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I remember Jimmy Lawrence catching one of those passes for a touchdown late in the game and then being carried off the field with an injury. My dad and others around us were very sad to see TCU lose Lawrence, but they were very happy that the Frogs had finally fought back from 0-14 and tied the game at 14-14.
With about four minutes left and SMU lined up on fourth down in punt formation near TCU's 40-yard line, my dad was sipping his "cough medicine" with some relief. The Frogs had gained far more yardage than the Mustangs, and they now looked like the better team, and the Rose Bowl would surely select TCU in the case of a tie. In our section everyone seemed to agree on this.
Everyone was still agreeing on it when the SMU punter, Bob Finley, didn't punt. Instead, he lofted a 50-yard pass toward the TCU goal line. The next thing anyone noticed was SMU's All-America halfback, Bobby (Will-o'-the-Wisp) Wilson, racing down the sideline, trying to get there before the football.
Baugh, playing safety, struggled to get there from the other side of the field. At about the three-yard line the Will-o'-the-Wisp leaped high into the air and twisted around to make a miraculous catch and stumble into the end zone. The Mustangs won 20-14.
The broken hearts took little consolation later in the fact that TCU was chosen as the No. 1 team after the bowl games by the Williamson System, the only syndicated rating system of the day to publish a ranking after the bowl games. This was after SMU was upset by a mediocre Stanford team in Pasadena on the same day that TCU defeated a highly regarded LSU team in the Sugar Bowl. It would only mean something in the brochures.
You would think that in 1938 Davey O'Brien and his mates would have cured all the heartache of that day. I'm sure they cured some. But the Frogs were so good behind little Davey's passing and running and ball-handling magic, they throttled everyone with ease. They never had a real scare in their 10-game schedule and Sugar Bowl win over Carnegie Tech. There was no drama.
They received all of the most enviable No. 1s, and O'Brien swept the Heisman, Maxwell and Camp awards as the player of the year. He weighed only 150 pounds and stood only 5' 7", but he bounced off tacklers like a rubber ball, skittered between them and flipped 20-yard laterals like a gunslinger. His long passes were beautiful spirals, and they seemed to be guided by destiny into the arms of Don Looney, Earl Clark and Johnny Hall.
Dutch Meyer never found another Baugh or O'Brien, and he almost didn't find the T formation until just before he retired. But Lord love him. In 1951, when everybody but Ethiopia and TCU had gone to the split T, Dutch swiped one last conference title with the old spread and triple wing. A marvelous tailback named Ray McKown would take a long snap and either throw the ball into the unknown or run about 25 yards and hope to get back to the line of scrimmage.
Even Dutch knew it was time for a change. Abe Martin took over in '53 and brought with him an explosive multiple offense and a facility for recruiting. TCU's new look had no harm done to it by the presence of a Jim Swink here, a Jim Shofner there and a Bob Lilly over there. Abe gave TCU three conference winners and four bowl teams in his first seven years.