Admittedly, these were not superior opponents, but the Texas goal line had not been crossed and the orange victory lights that bathed the tall Tower, high above the red-tile roofs of the handsome campus buildings, looked as if they might shine on and on.
The excitement of winning, which seems to have a higher octane rating in Texas than anywhere else, was obvious in the looks and speech of deep-dyed fans like Crockett English, manager of the campus bookstore. English is one of a number of Texans who have been heard to say that football is a way of life, not merely an earnest avocation. Darrell Royal fits excellently into this pattern.
"Darrell brought the rain and he brought the victories, and we're grateful," English says.
Last Thursday, after Royal returned from that freshman game (won by Texas) he took a sleeping pill, but even so he awoke at 7 a.m. on Friday. At midmorning, seated behind a desk in his small, plain office in the fieldhouse, he gazed at an enormous pair of mounted horns—longhorn horns—and shaped an answer to a question about his coaching technique.
"I just try to do what comes natural," he said. "If it comes natural and I feel good about it, I just do it. I live from day to day. I don't try to set up an objective for two years from now or anything like that.
"Except for technical football I seldom put any thought on what to say to the team before I get up and say it. There's an old saying that you can't kid a kid. I never have tried to fool any player and I don't think I could. I wouldn't dare do anything unless I felt it was natural."
Meanwhile in Dallas another Southwest Conference coach who favors the natural approach, at least in one important respect—the utilization of Don Meredith—was ready for Missouri. SMU Coach Bill Meek says of Meredith, "He's the best passer in the country as far as I'm concerned. If we've got a guy who can really throw that ball, we'll throw."
Before 33,000 in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night, the 21-year-old, 195-pound Meredith, a genuinely gifted athlete who can run and tackle effectively as well as pass superbly, did what came naturally. He passed for two touchdowns in SMU's 23-2 victory and altogether accounted for 120 yards on 10 completions in 14 attempts. He fired the first scoring pass at close range, with a Missouri tackier hanging onto his waist, and against spirited rushes by the Missouri linemen demonstrated his celebrated coolness again and again. Behind Meek's spread formation he cruised back and forth, shaking off and faking off tacklers as he waited patiently for his receivers' patterns to unfold.
SMU's Friday night victory over Missouri put the state of Texas one up on the invaders, and Saturday afternoon hordes of Longhorn and Sooner fans streamed into Dallas for the battle of the Kilkenny cats to see whether or not the University of Texas could give the state its second win of the weekend. As in the past, a large and vociferous part of that horn-honking, pennant-waving cavalcade was bent on the modern equivalent of getting a skinful and shooting up the town, though they no longer attempt to dismantle it.
At the kickoff the crowd simmered in its traditional highly charged state of mingled anticipation and apprehension. No need for them to worry if the players were up for the game; they always are, on historical principle. And right now, this year, Texas would defend its winning streak the best it knew how, or a little better. Oklahoma, for its part, considers it un-Oklahoman, and possibly illegal, to lose more than one game in the season—and the Sooners had already been drubbed by Northwestern (A Slight Case of Murder, SI, Oct. 5).