Greatest Moments

On January 1, 1948, third-ranked SMU met fourth-ranked Penn State on Doak Walker's twenty-first birthday. Walker's birthday gift was a date with a Nittany Lions team that was undefeated and untied. The Mustangs were also undefeated having only tied TCU in the regular season finale. The match-up pitted two of the best teams in the nation in 1947. It was East versus West, as the Mustangs made their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic in one of the 90 greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

Penn State had compiled the best defensive record of any team in college football, plus had an offense the scored 319 points. The Nittany Lions were awarded the Lambert Trophy prior to making the trip to Dallas. In 1936, the Lambert brothers, Victor and Henry, of the distinguished New York City jewelry house that bears their name, established a memorial to their father, August. They instituted a trophy to be awarded to the outstanding Division I college football team in the East. Penn State has won more Lambert Trophies than any other school.

Over 47,000 fans packed the Cotton Bowl to see the Doak Walker led Mustangs battle the beast of the East. In the first quarter, Walker weaved his way through the Penn State defense for a 28-yard run putting the Mustangs near midfield. Then from his own 47, Walker threw a picture perfect pass to Paul Page who had worked his way behind defender Jeff Durkota. Page caught the ball at the 13 and went into the end zone untouched. Walker added the extra point to give SMU a 7-0 lead.

In the second quarter, Dick McKissack powered the Mustangs down the field to set up a goal line situation at the 2. Walker reentered the game to ram through a stacked Penn Ste defense for a touchdown. Walker missed the extra point, but the Mustangs led 13-0. Then with less than a minute in the half, Penn State found the end zone after facing a fourth and 15 at the SMU 38. Elwood Petchel hit Larry Cooney for a touchdown. Page almost broke a last second touchdown run on the ensuing kickoff but Penn State All-American Steve Suhey tripped him up to prevent the score. In the second half, Penn State came out firing, fooling the Mustangs on a fake sweep pass that led to a 23 yard touchdown pass from Petchel to Wallace Triplett. Eddie Czekaj barely missed the extra point and the game was tied, 13-13.

Penn State seemed to have momentum on their side for the rest of the game but was unable to take the lead. They had the last chance of the game to end the Mustangs undefeated season. Petchel heaved a pass to the end zone from the SMU 37 as time ran out. Dennis Hoggard made a diving attempt at the ball and left the Cotton Bowl breathless as the final seconds ticked off the clock. But the ball rolled free and the game ended in a tie.

Doak Walker led the Mustangs with 59 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries and completed five of nine passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. After his first full season for SMU, Walker had led the Mustangs to the Southwest Conference championship, a number three ranking in the AP poll, and to their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic. The tie against Penn State motivated the Mustangs in 1948 to repeat as conference champs and return to win the Cotton Bowl. SMU's first appearance in the Cotton Bowl in 1948 takes its place on our countdown 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)