Memphis Football History - Undefeated Teams

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Undefeated Tigers
1929 8-0-2 Zach Curlin
1938 10-0-0 Allyn McKeen
1963 9-0-1 Billy J. Murphy

Three University of Memphis football teams have gone undefeated since the Tigers first took up the sport in 1912. The most recent Memphis team to go through a season without a defeat was the 1963 squad which ended the year 9-0-1.

Memphis began its football program in 1912 and compiled a 1-2-1 record under head coach Clyde Wilson. The Tigers, then known as West Tennessee State Normal School, played Memphis University School to a scoreless tie in the first football game played at Memphis on October 5. The Tiger football squad notched its first victory three weeks later on October 26 against Bolton Agricultural 13-0. They eventually lost the final two games of the season to Christian Brothers College and MUS.

The first undefeated team was coach Zach Curlin's 1929 squad which posted an 8-0-2 record, scoring 146 points and limiting the Tigers' 10 opponents to a mere 27 points. Memphis, which was captained by Slick Headden and Joe Koch, captured the Mississippi Valley Conference Championship with that undefeated season.

Coach Allyn McKeen fielded one of the nation's highest scoring teams in 1938, a season which saw the Tigers finish with a 10-0-0 record. Memphis scored 281 points during the year, while only yielding 41 points. The biggest margin of victory was a 68-0 thrashing of Cumberland College. The Tigers also defeated Arkansas A&M 50-0 later in the season. Roland McMackin captained the 1938 Tigers.

The 1963 Memphis football team had only a scoreless tie with Ole Miss between them and a perfect season. The Tigers finished with a 9-0-1 record under head coach Billy J. Murphy. Unlike the 1938 team, which was noted for its offense, this team made its mark as a defensive club. There were five shutouts, and the five remaining teams scored only 52 points. The Tigers, captained by Richard Saccoccia, rolled up 199 points.

The 1963 squad had wins over Southern Miss (28-7), Tulsa (28-15), North Texas State (21-0), West Texas State (29-14), Mississippi State (17-10), Louisville (25-0), South Carolina (9-0), Chattanooga (13-0) and Houston (29-6).

Senior fullback Dave Casinelli led the NCAA in rushing and scoring during the 1963 season. Casinelli rushed for 1,016 yards and scored 84 points. He is the only Tiger back to win the national rushing and scoring titles.

 1963 UNDEFEATED TIGERS: Front row (l-r): John Fred Robilio, Dave Casinelli, Richard Saccoccia, John Cronin, Ed Weldon, Jim Addington, Bill Gidden. Second row (l-r): Dick Quast, Wiley Patterson, Don Scroggins, John W. Wright, Harry Schuh, John Evans, Wayne Easley, Chuck Brooks, Charles Owens. Third row (l-r): Melio Sulipeck, Walter Heitzenrater, Ray Farmer, Bob Finamore, Harry Day, Ron Higdon, Don McClard, Doug Woodlief. Back row (l-r): Jim Haynie, Pete Ingram, Bob Sherlag, Olie Cordill, Don Jones, Gene Ward, Herb Cummings, Charles Alexander.

 1938 UNDEFEATED TIGERS: Front row (l-r): John Reeves, Chalmers Parr, Maurice Roach, Doug Mayo, Roland McMackin, Skeeter Ellis, Elmer Vaughn, Kimbrough Vaughn, Billy McComus. Second row (l-r): Bobby Davis, manager, Pop Calhoun, Hank Farino, Ed Palmer, Earl Whittington, James West, Jim Enoch, Bryan Robinson, Paul Hicks, John Michael. Back row (l-r): Bob Mathews, Murry Blurton, James Conlee, Billy Zarecor, Gordon Scoggins, Haggard Cherry, John Schwaiger, Bill McGinnis, Alton Gardner, J.T. Crawford.

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