UCLA Bruins Bag Landmark Victory To Begin 1939 NCAA Season

With a pair of Texas Christian University defenders, guard FRED SHOOK (# 41) and tackle BOB COOK (# 43), pursuing from behind in vain, UCLA star left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13), the homegrown senior out of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles who led the Bruins with 573 net yards rushing and was named First Team All-Pacific Coast by the Associated Press as a junior in 1938, looks for running room downfield at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the 1939 NCAA season-opener for both teams.

“The UCLA Bruin has ‘grown up’!” wrote contemporary sportswriter J. Cullen Fentress in the October 5th, 1939, edition of The California Eagle.

Indeed, never before in school history had the UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA at LOS ANGELES ever registered such a monumental victory on the football gridiron before vanquishing the reigning national champions from TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY on the second last day of September in 1939.

Nov 14, 1936 … # 14 – Washington State ….. lost ….. 7-32
Oct 20, 1937 ……. # 1 – California ……………… lost … 14-27
Nov 12, 1938 …. # 15 – Wisconsin …………….. lost ….. 7-14
Nov 24, 1938 …. # 14 – Southern Cal ………… lost ….. 7-42

(note – all games played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)

Of course, there was no such thing as an official “Pre-Season Poll” issued the Associated Press or any other major organization back in September of 1939. It had only been four years earlier, in 1936, that the Associated Press first started releasing a weekly poll of accredited sportswriters that ranked all major college football teams. And, for the first seven years, the Associated Press waited until after the second week of October had already passed to finally release its first poll of the “new” season.

Nevertheless, many contemporary sportswriters had taken stock of all the players returning to Texas Christian University from the 1938 Horned Frogs squad which had posted a perfect 11-0-0 record and concluded that the Southwest Conference school was a very well qualified candidate to once again repeat as NCAA national champions.


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