It was a game that either should have been rescheduled or declared a TKO at halftime. Instead, it played out as one of the most lopsided college football games in history and certainly the scoring record game for any football team, pro, college, or high school that ever put on the pads to duke ‘em out in the Astrodome.
It was Saturday evening, November 23, 1968, and the site was the Astrodome. The 11th ranked UH Cougars were scheduled to play a ho-hum game against the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa University, but nobody really gave the Oklahomans much of a chance that season against the highly regarded cats from Houston. Doubly aced by a fast and strong running back named Paul Gipson and a hip-gyrating speedy wide receiver known as Elmo Wright, the Cougars were prepared to attack by ground or air in the Yeoman veer offense as well or better than most clubs that year. And they also had two better than adequate QB’s in 1968 in starter Ken Bailey and back up Rusty Clark.
Although they never used it as an excuse, to my knowledge, Tulsa had a good excuse for what was about to unfold that night in Houston. The Tulsa team had been hit with a flu epidemic during the week leading up to the UH game. Some players were too ill to make the trip to Houston and others who did travel may have been either still too ill to play or just coming down with the bug on game day. As a witness to this incredible shocker, I had never seen a team play with less energy, speed, strength, or drive. Tulsa that night was a team that was only technically present.
Contrary to our UH haters mythology, the Cougars caching staff did not really try to embarrass or run up the score. By the early fourth quarter, UH Head Coach Bill Yeoman had removed his first string offensive starters, but the guys who took their places weren’t trained to lay down when they ran through a club that made almost no effort to tackle. Late in the game, it looked as though the final score was going to be 86-6, a bad enough differential tally with only three to four minutes left on the clock. I forget the exact time that remained, but not what happened next.
Larry Gatlin, normally a defensive back, and much later a Country and Western SInger and composer, was inserted into the game as a wide receiver with the ball on the Tulsa 25 yard line. They were supposed to just grind it out, but the rare chance for Gatlin was apparently too fat to miss. He and back up QB Rusty Clark teamed up for an easy 25 yard TD pass, which I think may have been the only TD of Gatlin’s college career. I’m not sure about that, but he sure acted as though it were.
On the sidelines afterward, you see Coach Yeoman talking hard and fast to both Clark and Gatlin and he didn’t appear to be congratulating either of them
93-6. Ouch. Tulsa again gets pushed back for another punt from deep in their own territory with about one minute left in the game.
Unbelievable. A special teams guy named Simpson corrals the ball on the fly about the Cougars 40 yard line. Some people on the UH sidelines are flashing palms to the ground, as if to say “just go down”.
Simpson doesn’t go down. The next thing we see is Simpson weaving himself through a field of “zombie tacklers” and taking the ball all the way to the house, almost with no time left. – It is now UH by 99-6 and blood lust time.
The Cougar fans are chanting in unison to UH kicker Terry Lieweke: “MAKE THAT KICK! – MAKE THAT KICK! – MAKE THAT KICK!” – It isn’t the proudest moment in sportsmanship history, but that is the path that voyeur gratification travels when the energy of the mob gets fully behind the idea of witnessing a triple digit football score.
Lieweke makes it. The historic final score is Houston 100 – Tulsa 6.
Here are the box score stats and facts on scoring in the game:
|Score by Quarters||First||Second||Third||Fourth||Final Total|
|Scoring by Quarter||Scoring Details|
|HOU – Gipson 35 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 7-0|
|HOU – Wright 60 pass from Bailey (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 14-0|
|HOU – Lieweke FG 36 yards||HOU, 17-0|
|HOU – Bailey 1 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 24-0|
|TUL – Burkett 14 pass from Dobbs (Kick failed)||HOU, 24-6|
|HOU – Bell 21 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 31-6|
|HOU – Gipson 17 Run (Kick failed)||HOU, 37-6|
|HOU – Wright 66 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 44-6|
|HOU – Gipson 14 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 51-6|
|HOU – Heiskell 7 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 58-6|
|HOU – Stewart 19 pass from Clark (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 65-6|
|HOU – Strong 26 pass from Clark (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 72-6|
|HOU – Peacock 34 pass interception (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 79-6|
|HOU – Clark 11 Run (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 86-6|
|HOU – Gatlin 25 pass from Clark (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 93-6|
|HOU – Simpson 60 punt return (Lieweke kick)||HOU, 100-6|
|Venue: Astrodome; 11/23/1968||Attendance: 34,089|
Paul Gipson could have made a run at close to 500 yards rushing, had he played the entire game. As it was, he still racked up 289 yards rushing on 29 carries.
UH went into the Tulsa game as the nation’s offensive yards per game leader with an average of 552.9 yards per contest. The Cougars more than topped that mark by racking up a total of 762 yards against the Golden Hurricane.
What recently reminded me of the game was an appearance by Dr. Phil McGraw on the Dave Letterman Late Show the other night. Dr. Phil was a Tulsa lineman that night in the Dome back in 1968. He even used the 100-6 game to illustrate why he bears such great humility about his personal accomplishments in football.
I think Dr. Phil’s experience that long ago evening in Houston may have been the real reason he settled on psychology as a major and went on from there to help Oprah and finally – to get his own television show. If that is what happened, please don’t blame UH for running up the score on Tulsa. – Blame the Cougars for driving Dr. Phil into our daily lives on television.