October 19, 2008

Texas leaves little doubt about No. 1


AUSTIN - So much for a letdown, the SI jinx, Heisman Trophy hypnosis, any complacency or shoulder chips belonging to Chase Daniel. These are the Lunchpail Longhorns after all. And they are throwing their Thermos at all comers.

National voters watched one of the most dominant halves of football this season on the way to a 56-31 pileup on national television and looked it at one of two ways: Is Missouri that bad? Or is Texas that good?

THINKING BIG

"Texas is good," said Orange Bowl president and CEO Danny Ponce, who will host the BCS national title game. "We had Texas and Alabama for the national championship in 1964 for the 1963 season. Tommy Nobis stopped Joe Namath on the goal line."

Just then, Edith Royal, wife of Darrell Royal, walked by Ponce and two other members of the Orange Bowl committee wearing snazzy Tropicana-colored sports jackets, including past president Bob Epling.

"Tell Coach Royal I'm giving him one more chance to get to our game on Jan. 8," Epling said. Edith Royal smiled, and said, "I'll tell him."

Folks, that's where some minds are racing: to hotel plans in South Beach the first week of January. Anyone checked airfares?

UT SHOWING UP BIG 12

Texas was so dominant in grabbing a 35-0 lead with 41 seconds left in the second quarter, one national writer based in SEC country said, "Texas is a mirage. The Big 12 is totally overrated. This conference doesn't play any defense."

Missouri may be a paper tiger. You be the judge of those wins over Illinois and Kansas last year and the Illinois victory this year. Did Oklahoma's late pull away from Kansas in a 45-31 win Saturday diminish the Sooners?

"The Big 12 isn't overrated," said Texas defensive tackle Aaron Lewis. "Look at the offenses on these teams. Oklahoma and Missouri have put up legitimate numbers."

If the Longhorns aren't going to let up against Mizzou, one week after one of the best, most physically and emotionally taxing Texas-OU games on record, how is anyone going to believe that Mike Gundy and Co. are going to come to Austin and drag Muschamp's Maulers up and down the field.

NEED TO FINISH BETTER

Will Muschamp was so angry with linebacker Rashad Bobino after Mizzou scored its 17th point in the third quarter, it appeared Muschamp might eat him. After Daniel ran in from 1 yard out for Mizzou's fourth touchdown of the second half, Muschamp chewed out freshman safety Nolan Brewster.

"I don't want to watch the film tomorrow," said defensive tackle Roy Miller, who set the tone Saturday by stuffing Jeremy Maclin for a 7-yard loss on Missouri's first play. "Coach Muschamp isn't going to be happy with our performance."

Even though it was second- and third-team defenders giving up 201 yards passing and Texas' first and second rushing touchdowns of the season (Texas was the only team in Division I-A not to give up a rushing TD heading into Saturday's game), Muschamp was fuming.

Asked what he learned about his team after the game, Muschamp said, "We've got to finish better."

Of course, when Brian Orakpo pressured Chase Daniel into a desperate throw picked off by Ryan Palmer early in the fourth quarter, Muschamp ran down the sideline to grab Orakpo in a bear hug. Duane Akina nearly tackled Palmer in celebration.

The interception led to a 1-yard TD plunge by Cody Johnson that put Texas up, 49-17. At that point, the backups came in and the only thing left to ponder was what stunt Mack Brown would dream up this week to keep his team's focus.

WHAT WILL MACK DO NEXT?

Last week, it was a burial of the OU game ball at Frank Denius Field. Then, everyone drank some Crimson Kool-Aid to signify digesting the Sooners. Finally, Mack bought a bunch of Tiger key chains and Tiger piņatas and brought them to practice to keep his players minds on Mizzou.

What's next? Cowboys on horseback at practice this week?

"I really believe it was the kids who did it," Mack Brown said. "It wasn't the toys. All we were doing was try to get their attention. They were the ones who had to be focused and ready to play. The coaches did a great job, but those kids didn't read all the stuff. And they were talking about Oklahoma State in the dressing room. So far, they've answered every bell."

After such a thrashing, who is going to believe Tim Beckman, OSU's defensive coordinator who learned at the hand of Ohio State's Jim Tressel, can somehow knock Colt McCoy off rhythm?

THE REAL MCCOY

McCoy finished 29 of 32 passing (90.6 percent) for 337 yards and two touchdowns, including a school-record 17 straight completions. He added 11 carries for 23 yards and TD runs of 6 and 2 yards. To prove that his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week meant nothing, McCoy threw it in the trash in front of his teammates.

"I don't know that he can play any better, so he just needs to continue to be a who he is," Brown said of his junior quarterback, who passed Vince Young's record of 81 total touchdowns with 82. "He's showing fantastic leadership. He's poised. He's not into all the hype. It's not affecting him at all. I don't think he's looking at any of it. In fact, I told him I would keep some of it for him so he can look at it in the spring. I've never seen him this settled and confident."

When McCoy rolled left, dribbled the ball off his feet, picked it up and hit Quan Cosby for 23 yards to the Missouri 36 in the second quarter, it recalled Matt Nordgren dribbling the ball down the field on a 2005 touchdown drive at Baylor. In what appears to be a special season like this one, the balls take good bounces.

"We are supposed to yell at him for not falling on (the ball)," Brown said. "But why yell at him when he made another first down?

GOOD BOUNCES

It looked like Chris Ogbonnaya had the first lost fumble by a running back this season in the first quarter, but Michael Huey recovered it at the Missouri 26. Good bounces. And as Missouri defensive end Tommy Chavis of Orange (one of 28 Texans on the Mizzou roster) limped to the sideline with 57 seconds in the third quarter with a left knee injury, not to return, it reminded that Texas has overcome its injury issues.

No Blaine Irby. So far, no problem. Just line up Jordan Shipley flexed off the tackle on trips right and let him work the middle of the field like a tight end would. Texas did it against OU and again against Mizzou. The Tigers had no answer.

PINKEL IMPRESSED

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed in how we played," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. "But I'd like to give credit to Texas. They were playing outstanding. Colt McCoy - his execution was as good to me as I've ever seen. What a great football team they are.

"I'm disappointed, but again, I'm not going to devalue what Colt McCoy was doing. We've got to play better defense. There's no question about it. I'm disappointed. But I'm telling you, there's no way I'm going to devalue what McCoy did. That's not fair to him."

The loss left Missouri players hoping for a rematch with Texas in the Big 12 title game Dec. 6 in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

AIMING FOR A REMATCH

"That's a Cinderella story right there," said Maclin, who had 197 all-purpose yards (eight catches for 66 yards and 132 yards on five kick returns). "Obviously, we have to take care of our business to get there and they (Texas) definitely have to get through a tough stretch to get there. But we want to get to Kansas City."

Chase Daniel was 31 of 41 passing for 318 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked twice (by Sergio Kindle and Jared Norton). Muschamp sent ends Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle on numerous stunts to get them pressuring between the guard and center instead of having to navigate Mizzou's wide line splits outside the tackles.

GETTING PRESSURE

"We carried more front stuff than we have all season to try to gain some matchups," Muschamp said.

Brown told his team all week the pressure was on Missouri because the Tigers had just lost (to Oklahoma State). Daniel said he felt no added pressure to play well in his home state.

"I played as loose as possible," Daniel said. "There was no pressure with me at all. It's great to play Texas. It's great to play against my great buddy, Colt McCoy. It doesn't get better than this. The only thing better would be to win."

HOMECOMING RUINED

Daniel was surprised by the lopsided nature of the game.

"It's something we don't want to have very much," he said. "Texas is a great team. They came out and proved they're the No. 1 team in the nation."

For Texas, there were signs the top-ranked Longhorns were improving - and it wasn't just because ESPN's Game Day as well as Derek Jeter and his girlfriend, Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly, were on the sideline with Roger Clemens.

YOUNG PLAYERS EMERGE

Some of Texas' young players emerged in this game. Brandon Collins caught six passes for 76 yards, none bigger than a 38-yard catch and run on third-and-6 from the Texas 22 in the first quarter. The play fueled a TD drive capped by a 9-yard run by Ogbonnaya that put UT up, 14-0.

Malcolm Williams and Dan Buckner also had highlight catches for touchdowns. Williams used all of the reach on his 6-foot-3 frame to grab a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11:58 left in the second quarter sandwiched between Missouri safeties William Moore and Justin Garrett. Buckner covered 51 yards on a pass from John Chiles with 5:03 left in the game.

"If the young receivers can keep stepping up like that, we're going to be pretty tough to stop," said Jordan Shipley, who led Texas with eight catches for 89 yards, including a 13-yard TD strike from McCoy that put the Longhorns up, 35-0, in the second quarter.

NEW ADDITIONS TO GROUND GAME

Ogbonnaya was his usual, tough, steady, dependable, grinding self with 13 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns. He made people miss and lowered his shoulder into defenders, while averaging 5.0 yards per carry. But one of the big storylines from Saturday was the team's young running backs playing with confidence.

Vondrell McGee had his best game of the season with six carries for 58 yards (9.7 ypc), and Foswhitt Whittaker broke off two 10-yard runs late in the game.

"The guys in our room are young, and it would be easy for them to get complacent," Ogbonnaya said. "But I think you saw our young backs show a lot tonight, and that's because they are working so hard in practice.

"We're a blue-collar team," Ogbonnaya said. "We want to be as good as we can be."

NOTES: UT is 21-4 (.840) in its last 25 games versus Top 25 opponents and is 15-2 (.882) in its last 17. … Texas has scored 50 or more points in its last five games at Royal-Memorial Stadium. … John Chiles' 51 yards passing (on a single throw) was a career high. His previous was 12 yards against UTEP. … Quan Cosby caught a pass in his 38th straight game, second only to Roy Williams' record streak of 47 games (2000-03). … With 73 kickoff return yards Saturday night, Cosby set the school record with 1,627, passing Mike Adams (1,591). … Cody Johnson extended his UT freshman record by rushing for a TD in each of his first seven games. The school record is a rushing TD in 11 straight games shared by Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Byron Townsend. … McCoy's 17 straight pass completions broke the school record of 15 set by Vince Young in 2005 and tied by McCoy in 2006. … McCoy was 9-of-9 passing for 131 yards and two TDs in the second quarter. … McCoy has thrown a TD in 11 straight games. The school record is 19 straight games held by Major Applewhite. … McCoy's 337 passing yards were nine shy of his career high of 346 against Oklahoma State in 2006. … Jordan Shipley tied a school record with a TD catch in his seventh straight game - a mark set by Limas Sweed in 2006. … UT's crowd of 98,383 was the largest in school history and its 50th straight sellout. … LB Roddrick Muckelroy led Texas with nine tackles, followed by S Blake Gideon with seven.


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