BEVO BEAT Football

TEXAS HISTORY: 40 years ago this December, Texas played Maryland — it didn’t go well for the Terps

Posted July 18th, 2018

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Wilson Homer Elkins, known as “Bull” on the 40 Acres, was a San Antonio native who quarterbacked the Longhorns from 1929 to 1931. Elkins was one of the stud athletes on campus. Not only was he the quarterback, he was also a member of the first  basketball team, was on the track and field squad and won Southwest Conference titles in football and track.

In 1958, Elkins was inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor.

Elkins was also won of the smartest athletes to ever compete at the University of Texas.

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He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford from 1933-1936 and received a Ph.D. He would later be hired as president of the San Angelo Junior College, then Texas Western College in El Paso, and in 1954 Elkins was named president of the University of Maryland, where he stayed in that role until 1970 before serving as the first chancellor of the University of Maryland System from 1970 until 1978.

And 1978 is the year we’re focusing on.

This fall, the University of Texas plays Maryland on Sept. 1 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, to start the 2018 season. It’s a rematch of last year’s disastrous start to the Tom Herman era at Texas, with the Longhorns losing to the Terrapins 51-41 at home. 

This year also marks the 40-year anniversary of Texas’ last bowl game shutout win over, wait for it, the Maryland Terrapins!

The 1978 Longhorn team is somewhat easy to miss. The Longhorns lost to No.1 Oklahoma, No. 8 Houston and then were upset on the road against Baylor. But those are the only losses they suffered.

Texas won its eight regular season games by an average margin of 19.6 points.

The team featured standouts such as Johnny “Ham” Jones, Johnny “Lam” Jones, Donnie Little on offense and the defense featured All-Americans Steve McMichael and Johnnie Johnson as well as Bruce Scholtz and Ricky Churchman. Even Kenneth Sims, the future No.1 overall pick, was on the roster.

The special teams feature Russel Erxleben, who holds the Texas records for most 50-yard field goals (11) and longest field goal (67 yards).

PHOTOS: Johnny ‘Lam’ Jones at Texas

Texas was ranked as high as No.6 in the nation and entered the Baylor game No. 9 in the country. The loss dropped them to No. 14 and after Texas beat the Aggies in the regular season finale, a matchup with No. 13 Maryland was in place at the Sun Bowl.

The Terrapins were 9-2 entering the bowl game and went 5-1 in ACC play. Led by coach Jerry Claiborne and Steve Atkins, who rushed for 1,261 yards, Maryland began the season unranked and rose to as high as No.5 before being thrashed by No. 2 Penn State in Happy Valley, 27-3. Maryland finished the season with a 28-24 loss to No. 12 Clemson at home to end the season, but was still ranked No. 13 — one spot higher than Texas.

Maybe that slight was enough to get the Longhorns fired up — heck, maybe it was the state of Maryland’s mandatory retirement age of 70 that forced Elkins to retire as Maryland’s chancellor — but the Longhorns made quick work of Maryland in the Sun Bowl.

Playing two days before Christmas on Dec. 23, 1978, Texas jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on three Lam Jones touchdowns. Lam Jones and Ham Jones added two more touchdowns later and quarterback Mark McBath added another one on the ground. At the end of the day, Texas won 42-0. Not surprisingly, Lam Jones was named the MVP of the bowl game. Texas finished the game with 226 rushing yards to Maryland’s 248 total yards.

MORE: Daily Longhorn football history: The 1978 season

It’s the last time Texas shutout a team in a bowl game and the first time Texas had done it since a 19-0 win over Mississippi in the 1966 Bluebonnet Bowl.

The strength of that win helped Texas receive a No. 4 preseason ranking to start the 1979 season, a year in which Texas would once again go 9-3 and finish in the Sun Bowl, where they lost to Washington, 14-7. Maryland went 7-4 with new quarterback Mike Tice running the show. Yes, that’s the same Mike Tice who coached the Minnesota Vikings.

Elkins oversaw massive improvements to the University of Maryland. He improved the academic standards at the university by installing an academic probation plan and led major expansion projects on campus. The Elkins Building is home to the University System of Maryland administration offices. Elkins died in Baltimore in 1994.

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