Texas Football: The 25 Best Bowl Games in School History
The University of Texas has one of the most storied college football programs in NCAA history, and the Longhorns' bowl appearances provide verification. With 49 bowl appearances, the Horns rank second all-time behind Alabama's 58.
The Longhorns missed the bowl season last year for the first time since 1997, the year before Mack Brown took the reins in Austin
With a 25-22-2 record in its bowl games, Texas is one of the winningest programs in the college football postseason.
At 4-2 on the year this season, the Longhorns are two wins away from returning to bowl season, but they will have their sights set much higher than mere eligibility.
Here are the 25 best bowl games in Texas Longhorns history.
1987 Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Pittsburgh
Final Score: 32-27
Coming into the 1987 season, Texas had lost four straight bowl games.
The Longhorns drew Pittsburgh in the Bluebonnet Bowl at the Astrodome, in what would be the final game under that bowl name.
From kickoff to the final whistle, the Longhorns and Panthers exchanged blows, with Texas gripping an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh rallied with two late touchdown drives, but it was too little too late as the Horns put a stop to its four-game bowl losing streak.
1962 Cotton Bowl vs. Mississippi
Final Score: 12-7
Defense was the name of the game in this postseason contest between the Horns and the Rebels, but a strange game it was.
The two teams combined for 10 turnovers, with No. 3 Texas committing four and No. 5 Ole Miss with six.
In the Horns' winning effort, they gained just 183 total yards on 55 plays, picking up only 12 first downs. On their opening touchdown score late in the first quarter, Eldon Moritz had his PAT blocked. Texas scored again in the second quarter, but failed on its two-point conversion attempt.
Ole Miss boasted an offensive machine that was tops in the country, but only managed a single touchdown late in the third quarter.
Texas allowed the Rebels to pick up 319 total yards, but the final scored is what mattered the most.
1943 Cotton Bowl vs. Georgia Tech
Final Score: 14-7
The No. 11 Texas Longhorns leaned on their run game and their defense to pick up the program's first bowl win at the Cotton Bowl.
Fueled by a Roy McKay touchdown pass in the first quarter and a 60-yard punt return for another score by Jackie Field in the third quarter, the Longhorns went into the final frame with a 14-0 lead.
Texas forced three Georgia Tech turnovers and held the Yellow Jackets to just 195 total yards in what would be the first of many postseason wins for the Longhorns.
2006 Alamo Bowl vs. Iowa
Final Score: 26-24
With the Vince Young Era officially over, the Texas Longhorns ushered in a no-name redshirt freshman quarterback in Colt McCoy, who would eventually leave Austin with a somewhat respectable career behind him in 2010.
Texas rushed for just 70 yards against Iowa, but behind McCoy's arm, the Longhorns built up 308 passing yards.
The Longhorns would face a 14-0 deficit after just six and a half minutes of play, courtesy of two touchdown drives by the Hawkeyes. Texas would go on to outscore Iowa 26-10 from then on, its defense holding firm late in the fourth quarter.
Texas' win would mark the first of three bowl victories during McCoy's tenure in Austin.
1973 Cotton Bowl vs. Alabama
Final Score 17-13
No. 4 Alabama was a force to be reckoned with, though its national title hopes were crushed after a 17-16 loss to Auburn in the final game of the season.
The 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns would face a 13-3 deficit going into half, but there were glimmers of hope, and Texas' quarterback Alan Lowry held the keys.
Via Lowry's 3-yard touchdown scamper with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, the Longhorns cut the lead to just three points. The All-SWC signal caller would strike again late in the fourth with a controversial 34-yard run for a touchdown.
Replays showed that Lowry may have caught the sideline, but officials awarded the game-winning score.
Lowry rushed for 117 of Texas' 317 yards while throwing for 61 more. Credit the Horns' defense for keeping the Tide scoreless in the second half en route to a great comeback victory.
2000 Holiday Bowl vs. Oregon
Final Score: 30-35
In a topsy-turvy Holiday Bowl, the Longhorns were outlasted by No. 8 Oregon in San Diego.
The two teams would trade leads throughout the game, with the Ducks jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before Texas responded with 21 unanswered points in the second to go into halftime with the advantage.
Oregon would outscore Texas 21-9 in the second half, as the Longhorns committed five turnovers and could not find a rhythm in the ground game.
It was a thrilling shootout, but not every game can be won.
1994 Sun Bowl vs. North Carolina
Final Score: 35-31
Unranked Texas would round out its 1994 season against No. 19 North Carolina and the Horns' eventual head coach Mack Brown in the Sun Bowl out in El Paso.
And this one was a nail-biter all the way.
A scoreless third quarter prior to a Texas 21-17 halftime lead prompted an exhilarating fourth frame.
Two big scoring plays by the Tar Heels early in the quarter, an 82-yard punt return and a 50-yard touchdown catch and run would see UNC take the lead 31-21.
But, behind two Priest Holmes' touchdowns to cap off a couple of 68-yard drives late in the game, Texas would snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. Holmes ran for 161 yards and 4 touchdowns on 27 carries. His four scores tied Bobby Layne for the most touchdowns in a bowl game.
1949 Orange Bowl vs. Georgia
Final Score: 41-28
No. 8 Georgia was the heavy favorite coming into the 1949 Orange Bowl against the unranked Longhorns, but, behind 332 rushing yards, including 117 from Tom Landry, Texas would rally late from a 28-27 deficit via two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Randall Clay with less than five minutes to play.
The Longhorns outgained the Bulldogs 402 to 217, keeping the Georgia running game to a minimal 56 yards.
At this point, Texas was 4-0-1 in bowl games as the Longhorns would continue a great run in bowl season for the next 20 years.
2007 Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State
Final Score: 52-34
The 2007 Holiday Bowl featured two teams meeting for the first time as the No. 17 Longhorns took advantage over the mistake-prone No. 13 Sun Devils en route to a 52-34 win in San Diego.
Texas forced five turnovers and rode 300 rushing yards as the two teams exchanged shots throughout the game.
Mack Brown's Horns jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never relinquished their lead with a dominating performance on all ends.
Colt McCoy and Jamaal Charles would show off their running legs, picking up 147 and 173 yards respectively, combining for three touchdowns on the ground.
2009 Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State
Final Score 24-21
In the 2008 season, the No. 3 Longhorns were kept out of the BCS National Championship, but that did not dampen their spirits with the chance to knock off the revered the No.10 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl.
With an edgy 17-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes rallied furiously with 15 unanswered points with two minutes to go.
Colt McCoy would lead the Longhorns on an 11-play, 78-yard drive capped off with a 26-yard connection with Quan Cosby who scampered untouched into the endzone.
Texas managed just 54 yards rushing, but the Longhorns racked up 414 yards through the air in what would be McCoy's final postseason win.
1966 Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Mississippi
Final Score 19-0
Chris Gilbert, Bill Bradley and the Texas Longhorns' defense proved their dominance in a shutout victory over Mississippi. The Horns ran for 306 yards, courtesy of a combined 261 and three scores from Gilbert and Bradley.
Texas forced four Ole Miss turnovers and held the Rebels to 208 yards of total offense.
Despite the 19-0 scoreline, the Longhorns committed seven turnovers and did not seal the victory until late in the fourth quarter.
1948 Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama
Final Score: 27-7
The 1948 Sugar Bowl following the 1947 season pitted No. 6 Alabama against No. 5 Texas. The Longhorns and Crimson Tide went into halftime with a 7-7 scoreline.
Behind Texas' special teams and defense, the Longhorns kept the Tide scoreless in the second half. A blocked punt for a touchdown in the third quarter and an 18-yard interception in the fourth quarter sealed the game.
Texas great Bobby Layne threw a touchdown and ran for another in the Longhorns' third bowl win in their history.
1975 Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Colorado
Final Score: 38-21
Talk about a tale of two halves.
The No. 9 Longhorns trailed No. 10 Colorado 21-7 going into halftime, but Texas buckled down on defense and held the Buffaloes to just 69 yards in the second half as the Horns outscored their opponent 31-0 en route to victory.
A sophomore named Earl Campbell had a rather pedestrian game, 19 carries for 95 yards, compared to what would become an outstanding career.
Despite the high scoring affair, the two teams combined for 531 yards, but committed seven turnovers, five by the Buffaloes.
The Longhorns snapped a two-game bowl losing streak with this convincing win.
1978 Sun Bowl vs. Maryland
Final Score: 42-0
No. 14 Texas and its three Joneses did work on No. 13 Maryland in the 1978 Sun Bowl, as Lam, Ham and Jam Jones, all unrelated, combined for 211 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a shutout performance in El Paso.
Maryland had national title hopes midway through the season, but the Terrapins were stumped by a Longhorns defense that forced five turnovers. Texas threw the ball just seven times, completing two passes for 45 yards. But 62 carries for 286 yards rushing and opportunistic offense was all that was needed for the Horns.
Texas' 42-0 drumming would be the largest shutout in Longhorns bowl history.
2003 Cotton Bowl vs. LSU
Final Score: 35-20
In Chris Simms' final game as a Texas Longhorn, the senior found junior receiver Roy Williams at critical junctures in the game, setting up touchdown catches on three separate occasions.
After trailing 17-7 early in the second quarter, the Longhorns reeled off 28 unanswered points and never looked back.
1963 was the last time these two teams met in the Cotton Bowl, with the Tigers claiming a 13-0 victory. Forty years later, Texas would have its revenge in thrilling fashion.
1999 Cotton Bowl vs. Mississippi State
Final Score: 38-11
In 1998, the Texas Longhorns welcomed a new head coach by the name of Mack Brown to their program.
After a forgettable 4-7 year the season before, in what would be John Mackovic's final one at the head of the Texas program, the No. 20 Longhorns earned a bid to the Cotton Bowl to face No. 25 Mississippi State.
Heisman Trophy Winner Ricky Williams would play in his final game in a Texas uniform, and the running back did not disappoint. Williams ran for 203 yards and two scores on 30 carries, and caught 5 passes for 45 more yards.
Fueled by a 24-point third quarter, the Longhorns grabbed a huge lead and never turned back.
Major Applewhite threw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns as Texas won its 10th Cotton Bowl.
1982 Cotton Bowl vs. Alabama
Final Score: 14-12
Following the 1981 season, the '82 Cotton Bowl pitted Paul 'Bear' Bryant and No. 3 Alabama against No. 6 Texas.
And what a showdown it would be.
In seven games against one another, the Tide had never beaten the Longhorns, and that streak would live on.
A battle of heavyweights saw Texas drop to a 10-0 deficit with over 12 minutes to go in the game. But two hard-nosed, determined drives by quarterback Robert Brewer ended with two Longhorns' touchdowns with two minutes to play.
Alabama would record a safety with under a minute to go, but Texas' lead stood firm as the Horns pulled an upset.
1953 Cotton Bowl vs. Tennessee
Final Score: 19-0
In the 1951 Cotton Bowl, Tennessee defeated Texas 20-14, and the two programs would meet again two years later with the Longhorns seeking revenge.
The Horns' defense was as stout as ever, forcing five Volunteers fumbles, recovering three, holding Tennessee to just 32 yards of offense on 35 plays.
Meanwhile, Texas, behind Richard Ochoa and Billy Quinn, rushed for 269 yards in the Longhorns' shutout victory that sent a dominating message.
1969 Cotton Bowl vs. Tennessee
Final Score: 36-13
The last time these two teams met in the Cotton Bowl, Texas put up a defensive wall that Tennessee simply could not penetrate.
In the '69 game, the Volunteers managed more offense, but the end result would be the same.
Texas used a balanced attack to gain more than 500 yards on offense as it went up 36-7 after three quarters. Steve Worster and Chris Gilbert combined to rush for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns as quarterback James Street threw for 200 yards and 2 scores of his own.
2001 Holiday Bowl vs. Washington
Final Score: 47-43
In a wild shootout at the 2001 Holiday Bowl, Major Applewhite made the most of his final game in burnt orange.
The senior passed for 473 yards on 37-of-55 attempts to rally the Longhorns from 19 points down to a 47-43 win in San Diego.
Texas faced a 36-20 deficit going into the final frame, but with the Horns' offense scoring at will, six in their last seven drives, Applewhite would not be denied a bowl win in his last game as a Longhorn player.
2005 Rose Bowl vs. Michigan
Final Score: 38-37
"Yes sir, we'll be back!" were quarterback Vince Young's words after he and Dusty Mangum capped off a come-from-behind win in exhilarating fashion against No. 13 Michigan.
Mangum, No. 6 Texas' place-kicker, nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns their first of two consecutive Rose Bowl victories.
Young, meanwhile, wowed the Pasadena crowd all evening as he rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns while throwing for 180 yards and another score. He had touchdown runs of 20, 60, 10 and 23 yards in a Rose Bowl performance that may only be rivaled by one other.
1946 Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri
Final Score: 40-27
The 1946 Cotton Bowl against Missouri would be Bobby Layne's greatest individual performance.
The Texas legend accounted for all 40 of the Longhorns' points that day (he kicked the extra points), and it would go into the books as one of the most impressive single-game performances Cotton Bowl history.
Layne and the No. 10 Longhorns traded scores all game with the Tigers, but Texas would always be the last to score in every quarter, and they never trailed.
Layne would go on to complete 11 of his 12 pass attempts for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns as he added three more scores on the ground.
1970 Cotton Bowl vs. Notre Dame
Final Score: 21-17
Going into the 1970 Cotton Bowl, the No. 1 Texas Longhorns carried with them a 19-game winning streak and 499 all-time victories as they faced off against No. 9 Notre Dame.
The Horns would not be denied their 500th win or their second national championship, as Texas overcame a late 17-14 deficit.
With a fierce rushing attack that picked up 331 yards on 67 carries, quarterback James Street marched the Longhorns 76 yards on 17 plays, capped off by a Billy Dale 1-yard touchdown, to grab a 21-17 advantage with just over a minute to play.
Without playmakers Steve Worster and Jim Bertelsen, who combined to rush for 236 yards, Texas probably would not have claimed its second national title in six years.
1964 Cotton Bowl vs. Navy
Final Score: 28-6
Against Roger Staubach and the No. 2 Navy Midshipmen, Duke Carlisle and No. 1 Texas made a statement as the Longhorns secured their first national championship in school history.
The Longhorns held the Heisman Trophy-led Midshipmen scoreless until 12 minutes to go in the final quarter, but by then it was too late, as Texas had already mounted a 28-6 lead.
Carlisle and the Horns nearly doubled Navy's offensive production, picking up 402 yards to the Midshipmens' 213.
Navy, which had averaged more than 31 points a game that season, had -14 yards rushing and committed three turnovers. For a Texas team that one writer labeled as "the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the football public," the Longhorns would go on to silence their critics.
2006 Rose Bowl vs USC
Final Score: 41-38
In the Grand Daddy of them all, Texas returned to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season with Vince Young at quarterback. This time, however, it was for the BCS National Championship.
At the beginning of the year, everyone projected this matchup, pitting the country's top two teams in what would eventually be an instant classic in college football.
Down 38-26 with 6:42 to go, Young took over the game, leading two drives of 69 and 56 yards, scoring both touchdowns in the process.
Who can forget his scramble on 4th and 5 with 26 seconds left? Young put in what may be the best individual performance of anyone in a Longhorns uniform, and had a serious hand in claiming Texas' fourth national title.