1941 College Football Recap
Texas appeared to have the national championship locked up when it crushed its first six opponents by an average score of 38–5. Then, on consecutive Saturday afternoons in early November, the “Immortal 13” fell from grace. First, Baylor surprised the longhorns with a 7–7 tie, then TCU shocked them with a 14–7 beating. The week of the TCU game, the Longhorns were on the cover of Life magazine.
Defending national champion Minnesota replaced Texas at No.1 and stayed there. Led by Heisman-winning halfback Bruce Smith, the Gophers were unbeaten again but unable to accept a bowl invitation, given the Big Nine's ban on postseason play.
The arrival of World War II on Dec.7 resulted in moving the Rose Bowl game out of Pasadena for the only time in its history. Mindful that Japan might follow up Pearl Harbor with a bombing raid on the West Coast, the U.S. Army cancelled all large gatherings, including the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl match between No.2 Duke and Pacific Coast Conference champ Oregon State.
Duke coach Wallace Wade, who had taken three teams to the Rose Bowl as a coach and participated in a fourth as a player, offered to host the game in Durham. Oregon State agreed , took the train east, then beat the previously undefeated Blue Devils, 20–16.
Notre Dame, 8–0–1 in its first year under Frank Leahy, ranked third. The tie was a scoreless one with Army in New York (not the last time that would happen).