Well, well, well... We've been down THIS road before. Win the Big 12 championship game against Colorado and we earn a trip to the national title game! Travis has already chronicled how that went the last time around, so we'll avoid reopening that wound again.
But realistically, this is a much different scenario from last time around. For one thing, Colorado isn't coming off a 62-36 thrashing of Nebraska, as they were in 2001. Rather, the Buffs enter the Big 12 championship game on the heels of an embarrassing loss to Nebraska that has even their most rabid fans weary about another showdown with the Horns.
The spirits are so low among Buff fans, in fact, that this Colorado fan site had this to say after last Friday's Nebraska nightmare:
UPDATE: The nightmare continues in Texas next week.
They don't sound terribly confident, now do they?
Meanwhile, the Horns are coming off of a bit of a down game themselves. Texas managed to win at A&M last Friday, but it was the Horns worst performance--on both sides of the ball--all year.
I guess the only real question here is how Texas handles the pressure of this game. Colorado is playing with absolutely no pressure: no one expects them to win, no one expects them to even keep it close, and a loss doesn't exactly kill them in the bowls. Worst case scenario--they get blown out by Texas and play in the Smelly Toilet Bowl instead of the Semi-Recently Cleaned Toilet Bowl. Who cares, right?
On the other side, I don't think I have to tell you what's at stake for Mack Brown and Texas. It's easy to forget in the middle of this magical season that our beloved Mack Brown has never (at any school he's coached at) won a conference championship. Some say that Mack got the monkey off his back when he beat OU. Not so. While I'm certain he was thrilled, he beat OU in his first year at Texas. What he really needs is a conference championship.
Saturday's game will be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Considering the miserable performance of Colorado of late, it's doubtful that an overwhelming number of Buffalo fans are going to fork over a lot of money to travel to the game; not when everyone, fans included, expects them to get throttled. So the game will be played at a "neutral" site in name only. I expect fully 80 percent of the fans in attendance to be clad in Burnt Orange.
As for the game itself, Colorado actually has a decent run defense. In the first meeting they dared Vince to beat them through the air, though of course that strategy was disastrous. (Not that there are any easy strategies for slowing down Texas.) After the game, Colorado head coach Gary Barnett had this to say about Vince Young:
"He completed 25 of 29 passes? That's hard to do when you're throwing against air, with no defenders. Vince made great throws all day."
So what should Colorado do this time around? Probably try the same thing. Contain the run and hope that Vince has a bad day throwing. He was off against A&M and the Aggies hung around for most of the game. Speculation for why Vince had a bad day has ranged from the plausible to the absurd.
"He was trying too hard to win the Heisman Trophy."
"He had West Nile Virus."
"He bet against the Horns on the spread."
We don't really know why Vince had an off day, but I don't want to get too caught up in trying to overanalyze what went wrong. In all likelihood, he just had "one of those days." Everyone has them, and especially quarterbacks have them. It's just too hard to be perfect every time out. Hell, it's hard to be above average every time out. So let's just chalk it up to Not One Of Vince's Best Days and move on.
The Horns are overwhelming favorites, and they should be. Colorado is in no better a position to stop the Horns offensive attack then they were six weeks ago when they were blown out the first time. And while I do respect Joel Klatt, he's no world beater, and the Buffaloes are bound to have a tough time scoring against what I imagine will be a pissed off Texas defense. The Horns' defensive effort against A&M left a lot to be desired, and I'm certain Chizik et al were hard at work this week whipping everyone in to shape. You can bet that the Buffaloes will toy with some option plays if they think they can manage it.
None of it will matter in the end, though. I simply cannot imagine Texas losing this game. The horror of a loss on Saturday is unspeakable. It might mark the death of this blog. Who knows...
So there you have it. Texas wins the game and earns their trip to the Rose Bowl. Texas: Big 12 Champions. 38-13.