Originally posted on No 2 Minute Warning  |  Last updated 4/8/13
Don Draper missed one heck of a moment in college football history. I’m a big fan of the show Mad Men, which aired the latest season premiere Sunday night. In the episode we see our favorite ad man Don Draper share an elevator ride with someone who works in his office that he barely recognizes. It turns out this employee of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Bob Benson in accounts, is able to get tickets to the 1968 Cotton Bowl between Alabama and Texas A&M. Benson appears to admire Don’s work and wants to try and emulate his success. This will surely be a story that develops throughout the season now that Peggy Olsen has moved on to bigger and better things after years as Don’s upcoming apprentice of sorts. Don appears to have little time to waste on sports throughout the series. It just doesn’t seem like his thing. Don would rather be smoking a cigarette, sipping on an Old Fashion (neat) and either coming up with new ad campaigns on a napkin or scoping out his latest woman to fancy, when his eye somehow wanders away from his lovely wife and aspiring actress Megan. So, what game did Don miss out on? One of the greats. The 1968 Cotton Bowl was the classic example of the student one-upping the teacher. Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant was going up against one of his former players when he coached Texas A&M, Gene Stallings. The Crimson Tide were ranked eighth in the nation heading in to the game and were a decided favorite against the streaking Aggies from Texas A&M. It was the Aggies who came up with the big plays to upset the SEC’s Crimson Tide, 20-16. Texas A&M took advantage of a handful of Alabama mistakes, forcing the Bear to be proud of his former pupil, so much to the point where Bryant actually carried Stallings around the field for a brief moment after the game, as if showing off his proud work. “He sure is strong isn’t he?” joked Stallings after being let down by his former coach and mentor. Texas A&M had won the game by playing a very similar style to Alabama’s, which should be expected with Stallings at the helm. Texas A&M had opened the 1967 season with four straight losses to SMU, Purdue, LSU and Florida State but the Aggies turned things around in a big way. Texas A&M finished the regular season with six consecutive wins, including victories over TCU (20-0), Arkansas (33-21) and Texas (10-7) in Southwest Conference play. The six-game winning streak threw the Aggies in to a postseason game for the first time since the 1957, when Bryant led the Aggies to the Gator Bowl. The tone was set early by Alabama, stopping Texas A&M on a fourth down and driving 80 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, but the Aggies struck back to even things up when Edd Hargett completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Larry Stegent three minutes later. Alabama only had ten men on the field on a play earlier in the drive to help set up the touchdown. The Tide took a 10-7 lead with an early field goal in the second quarter but Texas A&M would take a lead in to halftime after taking advantage of one of those Alabama miscues. Texas A&M’s Jim Piper recovered an Alabama football near midfield in A&M territory and the Aggie offense took advantage once again. Hargett connected on a late touchdown pass to Tommy Maxwell from seven yards out with just 16 seconds remaining in the first half. Texas A&M would not give up the lead. In the third quarter Texas A&M’s Wendell Housley padded the lead by bowling over three different Alabama defenders for a 20-yard touchdown run. Alabama responded with an 83-yard touchdown drive on the next possession but would get no closer as the defenses for each kept the opposition off the scoreboard. Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler, who had run for a pair of touchdowns earlier in the game, led the Crimson Tide on a late threat, aided by a holding call against the Aggies but as soon as Alabama entered Texas A&M territory things started to go sour for the Crimson Tide. Stabler threw three straight incomplete passes on first down from the Texas A&M 35-yard line and a fourth down pass was completed for just six yards to turn possession over to the Aggies. Texas A&M would manage to run out the clock to pick up their first Cotton Bowl victory in 27 years. Alabama turned the football over five times, with two fumbles and three interceptions. Texas A&M lost the football on the chilly day just once. Because of the turnover differential, Texas A&M was able to overcome being out-gained by Alabama 314-257 in net yardage. Yes Don, you missed one heck of a game. One that continues to live on as one of the greatest games in Texas A&M history.
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