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Go! Go! Go! Go!
THE OVERPOWERING charge of the big red-shirted Oklahoma line ahead of adroit Quarterback Jimmy Harris (15, right) is just one of the reasons why Oklahoma may be the greatest college football team of all time.
Coach Bud Wilkinson's proud, skillful veterans have never lost a game in their entire college careers. Last Saturday, playing against what was in the beginning an adequate, reasonably capable University of Texas football team, they showed why as they won 45-0.
They showed it in the sudden, lifting charge of a line which moved all of a piece, like a wave breaking evenly along a beach. They showed it in the meticulous, precise play patterns they traced against the faded green background of the Cotton Bowl turf. It was there, too, in the running of a back named Tommy McDonald, who moves with quick, almost dainty steps, picking his way through the shifting dangers of a broken field as if he carried a road map in his mind with the hazards clearly marked. And it was there in the way a linebacker named Jerry Tubbs played; adroitly, intelligently, moving behind the Oklahoma line with the graceful speed of a big hunting cat, so strong that the firm grip of one hand on a shoulder pad was enough for him to upend a Texas ball carrier. The defense—against running or passing—was impeccable.
Texas was not surprised by the Oklahoma strength. For the long week before the game, the coaches had told the Texas players that Oklahoma was, man for man, a better team. But the better team does not inevitably win.
"Figure that if everything goes right for us and the breaks go against them, we have a good chance to upset them," Coach Ed Price told his youngsters. "They have to lose sometime."
To counteract the Oklahoma edge in manpower, Price decided to run almost exclusively from a spread, designed to loosen the Oklahoma defense, provide some running room for Walter Fondren, a small but immensely capable halfback, and shoot four receivers into the Oklahoma secondary for the passes of Quarterbacks Joe Clements and Vince Matthews. On defense, Price used stunts—the line slanting first one way and then the other, hoping to out-guess the Oklahoma quarterback often enough to interrupt the momentum of the Sooner attack.
Oklahoma's preparations were typically methodical. Texas had so far shown nothing but a passing attack, a fine halfback in Fondren and a series of flanking arrangements designed to take advantage of these weapons. So pass defense got top priority. ("We hope to keep them from throwing the long gainer," said Wilkinson, "and hope that our interceptions will offset the yardage they are bound to gain.") Special defenses were designed for each flanker pattern, and the defense—to point up the Texas threat—was taught to yell "Fondren left" or "Fondren right" as the Texas offensive patterns took shape.
The Oklahoma offense, long monotonously addicted to the several variations on the split-T theme, has added some single-wing and spread formations this season, and they were polished for this game. The split-T attack is more than adequate, but Wilkinson has put in the fancy touches for two reasons: 1) it gives the opposition more to worry about in devising their defenses against the Sooner attack and 2) the veteran Oklahoma squad showed signs of boredom after three years of the same plays and needed something to sharpen the players' interest. They laughed and kidded as they learned the new, razzle-dazzle offense, but they learned it as thoroughly as they had the bread-and-butter attack off the split-T.
The last practice session at Norman was Thursday afternoon. The players hollered on the field and joked in the shower, but by Friday afternoon at Fort Worth, where they flew to spend the night, the tension had started to build. The team rode quietly in chartered buses to the hotel, quietly went to their assigned rooms for afternoon naps and finally showed up, deadly serious, for a squad meeting at 5:30. Wilkinson and the other coaches emerged grim following a half-hour session behind closed doors; after 20 more minutes of talk among themselves, the players walked out, pale, tense and silent and sat down to a funereal meal.