If college football's Heisman Trophy did not belong to Earl Campbell before, it surely does now.
It was Campbell, Campbell, Campbell and more Campbell today as the rambling Texas halfback rolled to a career-best 222 yards and scored four touchdowns as the nation's top-ranked Longhorns buried Texas A&M, 57-28.
The victory, before a Kyle Field record crowd of 57,443, gave Texas the Southwest Conference championship and a perfect (11-0) regular-season record.
The Longhorns play Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2.
Campbell has been battling Terry Miller of Oklahoma State in the Heisman voting and went into today's game needing 160 yards to surpass Miller as the nation's leading rusher. It was a piece of cake.
Campbell finished the season with 1,744 yards rushing, an average of 158.5 yards a game. Miller finished with 1,680 yards, an average of 152.7.
The calm and collected Campbell said he preferred to reserve comment on the Heisman Trophy "until Dec. 8." That is the date the winner is announced.
Almost as remarkable as Campbell's 1,744 yards this season, is his team's 11-0 record. The Longhorns, unranked at the start of the season, had as tough a schedule as anyone, beating national powers Oklahoma and Arkansas.
"They've overcame situations that other teams never have to face," said first-year coach Fred Akera, "like losing our top two quarterbacks and the top kicker in the country. But they didn't complain. Somebody just stood up and said, 'I can kick,' or 'I can pass.'"
The man who did the passing today was Randy McEachern, a third-term redshirt junior at the start of the season. He completed only six of 13 passes and had two intercepted, but he threw for 172 yards and four touchdowns.
One of the scores was a 60-yarder to Campbell.
"I never imagined it would come to this," McEachern said. "If you had told me before the season that I would throw that many touchdown passes in the biggest game of the year, I wouldn't have believed it."
From watching films of Texas A&M, Texas saw that the Aggies' secondary was vulnerable. There isn't much speed back there, yet the Aggies try to play man-to-man most of the time.
That is not good strategy against players like Alfred Jackson and Lam Jones and the Aggies paid for it. Jackson caught two of McEachern's touchdown passes and Jones one, plus another 43-yarder, which set up another Texas touchdown.
"We knew we could throw long on them, so we took the wind at the beginning of the game and put the ball up," McEachern said.
It looked at first, as if that strategy might not work, however, as Texas allowed A&M to run over it on a 70-yard, 11-play touchdown drive on its first possession.
McEachern threw an interception on Texas' first possession.
Then the Longhorns got down to business.
They stopped A&M cold on its next possession and then scored the next five times they had the ball to take a 33-7 lead.
The first score was on the 60-yard pass to Campbell. It came on a third-and-11 situation. McEachern sent his speed burners to the right and then swung Campbell down the left sideline. He was all alone.
Campbell scored on a four-yard run the next time Texas had the ball, then Ham Jones scored on a five-yard run and then two touchdown passes, of nine and 12 yards, to Jackson, and the Aggies were reeling.
A&M got the last score back when Curtis Dickey returned a kickoff 50 yards to the Texas 25, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by George Woodard.
A&M tried the same tactic to start the second half that Texas used to begin the game. Although down, 33-14, the Aggies elected to kick off in order to have the wind at their backs.
It looked fine to begin with as Tony Franklin put the kickoff out of the end zone.
Texas simply gave the ball to Campbell five straight times and he covered 80 yards. The big play was a 59-yard romp off tackle. Campbell scored from the six on the following play.