On September 21, 1968, the Houston Cougars went to Austin and tied the #4 Texas Longhorns, 20-20. Paul Gipson ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the most consequential non-win in UH history.
“It was a great game, just one heck of a game,” Bill Yeoman said in the postgame locker room meeting with the media. “Nobody really likes a tie but there’s no sense in slashing your wrists and rolling on the ground.”
UH went ahead in the first quarter before UT tied it going into the half and again scored early in the 3rd quarter. Gipson then dashed 66 yards around the right edge for a touchdown. After a UT punt, Gipson scored his 3rd TD of the night but Terry Leiweke missed the PAT. UT scored in the middle of the fourth to tie it but missed their PAT as well. UH marched down the field with a chance to win it late but was stopped inside the one. Texas sat on the ball and accepted the tie.
“We played a great team with some outstanding athletes. Any team that can stop our offense on the one-foot line is playing tremendous defensive football,” Yeoman said.
For his part, UT coach Darrell Royal went into the UH locker room and told the team how much he appreciated what they did.
“I just want to tell you we’ve got all the admiration in the world for you,” Royal told the UH players and staff. “Offensively, we haven’t played a better team.
“I’ve only been in (the visitor’s) dressing room twice. That shows what admiration I’ve got for you.”
When Royal finished speaking, the UH players cheered his words.
When UT got the ball back late on their own side of the field, Royal decided to just let the game end in a tie. The UT players accepted the decision, at least publicly, but weren’t happy with the reaction from their fans.
“When the fans start booing you it really hurts. It’s kind of disappointing, but I guess you have to get used to it,” halfback Ted Koy said. UT players for the last 50 years have gotten used to it.
“They have a fine football team,” Corby Robertson said. “I wouldn’t mind a rematch in the postseason.” Robertson is the grandson of Hugh Roy Cullen and son of Corbin Robertson, both UH giants.
When told a rematch was impossible because UH was on probation, Robertson spat out “damn it!”
Texas was blown away by the play of Paul Gipson. Loyd Wainscott, an All-SWC defensive tackle, said Gipson was “the best runner I’ve ever faced. I’d put him above (OJ) Simpson of Southern Cal because he doesn’t get knocked down. You can stick him right in the mouth and he’ll still get away.”
“I know once we hit (Gipson) over by our bench just as squarely on the nose as we could,” Royal remarked after the game. “He just bounced off and nearly scored.”
After the game, UT’s new Y formation was named the Wishbone and, following a loss to Tech in Lubbock the next week, they ran off 30-straight wins. For the Cougars, the tie proved to many across the country that Houston belonged on the big stage. Darrell Royal believed it and that night in 1968 was one of the building blocks that helped UH get into the SWC.