Greatest Moments

On January 1, 1949, SMU returned to the Cotton Bowl for the second straight year. It pitted the tenth ranked SMU Mustangs against the ninth ranked Oregon Ducks. It was sold out weeks in advance. Oregon was co-champion of the Pacific Coast Conference, led by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. SMU had repeated as Southwest Conference champions, having only lost once in two years. The Mustangs came to the Cotton Bowl with what many called a dream backfield - Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker, sophomore phenom Kyle Rote, devastating blockers in Dick McKissack and Paul Page, and a great passer in Gil Johnson. The Mustangs left little doubt that day that they were one of college football's best teams in one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

From the opening kickoff, SMU proved that they were the superior team. The Mustangs took the kickoff and marched 59 yards in 11 plays for the first score of the game. Doak Walker slammed over right tackle for a one yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The score would stay that way for the rest of the first half.

Besides the superstar lineup, this Cotton Bowl Classic is noted for the quick kick. Midway through the first period and faced with a second down and eight, Walker caught the Ducks by surprise. Before Oregon realized what was happening Walker took a few steps back and booted a 79-yarder that died inside the Ducks' one yard line.

Later, in the second quarter, and with the ball resting on the SMU four, it was Kyle Rote's turn to demonstrate the advantages of a good kicking game. Standing in the end zone only a few yards behind the line of scrimmage, Rote took the snap and with a powerful swing of his right leg, got off an 84-yarder, making it all the way to the Oregon 12. Those two kicks still rank as the two longest in Cotton Bowl history.

Having won the opening coin toss, Oregon decided to defer to the second half. When the second half began, the Ducks believed they would be better served to kickoff again rather than receive. This proved to be a devastating mistake. SMU took the kickoff and began their drive at their own 20. Over the next five minutes, the Mustangs marched 80 yards to another touchdown. This time, Kyle Rote took control of the offense. He made consecutive runs of 10 yards for first downs. Then from the Oregon 36, he faked a toss to Walker and kept the ball going around right end. He ran right through the Duck defense for a 36-yard touchdown. The Ducks were overwhelmed by SMU's power running game as the Mustangs took a 14-0 lead.

Norm Van Brocklin was finally able to get Oregon on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter. Oregon took an SMU punt and marched 52 yards in six plays, capped off by a 24 yard touchdown pass from Van Brocklin to Dick Wilkins. However, SMU countered following Oregon's kickoff.

Rote returned the kickoff to the SMU 44 yard line. Walker completed a pass to Rote for 19 yards before using a mixture of runs to take the Mustangs inside the Oregon 10. Chicken Roberts got the call to carry the ball the final 8 yards for a touchdown, sealing the win for SMU. Van Brocklin engineered one more scoring drive for the Ducks, but it proved to be too little to late as the Mustangs claimed their first Cotton Bowl championship, 21-13.

In SMU's balanced attack, Walker had run for 66 yards on 14 carries, completed 6 passes for 79 yards, and scored the game's first touchdown. Rote was the Mustangs' leading rusher on the day, gaining 93 yards on 16 carries. The dominating performance by the terrific twosome of Walker and Rote helped make the 1949 Cotton Bowl one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History. 

THE COUNTDOWN
No. 90 :: First School Win (1915)
No. 89 :: Rutledge sets two school records (2003)
No. 88 :: Phillips 100 yard INT (1984)
No. 87 :: McCown completes 19 straight (1999)
No. 86 :: Brownlee kicks 57 yd. field goal (1985)
No. 85 :: Bennett records first career win (2002)
No. 84 :: SMU closes out the Cotton Bowl (1999)
No. 83 :: Ownby Stadium opens (1926)
No. 82 :: James sets SWC record (1982)
No. 81 :: Stewart named All-American (1993)
No. 80 :: Briggs sets new Mustang mark (2002)
No. 79 :: SMU defeats Arkansas 31-9 (1997)
No. 78 :: The 1980 Holiday Bowl (1980)
No. 77 :: Hopkins records 4 INTs (1981)
No. 76 :: Pony Express heads to Japan (1983)
No. 75 :: SMU plays in first ever bowl game (1924)
No. 74 :: Hayden Fry named head coach (1962)
No. 73 :: McIlhenny leads SMU over Baylor (1982)
No. 72 :: Flanigan sets total offense record (1997)
No. 71 :: Bell inducted into CFHOF (1955)
No. 70 :: Dickerson runs wild against A&M (1980)
No. 69 :: Charles breaks freshman record (2001)
No. 68 :: Johnson sets sack record (1999)
No. 67 :: Dupard leads pouding of Texas (1985)
No. 66 :: Sanders named first All-America (1928)
No. 65 :: Rossley breaks reception record (1994)
No. 64 :: First win over Texas (1924)
No. 63 :: Gregg returns to SMU (1988)
No. 62 :: Mann leads SMU over TCU (1926)
No. 61 :: Berry defines excellence (1954)
No. 60 :: Birth of the Mustang Name (1917)
No. 59 :: Ford scores first TD in Ford (2000)
No. 58 :: Wolf sets SWC record (1992)
No. 57 :: Meredith sets SWC record (1957)
No. 56 :: Choate Anchors SMU Defense (1978)
No. 55 :: SMU downs Texas (1965)
No. 54 :: Tolbert leads win over BU (1978)
No. 53 :: SMU downs Texas in Austin (1982)
No. 52 :: Partee kicks win over Baylor (1966)
No. 51 :: Hopkins recovers Pitt fumble (1983)
No. 50 :: Dickerson scores 19 TDs (1981)
No. 49 :: Romo breaks completion record (1990)
No. 48 :: LeVias breaks reception record (1968)
No. 47 :: SMU records 400th win (1997)
No. 46 :: SMU clinches winning season (1997)
No. 45 :: Walker on Life Magazine (1948)
No. 44 :: Rote No. 1 NFL Draft Pick (1951)
No. 43 :: SMU blanks TCU (1966)
No. 42 :: SMU downs UNT on Homecoming (1989)
No. 41 :: SMU RUNS over Razorbacks (1980)
No. 40 :: Richardson sets rushing record (1968)
No. 39 :: Wolf breaks NCAA record (1989)
No. 38 :: SMU downs Arkansas (1984)
No. 37 :: The Decision (1945)
No. 36 :: Doak Walker Day at SMU (1998)
No. 35 :: SMU Upsets A&M (1974)
No. 34 :: SMU Ties Ohio State (1978)
No. 33 :: SMU ties Penn State (1948)
No. 32 :: The Army game (1928)
No. 31 :: The TCU Game (1947)
No. 30 :: SMU comeback against Baylor (1975)
No. 29 :: Hixson leads nation in passing (1968)
No. 28 :: Back to the Cotton Bowl (1949)
No. 27 :: Smith picks off Marino (1983)
No. 26 :: The Aloha Bowl (1984)
No. 25 :: Mustang Mania (1978)
No. 24 :: First SWC Title (1923)
No. 23 :: LeVias Baffles Texas A&M (1966)
No. 22 :: Debut Of The Pony Express (1980)
No. 21 :: Undefeated SMU Beats Texas (1947)
No. 20 :: The Ohio State game (1950)
No. 19 :: Dickerson breaks SWC record (1982)
No. 18 :: Revenge against Houston (1992)
No. 17 :: Tie versus Texas A&M (1994)
No. 16 :: Win over Notre Dame (1951)
No. 15 :: Walker career accolades (1949)
No. 14 :: SMU ranked No. 2 (1982)
No. 13 :: The House That Doak Built
No. 12 :: Bluebonnet Bowl in 1968
No. 11 :: Opening of Ford Stadium (2000)
No. 10 :: The Navy Game (1963)
No. 9 :: Carter's block against Arkansas (1982)
No. 8 :: Miracle on Mockingbird (1989)
No. 7 :: The 1949 Notre Dame Game
No. 6 :: National Champions (1935)
No. 5 :: Signing of Jerry LeVias (1965)
No. 4 :: McIlhenny Cotton Bowl TD (1983)
No. 3 :: The Miracle Man (1982)
No. 2 :: The $85,000 Pass (1935)
No. 1 :: Doak Wins the Heisman (1948)