A Look Back.....1955 and Texas

Hopes were high coming off of a 1954 season that saw the Red Raiders go 7-2-1. An odd twist finished that season, as Coach DeWitt Weaver turned down a Sun Bowl offer that would have pitted Tech against Trinity. Weaver believed Trinity was not a suitable opponent and thought he might have a Gator Bowl bid coming, so he declined. His gamble did not pay off and the Red Raiders stayed home.

The 1955 season would start in a fury with a showdown against the University of Texas in Austin. Coach Weaver decided to close all practices to ensure focus and proper preparation for the Longhorns. Several factors would be against the Red Raiders for the season opener: a seven point underdog, the Longhorns never losing an opening game at Memorial Stadium, and Tech never beating Texas…EVER.

Tech's small halfback Don Schmidt started the scoring on a 1 yard touchdown midway through the first quarter, then electrified the crowd on a 79 yard scamper in the second quarter. Tech's lead would stand at 14-0 through the 4th quarter, until Texas scored a pair of TD's by Walt Fondren and Allen Ernst. The Red Raider defense held Texas on a 4th down pass on its own 18 yard line late in the 4th. Four plays later, Ronnie Herr scored from 1 yard out to seal the victory, 20-14.

The football fever pitch hit Tech's campus and spirits were high. Jimmy Allen, Tech's Dean of Student Life stated, "I've never seen football fever at such a high pitch this early in the season in all of my 25 years at Tech." 2500 students would show for the week's pep rally to prepare for the upcoming game against TCU. Talk around campus was that back-to-back victories against Southwest Conference teams would build a strong case for entrance into the prestigious league…something Tech had been hotly pursuing.

A victory over TCU was not to be as the Frogs rolled to a 32-0 victory, led by the feet of James Swink. The next game would find the Raiders back in the win column against Oklahoma State (24-6). The following week, the Associated Press would print an article stating that Dr. M.E. Sadler, president of TCU, believed Tech was in its best-ever position to enter the seven league Southwest Conference. His statements were based on a meeting 2 weeks prior with conference officials. This added to the buzz already humming on campus.

The season continued on with a tie with the Texas Western Miners (27-27), a loss to Houston (7-0), and wins over West Texas State (27-24), Arizona (27-7), Tulsa (34-7), College of Pacific (13-7), and Hardin Simmons (16-14). The regular season would have Tech sitting at 7-2-1 for the second year in a row.

Texas Tech had won the Border Conference Championship again, which earned them an invite to the Sun Bowl. This year; however, DeWitt Weaver would accept and the #21 ranked Red Raiders would face the Cowboys from Wyoming. Led by the strong legs of 2nd Team All-American, Bobby Cavazos, the Red Raiders were favored by 13-20 points. Tech would fall victim to overconfidence and defeated 21-14.

It was a disappointing end to a great season of football. The scrappy squad from Lubbock gave their loyal fans a season to remember and a championship trophy in the showcase. The highlight after the 1955 season would be the decision that Tech fans had been yearning to hear: their beloved Red Raiders had finally been admitted into the Southwest Conference.

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