Seven different entities named a National Champion following the 1964 college football season, but only the Arkansas Razorbacks rightfully deserved to wear the crown.
Frank Broyles and his Arkansas Razorbacks opened the 1964 season with complete domination over the state of Texas. After a 4-0 start that included wins over TCU and Baylor, the Hogs marched into Austin and promptly upset the No. 1 ranked Longhorns, 14-13. It was a game widely believed to be one of the biggest in the history of the Arkansas Razorbacks football program and one that helped define the old Southwestern Conference rivalry with Texas.
“Alabama would go on to lose…leaving the 11-0 Arkansas Razorbacks as the only unbeaten team in the country.”
Led by tenacious linebacker Ronnie Caveness, the Arkansas Razorbacks’ defense promptly shut out every remaining opponent of the 1964 season. Caveness led Arkansas with 155 tackles for the season and was the only Hog named to the 1964 All-America First Team. The Razorbacks ran wild with wins over: Wichita State, Texas A&M, Rice, SMU and Texas Tech, combining to outscore each 116-0. The five consecutive shutouts tied a school record that remains today.
Heading into the final week of the 1964 regular season, Notre Dame, Alabama and Arkansas were each unbeaten and respectively ranked atop of the Associated Press poll. The Irish went on to lose to USC in week 10, leaving Alabama ranked No. 1 and Arkansas No. 2. The Associated Press crowned Alabama the National Champions on November 30th, 1964. The UPI (Coaches’) Poll followed suit and also crowned Alabama No. 1 before the start of the bowl season. Both polls closing before bowl games created National Championship controversy that is still widely debated today.
The Arkansas Razorbacks defeated No. 7 Nebraska, 10-7, in the 1964 Cotton Bowl. A standing room only crowd looked on as the Razorbacks and Huskers exchanged defensive blows for more than three quarters. Down 7-3 late, Hogs’ quarterback Fred Marshall took over the 4th quarter and led Arkansas on an 80-yard drive. Running back Billy Burnett caught 3-yard pass from Marshall with little time left on the clock, scampering across the goal line for the game’s final score. Alabama would go on to lose to No. 5 Texas in the Orange Bowl leaving the 11-0 Arkansas Razorbacks as the only unbeaten team in the country.
The Football Writers Association of America recognized the Arkansas Razorbacks as Champions of 1964. The national title remains the only in program history and 50 years later is still very much celebrated by all of Wooo Pig Sooie Nation. Tomorrow afternoon all of Fayetteville will “call the Hogs” as we honor the 1964 Arkansas Razorbacks football team.