Texas could use a couple of pickup trucks to haul in its statistics, from this season and from its entire 30-game win streak. Over those 30 games—covering most of the last three seasons—Royal's Wishbone T has averaged 39.4 points and 358 yards rushing per Saturday, which the National Collegiate Sports Service regards as outlandish and incomparable. The Longhorns keep topping themselves. For the first nine games of the streak, in 1968, they averaged 37.4 points and 337 yards rushing. For the next 11 (last season) they averaged 39.5 points and 360 yards. This year the Longhorns have averaged 41.2 points and 374.5 yards. Led by Fullback Steve Worster, the only man who has played in all three backfields during the streak, Texas has gained over 10,000 yards on the ground.
Two assets make Texas seem more devastating than ever: an offensive line that grows quicker and more proficient and a backfield with better balance. The Texans of 1970 go into the Cotton Bowl with Worster, who has 898 yards and 14 touchdowns, Jim Bertelsen, who has 891 yards and 13 touchdowns, and Eddie Phillips, who has 666 yards and 12 touchdowns. Whenever any two of them carry the ball back to back the figures add up to better than a first down.
And while the Longhorns are hardly noted for their passing, they somehow manage to use the pass effectively. Eddie Phillips has hit only 39 of 96, but his average per completion is 17.8 yards—second highest in the nation. Royal makes the point: "Eddie's job is not to build statistics, but to get his team into the end zone."
For all of this, Texas might be ripe. Ripe to get plucked. Winning streaks have to end some time, and another Notre Dame team ended the daddy of them all, Oklahoma's 47-gamer. Royal, with a five-game bowl streak going, hasn't lost since Jan. 1, 1963 (to LSU), and since then has beaten Navy (with Roger Staubach), Alabama (with Joe Na-math), Ole Miss, Tennessee and Notre Dame. Theismann is the only one to get a second chance.
But going against Theismann is an odd kind of tradition. The major bowls aren't heavy on rematches, and in the two that have occurred the team that lost the first game also lost the second. The records show Santa Clara defeating LSU back to back in the 1937 and 1938 Sugar Bowls, and Alabama defeating Nebraska in the 1966 Orange and 1967 Sugar.
Theismann might ignore such trivia and hit Tom Gatewood a few times on some of the pass patterns that made Notre Dame the nation's second best in total offense. The surest way to beat Texas, if not the only way, is to throw expertly and keep scoring. Of this the Irish are fully capable. And if Texas sputters just a bit, having no doubt peaked against Arkansas, Royal will have to call on some resources that may or may not be hidden away.
Wistfully Ara says, "I'm as awed by their defense as their offense, frankly. It's too bad we lost to USC, because a victory would have given us more to play for. But we're going again to make the game fun for the kids and just hope for a hot hand."
Whether the hot hand belongs to Theismann on the down-and-out or Eddie Phillips on the pitch is what it will come down to. For all of Theismann's talents, the afternoon should go to Texas if the Longhorns perform close to their ability.
Like Texas, Ohio State has a remarkable group of seniors wishing to close out their careers on a happy memory. This would be the memory of beating another Heisman Trophy winner in Pasadena. As sophomores, the Rex Kern-Jack Tatum gang outscampered O. J. Simpson in the Rose Bowl, and now, as older fellows, they face Stanford's Jim Plunkett, a totally different problem.
Both teams were slightly baffling this season, Ohio State because the Buckeyes were hardly overwhelming within the weakened Big Ten except on the big day against Michigan, and Stanford because the Indians were only good when they wanted to be.