Official Site of the Boston College Eagles

1940 Football 'Team of Destiny' - National Champions





Ticket stub from 1940 game against Auburn.

The greatest football season in the entire history of Boston College was that of 1940. Legendary coach Frank Leahy led the Eagles to an undefeated 11-0 season, capped off by a Sugar Bowl championship and the claim of a national championship (along with Stanford and Minnesota). The Eagles started the season by rolling over the Praying Colonels of Center College in a 40-0 contest at Alumni Field. Next was a key game of the season. Underdog Boston College traveled to Tulane Stadium and brought victory home to Chestnut Hill by a score of 27-7 over the Green Wave of Tulane University. This upset victory had even greater implications down the road, impressing Southern scouts who saw the Eagles as a Sugar Bowl possibility. The following game, was a thrilling 33-20 victory over the Temple Owls at Fenway Park in front of 25,000 spectators. The fourth game of the season was a 60-0 drubbing of the Idaho Vandals. The onslaught continued for the Maroon and Gold, when they compiled 456 yards and 19 first downs to defeat the St. Anselm Hawks 55-0. Game six of the 1940 season, against the Manhattan Jaspers, was played on Alumni Field in ankle-deep mud. The Jaspers gave the Eagles quite a fight, however, the Eagles continued their stellar defense with their third consecutive shutout in a 25-0 victory. The next game against Boston University provided a difficult contest for the Eagles. BU, using an unorthodox, shifting defense held BC scoreless for the entire first period - the first team to do so all season. The Terriers held the potent Eagle offense to only three touchdowns, however, the defense once again carried the Eagles to victory, posting their fourth consecutive shutout en route to a 21-0 victory.

This set up a game for the ages. The next BC opponent was Georgetown University, who was unbeaten in three years and had twenty-two consecutive victories. On November 16th, in front of 40,000 spectators, the Eagles captured a 19-18 victory when "Chuckin" Charlie O'Rourke eluded tacklers and took a safety in his own end zone as the clock expired to defeat Georgetown and improve the Eagles' record to an undefeated 8-0. The Eagles, in their second-to-last regular season game, faced the Auburn Plainsmen. The Eagles easily defeated the strong Auburn squad by a score of 33-7.


Ticket stub from 1940 game against Georgetown.

The Eagles went into their final game of the regular season against rival Holy Cross. The game was a stalemate for much of the contest, neither team threatened to score and it became a game played in the middle of the field for much of the day. The Eagles scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, only to have it called back on an offsides call. Holy Cross, however, also made a critical penalty, negating a fabulous 60-yard punt by the Holy Cross kicker that pinned Boston College deep inside their own territory. On the ensuing play, Holy Cross attempted to outsmart the Eagles by faking the expected punt. Eagles defensive end Don Currivan thwarted the play and stole the ball on the five yard line. In two plays, the Eagles made it 7-0. The steal by Currivan is considered the biggest play of the season up to this game, giving the Eagles a 7-0 victory and an invitation to the Sugar Bowl .

The Eagles accepted the invitation to face undefeated Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1941. After practicing for about a month, the Eagles travelled to New Orleans, where thousands of BC students, alumni, and local fans stayed to root on the Maroon and Gold. The Eagles broke away from Tennessee with three minutes left in the game, when "Chuckin" Charlie O'Rourke ran for a 24-yard touchdown. A crowd of 100,000 people welcomed the team back to Boston's South Station and the adjacent streets, standing in the snow for hours to catch a glimpse of the returning players. Following their return, 1,700 people packed Boston's largest hotel, the Hotel Statler, to the doors for the team banquet. The entire Sugar Bowl committee from New Orleans was present at the banquet. The highlight of the evening came when Coach Leahy spoke, saying, "We shall start practice in the middle of April." As fate would have it, however, Leahy accepted the head coaching position at his alma mater, Notre Dame, within a month of the victory.

1940 Football Results

Opponent
Center         40-0
Tulane         27-7
Temple         33-20
Idaho          60-0
St. Anselm     55-0
Manhattan      25-0
Boston Univ.   21-0
Georgetown     19-18
Auburn         33-7
Holy Cross      7-0
Sugar Bowl
Tennessee      19-13