1951 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

Any shot Army might have had at regaining the top spot in the AP rankings disappeared on Aug.3, 1951 when 90 Cadets (37 of them football players) were dismissed from West Point in the wake of a cheating scandal. Coach Red Blaik's depleted troops went 2–7, but would return to the Top 20 in '53.

Defending national champ Oklahoma slipped to 8–2 and Texas to 7–3, leaving the way clear for unbeaten Tennessee to move up and claim the title. In 1950, the Vols had ranked 4th in the final AP poll (taken, as usual, in December). Coach Bob Neyland's bunch had been the only team in the Top 5 to win a bowl game, however, so they felt deserving of the national title. This year the opposite happened. Tennessee got the nod from AP in December then lost the Sugar Bowl to No.3 Maryland.

Despite the nearly wholesale changeover to the T-formation in college ball, it was a good year for the single wing. The top two vote-getters in the Heisman balloting, Dick Kazmaier of Princeton and Hank Lauricella of Tennessee, were single wing tailbacks.

Michigan State, Illinois and Georgia Tech all went unbeaten with the Illini and the Wreck winning their bowl games. The Spartans had been admitted to the Big Ten in 1950, but were still two years away from officially competing for the Rose Bowl.

Finally, Ollie Matson led the nation in rushing and scoring for the San Francisco Dons. USF gave up football for finanacial reasons in 1952.

Sources +