1963 National Champions
FRONT ROW: Manager Ward, Head Trainer Frank Medina, Clarence Bray, Staley Faulkner, George Brucks, Tommy Ford, Scott Appleton, David McWilliams, Kenneth Halm, Tommy Wade, Jim Besselman, Gordan Roberts.
SECOND ROW: Manager Lane Zunker, Olen Underwood, Ken Ferguson, Tony Crosby, Frank Bedrick, Bo Price, Clayton Lacey, Ben House, Hix Green, Charles Buckalew, Bobby Frank Gamblin, Asst. Coach Charley Shira, Manager Roy Jones.
THIRD ROW: Asst. Coach Art Davis, Asst. Coach Russell Coffee, Asst. Coach Mike Campbell, Asst. Coach Bill Ellington, Asst. Coach Bob Schulze, Joe Dixon, Mike King, Harold Philipp, Phil Harris, Kim Gaynor, Rodney Kelley, Thomas Mankin, Marvin Kristynik, Jack Howe, Tom Currie, Head Coach Darrell Royal, Trainer Joe Street, Manager Bill Vogt, Asst. Coach Jim Pittman.
BACK ROW: Timmy Doerr, Lee Hensley, Tom Stockton, Michael Riggs, Duke Carlisle, Jim Hudson, Knox Nunnally, Charles Talbert, Stan Mauldin, Barney Giles, Tommy Nobis, Pete Lammons, Anthony King, George Sauer.
Following two seasons that saw Texas flirt with its first National Championship, the Longhorns opened the 1963 campaign as the No. 1 team in the nation according to Sports Illustrated and Street & Smith's Football Yearbook. The Associated Press did not agree and forced UT to work its way up the ladder with a preseason No. 5 ranking.
After a pair of decisive season-opening wins at Tulane (21-0) and against Texas Tech (49-7), UT rapidly climbed into The AP Poll's No. 2 spot. Texas held that position after a 34-7 win against Oklahoma State and that set the stage for a battle for the nation's top spot in the annual rivalry with No. 1 Oklahoma, in Dallas.
A convincing 28-7 win against the Sooners rocketed the Longhorns to No. 1 and they maintained their ranking through the remainder of the regular season. It wasn't all easy though. In their first week at No. 1, UT nearly blew a 17-0 halftime lead in a 17-13 win at Arkansas and got another scare in a 7-0 win against Baylor later on in Austin.
In the biggest play of the season, Duke Carlisle made a sensational leaping interception of what looked like a sure last-minute, game-tying Baylor touchdown pass. With 29 seconds remaining in the game and Baylor at UT's 19-yard line, Bears quarterback Don Trull was looking at his favorite target, Lawrence Elkins, who was running a post pattern. Elkins had eluded UT's Joe Dixon and looked to be wide open as he approached the goal line before Carlisle, who had covered nearly 15 yards since the ball left Trull's hand, made the miraculous play.
"Thank you, Duke. You saved my life," Dixon said to Carlisle after the game-saving catch.
The Longhorns avoided another upset attempt in a 15-13 victory at Texas A&M, scoring the winning touchdown on a Carlisle 1-yard plunge with 1:19 remaining in the game. UT entered the fourth quarter trailing 13-3 before putting the finishing touches on the victory.
Since there was no Associated Press postseason poll, Texas went into its Cotton Bowl matchup against No. 2 Navy with The AP national title already secured, but the Football Writers Association and the Helms Foundation withheld naming a National Champion until after the game. The Midshipmen were expected to provide quite a test behind the multi-talented skills of junior quarterback Roger Staubach, who had claimed the Heisman Trophy during the season.
The national TV pregame introductions produced a surprise and a challenge. When he was introduced, Midshipmen head coach Wayne Hardin said pointedly, "When the challenger meets the champion and the challenger wins, then there's a new champion." This seemed to raise Darrell Royal's hackles and he replied grimly, "We're ready."
Texas jumped out to a quick 21-0 halftime lead, and behind standout defenders Tommy Nobis and Scott Appleton, frustrated the scrambling Staubach. In the meantime, the Longhorns flourished behind a memorable performance by Carlisle, who was voted the outstanding back of the game. He connected with Phil Harris on 58-yard and 63-yard scoring tosses while rolling up 213 passing yards and 267 total yards on the day. UT secured a consensus National Championship with a decisive 28-6.
"I've never seen a team which deserved to be No. 1 more than Texas," Hardin said after the game. "Texas was just the best we've played, that's all. Staubach didn't play as well as usual, but I imagine Texas had a lot to do with that."
Appleton earned consensus All-America and All-Southwest Conference honors, running back Tommy Ford rushed for 738 yards and earned All-America and All-SWC recognition, Nobis was a consensus All-SWC pick and the American Football Coaches Association tabbed Royal its Coach of the Year. Appleton, Ford and center David McWilliams served as captains for the Longhorns, who finished with a perfect 11-0 record and 7-0 mark in SWC play.