There is an abundance of Razorback forums and blogs about the current news of the program and players. This is all GOOD stuff, but we will try to fill the niche about Hog stories, games, players, and music that helped bring the program to where it is today. If you agree, add comments, stories, trivia, etc. that others will find interesting and we will provide the place to get these items out. Next post will be on September 6th.
First up on the list is a recollection of the 1965 Nebraska Cotton Bowl when the Hogs won their first National Championship. Following that, comes music about the '64 Hog football team written by J. Paul Scott and performed by Cecil Buffalo and the Prophets. It was a 45 rpm record known as Razorback Number One and played throughout the state on local AM radio stations (there were only a few FM stations, back then and they seemed to only play "elevator" music).
Tensions were high in Dallas on that New Year’s Day, when Frank Broyles brought his SWC Conference champion Hogs face-to-face against Bob Devaney and the Big 8 Conference champion Cornhuskers of Nebraska. It was estimated that a capacity 75,504 loyal fans were in attendance for this Cotton Bowl Classic.
Prior to the game, Broyles had made the decision to play a defensive game against Nebraska. This proved to be a good decision since the Hogs were able to hold Nebraska to 100 yards rushing and 68 yards passing. This was not only a decision by Broyles, but Devaney also envisioned the same game plan as the ‘Huskers were able to limit the Hogs to 45 yards rushing and 131 yards passing. Both teams had outstanding defensive squads and with the wind in Dallas, the strongest defense would have the advantage in the game.
In Dallas, the game would begin as a day that was warm, humid, and having a southerly wind. After Nebraska won the toss and choose to receive, Arkansas decided to take the wind. The wind would go on to play a key role in the outcome of the game.
The Cornhuskers received the kickoff and were immediately met by a strong Arkansas defense. Nebraska found it hard to move the ball against both the wind and the Hogs combined. With the help of the wind, the Hogs quickly gained possession of the ball and moved it down field into field goal range. With five minutes and thirteen seconds gone in the game, Tom McKnelly made it Arkansas 3, Nebraska 0 with his 31-yard FG. It was only the first quarter and Nebraska found itself in a hole. However, this would not be the flow for the remainder of the game.
After a Freddie Marshall fumble and with the assistance of the wind, Nebraska would make their only touchdown of the game. On a drive taking place about midway in the second quarter, Nebraska’s sophomore quarterback, Bob Churchich passed the ball to a turbo-charged 189-pound halfback named Harry Wilson for 36-yards that moved the ball from the Nebraska 46-yard line to the Arkansas 18. Four plays later Wilson would muscle his way into the Hogs end zone with 7:45 left in the quarter to end a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless quarters by the Arkansas defense. The PAT was added by Duncan Drum, making the score Nebraska 7, Arkansas 3. A score here came as the first score against the Hog defense in five games. This was not a position that Arkansas was used to being in. They were winners. They had won their last eleven games and a win here would match the longest winning streak in the nation. However, they would go into halftime in just this position, behind, with the national championship on the line.
The third quarter began with the Hogs having possession, but Nebraska had the wind at their backs.
It appeared that Arkansas’s plan was to capitalize on their defense and maintain field position while waiting until the fourth quarter when they would have the all important wind even if they were trailing by four. The Hog defense would have to hold.
To this point, Arkansas had maintained a field position advantage and on the opening of the last quarter, a Bobby Nix punt forced Nebraska well back into their own end of the field. The game continued with no significant plays. It was a stalemate.
Until midway in the fourth quarter, Wilson scrambled for 45 yards down to the Arkansas 36. The Hogs had seen their field advantage evaporate in just one play. The defense, recognizing what had just taken place, stiffened and allowed only 4 yards on the next three plays.
With a four-point lead and knowing that it would take a touchdown to beat them, Nebraska, counting on its defense, took a delay of game penalty, moving the ball back to the 37 where Ron Kirkland punted. The ball was kicked through the end zone for a touchback and brought out to the 20.
It was now time for Marshall to take charge of the destiny of this team. It had all come down to this. A field goal would do no good. A national championship was on the line. With 80 yards to go, Marshall began the journey with 9:21 showing on the clock. In this drive, he went 5 for 5 stacking up 60 yards passing starting with Jerry Lamb for 12, and then Burnett for 11.
Marshall scrambled for another 11 yards carrying the ball to the Nebraska 33. On the next play Jim Lindsey found himself alone at the 25 where he caught Marshall’s pass and rambled down to the five. First and goal. After a gain of 2, junior tailback #33 Bobby Burnett went the final three yards running wide on a perfectly timed pitchout from Marshall. Nebraska's linebacker, Joe McNulty hit Burnett at the one-yard line, but could not overcome Burnett’s determination and momentum to keep him from scoring. McKnelly added the extra point, and with 4:41 showing on the clock it was Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7.
Throughout the year, Nebraska was known for their long plays. With 4:41 left on the clock, it was time for the defense to step up one more time. The defense stiffened and Marshall ran the clock out for the last minute and a half. Final: Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7.
Each team had ended up with 11 first downs in what was a defensive struggle played on both sides, This was the Hogs first Cotton Bowl Classic win in school history, thus ending a perfect 11 – 0 season.
The fate of the Hogs would be determined later that day as the #5 Texas Longhorns would meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl. Alabama was rated #1 by the AP and Coaches Poll prior to the bowl games.
For once all of the Razorbacks, and the whole state of Arkansas had temporarily turned burnt orange and were cheering for the Longhorns. This is not a common occurrence, but it seemed appropriate at the time. In what was a close game where Tommy Nobis made one of the most famous tackles in Longhorn history on fourth and inches, Texas defeated Alabama 21 – 17.
With the bowl games over, Arkansas was voted the Football Writers Association of America National Champions as the only undefeated football team in the nation.
In what started 80 years earlier with 14 inexperienced players, Arkansas had finally won its first football national championship.
performed by Cecil Buffalo and the Prophets