After six agonizing years Texans need no longer avert their eyes. Last Saturday afternoon a long-overdue account was settled in the Cotton Bowl at Dallas. Texas beat Oklahoma 15-14, thereby righting all the injustices of the recent past.
Football is more than a game in Texas; it is a way of life. The humiliation which Oklahoma has piled on Texas at the annual game in the Cotton Bowl in recent years can be compared with the memories of Santa Ana and the Alamo. Maybe even worse. It is one thing to lose honorably to a foreigner but something else when treachery plays a part. Oklahoma, during those past six years, was beating Texas with Texans.
Until Bud Wilkinson's formula for football victory first began to flourish at Oklahoma in 1952, this rugged old southwestern rivalry had been a mighty one-sided affair. Texas had won 30 and lost only 14 against the rivals from across the Red River. From the time of the Texas victory in 1951, however, until last Saturday, Oklahoma won 68 of its 72 games and beat Texas without serious difficulty. One way the Sooners accomplished all this was by employing some of the finest athletic talent raised in Texas. On this year's Oklahoma roster, for instance, 21 come from Texas, eight of them members of the first two teams. The Texas football fan does not appreciate his own kith and kin going abroad—and then returning to help humiliate the home folks.
Well, all that was ended on Saturday—and perhaps something more.
Only a week before, when Oregon scared the Sooners silly before bowing 6-0, there had been an indication that perhaps Oklahoma's reign was coming to an end. Not that Oklahoma will lose again in 1958, for probably it will not. But no longer will it take a great team to beat the Big Red, only a good one playing reasonably inspired football, and last Saturday in Dallas this was just what happened. Texas, which has now won four straight games, is hardly a great football team. It is, however, a very good one and boy, can it get tough.
"We don't have the speed to be spectacular," said Darrell Royal the night before the game. Then this very impressive young man, who once played quarterback under Wilkinson at Oklahoma, had to grin. "But these kids sure like to play football; they'll tee off against anybody."
This is likely to become the hallmark of Royal-coached Texas teams. Though he arrived in Austin only a little over a year ago, his teams are already characterized by toughness and determination and a liking for knocking people down. On Saturday they simply started knocking Oklahomans down at the kickoff and didn't quit until the final gun told them it was time to let up. Yet it was the ghostlike figure of a young man named Vince Matthews which won the game.
While the entire Longhorn line—Shillingburg, Parkhurst, Padgett, Jones, Bryant, Doke and all the others down through Royal's first two units—smashed Oklahoma's famed speed with a ferocity that sent loud, crunching noises all the way up to section 127 there on the rim of the sky, Texas probed and punched and felt its own way. Then, despite the heroic efforts of Oklahoma's great center, Bob Harrison (who comes from Stamford, Texas), the Long-horns pounded to a first-half score. They drove 52 yards in six plays, and Rene Ramirez, the left-handed halfback, threw a running pass to George Blanch for the touchdown. Fullback Don Allen went over left tackle for the two extra points, and Texas led 8-0. In all this time Oklahoma's vaunted offense had been held to a net gain of 39 yards on the ground.
But in the third quarter the Sooners came out with that old hungry look, and they began to roll. They stormed to the five—and Texas held. Back they came again and this time they scored, Dick Carpenter (Breckenridge, Texas) swinging around left end from the four. Only the conversion attempt by pass failed, and Texas still led. So back came the boys in the blood-red jerseys once again. This time Texas stopped them on the 24.
But anyone who relaxes, even for a moment, against Oklahoma, is left for dead. On the first play, Guard Jim Davis (Tyler, Texas) popped through the Longhorn line, snatched a hand-off somewhere in transit between Texas Quarterback Bobby Lackey and Fullback Mike Dowdle and rumbled to the goal. This time Bobby Boyd (Garland, Texas) passed to Jerry Tillery for the conversion and the score was 14-8 Oklahoma, with most of the fourth quarter still to be played.