Perfect seasons in college football are common. Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers did it in record-breaking style in 2019. Trevor Lawrence led the Clemson Tigers to a national championship and pristine 15-0 record in 2018. UCF fans won’t let anyone forget about their 13-0 season in 2017, one that ended outside of the College Football Playoff.
In the past 11 NCAA football seasons, there have been nine instances of zero-loss seasons. Twice in that span two teams have finished undefeated — the Auburn Tigers and TCU Horned Frogs in 2010 and Alabama Crimson Tide and Boise State Broncos in 2009. Ohio State went undefeated in 2012 without even playing in the title game.
What isn’t common in today’s college football landscape is a perfect season. You know, the type where an FBS team doesn’t give up a single point all season. Not one field goal or touchdown. Nothing.
That’s exactly what the Texas A&M Aggies accomplished during the 1919 season under head coach Dana X. Bible. For going 10-0 (4– Southwest Conference) and outscoring their opponents 275-0, they were retroactively determined co-national champions alongside Harvard (9-0-1) and Notre Dame (9-0) by the Billingsley Report. There was no AP Poll back then to determine a sole national champion.
Texas A&M football’s historic season began with a doubleheader against Sam Houston State and Southwest Texas State, which they pounded by a combined score of 105-0. The rest was not only football history, but also something we may never see again.
Texas A&M’s 1919 National Championship
- Oct. 3: Sam Houston State, 77-0. (College Station, Texas)
- Oct. 3: Southwest Texas State, 28-0.
- Oct. 11: At SMU, 16-0. (Dallas, Texas)
- Oct. 18: Howard Payne, 12-0.
- Oct. 24: Trinity (TX), 42-0.
- Oct. 31: Oklahoma A&M, 28-0.
- Nov. 8: At Baylor, 10-0. (Waco, Texas)
- Nov. 15: TCU, 48-0.
- Nov. 20: Southwestern (TX), 7-0.
- Nov. 27: Texas, 7-0.
The Aggies apparently had one of the best defenses of that era, because they didn’t surrender a single point during the 1917 season as well. They went 8-0 (3-0 SWC) that year in Bible’s first ever season in College Station after leaving LSU.
Bible returned from a year of World War I military service in 1919 (how’s that for a 12th Man?). He was apparently a darn good recruiter, as evidenced by this recruiting letter he sent to “Chicken” Harrison in hopes of convincing him to return to the football team after serving in the military as well.
Finding statistics and players from a team more 100 years old is no easy task, but MyAggieNation.com has at least provided some context to how Bible’s Aggies were so dominant that year:
“Aggies were led on offense by fullback Jack Mahan and running back Grady Higginbotham. In a season-opening doubleheader, A&M defeated San Marcos and Sam Houston by a combined score of 105-0. In the next two, end E.S. Wilson and the defense shined as A&M shut out SMU and Howard Payne. A.G. Knickerbocker played quarterback as the team rolled over Trinity and Oklahoma A&M to move to 6-0. He broke his shoulder, though, and was lost for the year. After shutout wins over Baylor, TCU and Southwestern, the Aggies embarked on the annual clash with Texas at 9-0 and vying for a conference and national championship. Higginbotham scored the team’s lone touchdown in a 7-0 victory.”
Higginbotham also played baseball at TAMU and wound up coaching Texas Tech’s football, baseball and basketball teams in the late 1920s. Mahan also threw javelin for TAMU’s track and field team and even did so for the United States in the 1920 Summer Olympics.
Texas A&M Football National Championships
The 1919 national title was the first of three in Texas A&M’s history — 1927 and 1939 being the others. In addition, they have 18 total conference titles and two Heisman Trophy winners since their inaugural season in 1894.
Bible led the Aggies to that 1927 title and found more success as the head coach of Nebraska in the 1930s and Texas in the 1940s. He finished his 31-year career 190-69-22 (.715) and never lost a bowl game in four appearances.
It was a different time back then, but Aggies fans can forever claim one more ring over some of their SEC peers. Whether you agree they deserved it, the Aggies can boast about that special national championship season at Kyle Field.
My only question is why hasn’t Texas A&M claimed a national title in 1917 as well?
This post was originally published on August 28, 2019.