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Gopher Honors


Urban Odson, T, 1940
George Franck, HB, 1940
Bruce Smith, HB, 1941
Dick Wildung, T, 1941-1942
Leo Nomellini, T/G, 1948-1949
Clayton Tonnemaker, C, 1949


Bill Daley, HB, 1941
Bob Fitch, E, 1941
George Franck, HB, 1940
Bud Grant, E, 1948-1949
Len Levy, G, 1941
Paul Mitchell, T, 1943
Leo Nomellini, G, 1947-1949
Urban Odson, T, 1940
Bruce Smith, HB, 1941
Clayton Tonnemaker, C, 1949
Dick Wildung, T, 1941-1942


Bruce Smith, 1941


Bernie Bierman, 1940-1941
Dr. George Hauser, 1942-1944
Bernie Bierman, 1945-1949

1940's Gopher Links

Gopher Scores, 1921-1940:
Gopher Scores, 1941-1960:
1940 National Championship:
1941 National Championship:
Bruce Smith:
Bruce Smith:
Bruce Smith:

Minnesota Golden Gopher Football- the 1940s

Under the shadow of America's inevitable participation
in World War II, Bernie Bierman drilled his squad for
the coming gridiron battles of the 1940 season. He had
a young team, but one that was hungry to make amends
for the dissapointments of the previous year.

Led by left halfback George 'Sonny' Franck, the Gophers
scratched and clawed their way through one formidable
opponent after another, grinding out an 8-0 record
and in the process winning the 1940 National Championship.
In a season full of heroics, the Gophers' biggest win
came at Memorial Stadium against Tommy Harmon and
Michigan, 7-6. After the Gophers slugged their way past the
unbeaten and #1 Wolverines, nothing would stand in the way
of the team's return to the pinnacle.

As good as they were in 1940, the Gophers were even better
the following year. Bierman's squad once again rolled to a
perfect 8-0 record, and were crowned National Champions for
fifth time in eight years. The real highlight was the inspired
play of left halfback Bruce Smith, who was named the winner
of the Heisman Trophy despite missing large chunks of playing
time due to injuries.

It seemed as if only a worldwide catastrophe could put an
end to the apparent Gopher dynasty, but that's exactly what
happened. With the advent of war, Minnesota football fell
back with the pack. Though very respectable under the direction
of Dr. George Hauser, it simply wasn't quite the same.

Bierman returned from the war in 1945, and slowly he began
rebuilding the Gophers into contenders. The Gophers climbed
to 6-3 by 1947 and 7-2 in 1948. The college football world
had every reason to fear the coming of the next Gopher dynasty.
Gopher football had never been bigger, and Bernie had perhaps
his most talented team ever returning for 1949.

It was not to be, however, as the "49ers" stumbled home with
a dissapointing 7-2 mark. Unexpected midseason losses to Michigan
and Purdue on consecutive weekends destroyed what was expected
to be the school's greatest football season ever. Before long, 
Bierman would be feeling the heat usually reserved for far less
successful coaches.