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1963 Undefeated--and Undeniable
Dan Jenkins
January 07, 2006
A resounding win over Navy preserved a perfect Longhorns season
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January 07, 2006

1963 Undefeated--and Undeniable

A resounding win over Navy preserved a perfect Longhorns season

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TEXAS AGAINST NAVY IS THE GAME THAT HAD TO be. Throughout the last half of the 1963 regular season the Longhorns and the Midshipmen were rated one-two in the national polls, and that is how they finished. Texas, the only major team to wind up unbeaten and untied (10-0), was appropriately crowned national champion. Its leader, Darrell Royal, was voted Coach of the Year, and its tackle, Scott Appleton, was voted Lineman of the Year. Navy, a restless No. 2 with a 9-1 record, won the Lambert Trophy, awarded to the best team in the East, while quarterback Roger Staubach took the Heisman Trophy.

That the game is in the Cotton Bowl spreads irony everywhere. It was in the same stadium on successive days in mid-October that Texas became No. 1 by defeating Oklahoma and that Navy lost all chance of attaining the same first-place rating by suffering an upset to SMU.

All season the strength of Texas lay in its alertness, agility, depth and courage. At the core was a group of 22 seniors known as the Duke Carlisle Crowd, named for the quarterback who became their leader when they were recruited by Royal in 1960. In three years these two full teams won 28 regular-season games, lost one and tied one.

Texas will need every bit of its depth if it is going to prevent Navy from tarnishing its trophies. Navy coach Wayne Hardin's team is as thoroughly aggressive as Royal's, and Staubach is blessed with wonderful receivers.

In the end the question is not whether Texas's defense is as good as Navy's offense, but the opposite. Is Texas's offense, a grinding ground attack with Carlisle keeping and running, and with halfback Tommy Ford (738 yards gained) going under and over tacklers, better than Navy's defense? It most likely is, for Navy surrendered too many points to lesser opponents. Navy cannot score if Staubach cannot get the ball, and Texas is the type of team that keeps it all afternoon--then takes it home. Texas will do it again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: And, of course, the Longhorns did, as Carlisle passed for two scores and ran in another in a 28-6 victory that gave Texas its first national title.

Dan Jenkins
Reprinted from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Dec. 23, 1963

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