The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.
Darrell Royal was building a program that was less than five years away from winning it all. And the first sign of that dominance in the 1960s was the 1959 season.
Royal’s third team went 9-2 overall, reaching as high as No. 2 in the nation and winning eight straight games to start the season. Texas began the season No. 17th, and went on to beat its first three opponents, Nebraska, Maryland and California, by scores of 20-0, 26-0 and 33-0. Oklahoma scored the first points on Texas, taking a 12-0 lead after the first quarter in Dallas, only for Texas to score 19 unanswered points to win.
Emerging star James Saxton paced the Wing-T offense Royal employed and he was joined by quarterbacks Mike Cotten and Bobby Lackey along with a gaggle of other running back options.
Royal went 3-0 against rivals Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas A&M and beat three ranked teams. A loss to TCU, then ranked No. 18, dashed Texas’ undefeated season.
This wouldn’t be the first Royal vs. TCU moment. More on this later, but a bit of foreshadowing, it involves a 8-0 record, a No.1 ranking and cockroaches.
After finishing tied for first in the Southwest Conference with 5-1 record, and ranked 9-1 at the end of the regular season, Texas was invited back to the Cotton Bowl to play No. 1 Syracuse.
Texas was ranked No. 4, but the Orange had a dude named Ernie Davis. The 1961 Heisman Trophy winner was just a sophomore, by was still dominant. Davis scored the game’s first touchdown. He also had one of the bowl’s biggest a play, an interception of Bobby Lackey that set up another touchdown to give Syracuse a 23-6 lead.
Texas added another touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Syracuse never let Texas get closer.
With the win, Syracuse was later named the consensus national champion for 1959 after an 11-0 season.
Texas and Royal would get there eventually.
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