“I even know the play I scored on,” Larry Gatlin told me in a 1998 interview for the Daily Cougar. “It was 3rd-and-12 on the 25-yard line. I was in the game in place of Elmo (Wright) at wideout on the right side. The play was ’53 R Out.’
Gatlin subbed for Elmo Wright because the score was 86-6 late in the 4th quarter. In a matter of moments, it would become the biggest blowout in the modern era of college football.
It was November 23, 1968, and the score from the Astrodome rocketed across the country:
Houston 100, Tulsa 6.
Headline writers across the country had fun with it but perhaps none crueler than the Fresno Bee:
After Gatlin’s score, kicker Terry Lieweke made the PAT. 93-6. Tulsa stalled on the next drive and, with 30 seconds left in the game, punted to UH senior Mike Simpson. Simpson broke free and returned the kick 60 yards for the final TD. The score was now 99-6.
“I wasn’t thinking of 100 points when I caught that last punt,” Simpson said. “After I scored, though, I started thinking about those 100 points. That has to be my greatest thrill in my three years here.”
Following the return, Lieweke said he was never as nervous as he waited for that last snap and hold. “My knees were a little shaky,” Lieweke confessed. “Everybody on the sidelines was kidding me and saying, ‘Don’t take the gas, don’t choke.’ It was an embarrassing situation, but I could feel the pressure.
“I was on the spot,” he admitted.
Lieweke also caused some grief for the NCAA. While trying to tally the stats from the game, the NCAA realized their computers could not process 100 points in a game. They’d been set up to only accept scores up to 99 points. The Cougars caused a Y2K event 31 years before it was a thing.
Did UH Run It Up?
Due to the final score, writers and others have accused the Cougars of running it up.
The score was 24-6 after Tulsa scored on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter. It was a competitive game but then, UH scored 76 unanswered points. Afterward, TU coach Glenn Dobbs tried to explain away the result by telling the media that most of his players were suffering from the flu.
Coach Yeoman dismissed that line of excuses by saying, “I don’t think the Tulsa kids played very hard.” But he still felt awful about the result and the publicity it would receive.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#c62b29″ class=”” size=””]”I’m embarrassed we could beat a team like Tulsa that bad.” – Bill Yeoman[/perfectpullquote]
Tulsa guard Dick Miller tells a different story. He says the Tulsa team was there to compete.
“You may not believe this, but we thought we could stay right with them,” Miller said. “We thought if we could stay within a couple touchdowns, we might get lucky.”
Tulsa wasn’t lucky. Instead, UH scored the last 10 times they had the ball including seven fourth-quarter TDs all by backups. In all, the Cougars scored 14 touchdowns, 13 extra points, and a field goal. Individually, Paul Gipson scored 18 points, Lieweke had 16, and Elmo Wight had 12.
The Game In Context
Houston finished with 762 yards as 12 different players scored six different ways (rush, pass, field goal, INT return, punt return, PAT). The Cougars threw only 16 passes in the game and out-rushed Tulsa 555-86. Some players admitted wanting revenge in 1968 after Tulsa’s 21-13 home win the year before.
“Coach Yeoman was kind of bewildered,” Lieweke said in the postgame. “I don’t think he wanted to run up the score but everyone was up for the game. Last year, we were rated 10th in the country and went up to Tulsa and lost.”
In Eat Em Up Cougars, Jerry Wizig quoted UH guard (and GoCoogs.com subscriber) Bill Bridges on the 1967 game. “They’d humiliated us and the Veer offense up there the year before,” Bridges said. Other players agreed.
“Have we been thinking about this one very long? About a year, I’d say,” center Pat Pryor said.
In the 1966 game, UH had blown out the Golden Hurricane, 73-14. After their win in 1967, Tulsa wouldn’t beat UH again until 1974.
Fame Shined On Many From That Game
Twenty members of the ’68 Cougar team would be selected in the NFL Draft. Larry Gatlin topped the country music charts. Elmo Wright became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Wade Phillips became a household name as a head coach for 6 different NFL teams. But the most famous alum from that infamous game didn’t even play for the Coogs. In fact, he didn’t even make the trip to Houston.
Dr. Phil shared the story of the game on Letterman in 2013:
“Boy I tell ya, nobody breaks a hundred on me!” – Dr. Phil
Record Breaking Cougars
In just 3 quarters of action and in his last game in the Astrodome, Paul Gipson ran for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gipson set school records for single-game and career rushing yards that night. The single-game mark would stand for 34 years until it was broken by Joffrey Reynolds, who had 300 yards vs. ECU in 2002. Gipson played the game with a broken nose that he suffered the week before against Idaho.
Many of the UH achievements from that night are still atop the NCAA record books. Those include most points in a half (76), most points in a quarter (49), most PATs made (13) and attempted (14). The NCAA also considers the game the “most points vs. a major college opponent.”
The week before, the Coogs scored 77 on Idaho (77-3) – then a school record for points. In two games, UH scored 177 points – almost a point and a half per minute. The 177 points in consecutive weeks is also an NCAA record.
The Houston Post headline exclaimed, “Wow! UH Tallies 100” while the Chronicle did a half-page on the game:
“The basketball team is going to have a heckuva time trying to match this,” Pryor said after the game, laughing.
More Photos From 100-6
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