Revenge is a Dish Best Served . . .

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 8: Tom Wort #21 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl on October 8, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Sooners defeated the Longhorns 55 to 17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Any time. Any temperature.

Texas has four "revenge" games on this year’s schedule, meaning the Horns are playing four teams which beat them the previous season. Texas soon will attempt to exact payback on Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor.

As a fan, I’d like to think my team takes each defeat personally and begins off-season workouts in a controlled rage like Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner ("You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry") then attacks at game-time like sleep-deprived piranha. Of course, there's more to winning a payback game than getting fired up. If that’s all it took, Navy wouldn’t have lost 43 in a row to Notre Dame. Adrenalin is not a miracle liquid. It's not like it's ethanol or MonaVie.

Basically, just because a team has a grudge, you never know if it’ll come out punching like George Foreman or George McFly.

Looking ahead to these four games got me wondering . . . What kind of track record do Mack Brown teams have in these type payback games? Are they any better or worse than Darrell Royal’s teams? Or the teams belonging to the coaches in between? Before projecting what I see for this year’s four grudge matches, let me share probably more nuggets than you will probably care to see about the 133 opportunities Texas has had to pay back an opponent the year after a loss or a tie since Darrell Royal first stepped foot on campus :

  • Texas is 78-52-3 (59.8% winning percentage) in revenge games. That’s the good news . . . The bad news? . . . Horns have been treading water since 1986, going 33-33-1.
  • Darrell Royal was better than Mack Brown has been in revenge games . . . but he’s only second among Texas coaches in the last half century.
  • Almost 20 percent of Texas’ revenge games have come against Oklahoma, with the Horns going 10-15-1.
  • Best revenge-game seasons? 1977 and 1981 are your headliners as Horns were a combined 10-0 those years.

What follows are some different looks at those 133 payback games . . . some is fact, some is opinion . . . and a forecast for this year's payback opportunities.


Coaches and Payback Games

Fred Akers was the king of the payback. Except for a three-game losing streak to Texas A&M from 1984 to 1986, he never lost more than two in a row to anybody.As for Royal, his winning percentage was near Akers’ until a five-game losing streak to Oklahoma late in his career.

Coach

W

L

T

Pct.

Akers

21

5

0

77.8%

Royal

24

14

2

62.5%

Brown

15

13

0

53.6%

Mackovic

8

8

1

50.0%

McWilliams

10

11

0

47.6%

Best Payback Seasons

The biggest downer about a great payback season is that it means you’re coming off a really bad year. For that reason, it’s not surprising that four of the top nine seasons for revenge wins followed coaching changes.

Year

W

L

T

Coach

1977

6

0

0

Akers’ debut

1981

4

0

0

Akers’ 5th season

1990

5

1

0

McWilliams’ 3rd season

1957

4

2

1

Royal’s debut

1979

3

0

0

Akers’ 3rd season

1995

3

0

0

Mackovic’s 4th season

1967

3

1

0

Royal’s 11th season

1987

3

2

0

McWilliams’ debut

1998

3

2

0

Brown’s debut

Payback opponents

Here are the teams Texas has faced in six or more revenge games since 1957:

Opponent

Tex win

Tex loss

Tie

Pct.

Oklahoma

10

15

1

40.4%

Texas A&M

10

11

0

47.6%

Baylor

10

3

1

75.0%

Texas Tech

10

4

0

71.4%

Arkansas

9

2

0

81.8%

Houston

6

2

0

75.0%

SMU

5

3

0

62.5%

TCU

6

1

0

85.7%

Rice

6

0

0

100.0%

A&M’s numbers look better than expected but that just goes to show how winning 10 of 11 can offset getting pushed around the rest of the last half century . . . The numbers against Arkansas are better than expected . . . And the only reason Kansas State isn’t on this list is that the Big XII’s alternating schedule has only given Texas three payback opportunities the year after a loss. (Wildcats are 3-0.)

Payback Games

This is where things get subjective. Since payback games come in many flavors, I made a few lists. See what you think.

Wiping the Smile Off Their Faces

A loss to an inferior foe has its own peculiar sting. Getting satisfactory payback in those situations requires running up the score a little.

Loss: 1968 - #6 Texas at Texas Tech L 22-31
Rematch: 1969 - #4 Texas vs. Texas Tech W 49-7
After losing two in a row to Tech (including the second game of the wishbone era), Texas took no prisoners in 1969.

Loss: 1976 - #7 Texas at Boston College L 13-14
Rematch: 1977 - #18 Texas vs. Boston College W 44-0
The Boston College team that spoiled the opener of Royal’s final season was nowhere near the teams of Doug Flutie, Matt Ryan or Tom Coughlin. The rematch showed that.

Loss: 1998 - #18 Texas at Texas Tech L 35-42
Rematch: 1999 - #10 Texas vs. Texas Tech W 58-7
Spike Dykes used an on-side kick to spark a rally that knocked Mack Brown’s first Texas team out of the Big XII South race. Red Raiders needed more than trick plays a year later.


Loss: 1981 - #1 Texas at Arkansas L 11-42
Rematch: 1982 - #12 vs. #6 Arkansas W 33-7
Riding high after throttling Oklahoma and vaulting to No. 1 in the polls, Texas was destroyed by the Pigs in 1981. A year later, the ambush was reciprocated.

Loss: 2010 - #7 Texas vs. UCLA L 12-34
Rematch: 2011 – Unranked Texas at UCLA W 49-20
The 2010 loss to UCLA was one of the early indicators that Texas was in big trouble. The following year, Texas accelerated the search for Rick Neuheisel’s replacement.

Reversing Fortunes

Sometimes, you lose to a better team. But the balance of power in college football shifts. Here are five games where an unranked Texas team (or at least lower ranked) got whipped by a superior team only to turn the tables the next year.

Loss: 1976 - #11 Texas A&M L 3-27
Rematch: 1977 #1 Texas at #12 Texas A&M W 57-28

Texas went 31-3-1 against A&M between 1940 and 1974. So after consecutive defeats to the Aggies in Royal’s last two games, the Horns seemed way overdue. Earl Campbell’s best game ever made sure the drought ended.

Loss: 1989 Texas at #15 Houston L 9-47
Rematch: 1990 #14 Texas vs. #3 Houston W 45-24

After three consecutive decisive losses, (60-40, 66-15, 47-9), Texas made some of us (me) nervous by falling behind 7-0 early in this one. Then Texas outscored the Cougars 42-3 over the next 30-plus minutes. Two key stats: Texas - 626 yards of total offense, Cougar QB David Klingler - 4 INTs.

Loss: 1989 – Texas at #16 Texas A&M 10-21
Rematch: 1990 #5 Texas vs. Texas A&M W 28-27

Regrettably, this victory was an aberration instead of a trend. However, since this was the lone ray of sunshine in the 11-year valley against A&M, it is treasured.

Loss: 1982 - #19 Texas vs. #4 SMU L 17-30
Rematch: 1983 #2 Texas at #9 SMU W 15-12

The balance of power between Texas and SMU definitely tilted after Eric Dickerson and Craig James went in the 1983 draft. Ponies still had a stocked roster but only managed 101 rushing yards in the rematch.

Loss: 2004 - #5 Texas vs. #2 Oklahoma L 0-12
Rematch: 2005 - #2 Texas vs. Oklahoma W 45-12
Speaking of reversing droughts, Mack Brown needed to do something with a five-year losing streak to the Sooners as it was starting to push marquis recruits north of the border like Adrian Peterson and, um, Rhett Bomar. This one was finger-lickin’ good.

Revenge Delayed is Revenge Denied

These were greatly desired paybacks that didn't come through.

Loss: 1991 - #13 Texas at Mississippi St. L 6-13
Rematch: 1992 - #25 Texas vs. #21 Mississippi St. L 10-28

The castration game in 1991 was one of the more galling events to occur in the past quarter century of Texas football. John Mackovic had only been on the job a few months when asked to gain revenge. Horn fans would have to wait until the 1999 Cotton Bowl to wipe the smile of Jackie Sherrill’s face.


Loss: 1975 - #5 Texas vs. #2 Oklahoma 17-24
Rematch: 1976 - #16 Texas vs. #3 Oklahoma T 6-6

The drama leading up to the 1976 game was more memorable the game action. The intrigue included allegations of spying (later confessed to), monetary offers to Oklahoma’s coaches to take lie detector tests, and pre-game booing of Royal by fans of his alma mater. For 55 minutes, it looked like it would be a 6-0 Texas win. Then, after an Ivey Suber fumble, it looked like a 7-6 Sooner win. But a bad snap on an extra point left Texas was a most unsatisfying 6-6 tie.

Loss: 2006 - #11 Texas Texas A&M 7-12
Rematch: 2007 - #14 Texas at Texas A&M L 30-38

The 2006 game was the Cart McCoy game. Could things have ended differently? What if Texas had played Jevan Snead, who led Texas to 42 points against Kansas State, instead of a sub-par McCoy? What if Roy Williams hadn’t been flagged for offensive pass interference? Whatever. The 2007 Horns didn’t play like a team itching for revenge. The Aggies did. And it showed.

Loss: 1995 - #13 Texas at #21 Notre Dame 27-55
Rematch: 1996 - #6 Texas #9 Notre Dame L 24-27

The Irish prevented Texas from getting national championships in two Cotton Bowls (1971, 1978) so many long-time fans were pumped when this series was renewed for two games. But after playing the Irish close for a half in South Bend the year before, they couldn’t hold a late lead at home.

Loss: 1997 - #11 Texas UCLA 3-66
Rematch: 1998 - #23 Texas at #6 UCLA L 31-49

Rout 66 was . . . was . . . was . . . Well, after 15 years, I’m still speechless. One measure of the progress made in the Mack Brown era is that I was encouraged in the rematch because Texas outscored UCLA 21-7 in the fourth quarter of an 18-point loss. Think about that for a minute.

Some Personal favorites

Here are a few favorites that don’t fall into any of the categories above:


Loss: 1993 - Texas at #24 Louisville L 10-41
Rematch: 1994 - #20 Texas vs. Louisville W 30-16

Getting humiliated by a Big East Johnny-Come-Lately is galling. A late interception made the rematch look more lopsided than it was. Even if the final 14-point margin was deceptive, at least double digits.

Loss: 1971 - #10 Texas at #16 Arkansas L 7-31
Rematch: 1972 - #14 Texas vs. #17 Arkansas W 35-15
After Texas’ big wins in Big Shootout I and Big Shootout II, the game in 1971 was dubbed "Revenge at the Rock" as the Hogs’ Joe Ferguson abused a banged up Texas team 31-7 in the rain at Little Rock. The following season, Arkansas was a unanimous pre-season pick to win the Southwest Conference as Ferguson returned for his senior campaign. For three quarters, this was a nail-biter. However, Arkansas couldn’t withstand the pounding of Jerry Sisemore and the rest of the Horns’ offensive line. QB Alan Lowry rushed 156 yards and FB Roosevelt Leaks had 154 .

Loss: 1999 - #7 Texas at #24 Texas A&M L 16-20
Rematch: 2000 - #12 Texas vs. #22 Texas A&M W 43-17

Texas played the Bonfire game in 1999 at 11:30 a.m. game on an empty stomach. Big XII offensive player of the year Major Applewhite sat on the sidelines for most of the game with an intestinal ailment. A perfect storm enabled A&M to squeak by. In 2000, No such luck for Ags the following season.

Loss: 2007 - #19 Texas vs. #10 Oklahoma L 21-28
Rematch: 2008 - #5 Texas vs. #1 Oklahoma W 45-35

I remember one time watching a game where a Texas fan in the crowd held up a poster with this score on it. So I included it here because it MUST have been a memorable game. Was it on TV or something?

Tie: 1976 - #16 Texas vs. #3 Oklahoma T 6-6
Rematch: 1977 - #5 Texas vs. #2 Oklahoma W 13-6
With third-string QB Randy McEachern taking over after the first two QBs got hurt, Texas gutted out a game that snapped a 6-year winless streak in the series. It was the first of five losses that Fred Akers pinned on Barry Switzer in an 8-year span.

Looking ahead

Oklahoma – In the Mack Brown era, the team with the more experienced QB almost always wins the RRR. Freshman Sam Bradford beating sophomore Colt McCoy is about the only exception I can think of in the past decade. Landry Jones is a senior. David Ash is a sophomore. Bad odds.8-point loss, somewhere in the neighborhood of 34-26.

Oklahoma State – This game will decided by two people. Oklahoma State has a true freshman quarterback. Texas has Manny Diaz. Texas will win. Those two people will determine how decisively.

Kansas State – It is hard to beat the pageantry of college football. However, matchups of Texas and Kansas State have altered my thinking to the point where maybe playing games on paper might not be such a bad idea. I would like to think a late season game in Manhattan favors Texas for two reasons: Ash will have more snaps under his belt, and Collin Klein will have taken so many hits that his effectiveness will be diminished. I’ll pick a narrow Texas win because I’m stupid like that. However, if I witness a typical K-State win over a Mack Brown team, it won't catch me with my pants down like it did in 1999 . . . and 2006 . . . and 2007 . . . and 2010 . . . and, um, 2011.

Baylor – Having dropped two straight to the Bears, my hope is that the Horns can work up a good hate for this game. If they do, it’s a 10-point win at a minimum.

Final Analysis - If Horns go 4-0 in this year's revenge games, it's hard to picture anything but a BCS berth. Here's hoping Horns are one angry team. That's my take . . . What's yours?

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