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Dan McDonald | | August 14, 2019

The oldest records in the NCAA football stat book

College Sports: NCAA's Unbreakable Records | High Five

The NCAA FBS college football record book is jammed packed with some of the greatest names and greatest performances in history.

Official records began being kept by the NCAA in 1937, and there are quite a few records that still stand from those early days.

Here’s a look at the records that still stand which were set before 1940.

UNBREAKABLE? 7 college football individual records that will (probably) never be broken

The Nov. 11, 1939 matchup between Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA) has numerous records still on the books, including just about all of the punting records for a game. 

According to the entry in the record book under Most Punts, “The game was played in a heavy downpour in Shreveport, Louisiana. Forty-two punts were returned, 19 went out of bounds, 10 were downed, 1 went into the end zone for a touchback, 4 were blocked and 1 was fair caught. Sixty-seven punts [34 by Texas Tech and 33 by Centenary] occurred on first-down plays, including 22 consecutively in the third and fourth quarters. The game was a scoreless tie.”

Here is a listing of the 13 records still standing from that incredible game:

  • Most Punts (Game)
    • 36—Charlie Calhoun, Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (1,318 yards; 20 were returned, 8 went out of bounds, 6 were downed, 1 was blocked [blocked kicks counted against the punter until 1955] and 1 went into the end zone for a touchback. Thirty-three of the punts occurred on first down during a heavy downpour in the game played at Shreveport, LA.
  • Most Yards on Punts (Game)
    • 1,318—Charlie Calhoun, Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (36 punts)
  • Most Punt Returns (Game)
    • 20—Milton Hill, Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (110 yards)
  • Most Kick Returns (Game)
    • 20—Milton Hill, Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (20 punts, 110 yards)
  • Fewest Rushes, Both Teams (Game)
    • 28—Texas Tech (10) & Centenary (LA) (18), Nov. 11, 1939 (23 yards)
  • Fewest Plays (Game)
    • 12—Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (10 rushes, 2 passes, -1 yard)
  • Fewest Plays, Both Teams (Game)
    • 33—Texas Tech (12) & Centenary (LA) (21), Nov. 11, 1939 (28 rushes, 5 passes, 30 yards)
  • Fewest Yards Gained, Both Teams (Game)
    • 30—Texas Tech (-1) & Centenary (LA) (31), Nov. 11, 1939 (33 plays)
  • Fewest Plays Allowed (Game)
    • 12—Centenary (LA) vs. Texas Tech, Nov. 11, 1939 (10 rushes, 2 passes; -1 yard)
  • Most Punts (Game)
    • 39—Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (1,377 yards)
    • 38—Centenary (LA) vs. Texas Tech, Nov. 11, 1939 (1,248 yards)
  • Most Punts, Both Teams (Game)
    • 77—Texas Tech (39) & Centenary (LA) (38), Nov. 11, 1939 (2,625 yards)
  • Most Punt Returns (Game)
    • 22—Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA), Nov. 11, 1939 (112 yards)
  • Most Punt Returns, Both Teams (Game)
    • 42—Texas Tech (22) & Centenary (LA) (20), Nov. 11, 1939 (233 yards)

77 PUNTS: The full story behind the 1939 Texas Tech vs Centenary (LA) game

While no points were scored in that historic game in 1939, there are a few teams from the same era that didn’t need downpours to keep opponents out of the endzone.

During the 1937 season, Santa Clara set the mark for fewest yards allowed per game at 69.88. They gave up 559 yards over the eight games played that season.

In 1938, Duke showed their defensive prowess on the scoreboard and set the marks for fewest rushing and passing touchdowns allowed per game and fewest points allowed per game at 0.00. The following season, Tennessee matched that same mark and did so with a 10-game schedule. Duke’s mark was set over a 9-game season. 

That Tennessee team didn’t stop there with the shutouts. They set the record for most consecutive regular season shutouts at 17 from Nov. 5, 1938, through Oct. 12, 1940. 

Further, from the second quarter of Tennessee’s Oct. 29, 1938 game against LSU through the second quarter on Oct. 19, 1940 against Alabama, the Vol’s didn’t give up a single point. The 71 quarters of play still stands as the most consecutive regular season quarters an opponent has been held scoreless.

LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES: 16 of college sports' most unbreakable records

Here are the other records that still stand from the 1930s:

Most Punts Per Game: 13.90 — Tennessee, 1937 (139 in 10)

Most Consecutive Games Without Defeat: 64—Washington, 1907-17 (4 ties)
(since 1937) 48—Oklahoma, 1953-57 (1 tie)

Most Consecutive Winning Seasons: 42—Notre Dame, 1889-32 (no teams in 1890 & 1891)
(since 1937) 40—Nebraska, 1962-2001

Most Consecutive Non-Losing Seasons: 49—Penn St., 1939-87 (includes two .500 seasons)

STREAKS: The 7 longest winning streaks in college football history

Most Tie Games in a Season: 4—Temple, 1937 (9 games); UCLA, 1939 (10 games); Central Mich., 1991 (11 games) 

Most Scoreless Tie Games in a Season: 4—Temple, 1937 (9 games)

Most Yards on Punts: Season 4,138—Johnny Pingel, Michigan St., 1938 (99 punts)

Fewest Yards Allowed Per Game: 13.13—Penn St., 1938 (105 in 8)

Most Consecutive Scoreless Tie Games: 2—Georgia Tech, 1938 (vs. Florida, Nov. 19, & vs. Georgia, Nov. 26); Alabama, 1954 (vs. Georgia, Oct. 30, & vs. Tulane, Nov. 6)

Lowest Average Yards Allowed Per Play (Min. 400 plays): 1.71—Texas A&M, 1939 (447 for 763)


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