1949 National Championship Season

After winning national titles in 1946 and 1947, Notre Dame went 9-0-1 in 1948, but finished second behind Michigan in the final Associated Press poll of the season. In 1949, head coach Frank Leahy led the Irish to a perfect 10-0 record. It was Leahy’s fourth title at Notre Dame and the team’s third in four seasons. During that four-year span, the team finished with a record of 36-0-2. In 1949, the Fighting Irish averaged 36 points per game, while allowing just 8.6 per contest. The season was highlighted by a 46-7 win over #4 Tulane at Notre Dame Stadium, as well as close 27-20 victory at SMU in the season finale. In this ‘Strong and True’ moment, look back on Notre Dame’s seventh national championship season through images from the University of Notre Dame Archives.

1949 Notre Dame football schedule
Sept. 24: vs. Indiana (W) 49-6
Oct. 1: at Washington (W) 27-7
Oct. 8: at Purdue (W) 35-12
Oct. 15: vs. Tulane (W) 46-7
Oct. 29: vs. Navy (W) 40-0
Nov. 5: at Michigan State (W) 34-21
Nov. 12: vs. North Carolina (W) 42-6
Nov. 19: vs. Iowa (W) 28-7
Nov. 26: vs. USC (W) 32-0
Dec. 3: at SMU (W) 27-20

1949 collage

The 1949 team was Frank Leahy’s fourth and final national championship squad.

1949 team

Between 1946 and 1949, Notre Dame won three national titles and did not lose a single game.


With 19 catches for 257 yards and five touchdowns, Leon Hart became Notre Dame’s third Heisman Trophy winner.

Hart touchdown

Leon Hart runs in for a touchdown behind a block from Bill Barrett.

Leahy on field

Head coach Frank Leahy on the practice field with several Irish players.

Leahy with players

Leahy in the locker room with players (left to right) — Leon Hart, Bill Lally (#66), Bill Wightkin (#83), Ed Hudak (#72), and Bill Flynn (right profile), following the Tulane game.

USC ticket

In the final home game of the 1949 season, Notre Dame shut out USC, 32-0.

SMU ticket

For the season finale, the Fighting Irish traveled to Dallas, where they defeated SMU in a close game to finish with a 10-0 record.

SMU newspaper

Newspaper headline from The Dallas Morning News following the game between Notre Dame and SMU.