until Texas vs Kansas

Wednesday, September 28


Back to the future

On Oct. 27, 2001, Texas beat Missouri, 35-16, in Columbia. The victory set off a chain reaction that nearly led to Texas reaching the Rose Bowl. Three teams in the top five of the BCS lost that day, and that 7-1 Texas team suddenly had legitimate national title hopes. Here’s hoping that this year’s trip to Missouri gets the Horns back on the brink of the national title game. And to hoping that if we make the Big 12 title game, Chris Simms stays far, far away.

For a look back at the wild events of that day, check the comments section below.


COLUMBIA, Mo.--As Texas beat Missouri and avoided the upset bug that bit many high-ranked teams this past weekend, the Horns' path to bowl bliss is quickly being cleared of obstacles.

A 35-16 win over the Tigers signifies “one down, three to go,” as Texas was expected to beat Missouri along with its next three opponents Kansas, Baylor and Texas A&M. Yet losses by Oklahoma, UCLA and Virginia Tech could set up a "three down, two to go" scenario for Texas reaching the Rose Bowl.

Texas players and fans became excited as news of losses by three of the top-five teams in the BCS trickled in. First, Syracuse beat Virginia Tech, then Nebraska ended OU's 20-game win streak. Finally, Stanford held on to beat UCLA, and the net result of those three losses has Texas sitting pretty with three games to play.

“We know we’re in a good position,” quarterback Chris Simms said. “We have to take care of our business, and hopefully we can get the breaks we need so we're where we want to be at the end of the season.”

Mission: Possible

Though a trip to New Orleans and a berth in the Sugar Bowl against a formidable opponent from the Southeast Conference is nothing to complain about, make no mistake Simms and his teammates definitely have Pasadena on their minds.
Such thinking might have been considered absurd just three weeks ago after the Horns lost 14-3 to Oklahoma in what many still consider the one game Texas had to win. But wide receiver Roy Williams declared immediately after the loss that Texas was not out of the national title picture.
Three weeks later, it appears Williams was right. During the Horns' relatively easy win over Missouri, Williams said many on the Texas sideline were keeping track of scores around the nation, well aware of the impact of those loses.

"When I heard the Nebraska score, I was happy. Then, the Virginia Tech score I was a little happier.

The UCLA-Stanford game came as quite a surprise," Williams said. "That's three teams [losing] in the top five of the BCS. We're sliding right up in there."
Williams' glee is understandable.

Assuming Texas finishes 10-1, it is conceivable that the Horns need just a single loss by both Miami and Florida to reach Pasadena.

Nebraska established itself as the nation's best team for the moment with its 20-10 win over the defending champion Sooners. If the Huskers win their final three games, they will be a perfect 12-0 heading to Dallas for the Big 12 title game.

There, OU will likely be waiting for a rematch, as long as it rebounds from the loss to beat Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Texas is tied with OU in the Big 12 South, but its interests are best served by not playing in the Big 12 title game. A team can now win the national title without winning its conference title, similar to college basketball.
Nebraska beating OU again would ensure the Huskers a spot in the Rose Bowl. Conversely, OU exacting revenge would give it a chance to defend its crown.

A 10-1 Texas would be in line to challenge the Big 12 champ in the Rose Bowl should Miami and Florida each lose. Miami, currently undefeated, still has to play Temple, Boston College, Syracuse, Washington and Virginia Tech. One loss would knock the Hurricanes out of Rose Bowl consideration since their Big East schedule is weak, and losses late in the season are far more damaging than early ones.

Florida lost to Auburn earlier this month and is currently behind Texas in the BCS. However, the Gators would most likely pass Texas if they run the table through an extremely tough schedule that still includes South Carolina, Florida State, Tennessee, then probably the SEC title game.

The Gators' schedule makes another loss at least a strong possibility, much stronger than the likelihood of Texas losing to Baylor, Kansas or Texas A&M.
"We know what we have ahead of us. Only we can mess it up," offensive tackle Mike Williams said.

Before the season, most thought Texas' path to Pasadena would have to include a win in the Big 12 title game. But things have changed, mostly because so many top teams have lost before Nov. 1.
Cornerback Quentin Jammer said last week he would rather not play in the Big 12 title game if an absence would not prevent the Horns from reaching the national title game. It's hard to argue with that position.

If Texas played Nebraska for the Big 12 title, it would have to win that game just to get to the Rose Bowl. Then, Texas would have to beat another top-two team to claim the national title. Texas would much rather just have to beat the Nebraska-OU winner in Pasadena to finish No. 1.

Amazing as it sounds, Texas could actually claim the national title without winning the Big 12 South. A lot still has to happen for that opportunity to become a reality, but this weekend proved it's possible.
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