The 1940 college football season ended with the Gophers of the University of Minnesota being named the nation's No. 1 team and national champion by the AP Poll, and the Stanford University Indians in second, with the two teams receiving 65 and 44 first place votes respectively. Each writer listed his choice for the top ten teams, and points were tallied based on 10 for first place, 9 for second, etc., and the AP then ranked the twenty teams with the highest number of points. Four of the seven contemporary math systems also selected the Gophers as the top team. Minnesota, Stanford, and Boston College (who defeated Tennessee) won all their games and, along with Tennessee, all claim 1940 as a national championship season.
September 28 Defending champion Texas A&M beat Texas A&I (later the university's Kingsville campus), 26–0. Tennessee beat Mercer 49–0. USC and Washington State played to a 14–14 tie. Tulane lost to Boston College 27–7. Michigan won at California 41–0. Minnesota defeated Washington 19–14 in Minneapolis.
October 5 In San Antonio, Texas A&M beat Tulsa 41–6. Tennessee beat Duke 13–0. Cornell beat Colgate 34–0. Northwestern won at Syracuse, 40–0. Minnesota beat Nebraska 13–7. Michigan beat Michigan State 21–14.
October 12 Cornell won at Army 45–0.
In Los Angeles, Texas A&M beat UCLA 7–0. Tennessee beat Chattanooga 53–0. Northwestern beat Ohio State 6–3. Michigan won at Harvard 26–0. The top five in the year's first AP Poll were No. 1 Cornell, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Northwestern, and No. 5 Tennessee.
October 19 No. 1 Cornell beat Syracuse 33–6. No. 2 Texas A&M beat TCU 21–7. No. 3 Michigan beat Illinois 28–0. In Birmingham, No. 5 Tennessee beat Alabama, 27–12. No. 6 Notre Dame beat Carnegie Tech 61–0. The resulting AP Poll was No. 1 Cornell, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Texas A&M, and No. 5 Tennessee. Despite a 27–7 win at Wisconsin, Northwestern fell from 4th to 7th; previous No. 7 Minnesota moved up one spot with a 13-7 win over No. 15 Ohio State in Columbus.
October 26 No. 1 Cornell beat Ohio State 21–7. No. 2 Notre Dame won at Illinois 26–0. No. 3 Michigan beat Pennsylvania 14–0. No. 4 Texas A&M won at Baylor 14–7. No. 5 Tennessee beat Florida 14–0. No. 6 Minnesota beat Iowa 34–6. Cornell, Notre Dame, and Michigan remained as the top three, followed by Minnesota and Texas A&M.
November 2 No. 1 Cornell beat Columbia 27–0. No. 2 Notre Dame beat Army 7–0 at Yankee Stadium. No. 3 Michigan was idle. No. 4 Minnesota narrowly won at No. 8 Northwestern, 13–12. No. 5 Texas A&M beat Arkansas 17–0. No. 7 Tennessee beat LSU 28–0. The next AP Poll ranked Cornell, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas A&M, and Tennessee as the top five. Notre Dame fell from No. 2 to No. 7 after their close win over a weak Army team (the Cadets would finish 1-7-1).
November 9 No. 1 Cornell beat Yale 21–0, but dropped to second in the next poll. No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Michigan, both unbeaten (5–0–0), met in Minneapolis, with the Gophers winning by one point, 7–6. No. 4 Texas A&M won at No. 14 SMU 19–7. No. 5 Tennessee won at Rhodes College 41–0. No. 6 Stanford beat No. 11 Washington 20–10 to advance its record to 7–0–0. The resulting AP Poll was No. 1 Minnesota, No. 2 Cornell, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Stanford, and No. 5 Tennessee.
November 16 No. 1 Minnesota beat Purdue 33–6. No. 2 Cornell lost at Dartmouth 3–0 in the famous "Fifth Down" game. No. 3 Texas A&M beat Rice 25–0. No. 4 Stanford beat No. 19 Oregon State 28–14. No. 8 Boston College beat No. 9 Georgetown 19–18 to extend its record to 8–0–0. The next AP Poll featured No. 1 Minnesota, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Boston College, and No. 5 Cornell. Previous No. 5 Tennessee fell to No. 6 despite an 8-0-0 record and a 41–14 win over Virginia.
November 23 No. 1 Minnesota closed its season with a 22–13 win at Wisconsin. No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 3 Stanford were idle. No. 4 Boston College beat Auburn 33–7. No. 5 Cornell lost 22-20 to Pennsylvania. No. 7 Michigan won at Ohio State to close its season at 7–1–0 and moved into fifth place behind Minnesota, Texas A&M, Stanford, and Boston College.
On Thanksgiving Day No. 2 Texas A&M lost at Texas 7–0. On November 30 No. 3 Stanford closed its season with a 13–7 win at California, No. 4 Boston College defeated Holy Cross 7–0, and No. 6 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 20–0. The top five of the final AP Poll were No. 1 Minnesota, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Tennessee, and No. 5 Boston College.