Bud Wilkinson, in eighth season as head coach at the University of Oklahoma, has led the Sooners to 19 straight victories. At Oklahoma, Wilkinson has always won or tied for the Big Seven title.
Both Bowden Wyatt and Bobby Dodd did beautiful jobs of getting their teams up for this one. The blocking and tackling were crisp and deadly, and both teams were fired up all the way.
I think Georgia Tech's longer bench had a lot to do with its win. Early in the game, it looked as though Arkansas was physically superior, but later, Tech substituted with far greater frequency. This squad depth provided the physical margin which showed up so clearly in the second half.
January 10, 1955
I don't think I've ever seen a better-played college football game. Arkansas did not fumble, and Tech fumbled only once, recovering immediately. There was only one pass interception, and the boys on both teams carried out their assignments almost perfectly through 60 minutes of very rugged football. In my opinion, both Tech and Arkansas enhanced their reputations as being among the soundest fundamental teams in football today. In the final analysis it was Tech's ability to adjust defensively which brought it victory.
Coach Wyatt's Razorbacks, running powerfully from their single wing, scored first. They punched over a touchdown when George Walker plunged two yards shortly after the second quarter opened and held their 6-0 lead until well into the third period. But as the second half opened, it rapidly became apparent Tech had solved Arkansas' single-wing power thrusts.
Tech lined up basically in a 6-2 defense but rarely were the Jackets in it when the ball was snapped. As offensive signals were called the Engineers would shift their men around, often presenting five-, seven-and even nine-man lines by the time the Arkansas plays were underway. In the first half Tech's defensive men were guessing wrong much of the time; in the second half, they were guessing right.
Defense obviously wasn't enough for Tech to win. The Engineers completed only one pass in the first half. In the second half, they went to work on the ground.
With five minutes left in the third quarter, Paul Rotenberry ran over two tacklers to score on a four-yard run. The conversion put Tech into the lead.
From there it was all Tech. Soon after the midway point in the last period, Quarterback Wade Mitchell—sticking to the ground—capped a 43-yard drive by sneaking over from the three.
There were a lot of good ball players in the Cotton Bowl, but I have to single out Scatback Billy Thompson, the Georgia Tech fireplug, and Arkansas' All-America guard, Bud Brooks, as tops. Time after time Thompson, looking as though he would be smeared for big losses, employed a beautiful change of pace or his great speed to break into the clear. And as for Brooks—well, he came into this game with a glittering reputation and he more than lived up to his advance notices.
It was the kind of ball game, whether you were player, coach or spectator, that you would remember for years and years to come.