The 1941 NCAA football regular season ended with the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota repeating as the AP Poll national champion. This was Minnesota's fifth national championship in eight years. The Big Ten Conference did not allow their teams to participate in the post-season bowl games, therefore the undefeated, untied Duke Blue Devils, faced the #12-ranked Oregon State Beavers in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl game had been temporarily moved from Pasadena, California to Durham, North Carolina following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Oregon State beat Duke, 20-16, but postseason games were played after the AP Poll rankings. Each writer listed his choice for the top ten teams, and points were tallied based on 10 for first place, 9 for second, etc. The AP then ranked the twenty teams with the highest number of points. Mississippi State, who won the SEC championship, was unable to participate in the post-season due to the wartime airport and train station closings. Therefore, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide were selected to play in the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl, respectively. Georgia defeated TCU 40-26 and Alabama defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 29-21.
In addition to Minnesota's regular season AP national championship, the Golden Gophers were also selected national champions by Billingsley, Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, the National Championship Foundation, Poling, Sagarin and Sagarin (ELO-Chess). The Alabama Crimson Tide were selected national champions by the Houlgate Poll. The Texas Longhorns were selected national champions by the Berryman and Wilson polling systems. The University of Texas doesn't claim this season as a national championship though. All selectors of national title teams are documented in the official 2010 NCAA FBS College Football Record Book. These selectors were nationally syndicated in newspapers and magazines during the 1941 season.
Conference and program changes
September 20 Tennessee beat Furman 32-6 and Boston College beat St. Anselm, 78-0.
In Seattle, defending champion Minnesota beat Washington 14-6, while in New Orleans, Boston College fell to Tulane, 21-7. Stanford beat Oregon 19-15, Michigan beat Michigan State 19-7, Texas won at Colorado, 34-6 and Duke beat Wake Forest 43-14. Tennessee was idle
October 4 Minnesota was idle. Tennessee lost at Duke, 19-0. In New York, Fordham beat SMU 16-10. Elsewhere, it was Stanford over UCLA 33-0, Michigan over Iowa 6-0, Northwestern beating Kansas State 51-3 and Texas defeating LSU 34-0.
October 11 Minnesota beat Illinois 34-6, Northwestern beat Wisconsin 41-14, and Michigan beat Pittsburgh 40-0. In Baltimore, Duke beat Maryland 50-0, while in Dallas, Texas beat Oklahoma 40-7. Fordham won at North Carolina 27-14. Stanford lost at Oregon State 10-0.
In the poll that followed, Minnesota was ranked #1, followed by Texas, Duke, Fordham, Northwestern and Michigan.
October 16 the penalty flag is used for the first time in the 1941 Oklahoma City vs. Youngstown football game in Youngstown, Ohio.
October 18 #1 Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 39-0. #2 Texas defeated Arkansas 48-14. #3 Duke beat visiting Colgate 27-14, and #4 Fordham beat West Virginia 27-0.
In Ann Arbor, #6 Michigan beat visiting #5 Northwestern 14-7. #7 Navy beat Cornell 14-0 in Baltimore. In the next poll, Michigan and Navy moved up while Fordham and Northwestern dropped out of the top five.
October 25 The biggest game of the year took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as #1 Minnesota defeated
#3 Michigan, 7-0.
#2 Texas beat Rice 40-0. #4 Duke won at Pittsburgh 27-7. #5 Navy and Harvard played to a 0-0 tie. #6 Fordham beat TCU 28-14, while #9 Texas A&M won at Baylor 48-0, to reach 5-0-0. In the vote that followed, Minnesota received 60 first place votes, and Texas received 53. When the points were tallied, they both had 1,161 points and were tied for #1.
November 1 In Dallas, #1 Texas beat SMU 34-0, while in Minneapolis, the other #1, Minnesota, edged #9 Northwestern 8-7. In New York, #3 Fordham defeated Purdue 17-0, and in Atlanta, #4 Duke won at Georgia Tech 14-0. In Little Rock, #5 Texas A&M beat Arkansas 7-0. Texas was the new #1 the following week, followed by Minnesota, Fordham, Duke and Texas A&M, all unbeaten and untied.
November 8 #1 Texas and Baylor played to a 7-7 tie. #2 Minnesota beat Nebraska 9-0. #3 Fordham lost at Pittsburgh 13-0. #4 Duke won at Davidson 56-0. #5 Texas A&M beat SMU 21-10. #7 Notre Dame beat Navy 20-13 in Baltimore and moved into the Top Five as Fordham dropped out.
November 15 #1 Minnesota won at Iowa 34-13. #2 Texas lost to Texas Christian (TCU) 14-7. #3 Duke beat North Carolina 20-0.
In Houston, #4 Texas A&M beat Rice 19-6. #5 Notre Dame won at #8 Northwestern 7-6. #7 Michigan, which beat Columbia, 28-0, moved up as Texas dropped out.
November 22 #1 Minnesota closed its season with a 41-6 win over Wisconsin in Minneapolis. #2 Texas A&M was idle as it prepared for its Thanksgiving game. #3 Duke won its season closer at N.C. State 55-6 to get a bid to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. Fifteen days later, the bombing of Pearl Harbor called into question whether Southern California would be safe from a Japanese attack on New Year's Day. On December 15, bowl officials and U.S. Army officers met in San Francisco and decided to hold the game at Duke's stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
#4 Notre Dame beat USC 20-18. #5 Michigan closed its season with a 20-20 tie #14 against Ohio State. The Top four remained the same, but #6 Duquesne (which had finished its season at 8-0-0) replaced Michigan at #5. On Thanksgiving Day #2 Texas A&M lost to Texas 23-0.
The following is a potentially incomplete list of conference standings: