The tale this month is about the 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas when the Hogs faced off against the LSU Tigers. The Razorbacks had won a share of the 1946 SWC conference title with an overall record of 6 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie going into the bowl game. Coach John Barnhill was in his inaugural year at the helm, after having just come from coaching at his alma mater Tennessee.
The Hogs had gone 5-1 in conference play and were able to clinch a tie with Rice for the SWC conference title. The only loss was a 20-0 defeat in Austin by, you guessed it, TEXAS. Rice went to the Orange Bowl, Arkansas to the Cotton.
The Hogs had been led all season by the running and receiving of their star sophomore Clyde "Smackover" Scott who had transferred to Arkansas from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the receiving by second team All-American end Alton Baldwin.
LSU had come in with their famous quarterback Yelberton Abraham "Y. A." Tittle, and running backs Jim Cason and Dan Sandifer. Prior to the game, the oddsmakers had picked LSU to dominate as a 10 point favorite. In some ways, they in fact did dominate the game.
The 11th game of the Cotton Bowl Classic had been sold out weeks before with 45,507 tickets having been purchased. However, the weather had taken a turn for the worse proving itself miserable with snow, sleet, and ice in what would later become known as the "Ice Bowl". Even with the weather as it was, 38,000 spectators trampled through a foot of snow in the aisles of the stadium just to watch the game in person. The game time conditions had the temperature in the 20's, a wind averaging 9 mph with gusts of 13 coming out of the north, and snow surrounding what had been a tarp covered field. Not used to this type of cold, the LSU team filled oil drums with charcoal for makeshift heaters, as some of the fans had to start fires in the stands just to try and stay warm. A true "Norther" had blown into Dallas, without even slowing down as it crossed the plains of Oklahoma. It was truly a miserable day for football!
Throughout the season Ken Holland had been the leading rusher with a total of 397 yards on 112 carries. The receiving had been led by second team All-American end Alton Baldwin. However, the Hogs had a true ringer in the running and receiving of their star sophomore Clyde "Smackover" Scott who had recently transferred to Arkansas from the Naval Academy at Annapolis. At quarterback, the Hogs featured Aubrey Fowler who was 18 of 40 for 320 yards passing, with 183 of these yards having been received by the speedster Scott on 11 receptions.
True to form, Tittle was able to move the Tigers between the 20's, but was unable to break the Razorback defense as LSU was stopped three times inside the 10 yard line. Even with the miserable playing conditions, LSU was able to roll up a 271-54 yardage advantage over the Hogs for the game. Throughout the game, Arkansas could only muster one first down compared to 15 by LSU. It seemed that LSU was on a roll, but yet they could not SCORE!
The battle on the gridiron continued as LSU kept going back and forth, up and down the field, while the Razorback defense would bend, but not break. Offensively, Arkansas was never able to get on track, as most of the game was played on the Hogs' end of the field.
There were two occasions in the first half, and three in the second half, where LSU was able to move inside of the 20 yard line, but failed to come away with any points. Perhaps it was the weather, or perhaps it was the Arkansas' defense meeting the challenge.
Arkansas was only able to put together one drive that yielded a first down, and failed to complete any of the Hogs' four pass attempts. In what was probably the most miserable conditions that Arkansas had ever found themselves trying to execute a game plan, the Hogs fought just to try and stay in the game. The weather had completely taken over the game. Numb hands, frozen pigskin, poor footing, and sleet combined to be the rule of the day.
On what proved to be one of the most significant LSU drives inside the 20, Tittle moved the Tigers on third down to the six yard line. It was now fourth down from the six, Tittle faked a sweep, then flipped a pass to receiver Jeff Adams (some reports list him as Jeff Odom, however the LSU roster lists him as Jeff Adams) at the one. Clyde Scott moving in fast from his defensive position, collided in a tumultuous collision with Adams knocking him out of bounds only inches shy of the goal line. The pass was ruled too short for a score, so once again the Hogs had held on to preserve the 0-0 tie. This one single play, of denying the score, provided the momentum and necessary confidence for the defense to deny any penetration of the end zone by the LSU offense for the remainder of the game.
During the fourth quarter, LSU was able to move inside the 10 yard line twice.
Once to the one yard line where Razorback Floyd Thomas stopped LSU Tiger Ray Coates at the goal line. Once again Arkansas would bend but not break, while continuing to maintain the 0-0 tie.
Finally on the last drive of the game, LSU moved inside the 20 when the Tigers' Dale Gray and Willard Landry combined to lead the charge down to the Arkansas 9 yard line. Three plays later, LSU found themselves with fourth down and having been stopped after gaining only three yards to the six. With time running out, the Tigers were forced to attempt a field goal from the 15. On the ensuing attempt and last play of the game, the ball was snapped. A frozen ball and numb fingers would only lead to a fumble by holder Ray Coates. Suddenly as the ball went scooting across the ground, it was picked up by kicker Holly Heard. Heard was immediately hit and downed for a loss at the 16 and so ended the 11th Cotton Bowl Classic. A fitting end for a game built on total frustration by both teams as they struggled throughout that afternoon in Dallas. Not a Hog win, but an enormous accomplishment of showing character by a team facing horrific conditions. Defense proved to win the day.
Final score LSU 0, Arkansas 0.
On that snowy, Wednesday in January when the offense could only gain one first down, a pride emerged from the defense as they faced one of the leading teams in the nation under intolerable conditions. It was a pride born by a small back known more for his running and receiving skills than for his defense. It was a pride that turned back LSU time and time again from reaching the goal line. It was a pride that built a tradition of "Bend, but don't break". It was Razorback pride.
After the game LSU's Coach Bernie Moore claimed the trophy since they had the most first downs, however Barnhill countered by saying that the Hogs had the most tackles. After a coin toss, the trophy was awarded to Arkansas and is shown above. It hung in Barnhill's den until his death and is now individually owned.
A few weeks later following the game, LSU would also receive their duplicate trophy shipped to Baton Rouge.
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