BEVO BEAT Football

Daily Longhorn football history: The 1971 season

Posted July 19th, 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. 

For three seasons few college football programs have been as good — ever– than Texas was in 1968, 1969 and 1970. In those three years, Texas went 30-2-1 and won one title outright, took a share of another other, went 2-1 in the Cotton Bowl and won three straight Southwest Conference titles.

Texas began the 1971 season ranked No. 3 in the nation. It was fifth straight season Texas entered the season ranked in the top-five of the AP preseason poll.


Gone was Stever Worster and Cotton Speyrer as well as many of the offensive linemen that led the way during the previous season. But back was star running back Jim Bertelsen and quarterback Eddie Phillips.

But Phillips suffered several injuries and Donnie Wigginton played in the majority of the games. Wigginton was the second-leading rusher and leading passer for the Longhorns, who were still running the wishbone offense. Texas attempted just 104 passes in 1971.

Texas went 8-2 in the regular season. Losing back-to-back games against No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 16-ranked Arkansas on the road. Texas beat Texas A&M 34-14 to secure a fourth-straight Southwest Conference championship and a fourth straight Cotton Bowl appearance.

The Longhorns’ opponent in that bowl game was Penn State. This was important because in 1969, Penn State went undefeated, like Texas, but was shutout of the national championship picture. The Nittany Lions were still salty about it, and it showed.

Penn State and Joe Paterno handed Darrell Royal one of his worst bowl game loss of his career (the 39-7 loss to Mississippi in 1957 is the worst) in a 30-6 drubbing. It was only the second loss with Phillips under center– both were bowl game losses.

Texas finished the second No. 18 in the final poll.

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