jack Lininger was selected as the team's most valuable player.

Michigan, under head coach Bennie Oosterbaan, compiled a 6–2–1 record and was ranked No. 7 in the final AP Poll. The Wolverines had a 25-game win streak broken with a loss to Army on October 8, 1949. Halfback Dick Kempthorn was selected as the team's most valuable player, and tackle Alvin Wistert was a consensus first-team All-American.

Minnesota, under head coach Bernie Bierman, finished in third place, compiled a 7–2 record, led the conference in both scoring offense (25.7 points per game) and scoring defense (8.9 points allowed per game), and was ranked No. 8 in the final AP Poll. Bud Grant and John Lundin were selected as the team's most valuable players. Tackle Leo Nomellini and center Clayton Tonnemaker were both consensus first-team All-Americans.


After the University of Chicago formally withdrew from the Big Ten Conference in 1946, conference officials began considering other schools to fill the vacancy. In December 1948, conference officials voted unanimously to admit Michigan State College, selecting the Spartans over a competing bid from the University of Pittsburgh.[1] The decision was certified in May 1949, with Spartans' participation slated to begin in the fall of 1950 with the exception of football where their participation was delayed until 1953.[2]

There was one coaching change between the 1948 and 1949 seasons. In December, 1948, Harry Stuhldreher resigned as Wisconsin's head football coach, though he retained his job as athletic director.[3] In January, 1949, Wisconsin hired Ivy Williamson as its new head coach. Williamson had been a star football player at Michigan in the early 1930s and the head football coach at Lafayette from 1947 to 1948.[4]

Season overviewEdit

Results and team statisticsEdit

Conf. Rank Team Head coach AP final AP high Overall record Conf. record PPG PAG MVP
1 (tie) Ohio State Wes Fesler #6 #5 7–1–2 4–1–1 20.7 13.6 Jack Lininger
1 (tie) Michigan Bennie Oosterbaan #7 #1 6–2–1 4–1–1 15.0 9.4 Dick Kempthorn
3 Minnesota Bernie Bierman #8 #3 7–2 4–2 25.7 8.9 Bud Grant
John Lundin
4 Wisconsin Ivy Williamson NR NR 5–3–1 3–2–1 23.0 14.3 Red Wilson
5 Illinois Ray Eliot NR NR 3–4–2 3–3–1 16.6 15.6 Johnny Karras
6 (tie) Iowa Eddie Anderson NR #15 4–5 3–3 20.4 27.4 Jack Dittmer
7 Northwestern Robert Voigts NR #13 4–5 3–4 15.2 17.3 Don Burson
Gaspar Perricone
8 Purdue Stu Holcomb NR NR 4–5 2–4 13.2 15.0 Lou Karras
9 Indiana Bo McMillin NR NR 1–8 0–6 13.0 28.2 Nick Sebek

AP final = Team's rank in the final AP Poll of the 1949 season[5]
AP high = Team's highest rank in the AP Poll throughout the 1949 season[5]
PPG = Average of points scored per game[5]
PAG = Average of points allowed per game[5]
MVP = Most valuable player as voted by players on each team as part of the voting process to determine the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy; trophy winner in bold[6]

Regular seasonEdit

September 24Edit

On September 24, 1949, the Big Ten football teams played one conference game and seven non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in five wins and two losses.

  • Ohio State 35, Missouri 34. Ohio State opened its season with a 35–34 victory over Missouri in front of a crowd of 66,510 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. In his debut for the Buckeyes, Ray Hamilton, an African-American player from Canton, Ohio, rushed for 111 yards on five carries, caught five passes for 118 yards, and scored two touchdowns. On defense, the Buckeyes gave up more than 540 yards (284 rushing and 257 passing). Missouri missed a field goal with three second left in the game.[7]
  • Minnesota 48, Washington 20. Minnesota defeated Washington, 48-20, before a crowd of 58,113 at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis. The crowd was the largest opening crowd in Minneapolis to that date. Hugh McElhenny, playing in his first game at Washington, returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, but Minnesota rallied back with four touchdowns in the second quarter and one each in the other three quarters.[10]
  • UCLA 41, Iowa 25. UCLA end Bob Wilkinson caught two touchdown passes as UCLA defeated Iowa, 41–25, before a crowd of 43,510 at Iowa Stadium in Iowa City.[12]
  • Notre Dame 49, Indiana 6. Indiana lost to Notre Dame, 49-6, at Notre Dame Stadium.[14] Notre Dame extended its unbeaten streak to 29 games and went on to a 10-0 and a national championship.

October 1Edit

On October 1, 1949, the Big Ten played three conference games and three non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in two wins and a loss, giving the Big Ten a 7-3 record in non-conference games.

  • Ohio State 46, Indiana 7.
  • Michigan 27, Stanford 7. Michigan (ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll) defeated Stanford, 27–7, before a crowd of 88,000 at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California. The crowd was the largest to that time to watch an inter-sectional game at Stanford. The win was the 25th in a row for Michigan, dating back to the 1946 season. Michigan out-gained Stanford in rushing yards, 264 to 95.[16]
  • Minnesota 28, Nebraska 6.
  • Illinois 13, Wisconsin 13.
  • Iowa 21, Purdue 7
  • Pittsburgh 16, Northwestern 7.

October 8Edit

On October 8, 1949, the Big Ten played two conference games and five non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in one win and four losses, giving the Big Ten an 8-7 record in non-conference games.

  • Ohio State 13, USC 13.
  • Army 21, Michigan 7. Michigan (ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll) lost to Earl Blaik's Army Cadets, 21-7, before a crowd of 97,239 at Michigan Stadium. Chuck Ortmann, the leader of Michigan's passing attack, suffered a concussion on the second play of the game, was carried off the field on a stretcher, and did not return to the game. Without Ortmann, Michigan was able to complete only three of 23 passes. With Michigan's passing game impaired, Army played six men at the line to stop Michigan's rushing attack. The Wolverines were unable to score until the fourth quarter when Don Dufek, Sr. scored on a short touchdown run. The loss snapped Michigan's 25-game winning streak dating back to 1946. The streak was the longest in college football since Cornell's 26-game win streak from 1921 to 1924.[17]
  • Minnesota 21, Northwestern 7.
  • California 35, Wisconsin 20.
  • Illinois 20, Iowa 14.
  • TCU 13, Indiana 6.
  • Notre Dame 35, Purdue 12.

October 15Edit

On October 15, 1949, the Big Ten played three conference games and three non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in two wins and one loss, giving the Big Ten a 10-8 record in non-conference games.

  • Minnesota 27, Ohio State 0. Minnesota shut out Ohio State, 27-0, before a capacity crowd of 82,111 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The crowd was the third largest in the history of Ohio Stadium to that point. Buckeyes were handicapped by the loss of Vic Janowicz and Dick Schnittker who were injured the prior week against USC. Minnesota scored touchdowns on a 14-yard run by Billy Bye in the first quarter, a 10-yard pass from Dale Warner to Dick Gregory, and a 20-yard pass from Bye to Jim Malosky.[18]
  • Northwestern 21, Michigan 20. Northwestern defeated Michigan, 21-20, before a capacity crowd of 55,000 at Dyche Stadium in Evanston. The game marked the first time Michigan had lost consecutive games in 10 years and Northwestern's first triumph over Michigan since 1937. Harry Allis kicked two extra points, but missed another that gave Northwestern its margin of victory.[19]
  • Wisconsin 48, Navy 13.
  • Iowa 35, Indiana 9.
  • Missouri 27, Illinois 20.
  • Purdue 14, Miami (FL) 0.

October 22Edit

On October 22, 1949, the Big Ten played four conference games and one non-conference game. The non-conference game was a win, giving the Big Ten an 11-8 record against non-conference opponents.

  • Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 0.
  • Michigan 14, Minnesota 7.
  • Iowa 28, Northwestern 21.
  • Indiana 48, Pittsburgh 14.
  • Illinois 19, Purdue 0.

October 29Edit

On October 29, 1949, the Big Ten played four conference games and one non-conference game. The non-conference game was a win, giving the Big Ten a 12-8 record against non-conference opponents.

  • Ohio State 24, Northwestern 7.
  • Michigan 13, Illinois 0.
  • Purdue 13, Minnesota 7.
  • Wisconsin 30, Indiana 14.
  • Iowa 34, Oregon 31.

November 5Edit

On November 5, 1949, the Big Ten played four conference games and one non-conference game. The non-conference game was a win, giving the Big Ten a 13-8 record against non-conference opponents.

  • Ohio State 14, Pittsburgh 10.
  • Michigan 20, Purdue 12.
  • Minnesota 24, Iowa 7.
  • Wisconsin 14, Northwestern 6.
  • Illinois 33, Indiana 14.

November 12Edit

On November 12, 1949, the Big Ten schools played three conference games and two non-conference games. The non-conference games both resulted in wins, giving the Big Ten a 15-8 record against non-conference opponents. Minnesota had a bye week.

  • Ohio State 30, Illinois 17.
  • Michigan 20, Indiana 7.
  • Wisconsin 35, Iowa 13.
  • Northwestern 39, Colgate 20.
  • Purdue 41, Marquette 7

November 19Edit

On November 19, 1949, the Big Ten played four conference games and one non-conference game. The non-conference game was a loss.

  • Michigan 7, Ohio State 7. Michigan and Ohio State played before a crowd of 97,239 at Michigan Stadium with the conference title at stake. The teams played to a 7-7 tie, resulting in a tie for the conference championship. Michigan scored in the first quarter on a touchdown pass from Wally Teninga to Leo Koceski. In the fourth quarter, Ohio State scored on a short run by Fred Morrison and missed the extra point on its first attempt. However, an offside penalty against Michigan end Ozzie Clark gave Ohio State a second attempt at the extra point, which it converted. Because Michigan had played in the 1949 Rose Bowl, Ohio State won the conference's bid to play in the 1950 Rose Bowl.[20]
  • Minnesota 14, Wisconsin 6. In a battle for third place in the conference, Minnesota defeated Wisconsin, 14-6, before a crowd of 64,110 in Minneapolis. Wisconsin fullback Gene Evans returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Minnesota halfback George Hudak threw a touchdown pass to Bud Hausken. Dick Gregory ran for Minnesota's second touchdown in the fourth quarter.[21]
  • Notre Dame 28, Iowa 7. Notre Dame extended its unbeaten streak to 36 games with a 28-7 victory over Iowa before a crowd of 56,790 at Notre Dame Stadium.[22]
  • Northwestern 9, Illinois 7. Northwestern defeated Illinois, 9-7, before a homecoming crowd of 67,872 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Northwestern's senior quarterback Don Burson, playing in his final college game, kicked a game-winning field goal with three minutes remaining in the game; Burson had never before attempted a field goal in his life.[23]
  • Purdue 14, Indiana 6. In the annual battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, Purdue defeated Indiana, 14-6, before a crowd of almost 34,000 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Fullback John Kerestes scored both Purdue touchdowns on short runs. Purdue rushed for 327 yards.[24]

Bowl gamesEdit

On January 2, 1950, Ohio State defeated California, 17–14, in the 1950 Rose Bowl. The game's most valuable player was Fred "Curly" Morrison of Ohio State. The game was played on January 2nd, because the first fell on a Sunday.

All-conference playersEdit

The following players were picked by the Associated Press (AP) and/or the United Press (UP) as first-team players on the 1949 All-Big Nine Conference football team.[25][26]

Position Name Team Selectors
End Bud Grant Minnesota AP, UP
End Bob Wilson Wisconsin AP, UP
Tackle Leo Nomellini Minnesota AP, UP
Tackle Alvin Wistert Michigan AP, UP
Guard Lloyd Heneveld Michigan AP, UP
Guard Jack Lininger Ohio State AP
Guard Charles Gottfried Illinois UP
Center Clayton Tonnemaker Minnesota AP, UP
Quarterback Don Burson Northwestern AP, UP
Halfback Chuck Ortmann Michigan AP, UP
Halfback Johnny Karras Illinois AP, UP
Fullback Gerry Krall Ohio State AP
Fullback Bob Momsen Ohio State UP


At the end of the 1949 season, Big Ten players secured three of the consensus first-team picks for the 1949 College Football All-America Team.[27] The Big Ten's consensus All-Americans were:

Position Name Team Selectors
Center Clayton Tonnemaker Minnesota All-America Board (AAB), AP, UP, COL, FWAA, TSN, NEA, NYS, WCFF, All-Players
Tackle Leo Nomellini Minnesota AAB, UP, COL, TSN, NEA, WCFF
Tackle Alvin Wistert Michigan AAB, UP, TSN, INS, WCFF

Other Big Ten players who were named first-team All-Americans by at least one selector were:

Position Name Team Selectors
Tackle Robert Wahl Michigan FWAA, NEA

1950 NFL DraftEdit

The following Big Nine players were among the first 100 players selected in the 1950 NFL Draft:[28]

Name Position Team Round Overall pick
Clayton Tonnemaker Center Minnesota 1 4
Fred "Curly" Morrison Back Ohio State 1 10
Leo Nomellini Tackle Minnesota 1 11
Bud Grant End Minnesota 1 14
Jack Jennings Tackle Ohio State 2 21
Gordy Saltau End Minnesota 3 30
Art Murakowski Back Northwestern 3 31
Lou Karras Tackle Purdue 3 32
Earl Murray Guard Purdue 4 41
Red Wilson Center Wisconsin 4 52
Floyd Jaszewski Tackle Minnesota 6 70
Gaspar Perricone Back Northwestern 6 72
Ken Gorgal Back Purdue 6 78
Harry Szulborski Back Purdue 8 95
Ralph McAllister Back Minnesota 8 96


  1. ^ "Big 9 Admits MSC: Conference Backing Unanimous". Detroit Free Press. December 13, 1948. p. 1 – via  
  2. ^ Tommy Devine (May 21, 1949). "Michigan State Accepted by Western Conference". Detroit Free Press. p. 18 – via  
  3. ^ "Decision Is His Own, Says Stuhldreher: Wisconsin Grid Boss Quits Job". The Akron Beacon Journal. December 12, 1948. p. C1 – via  
  4. ^ "Red Williamson Returning to Big Nine Grid". Green Bay Press-Gazette. January 25, 1949. p. 13 – via  
  5. ^ a b c d "1949 Big Ten Conference Year Summary". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  6. ^ "Wilson Named Big Ten's Most Valuable Player". Chicago Tribune. December 11, 1949. p. 2-1 – via  
  7. ^ "Buckeyes Win 35-34, As Hamilton Stars". The Akron (OH) Beacon Journal. September 25, 1949. p. 33 – via  
  8. ^ Lyall Smith (September 25, 1949). "MSC Proves Right to A-1 Rating". Detroit Free Press. p. 21 – via  
  9. ^ Lyall Smith (September 25, 1949). "Chandnois Shows New Form of Specialization". Detroit Free Press. p. 23 – via  
  10. ^ Arch Ward (September 25, 1949). "Minnesota Overpowers Washington, 48 to 20". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-3 – via  
  11. ^ Robert Cromie (September 25, 1949). "Hilltoppers Routed By Badgers, 41-0". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1 – via  
  12. ^ Paul Zimmerman (September 25, 1949). "Alert Bruins Trample Iowa on Sharp Pass Attack, 41-25". Los Angeles Times. p. 30 – via  
  13. ^ Edward Prell (September 25, 1949). "N.U. Wins, 20-6: Wildcats' 3d Quarter Blast Routs Purdue". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1 – via  
  14. ^ David Condon (September 25, 1949). "Indiana Becomes No. 29 on Notre Dame Hit Parade". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1 – via  
  15. ^ James Segreti (September 25, 1949). "Iowa State Holds Illini to 20-20 Tie". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1 – via  
  16. ^ Lyall Smith (October 2, 1949). "U-M Scuttles Stanford, 27-7". Detroit Free Press. p. 21 – via  
  17. ^ Tommy Devine (October 9, 1949). "An Era Ends: Army 21, Michigan 7". Detroit Free Press. p. 21 – via  
  18. ^ Aaron E. Loney (October 16, 1949). "Minnesota Rolls Over O.S.U. 27-0". The Courier-Journal (UP story). p. 26.
  19. ^ Tommy Devine (October 16, 1949). "The King Is Dead! Northwestern 21, Michigan 20: Wolverines' Attack Fouls Up in Clutch". Detroit Free Press. p. 21 – via  
  20. ^ Lyall Smith. "M, OSU Tie for Title". Detroit Free Press. p. 21 – via  
  21. ^ "Gophers Rally Earns Only Sniff at Roses". Detroit Free Press. November 20, 1949. p. 22 – via  
  22. ^ Bert McGrane (November 20, 1949). "Hawks Fight to 7-7 Tie Before Falling". The Des Moines Register. p. 1-S – via  
  23. ^ Charles Bartlett (November 20, 1949). "Burson's Field Goal In Fourth Brings Wildcats 9 to 7 Victory". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1 – via  
  24. ^ "Purdue Routs Indiana and Retains Old Oaken Bucket". The Terre Haute Tribune-Star. November 20, 1949. p. 49 – via  
  25. ^ "Karras Makes All Big 9 Grid Team". Daily Illini. November 23, 1949.
  26. ^ "Coaches Snub OSU Stars In Picking All-Big 10 Team". The Pittsburgh Press (AP story). November 30, 1949. p. 40.
  27. ^ "2014 NCAA Football Records: Consensus All-America Selections" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2014. pp. 5–6. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  28. ^ "1950 NFL Draft: Full Draft". National Football League. Retrieved January 4, 2017.