The last two members to join the Southwest Conference meet up on Saturday in Lubbock. The Cougars and Red Raiders have history dating to 1951 and several of their games had conference title implications. Of course you’d never know that if you don’t know you’re history. Let’s fix that.
The First Time
On October 6, 1951, the Cougars and Red Raiders met in Houston. The game ended with Houston winning 6-0 on a Gene Shannon 32-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tech drove inside the Houston fifteen in the final seconds before Houston held and preserved the win. The two teams combined for ten lost fumbles. Shannon ran for 123 yards on fifteen carries. Tech All-American Bobby Cavazos rumbled for 103 on 22 attempts.
Ground and Pound
Tech’s first win in the series came in 1953 as the Red Raiders rushed for 346 yards in a 41-21. After the win Tech celebrated back at the Shamrock Hotel then boarded one of their three “special Santa Fe train cars” for a 10 p.m. departure from Houston and an 11 a.m. arrival back in Lubbock.
Food Poisoning 1 Houston 0
The 1955 game was a Tech blowout with the Red Raiders scoring a near unheard at the time 61 points. Tech scored an equally unheard of 42 points in the second quarter. FOURTY-TWO. The underlying reason might’ve been the 35 Cougar players who suited up and played in spite of suffering from food poisoning apparently from a meal Friday night before the game.
In 1978 5th ranked Houston traveled to take on Steve Sloan’s Tech club in Lubbock. The Red Raiders squeezed out a 22-21 victory over the Coogs. Houston helped with seven turnovers including turnovers on five straight possession, but Tech still needed an 87-yard drive and fullback James Hadnot’s heroics. The drive started with Tech intercepted a Danny Davis pass deep in Tech territory. Hadnot, the leading rusher in the SWC, threw a 21-yard halfback, or in this instance, fullback pass to set up Tech at the Houston one. Ron Reeves snuck the ball in from there, and the game may well have ended in a tie if Sloan chose to kick the extra point, but Sloan went for two and the win. Hadnot caught a pass from Reeves and bulled over a Cougar defender for the winning points.
Hadnot ended the 1978 season as the sixth leading rusher in college football. Not bad for a guy who switched from tight end to fullback in August of that year.
Back in Black
The 1978 game marked the first time Texas played in black jerseys since the early 1940s. Tech warmed up in red jerseys but switched to black before coming out for kickoff. Tricksters.
The Long Arm of Gary McGuire
In 1985 the Cougars jumped out to a 17-3 lead over the Red Raiders in Houston. Tech quarterback Billy Joe Toliver led a fourth-quarter comeback with two touchdowns; the last was set up by 5-3 return man Tyrone Thurman. Trailing 17-16 with 56 seconds to play, lame duck Tech head coach Jerry Moore chose to go for two. Cougar linebacker Gary McGuire knocked down Toliver’s conversion pass, and Houston celebrated while Moore’s last game at Tech, like so many before it, was a loss.
Kissing Your Sister
The series has had exactly one tie, and it came it 1987, and it came because David Dacus lived through nine Red Raider sacks to lead the Cougars two ten unanswered fourth-quarter points. Superback Kimble Anders scored with under seven minutes to play, and Chip Browndyke booted the tying points with 1:34 to play.
The Snow Bowl
On November 19, 1988, the Cougars traveled to Tech and arrived in a frigid Lubbock, 30 degrees, windy, and snow. Jack Pardee’s run and shoot hadn’t yet faced weather like they met at Jones Stadium that afternoon. Houston won 30-29 on a Jason Phillips touchdown catch. Phillips thought playing in the snow might be fun. “It was. For about five minutes.” Tech led 23-14 in the fourth quarter before the Coogs offense woke up. Phillips caught eleven passes for 157 yards. Tech’s Billy Joe Toliver threw for 363 yards in the loss.
Andre the Giant
In 1989 the 18th ranked Red Raiders traveled to the Dome to take on the 14th ranked Cougars. Eventual Heisman winner Andre Ware put on a show, throwing for 476 yards on 63 attempts as Houston put Tech away in the second half for a 40-24 win.
A Good Old Fashioned Shootout
The 1991 game at the Astrodome got pointsy. David Klingler threw for 533 yards and hopefully iced his arm after his 70 attempts. He also threw six touchdown passes. Tech great Robert Hall was equally impressive with 388 yards passing and 96 yards rushing as Texas Tech held on for a 52-46 win. The two teams combined for 1,320 yards of offense.
In the 1991 game, Tech great Rodney Blackshear caught five passes for 251 yards averaging 50.2 yards a catch. He caught touchdown passes for 95 and 80 yards.
Houston and Tech played the 1993 and 1994 games in the sparkling new Alamodome. Tech won both games by a combined 92-7. Ah, the Kim Helton era. Bam Morris set a SWC single-season rushing mark in the 1993 game.
After the Hiatus
After the fall of the Southwest Conference in 1995, Houston and Tech didn’t play again until 2009 when the Cougars welcomed the Red Raider to Houston. The Cougars held Mike Leach’s offense to one second-half score in a 29-28 win. Case Keenum threw for 435 yards and ran for the game winner with 49 seconds left. Taylor Potts last-ditch effort failed, and Cougar fans rushed the field to celebrate their first ever win over a Big 12 opponent.