With the Longhorns and Horned Frogs
finally meeting again on the football field, it’s time for a
refresher on the fifth-most played series in UT history. Of course,
this will require going back a bit, since there is little recent
history between the two teams.
And by “little recent history,” I
mean the last 40 years.
The Longhorns may have a comfortable
margin in overall record of 61-20-1, but the recent gap is stunning.
Since 1970, the Longhorns have a 26-1 record against the Horned Frogs
It gets much more competitive pre-1970,
but the only decade in which the Horned Frogs have a winning record
over Texas is the 1930s (6-4). This comes as no surprise, given that
in the ’30s under coach Dutch Meyer TCU obtained its one national
championship in school history (two if you, ala Texas A&M,
retroactively count the 1935 “Williamson System” national
championship) and had its only Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback
Davey O’Brien – who, as you probably can guess, is the namesake for
the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at
some key games in the series.
1897: Texas 18, AddRan Male &
Female College 10
Those who just look at the record book
would assume the first game in the series was 1904, when Ralph
Hutchison’s boys beat TCU 40-0 in Austin. But before 1904 Texas
Christian University was known as AddRan Male & Female College,
named for the school’s founding brothers, Addison and Randolph Clark.
Games at AddRan weren’t played in Fort Worth, however, as in 1895 the
school relocated to Waco before returning to Fort Worth in 1910.
It was slow going for the Horned Frogs
in the early days of their football program. Following the initial
18-10 loss to Texas, AddRan/TCU would fail to score a single point
against the Longhorns until 1908 and the Frogs did not beat Texas
until 1929…though in 1927 they did manage to play Texas to a 0-0
1938: No. 1 TCU 28, Texas 6
The three-touchdown win over the
Longhorns capped off a three-game winning streak against Texas for
the Frogs (TCU’s only three-game win streak in series history) and
lead to a national championship for the Horned Frogs and a Heisman
It was not a great year for the Horns,
who were 1-8 and were held to seven or fewer points in all but one
game (Texas opened the season with a 19-18 loss to Kansas). Still
that one win was a 7-6 win over Texas A&M.
There was a lot of grumbling on the 40
acres in Dana X. Bible’s second season at UT, primarily because of
the amount of money he was being paid. In 1937, he was hired away
from Nebraska and paid $15,000 a year (inflation adjusted: $225,000),
an extreamely high salary at the time for a coach. This was also
controversial because it was the Depression and University of Texas
president H.Y. Benedict only made $8,000. (This is back when a coach
making more than the school president was a big deal.) But Bible
quickly turned things around, going 5-4 the next season, 8-2 the next
and then finishing No. 4 in the country with only one loss in 1941.
However, that only loss…
1941: TCU 14, No. 2 Texas 7
The Longhorns were ranked No. 2, but
hopes for the school’s first national title were ended on Nov. 15.
The game was tied 7-7 in the fourth
quarter. But on a very risky call (I can only image what it would
have looked like if there were Internet message boards in 1941), UT
failed to convert a fourth and one on its own 27-yard-line. The
Horned Frogs then threw a touchdown pass with 19 seconds on the clock
to win, 14-7.
The loss was especially disappointing
for Texas, considering that just over a week later the Longhorns were
able to spoil then-No. 2 Texas A&M’s national championship hopes
with a 23-0 crushing in College Station. By the way, if you’d like to
see some video from the ’41 Texas-TCU game it can be found here, as
someone was kind enough to upload their father’s 8mm film.
(Side note: Despite the loss, the
Williamson System still awarded the 1941 national championship to the
(Double side note: Since I’ve mentioned
it twice, let me explain that the Williamson System was one of the
various “math selectors” created during the championship rush of
the 1920s and 1930s. Much like the advent of the BCS computer system,
these formulas were invented to combat the large number of teams
claiming national titles each season. However, due to the creation of
multiple competing formulas, this only exacerbated the issue. For
example, in 1935 TCU was one of five teams to claim a national
championship and still counts its No. 1 WS rating among its two
claimed titles. The Longhorns do not claim their 1941 title.
According to various mathematical, retroactive and computer voting
polls, there are nine possible national titles for the Longhorns to
claim. Texas only claims the four national titles decided by the AP,
Coaches/UPI or the BCS.)
(Triple side note: Claim nine national
titles? Come on. Who do you think they are? Alabama?)
1942: TCU 13, No. 8 Texas 7
Thanks to Dutch Meyer, the Horned Frogs
proved to be D.X. Bilbe’s bane. The Longhorns were 7-1 when they were
upset in Fort Worth by the unranked Horned Frogs. A similar scenario
would play out again in 1946 – Bible’s last season at Texas –
when TCU beat the No. 6 Longhorns 14-0.
1951: No. 15 Texas 32, No. 13 TCU 21
It was the first game with both teams
ranked. In the early goings it proved to be the tight match-up most
expected, with the game tied 14-14 at halftime. But a 61-yard
touchdown pass from Texas quarterback Dan Page to running back Gib
Dawson broke the game open in the third. Page finished with 6-of-7
passing for 175 yards, two touchdowns and no INTs, giving Coach Ed
Price his third win over a ranked opponent during his first season at
1956: TCU 46, Texas 0
There was no game more influential in
the hiring of Darrell K Royal than this one. Price was likely to step
down anyway after a rough ’56 season that saw the Horns finish last
in the SWC, but the Horns were at least competitive in most of their
games, including a 7-6 loss to West Virginia, a 10-7 loss at Baylor
and a 34-21 loss to No. 4 Texas A&M. But the blowout loss to
unranked TCU in the second to last game of the season caused Price to
tender his resignation as UT’s football coach. (Price stayed on at UT
for many years as a physical education professor and eventually
became assistant dean of students.)
1961: TCU 6, No. 1 Texas 0
Again, the Horned Frogs were national
championship spoilers for Texas.
I’ll let Roy Terrell of Sports
Illustrated tell it (from the November 27, 1961 issue of SI): The ball was on the 50 and the big
scoreboard at the south end of Memorial Stadium in Austin showed a
little more than nine minutes remaining in the second quarter when
Texas Christian went into its huddle. The quarterback, a young man
named Sonny Gibbs who looks a bit like the state capitol dressed in
shoulder pads, called a pass.
“Go out like you were going to
block,” Gibbs told Buddy Iles, the right end. “Then blow down
that field. I’ll try to get the ball to you.”
Gibbs faked his halfback into the line,
then faded back as Iles fled. The orange jerseys of the University of
Texas poured in. Gibbs drew back his arm and threw. He is 6 feet 7
inches tall and it has been said that he does not really pass the
football, he hands it down field to his receivers. He didn’t hand
this one. The ball went 50 yards through the air and when it came
down, Iles met it on the eight, behind Texas Halfback Jerry Cook,
behind every Texas defender. He was tackled on the goal line but
bounced across, and the official threw up his hands. TCU 6,Texas 0.
That was the only touchdown of the day. And Texas would have to wait two more
years for a national championship.
This was the most important game in the
series. The most was on the line and it was the biggest upset (TCU
only won three games that season). It also may have prevented Texas
running back James Saxton from being the Longhorns’ first Heisman
Trophy winner. The previously terrible Horned Frog defense held
Saxton the fewer than 100 yards rushing and no touchdowns. He
finished third in one of the closest Heisman votes in the history of
the trophy. (Probably just as well Saxton didn’t win, since Ernie
Davis was the one who did. Davis was getting left off too many
ballots for a reasons other than football, anyway.)
(Insert huge gap of Texas beating
TCU a bunch.)
2007: No. 7 Texas 34, No. 19 TCU 13
Colt McCoy threw a pair of first-half
interceptions – one of which was returned for a touchdown – and
the Horns trailed 10-0 at halftime. But thanks to a 134-yard game
from Jamaal Charles, a 20-yard fumble return TD from Brandon Foster
and a defense that gave up no touchdowns, Texas pulled away in the
I only mention this game because it was
the two teams’ only meeting since breakup of Southwest Conference.
That is, until Thursday. And with Gary Patterson’s recent success the
series could return to Meyer-level competitive. Remember, it was just
two years ago that the Horned Frogs were undefeated Rose Bowl champs.
This year they’re an average team, just
above .500 overall (6-4) and just below .500 in conference play (3-4)
and their starting quarterback left the school. But this team also
took Tech to overtime and beat West Virginia in overtime. Thursday
night we could see a competitive game.
Regardless, it’s a new beginning for an
old SWC rivalry that has lain dormant for a very long time.