1939 Rose Bowl: Almost Undefeated
Wallace Wade began his career at Alabama and went 2-0-1 in three Rose Bowl appearances over eight seasons there. His last year before coming to Duke he led Alabama to his second Rose Bowl victory, but it took him eight seasons in Durham to get Duke to Pasadena.
The Blue Devils came into the Rose Bowl, against USC, undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country, but Wade’s team only managed three points in a 7-3 loss. They ended the season 9-1, still ranked third. After missing out in 1939, it would take Duke until 2013 to record its first 10-win season.
Duke held the lead late into the fourth quarter after Tony Ruffa broke a scoreless tie with a field goal to start the fourth quarter. However, USC wide receiver Al Krueger caught four straight passes from Doyle Nave, and on the fourth, he reached the end zone with about a minute remaining in the game. The Blue Devils only gained five first downs and 143 total yards in the game.