IT WAS THE DAY
DARRELL ROYAL EITHER LOST THE meat on his Wishbone or found a Woo in his soup,
a day the Texas Longhorns, who had been No. 1, 1-a or 1-b since before the
midi, bombarded Notre Dame with so many fumbles the Cotton Bowl looked like an
Easter egg hunt for leprechauns.
The day will go
down in college football history as the greatest thing to happen to Nebraska
since the Union Pacific started laying track out of Omaha. When it was all
over, all that anyone from Texas or Ohio State could say was, Here's to the New
Year, all you good folks in Nebraska. Win streaks and Buckeye leaves are out.
Corn husks are in.
final explosion of the 1970 season took a lot of doing by a lot of people. Not
the least was Joe Theismann of Notre Dame. Theismann got a second chance
against Texas in Dallas, having lost to the Longhorns in the 1970 Cotton Bowl.
With a big and angry Notre Dame defense giving him the ball every two seconds,
Joe passed for one touchdown and ran for two more in the game's first 16
minutes. After that, not even LBJ, sitting up near midfield in his burnt-orange
shirt and his maxi hair, nor Texas's own quarterback, Eddie Phillips, could do
much about the Longhorns' situation.
So it sank in on
the believers of Saint Darrell. Texas was finally going to lose a football game
after winning 30 straight, and Royal was going to say, "I guess a defeat is
good for you now and then, but I don't really recommend it."
Texas's loss to
the Irish was required if the day of the big bowls was to have any prolonged
drama for the followers of Ohio State or Nebraska. The reason was that Texas
had already captured 1� regular-season No. 1s, those of UPI (which the
Longhorns won outright by wrapping up an undefeated regular season with a 42-7
win over Arkansas) and the Hall of Fame (for which the Longhorns tied Ohio
State). Moreover, Texas held a big lead over Ohio State and Nebraska, in that
order, for the remaining national championship awards, those of the AP and the
Football Writers' Association. Thus there might never have been any suspense on
Jan. 1, 1971, had Texas experienced about eight fewer fumbles and a little less
Reprinted from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Jan. 11, 1971