Greatest College Football Games You Must See Before You Die: 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas
They’re some of the greatest college football games ever – and you need to see them, again. Check out the buildup and the full replay of the 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas classic.
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With the football season over, and House of Cards not coming back until late May, you need something to binge watch, right? Welcome to the start of a regular feature highlighting the most important and amazing college football games you need to see before you die – or at least need to watch and absorb if you’re a true fan.
Maybe you were too young to see them, or maybe you don’t really remember how great they were, or maybe you just want to relive the big moments. They’re the greatest games in college football history – at least the ones available – and they’re the ones you really, really have to see.
1969: Texas vs. Arkansas
Imagine if Donald Trump had declared a team the national champion before the bowl season.
Back in 1969, the UPI Poll – now known as the Coaches Poll – waited until after the bowls were played, but the more prestigious AP Poll crowned its national champion at the end of the regular season. When unquestioned and undisputed No. 1 Ohio State lost to Michigan, that set the stage for an epic 1 vs. 2 showdown when top-ranked Texas – winner of 18 straight – went to Arkansas for what would be crowned the national championship.
Or so said President Richard Nixon.
It was the showpiece game on the 100-year anniversary of college football, receiving almost unprecedented national hype for several reasons.
The game was moved from October 18th to December 6th to give it a bigger audience, and it worked, earning the focus of the entire sports world with an unheard of TV rating of a 50 share for a Saturday afternoon game. Yeah, have of the television sets in America were tuned in.
Adding even more to the hype was the Penn State problem. The Nittany Lions were roaring, closing out the regular season 10-0 and on a 21-game winning streak, and a 29-game unbeaten streak. But Joe Paterno and company chose before the end of the season to go to the Orange Bowl. Had they waited, they could’ve chosen the Cotton Bowl to play the Texas-Arkansas winner for a true national championship.
In the end, Penn State beat Missouri 10-3 in Miami, but finished No. 2 in both polls. Meanwhile, Arkansas ended up losing to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, and Texas beat Notre Dame in the Cotton, but that’s for another time.
(By the way, Penn State wins the debate. Yeah, Texas and Arkansas might have been 1-2, but they played and beat NOBODY. Even worse, Ohio State managed to beat no one with a pulse. According to the CFN Season Rankings – based on strength of schedules, points, wins – it’s not even close. Penn State unquestionably had the No. 1 season of anyone in 1969. Texas was 2, USC 3.)
To take this game to a whole other level was the arrival of President Nixon, who dramatically came in on a helicopter to watch the game from the stands, declaring that he’d name the winner the national champion.
It wasn’t quite Super Bowl LI in terms of dramatic comebacks, but in the history of Arkansas football, it’s probably even more devastating than Atlanta’s loss to Tom Brady.
Many would argue that the 1971 showdown between Nebraska and Oklahoma was the Game of the Century, but that was helped by the hype generated by this classic game. Texas head coach Darrel Royal made the call for one of college football’s most historic pass plays, there’s an all-timer of a great touchdown run, and several interesting tactical issues on both sides. In the end, the game lived up to the hype.