This Week in College Football History: Oct. 26-Nov. 1

Harvard vs. Centre College Program, 1921Special to College Sports Journal

PHILADELPHIA, PA. — As part of an ongoing series throughout the fall, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame posts This Week in College Football History, which takes a look back at some of college football’s landmark moments over the last 147 years. 




Oct. 29, 1921
Centre (Kentucky.) defeated Harvard, 6-0
Boston, Massachusetts


Harvard entered this game with a 25-game unbeaten streak, including a 7-6 win over Oregon in the 1920 Rose Bowl and a 31-14 win over Centre the year before. 


In front of 43,000 fans in Harvard Stadium, the Colonels of Centre College, boasting a total enrollment of 254 students, shocked the country. College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bo McMillin scored the game’s only touchdown, a 33-yard scramble in the third quarter. 


In 2006, ESPN Classic declared Centre’s win the third-biggest upset in college football history. The “Praying Colonels” finished the 1921 season as Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association Co-Champions with a 10-1 record after a loss to Texas A&M in the Dixie Classic. 


The Crimson finished with a 7-2-1 record under Hall of Fame coach Bob Fisher.  




Oct. 28, 1978
Northwestern State defeated Nicholls State, 28-18
Natchitoches, Louisiana


College Football Hall of Fame running back Joe Delaney rushed for a then-Division I-AA record 299 rushing yards to fuel Northwestern State’s victory over Nicholls State in the fifth edition of the NSU Challenge. 


In the second half, he scored all four touchdowns and rushed for 263 yards, an NCAA record. Delaney rushed for just 32 yards on nine carries in a scoreless first half before opening the second half with an 87-yard dash to the end zone on the first play. 


After the Colonels scored a pair of touchdowns, Delaney and the Demons retook the lead at 14-12 on a one-yard scoring plunge. Early in the fourth quarter, he rattled off a 71-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 21-12. Demon fullback Brett Knecht rushed for 146 yards to help shatter another NCAA record for most combined rushing yards in a game. 


Delaney, who became a Pro Bowl running back for Kansas City, died in a heroic 1983 attempt to rescue three drowning boys. The two-time I-AA All-American is the subject of a recently-released ESPN “30 For 30” short film. 


Both schools wrapped up the 1978 season with 5-6 records.


Oct. 31, 1970

Dartmouth defeated Yale, 10-0
New Haven, Connecticut


The final Ivy League squad to win the Lambert Trophy and finish the season in the AP Poll was College Football Hall of Fame head coach Bob Blackman’s 1970 Dartmouth team. NFF Vice Chairman and College Football Hall of Fame defensive back Murry Bowden and the Big Green defense faced one of their toughest tests in Yale running back Dick Jauron, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee. 


Dartmouth held Jauron to just 17 yards while the Big Green offense tallied 480 total yards. Yale countered just as strong on defense, forcing three red zone turnovers. 


Dartmouth got on the board first after a three-yard touchdown run by halfback Brendan O’Neill, adding a field goal from kicker Wayne Pirman, who had flown in from a soccer game just before the start of the second half. Dartmouth claimed its seventh Ivy League title and a No. 14 spot in the final AP Poll after finishing 9-0. 

Yale and Hall of Fame head coach Carm Cozza finished the season with a 7-2 record. 




Oct. 26, 1946

Wake Forest defeated No. 4 Tennessee, 19-6
Knoxville, Tennessee


Wake Forest’s defeat of No. 4 Tennessee in 1946 remains the highest ranked opponent that the Demon Deacons have ever defeated. 


Wake Forest took an early lead, but the Vols answered in the second quarter when Tennessee quarterback Bob Lund hit end Jim Powell for a 15-yard touchdown pass after an interception by center George Kelly placed Tennessee in the red zone. 


The Demon Deacons broke the deadlock in the third quarter when back Nick Sacrinity connected with Red O’Quinn in the end zone. 


Wake Forest solidified the victory two minutes later when right end Edward Bradley recovered Tennessee fullback George Ballistaris’ fumble on his own 34-yard line, setting up a short Richard Brinkley touchdown run. 


The Demon Deacons completed their season with a record of 6-3. College Football Hall of Fame head coach Bob Neyland and his SEC Champion Volunteers ended their 9-2 season with an 8-0 loss to Rice in the Orange Bowl.


Oct. 27, 1984
West Virginia def. No. 19 Penn State, 17-14
Morgantown, West Virginia


West Virginia was hungry for a win, having not defeated Penn State since 1955. The Mountaineers and Nittany Lions were locked at 7-7 going into the fourth quarter before WVU kicker Paul Woodside broke the tie with a 49-yard field goal.


Backup tailback Pat Randolph extended the Mountaineer lead to 17-7 with a 22-yard touchdown run. Penn State tailback D.J. Dozier answered with a 51-yard scoring dash to close the lead to 17-14. 


On their final possession, the Nittany Lions drove into the WVU red zone, but quarterback John Schaffer was picked off by defensive back Larry Holley with 35 seconds left. 


College Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and his Penn State squad, led by Hall of Fame linebacker Shane Conlan, ended the 1984 season with a 6-5 record. 


The Nittany Lions also included NFF National Scholar-Athletes Carmen Masciantonio (1984), Lance Hamilton (1985) and Brian Siverling (1986). 


Led by Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, the Mountaineers capped off an 8-4 season with a 31-14 win over TCU in the Bluebonnet Bowl.


Oct. 30, 2004

North Carolina def. No. 4 Miami (Fla.), 31-28

Chapel Hill, North Carolina 


For the first time since October 1978, Miami, Florida and Florida State all lost on the same day. 


North Carolina stayed ahead most of the game as quarterback Darian Durant accounted for 330 yards of total offense and tailback Chad Scott rushed for 175 yards and a bullish nine-yard touchdown that provided the Tar Heels with a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter. 


Hurricanes’ quarterback Brock Berlin led an 89-yard drive in the last five minutes of the game, culminating with a four-yard sweep into the end zone by Devin Hester. 


Durant directed a 65-yard drive with four pass completions and a five-yard run to set up freshman kicker Connor Barth’s 42-yard field goal for the upset.


The Tar Heels finished the season with a 6-6 record after a loss to Boston College in the Continental Tire Bowl. 

The Hurricanes finished the season with a 9-3 record and a No. 11 spot in the final AP Poll after a Peach Bowl victory over in-state rival Florida. 


Nov. 1, 1958
No. 13 Air Force defeated Oklahoma State, 33-29
Stillwater, Oklahoma


Enjoying their second-best start in program history, the 4-0-1 Air Force Falcons looked to continue their success in a tough road match against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. 


Halfback Jim Wiggins got the Pokes out to a 15-0 lead with a first-quarter touchdown plunge and an 81-yard kickoff return in the second quarter to set up fellow halfback Duane Wood for a four-yard scoring run. 


After surrendering 18 unanswered points to the Falcons, Wood hauled in a 46-yard touchdown strike from Dick Soergel to lift the Cowboys to a 29-18 lead.


Air Force signal caller Rich Mayo directed an 80-yard aerial drive, behind the blocking of College Football Hall of Fame tackle Brock Strom, which ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Phil Lane. 


On the next possession, Mayo completed two throws on fourth downs to spark a 72-yard game-winning drive, climaxed by Bob Brickey’s 13-yard catch in the end zone with nine seconds remaining. 


Air Force completed their only undefeated season in school history after a 0-0 draw with TCU in the Cotton Bowl. 


The Falcons came in at No. 6 in the final AP Poll, their best finish in program history. 


Oklahoma State capped off an 8-3 season with a 15-6 win over Florida State in the Bluegrass Bowl and a No. 19 ranking.