DALLAS- Cotton Bowl officials knew what they were doing when they
opted for Texas over Kansas State for their bowl. The Longhorns had
Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, now a local legend after an
amazing season, including a huge day in their building early in the
season against Oklahoma.
What a more fitting place to end his career than in the home field of
his idol, Doak Walker. Williams rushed 30 times for 203 yards and scored
two touchdowns as the No. 20 Texas Longhorns beat No. 25 Mississippi
State 38-11. He punctuated his performance by finally striking the
Heisman pose. The NCAA's career rushing leader got some running room
after redshirt freshman quarterback Major Applewhite burned the blitzing
Bulldogs for three touchdown passes in Texas' first Cotton Bowl victory
Heisman winner Williams, who thrived in the foggy, rainy conditions
before a sellout 72,611 fans, scored on a 37-yard touchdown run in the
third quarter (video). Upon reaching the end
zone, he froze into the famous stiff-armed pose seen atop the Heisman
trophy. "It was something the guys were trying to get me to do all year
but I wanted to win the Heisman first," Williams said. "We had a big
lead and I knew the penalty wouldn't hurt us."
Williams scored again on a 2-yard third-period run against the tiring
Mississippi State defense and finished with a school bowl-record rushing
yardage (video). The Texas rushing record
for a bowl game was 164 by Eddie Phillips against Notre Dame in 1971.
"State had a tough defense but we had a size advantage on them,"
Williams said. "The offensive line did a good job of handling the crazy
blitzes and Major and Wane [McGarity] kept them honest with the passing
Williams, who set 16 NCAA records during his career, had 248 all-purpose
yards. He caught five passes for 45 yards and his rushing total was the
third-highest in Cotton Bowl history. "It was a lot of fun for me to
watch our offense and defense play like they did," Williams said. "I was
glad I came back for my senior year." The game was dedicated to the late
Doak Walker and Williams noted, "my first touchdown run was his old
number, No. 37. That run was for him."
The Bulldogs hounded Williams' every step, but they were forced to pay
for their blitzes by Applewhite, who hit two touchdown passes in the
first half for a 14-3 lead. Applewhite, noting the Bulldogs' jamming at
the line of scrimmage, twice hit McGarity for touchdown passes on plays
of 59 and 52 yards, victimizing cornerback Kendall Roberson both times.
McGarity capped off a 97-yard drive with his first touchdown reception
in the first quarter as he slipped behind Roberson. In the second
period, McGarity caught a short pass, shook off Roberson's tackle and
sprinted the rest of the way for the score (video).
"Major did an outstanding job handling all the blitzes," said Texas
coach Mack Brown. "He did threw the ball where it was supposed to be. He
throws the deep ball well."
McGarity did his part. "We worked to perfection today," he said. "Major
did a great job of getting some air under the ball." "Nobody has covered
McGarity one-on-one this year," Brown said. Applewhite said he knew the
Bulldogs would be blitzing on almost every down. "We thought they would
bring everything they had and if we picked it up we could do what we
wanted to do," Applewhite said. "Ricky was amazing as usual."
Brown said it was a typical Williams performance. "The rumor was he was
fat," said Brown, "but I don't think he was out of shape at all. He
looked pretty good to me." Williams joked, "I came up here this morning
hoping my pants would fit and they did."
MSU coach Jackie Sherrill said of Williams: "We knew we had to tackle
well or it would be a long day. Applewhite also hurt us with some of his
throws. He did a great job of throwing the deep ball."
Bulldogs linebacker Barrin Simpson said Williams lived up to his
billing. "With a great back like Williams you can't make many mistakes,"
Mississippi State scored on a 39-yard field goal by Brian Hazelwood, who
also had a 41-yard attempt blocked by Aaron Humphrey on the final play
of the first half. The Bulldogs lost their top receiver and kick
returner, Kevin Prentiss, with an elbow injury in the first half and he
Texas scored 24 points in the third period. Williams scored twice and
Applewhite hit Kwame Cavil with an 18-yard TD pass. Kris Stockton kicked
a 47-yard field goal. Applewhite completed 15 of 26 for 225 yards.
The Bulldogs scored in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass from Matt
Wyatt to Lahitia Grant. James Johnson rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries
for Mississippi State.
No. 25 Mississippi State (8-5) was playing in its first Cotton Bowl
game. Sherrill had two previous Cotton Bowl winners at Texas A&M. In its
first year under Brown, No. 20 Texas (9-3) won the Cotton Bowl for the
first time since beating Alabama 17 years ago. Williams was named the
offensive MVP and Texas linebacker Aaron Babino was the defensive MVP.
UT- McGarity 59 pass from Applewhite (Stockton kick)
UT- McGarity 52 pass from Applewhite (Stockton kick)
MSU- FG Hazelwood 39
UT- Williams 37 run (Stockton kick)
UT- FG Stockton 47
UT- Williams 2 run (Stockton kick)
UT- Cavil 18 pass from Applewhite (Stockton kick)
MSU- Grant 5 pass from Wyatt (Johnson run)
MSU- Johnson 22-112
UT- Williams 30-203, H Mitchell 7-26, R Brown 3-15
MSU- Wyatt 12-24-156, Madkin 4-16-49
UT- Applewhite 15-26-225
MSU- Grant 4-62, K Cooper 4-38, Love 2-33, Kelly 2-14, Johnson 1-22, D
UT- McGarity 4-132, Williams 5-45, Cavil 3-31, D Lewis 2-26