1959 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

Syracuse was the only unbeaten and untied major college team in the nation in 1959. As such, the Orangemen became the first eastern team outside the military to win the national championship since Pittsburgh did it in 1939.

Number one in both total offense and defense, and winning each week by an average score of 39–6, Syracuse rolled through 10 regular season games and then beat No.4 Texas by nine in the Cotton Bowl.

Ole Miss (10–1) and LSU (9–2) were ranked second and third in the final AP poll. They also played each other in the year's most memorable game.

On Halloween, defending national champ LSU was ranked No.1 and Ole Miss was No.3. The visiting Rebels led 3–0 at halftime, but the Tigers won the game late on an electrifying 89–yard punt return by Billy Cannon, who would later win the Heisman Trophy. Visions of a second straight national title were dashed the next weekend, however, when LSU was upset 14–13 by Tennessee.

Mississippi and LSU were matched up again in the Sugar Bowl, but it was an anticlimax as the Rebels won easily, 21–0.

For the second year in a row, the NCAA introduced a rule to help promote scoring. Last season it was the two-point conversion option after a touchdown. This year the goalposts were widened from 18–feet 6–inches to 23–feet 4–inches. Place kickers on major college teams responded with 192 field goals in 390 attempts.

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