After an opening win over a very strong Texas Tech team in the last week of September, the Longhorns went up to South Bend to play their first ever match against the once and seemingly forever mighty Ramblers of Notre Dame. It was a stiff introduction to big time intersectional football for first-year coach Jack Chevigny, and as expected, the Irish were established as solid favorites against a Texas squad that had been shut out five times in the previous year.
And yet within two minutes, the Longhorns had all the points they would need that day, after left end Jack Gray smashed into Notre Dame’s George Melinkovich on the opening kickoff and picked up the errant ball on the Ramblers’ 14 yard line. Four plays later, the Longhorns’ jack-of-all-trades Bohn Hilliard crashed into the end zone for a touchdown, and then kicked what proved to be the decisive extra point, as the Texans held on to win in a nailbiter by the score of 7- 6. Not a bad calling card to leave in the stunned Notre Dame Stadium.
And if that wasn’t enough to please the Longhorn faithful, the next week the Horns returned to Austin, motored over to Dallas, and stomped archrival Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl by 19-0. At that point the Orange and White was undefeated, and visions of bowl games were dancing through everyone’s head.
So what happened then? They played their first home game of the season against tiny Centenary – and lost. And then traveled to Houston where Rice spanked them by 11 points. From the vantage point of 2012, none of this makes much sense, as Rice has laid low for well over 50 years, and Centenary played its final Division I football game the week before Pearl Harbor. That’s why it’s often said that the past is a foreign country.
But to end on a somewhat happier note, the Longhorns then recovered to finish the season with four straight wins, with a final decision over Texas A&M in their annual Thanksgiving Day game, putting a cap on a very strange but ultimately successful year.
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