On to Pasadena

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Things are coming up orange roses.

(I'm just glad I didn't have to use any of those dead rose photos
I found last night during the last minute of the game...)

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Even the Austin American-Statesman didn't believe the Horns would win. At 10:42pm my Google alert from the esteemed paper had the following headline: Horns fall in close, defensive Big 12 championship.

Revised version at 10:51pm. Horns win a nailbiter.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers stormed the field in a victory celebration, thinking they had upset third-ranked Texas in the Big 12 championship football game.

But wait a second. Literally.

For a second, it appeared the Longhorns' undefeated season and championship dreams had ended on Colt McCoy's incomplete pass that sailed out of bounds at Cowboys Stadium. But after a replay review, referee Tom Walker made the announcement that changed everything: Please put one second back on the scoreboard clock.

A second was all the Longhorns needed.

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The next stop is Pasadena.

Mack Brown was asked how Saturday's game would be remembered.

"I think in Lincoln, it will be the clock," Brown said. "And in Austin, it'll be the comeback."

But the replay official, taking little time to review, gave Texas perhaps the most spectacular second in school history because it gave the Longhorns the opportunity to go to California to play Alabama in the Bowl Championship Series game Jan. 7 in Pasadena's Rose Bowl.

Only a massive voter revolt can keep us out of California in January.

because of voter uncertainty over which team actually deserves to move ahead of the Longhorns.

"Texas may not be the unanimous No. 2 in the polls. TCU will get some votes, Cincinnati will too, but there's no reason to think Texas won't be No. 2," Palm said. "I'm not sure I would vote Texas No. 2 but I think most people will."

For Texas not to finish No. 2 there would have to be what Palm called, "massive voter revolt."

Cincy and TCU can just forget about it. They are not going to Pasadena. And there is no Big 12 conspiracy against Nebraska.

Nebraska fans can't blame the extra one second in the Big 12 title game on a league plot. The Big 12 stood to gain about $8 million had the Cornhuskers won, because they would have earned the Big 12 a second BCS bid. Nebraska would have gone to the Fiesta Bowl; Texas to either the Sugar or Orange.

And no, there will not be a Sunday night surprise.

Unless someone hacks into the six BCS computer programs or enough of the 173 combined Harris and coaches' poll voters flip their ballots, Sunday night's BCS selection show will be as exciting as Ken Burns' newest documentary: "Cardboard Boxes -- The Early Years."

Alabama will play Texas for the BCS national championship on Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl. This we know. We know this because Bama left elephant hoof prints on Florida in Saturday's SEC title game. And later Saturday night, Texas beat, if you can call it that, Nebraska in the Big 12 championship. How, I have no idea.

The Horns continue to amaze everyone.

Colt McCoy wasn't worried about that whole clock thingy.

When we got the play call in there, it was 15 seconds left. So I wasn't worried about it. If I would have gotten the edge, I would have run for a couple, gotten Hunter in the middle and called timeout. We ran an up-and-out with (Jordan) Shipley, and they have safety over the top D, and I just threw it away. I wasn't worried about the clock. I figured we'd have one or two seconds left. When I saw everybody rushing the field I thought, there's no way. We've got one or two seconds left. It was close, but at the same time I was just trying to get back in the middle.

This tough game just might have helped the Horns.

The Horns will look back on this game as one that made them stronger, but stronger is one thing: better than Alabama is another. The anemic offense will be tested next month by a Tide front seven that handled the Florida Gators with ease. Before Saturday, I would have made Texas a five- to six-point favorite over Alabama but Saturday's events will likely have the Tide installed as a field-goal favorite in Pasadena.

The Longhorns aren't concerned with point spreads and prognostications. The only thing that matters is they're playing in the game.

Hunter Lawrence's name will be remembered.

His 46-yard field goal as time expired boosted Texas into the BCS national championship game with a 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.

"I was just trying to stay focused and not get too nervous," Lawrence said. "It was a great feeling when it finally went through."

The Horns have the Richard Justice stamp of approval.

Winning ugly is still winning. Texas is 13-0. If you’re thinking Texas had no business winning, you’re dead wrong. Texas found a way to win, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

"We’ll see you in Pasadena,’’ Brown told the Texas fans who stayed around to celebrate and perhaps to digest what they’d seen.

Good thing he got that part about going to Pasadena out of the way because there might be some doubt, especially among TCU fans. Yet Texas almost certainly did enough to play for its second national championship in five years.

"These guys know how to win,’’ Brown said. "They’ve got tremendous character. They never give up.’’

Texas should realize that this season has just been an exercise in futility. There is no way the Horns can beat Alabama...

Ohhhhh. We're scared. Alabama's win should send shivers up the Horns' spines.

"We didn't come here looking for a moral victory," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "We had a team meeting right before we started the offseason program back in February that we showed a picture to the players of [last year's] SEC Championship. We said we would have some difficult times, but that we had to work to beat the best team in our league. And right now, the best team in our league is [Florida]."

Or at least, it was.

Now, that title belongs to the Tide, who will turn their attention to an even bigger prize, one the three previous SEC champions (Florida in 2006 and 2008, LSU in 2007) all achieved: the BCS championship. After Saturday's performance, they'll assuredly enter the game as prohibitive favorites.

The boys over at College Football News just keep pumping out great writing and analysis.

Finally, America will start naming their kids Ndamukong after a brilliant, all-timer of a performance, but lost in Suh's 12-tackle, 4.5-sack, seven-tackles-for-loss game, the Hunter Lawrence gut-check game-winning field goal, and all the controversy about TCU, Cincinnati, and the flickering one-second put-back on the clock because of Colt McCoy's lackadaisical effort in the final moments was the other side of the 2009 Big 12 championship: The Texas defense.

Ivan Maisel with a brilliant analogy: Mack Brown and ice skating.

Texas coach Mack Brown spins so well that if he owned ice skates, he'd be favored to medal in Vancouver. Maybe when the disbelief evaporates and my jaw returns to its upright position, I'll return to thinking that the Longhorns deserve to play in the BCS National Championship Game. But the slapstick finish to the Nebraska game, coupled with the inability to put mediocre Texas A&M away the week before, are reason enough to believe that the wrong team from Texas will play Alabama.

The Horns did not deserve a second chance.

The voters should do what the Big 12 game officials didn't have the guts to do.
That is, put Texas Christian (or Cincinnati, for that matter) into the BCS national championship game.

It's too bad it won't happen. The referees have an excuse: They work for the Big 12 Conference, which desperately needed Texas to avoid an upset by Nebraska.

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Feel a little stupid today, Pete?

Best story today. This one will make you tear up.

Watching Colt McCoy win is special for Patina and Ken Herrington.

Patina and Ken Herrington brought enough emotions to the Big 12 Championship game to fill a thousand football fields. Ken Herrington, 63, was the man Colt McCoy and his father, Brad, helped to rescue on a spring night in 2006 after Herrington suffered a series of seizures on a lake dock in Graham.

McCoy and his father swam across the lake when they heard Herrington's wife, Patina, screaming in the dark. McCoy guided medical personnel down a steep hill to the dock, then helped carry Herrington up the hill to the ambulance. The Herringtons now feel a profound kinship to McCoy.

They attend Texas games as much as they can. But Ken Herrington still deals with seizures. They affect his speech.

He struggled Saturday to describe what McCoy means to him.

He touched his chest.

"You love him," Patina said. "I know. It's a good feeling."

And another little known fact about Colt McCoy. He does not watch TV.

"He does not watch TV. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. I ask him questions to set him up and see if he's seen it. ... I've been in [offensive coordinator] Greg Davis' office when Colt walked in and SportsCenter was on and Colt would say, 'Coach, do you mind turning it off?' He just wants to play."

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The Cornhuskers return home defeated. Bo Pelini The whole Pelini family was not happy.

"I want to see Walt Anderson right now!" Nebraska coach Bo Pelini screamed, 
referencing the Big 12's coordinator of football officials.

The Cornhuskers were left with anger and confusion.

Carl Pelini marched off the field, advanced a few steps into the dark tunnel. Then he turned back toward the euphoric Texas celebration at midfield.

His emotions burst.

"You should be ashamed to accept that trophy!" the NU defensive coordinator yelled, pointing at the Longhorns.

"You outta be ashamed to accept that trophy!" he screamed again, then again.

A one man destruction crew. Suh played an incredible game.

The senior defensive end saved his best performance for the season's biggest stage, finishing with 12 tackles, 4½ sacks and seven tackles for losses.

He drove Texas senior Colt McCoy to the turf. He flung McCoy aside as if the 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback were weightless. He made the night miserable for McCoy.

And really, nobody seemed happier to be speaking at an interview table with reporters than McCoy after the game.

"I'm glad I'm sitting up here," he said, "because I'm not getting hit."

Nebraska will really hate us now.

Well, ain't that a kick through the uprights.

One minute you're screaming and hugging and stampeding the field looking for the Big 12 championship trophy. The next minute, er, second, you're on your knees in pain looking for the clock keeper at Cowboys Stadium.

Texas found a new way to beat Nebraska. And this one took the cake, not to mention the Big 12 championship.

 

I leave you with The Village People.


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