NAVY IS THE GAME THAT HAD TO be. Throughout the last half of the 1963 regular
season the Longhorns and the Midshipmen were rated one-two in the national
polls, and that is how they finished. Texas, the only major team to wind up
unbeaten and untied (10-0), was appropriately crowned national champion. Its
leader, Darrell Royal, was voted Coach of the Year, and its tackle, Scott
Appleton, was voted Lineman of the Year. Navy, a restless No. 2 with a 9-1
record, won the Lambert Trophy, awarded to the best team in the East, while
quarterback Roger Staubach took the Heisman Trophy.
That the game is
in the Cotton Bowl spreads irony everywhere. It was in the same stadium on
successive days in mid-October that Texas became No. 1 by defeating Oklahoma
and that Navy lost all chance of attaining the same first-place rating by
suffering an upset to SMU.
All season the
strength of Texas lay in its alertness, agility, depth and courage. At the core
was a group of 22 seniors known as the Duke Carlisle Crowd, named for the
quarterback who became their leader when they were recruited by Royal in 1960.
In three years these two full teams won 28 regular-season games, lost one and
Texas will need
every bit of its depth if it is going to prevent Navy from tarnishing its
trophies. Navy coach Wayne Hardin's team is as thoroughly aggressive as
Royal's, and Staubach is blessed with wonderful receivers.
In the end the
question is not whether Texas's defense is as good as Navy's offense, but the
opposite. Is Texas's offense, a grinding ground attack with Carlisle keeping
and running, and with halfback Tommy Ford (738 yards gained) going under and
over tacklers, better than Navy's defense? It most likely is, for Navy
surrendered too many points to lesser opponents. Navy cannot score if Staubach
cannot get the ball, and Texas is the type of team that keeps it all
afternoon--then takes it home. Texas will do it again.
And, of course, the Longhorns did, as Carlisle passed for two scores and ran in
another in a 28-6 victory that gave Texas its first national title.
Reprinted from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Dec. 23, 1963