In a normal world, measured only against a historic in-state rival, Texas should still be celebrating its 49-9 win over Texas A&M.
Except few things are normal in the world of the Bowl Championship Series, certainly not in late November.
A game that was moved back to Thanksgiving this season carried bigger meaning. The goal: making a pre-emptive case for remaining ahead of Oklahoma if the Big 12 South ends in a three-way tie with the Longhorns, Sooners and Texas Tech.
The Texas fans did their part, doing their best to remind an ESPN audience about the win over Oklahoma last month in Dallas.
“45-35” dotted the landscape, from homemade signs to shirts to cars.
“There were a lot of them,” Texas coach Mack Brown said, “and I agree with them.”
As for the Longhorns, they tried to make their case. Will it be enough, especially if Oklahoma takes care of business at Oklahoma State?
We’ll know this weekend.
Brown thought so, even if the Longhorns didn’t bust the Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium scoreboard.
“If it takes 56 points to get somebody to vote for you, folks, we’ve got a bad system,” Brown said. “We sit here and talk all the time about sportsmanship. The NCAA sends out messages about sportsmanship, and then we throw it right out the window when we need to get to a game.”
Brown’s approach included pulling quarterback Colt McCoy early in the fourth quarter.
The performance still gave McCoy’s Heisman candidacy a boost.
In helping Brown record his 200th victory as a college coach, McCoy passed Vince Young as the all-time winningest quarterback in Texas history with 31 victories. This one came thanks to his arm, his legs and his grit.
McCoy finished 23-of-28 for 311 yards, breaking Major Applewhite’s season school record for passing yards. He passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two touchdowns, lights-out numbers that only told part of the story.
McCoy showed toughness in finally beating the Aggies, a team he had struggled against in his previous two starts.
Leading 14-3 late in the second quarter, McCoy then led a textbook two-minute drill. He took a deflating hit to the chest from Von Miller on one completion, forcing Texas into a timeout. He shook off the injury to find Quan Cosby for a 9-yard touchdown pass four plays later with 12 seconds remaining.
“We can’t control any of that,” McCoy said when asked about the BCS. “We wanted to leave it all on the field, and we did.”
The Texas defense did its job, too, under defensive coordinator/head coach designate Will Muschamp. The Longhorns recorded six sacks on A&M quarterbacks Jerrod Johnson and Stephen McGee and held the Aggies to minus-24 yards rushing.
Texas knew it was being measured against a high bar.
The Longhorns entered the game as a 35-point favorite, the biggest betting line in the series since at least 1976, according to college football stats guru Phil Steele.
“There was a tremendous amount of pressure on our guys because A&M had nothing to lose and we had everything in the world to lose,” Brown said.