The Longhorns flag waves as the team runs onto the field during the first half of the Texas A&M vs Texas Longhorns rivalry game at Kyle Field on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas. (Patrick T. Fallon/The Dallas Morning News)

BEVO BEAT Football

Daily Longhorn football history: The 1961 season

Posted July 9th, 2017


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. 

So we’ll jump right to the big moment during the 1961 season.

Texas was ranked No.1 in the country for the second week in a row, something that had never happened for Texas. The Longhorns had been ranked No. 1 just twice before but never for back-to-back weeks. After winning its seventh game to open the season against SMU, Texas went No.1 for the first time under Darrell Royal. Texas beat Baylor 33-7 to remain No. 1 and the only teams that stood between Texas and a possible national title was TCU and Texas A&M (the bowl game followed, but Texas could have still been named champions before the bowl game, see 1970).


But something happened when Texas hosted TCU. They lost, 6-0.

This was pretty Earth shattering at the time. Texas regrouped the next week and beat Texas A&M, and they held on to beat Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl 12-7 on New Year’s Day, but that TCU game cost Texas and Royal its first national title.

And thus led to one of the first famous “Royal-isms.”

The coach explained the loss like this:

“History proves that the lowest team in the conference can rise up and defeat the leader. It has happened time and time again and that’s why I really wasn’t too surprised when we got beat by TCU last season. Of course, I was disappointed, but not surprised.

“That situation is kind of like the cockroach … it’s not so much what he gets into and carries away but what he falls into and messes up.”

Yes. The cockroach quote.

Overall, the 10-1 season is one of the best in school history, matching Blair Cherry’s 1947 10-1 season as best ever at time. It was only the second time Texas reached 10 wins in a season.

Texas also beat Oklahoma, again, 28-7, and shutout Texas A&M. The Longhorns blasted Arkansas 33-7.

James Saxton was a consensus All-American, the aptly named Mike Cotten was the Cotton Bowl MVP along with Bob Moses and Texas won its first of three straight Southwest Conference titles.


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