1939 College Football Recap

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Final AP Top 20

Bowl Games with Top 20 Teams

Major Conference Champions

Heisman Trophy Voting

Other Major Award Winners

Consensus All-America Team

The national championship changed hands in 1939 but stayed in the Lone Star state as Texas A&M followed Texas Christian to the top of the AP heap. A&M won all 10 of its regular season games, including a 20–6 drubbing of TCU, whose record dropped to 3–7.

Led by halfback Jim Kimbrough and a defense that held opponents to less than two points a game, the Aggies nipped No.5 Tulane, 14–13, in the Sugar Bowl to finish the campaign unbeaten and untied.

For the second straight year a team that went through the regular season undefeated, untied and unscored upon fell to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. This time, the 4th-ranked Trojans turned the tables on No.2 Tennessee, shutting the Vols out, 14–0, to snap a 23–game winning streak.

In the Midwest, halfbacks Nile Kinnick of Iowa and Tom Harmon of Michigan led their teams to Top 20 finishes and placed 1–2 in the Heisman vote. Kinnick won, but Harmon, a junior, would get the trophy in 1940.

That decade ended with six-time Western Conference (Big 10) champion Chicago giving up football. The Maroons had been coached for 41 years (1892–1932) by living legend Amos Alonzo Stagg and boasted the first Heisman winner—halfback Jay Berwanger—as recently as 1935. But those days seemed like distant memories by '39 when Chicago found itself getting clobbered by Illinois (46–0), Ohio State (61–0) and Michigan (85–0).

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