In 1938, The Vols went 10–0 in the regular season and then shut out fellow unbeaten Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 17–0, snapping the Sooners' 14-game win streak and beginning a long winning streak for Neyland. Tennessee was selected by a majority of polls and selectors as the national champions with 24 crowning the Vols.Heisman Trophy winner Davey O'Brien and his undefeated TCU Horned Frogs were second with 14.
The 1938 Volunteers were the first of three consecutive Tennessee squads that had undefeated regular seasons. Tennessee won three consecutive conference titles before Neyland left for military service in World War II in 1941. Tennessee also began a historic streak in 1938. By shutting out their last four regular season opponents, the Vols began a streak of 17 consecutive regular season shutouts and 71 consecutive shutout quarters, still NCAA records. Athlon Sports has named the 1938 Tennessee team as the third best college football team of all time.