Last week’s Southwest Conference revival games were a blast. Texas A&M and Arkansas battled back and forth until the Aggies pulled off the victory in overtime. In Lubbock, Texas Tech and TCU gave us the shootout we all expected and wrote an instant classic in the process. While the Baylor-Rice match up got out of hand and got out of hand quickly, it was great to see the old foes lineup across from one another.
This week there are only two SWC rematches occurring, but, as always, there are plenty of stories to tell past and present about the games. After 54 years, Texas will look to repay TCU for one of the most painful losses in Longhorn history. While AT&T Stadium will be hosting back-to-back SWC matchups, as Texas Tech and Baylor battle it out on the same field that saw the Razorback-Aggie clash.
Of course, we always encourage everyone to share their own SWC memories and stories with us through social media. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter. We share our vast collection of stories, pictures and memorabilia and welcome you to join the conversation with your own!
Texas versus TCU
The Longhorn faithful have been put through the ringer the last two weeks. While some point the finger at two botched special teams plays leading to back-to-back UT losses, others have questioned the integrity of referees and the Big 12 itself. Regardless, that sort of emotional charge could lead to the Longhorns providing completely unexpected results when they walk onto the field to face TCU.
This weekend’s meeting in Fort Worth will be the 86th time the two schools have faced off on the gridiron. Not surprisingly, the University of Texas owns an overwhelming advantage in the series having won 62 games while only losing 22 and tying 1. However, since TCU joined the Big 12, the Horned Frogs have a 2-1 record against Longhorns.
While TCU is heavily favored in this game, a Horned Frog victory would mark the first time TCU has beaten the ‘Horns in back-to-back seasons since 1958-59. Needless to say, a UT victory would be a gigantic upset.
However, in honor of the SWC teams of yesteryear, we will look back to one season TCU put a major blow on the Longhorns, perhaps one of the biggest victories in TCU history. While the ‘Horns were #1 in the country, looking like clear favorites to take the National Title at the end of the season, TCU would finish the year a lowly 3-5-2 (though they were the greatest three win team in college football history).
The year was 1961 and the day was November 18. A cloudy, cool day the thermostat read 60 degrees when the game kicked at two o’clock in the afternoon. The Longhorns had started the season ranked #4 but after steamrolling #10 Arkansas 33-7 in Fayetteville and going 8-0 start to the season, the ‘Horns had climbed all the way to #1 for the first time since 1946. With only lowly TCU and a struggling Texas A&M squad left, the Longhorns looked like they would be strolling to their first National Title.
The Horned Frogs made the trip to Austin expecting to put up a fight. The Frogs had already caused some of the country’s best teams problems, as they knocked off #8 Kansas 17-16 and tied #3 Ohio State 7-7 in Columbus. However, that same squad also lost to Baylor, UCLA and Arkansas while being shut out by Texas Tech.
Clearly TCU was dangerous but they certainly weren’t bringing anything the Longhorns couldn’t handle. While the Horned Frogs’ season had started so bright, they limped into Austin with a 2-4-1 record. Texas, meanwhile, had more than earned their #1 ranking. The Longhorns had drubbed almost all of their opponents. The only game that was within 21 points prior to facing TCU was a 28-7 victory over rival Oklahoma.
UT brought an offense that scored an average of 33 points per game led by electric running back James Saxton. What Saxton lacked in size (5’11” 160) he made up for in agility and vision. Legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal once described Saxton as a “bucket full of minnows.”
Early in the first quarter, Saxton went wide on a running play where he was slammed to the ground by TCU defender Bobby Plummer who outweighed Saxton by nearly 80 pounds. The hit knocked Saxton unconscious. David McWilliams, a guard and linebacker on the 1961 team and who would later captain the 1963 National Title team before becoming the head coach at UT, remembered the play by comparing it to more recent events, “It was a lot like Colt McCoy getting hurt against Alabama. Saxton was a big part of our offense.”
TCU eventually stopped that drive forcing Texas to turn the ball over on downs at the one-yard line. Again in the first quarter, the Longhorns threatened to score before ultimately missing a field goal. That was when things to a turn for the worst (if you’re a Longhorn fan).
Driving early in the second quarter, TCU quarterback Sonny Gibbs pitched the ball to his running back before the back turned and gave it back to Gibbs – it was a trick play. Gibbs rifled the ball down field and hit receiver Buddy Iles at the two-yard line. Iles careened off a UT defender and fell into the end zone. To add insult to injury, the play was actually a Texas design that TCU had repurposed.
Saxton would make short returns to the game to try and revive the UT offense but after another turnover on downs inside the TCU five-yard line, the Longhorns never really threatened again. TCU turned to Tommy Crutcher, a 6-3 200 pound running back who would later play linebacker for some of Green Bay’s championship teams. Crutcher ran over the Texas defense for most of the second half controlling possession and earning TCU the 6-0 victory (the extra point was blocked after Iles’ TD).
TCU would finish the season by losing to Rice and tying SMU. Texas would respond by beating Texas A&M 21-14 in College Station the next week before taking down #5 Ole Miss 12-7 in the Cotton Bowl. By tying Ohio State and beating Texas, TCU cleared the way for Bear Bryant to claim his first National Title at Alabama. OSU finished the season #2 and UT finished at #3.
Fittingly, the best three-win team ever would also dash the Heisman hopes of several individuals on their way to 3-5-2. Saxton would finish third in Heisman voting and Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson would finish as the runner-up. Kansas’ quarterback John Hadl had been an early Heisman favorite, but, like the other two, he feel to the TCU bug.
That’s just what Darrell Royal called the Horned Frogs after, “A bunch of cockroaches.” As for TCU, receiver Iles summed it up best, “Actually, I've forgotten all of the losses. It was as if no other game happened that year except Texas. That identified us.”
Texas hopes to repay the favor this weekend and destroy any National Title hopes TCU might harbor while the Horned Frogs will look to keep their Big 12 success rate against the Longhorns high. Who will come out on top? You’ll have to be up early and tuned in to find out.
Texas Tech versus Baylor
Texas Tech and Baylor will be meeting for the 74th time this weekend in a series that goes back to November 2, 1929. The all-time series split 36-36-1. The Bears held the series lead in SWC games 19-17 although Tech has flipped the script with a 15-4 lead since the schools joined the Big 12.
The game will be played at AT&T Stadium continuing a contract that runs until 2018. The two schools started playing each other in the DFW are beginning with the 2009 season.
This weekend’s matchup will also mark the first time in school history that Texas Tech plays top five teams in back-to-back weekends.
This article was written and researched by Ryan Sprayberry, Collections and Exhibits Manager at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame