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Minnesota Football: 1941 Win Over Nebraska #TBT

In the Gophers national championship 1941 season the November 8th game vs the Cornhuskers was the only game where Minnesota wasn’t ranked #1 in the AP Poll.

Sweiger scores, Gophers WIN!
MNHS Photo Collection

Does this week have you feeling down? Or maybe you think that life was just better in 1941. Either way this post if for you. First a quick primer on the 1941 Gopher season.

The weekend before the Gophers faced Nebraska, Minnesota had narrowly defeated Northwestern 8-7. Texas, believed to be the other top team in the country had crushed SMU 34-0. In the eyes of the Associated Press this was cause enough to give the Longhorns the top spot in the country. Their stay at the top would be short lived.

Sweiger follows Garnaas for the only touchdown of the game.

Minnesota Scores 9-0 Victory Over Nebraska

By JAY VESSELS Minneapolis, Nov. 9, 1941 —(AP) —

Minnesota's Golden Gophers won their fifteenth straight football game today, defeating Nebraska 9 to 0, in a stubbornly fought contest.

Stepping methodically along toward another perfect season, Coach Bernie Bierman's outfit held the upper hand from the start. They threatened several times but found the going mighty tough when the Cornhuskers' goal was threatened.

It was nothing to nothing Into the second quarter and it took that sensational little man—Bud Higgins—to begin taking that pigskin places.

Midget Bud showed the big fellows how It should be done by skipping 10 yards for a first down on the Nebraska one. Then, heavyweight Bob Sweiger powered It over.

But the Huskers smashed through and blocked the try for the extra point and were still very much in the ball game. That was the way things remained right on through the third period, with Minnesota warily trying to nick up a safe margin and Nebraska desperately trying to connect with a payoff pass.

Early in the 4th period, Bill Daley tried a field goal from the Huskers' 22 but It was wide. Then came a punt exhibition and Bill began plunging for substantial yardage. He battered to the Nebraska seven where, on fourth down, Bill Garnaas booted a field goal. Minnesota's championship stride thus finally was protected with just a few minutes remaining.

Nebraska, handicapped without Fullback Vike Francis, gamely gathered in considerable yardage. But its long and short pass game was thoroughly covered by an alert secondary and Minnesota's brilliant tackle Dick Wildung took care of the ground attack by repeatedly breaking through and tossing the ball carriers for losses.

Most of Minnesota's troubles on the offensive were cooked up by Marvin Thompson, Nebraska's right end. He was in there harassing the Golden Gophers from start to finish and just wouldn't be Wren out of the play.

Nebraska made its first and last serious bid for a touchdown just as the first half ended when Bradley completed a 20-yard for-ward to Metheny to put the ball on the Minnesota 23. But the gun sounded before another play could be attempted.

The game was played before 43,000 fans with the temperature below the freezing point and a raw wind whipping across the field. This spoiled the punting at times but Higgins managed to boot one into the breeze and out on the Huskers' 3-yard line. This was a factor In the fourth period field goal clincher.

AP Press Recap of the 1941 Nebraska vs Minnesota game.

Minnesota was able to squeak out a trap game. After beating Michigan and Northwestern in successive weeks Minnesota had essentially won the Big Ten. The Nebraska game could have been a huge let down. Nebraska was not a particularly strong team in 1941 only 4-5 overall with a 3-2 record in the Big 6.

Garnaas with the winning field goal.

Texas would tie Baylor 7-7 and would never again challenge Minnesota for the #1 spot. When the 1941 season ended Minnesota would win Bernie Bierman his 5th national championship.