21 up, 21 down. That's a hell of a streak in any sport; in college football, it's monumental. We've enjoyed it immensely, of course, and as disappointing as it was to lose one on Saturday, we all knew it had to happen sometime. From the tailgating to the game itself, I had a terrific time, and sometimes you run into a better team. We congratulate Ohio State and their fans. It feels great to win a big game; to do it on the road is even sweeter in some ways.
Before we go into the positional breakdowns of Saturday night, we wanted to take a moment and offer tribute to the Horns' remarkable run...
Since the Rose Bowl national title game, and each play within, could qualify to dominate each of the below categories, we're only allowing it eligibility for Best Game. For the rest, it's not eligible.
Best Game: 2006 Rose Bowl Let's just hit this one first. For many, many Texas fans, it was the greatest game of our lifetimes. For many, many college football fans, it was the greatest game to enjoy in their lifetime, regardless of their affiliation. Drama, excitement, and high play by both teams helped to create a classic that we can look back on fondly for years and years to come. It was a fitting end of the career of one of college football's greatest players to ever step on the field.
Best Play, Offense: 4th and 18, Kansas 2004 This near-disaster of a game finished with a flurry of Vince Young. Looking back, this might have been the game where he became one of the most clutch performers in CFB history. Down two scores with five minutes to play (sound familiar, Rose Bowl fans?), Vince hoisted the team on his shoulders and brought 'em all the way back. No play was bigger than the 4th and 18 scramble for 22 yards that kept the go-ahead drive alive.
Best Play, Defense: Kelson Takes Out Zwick, Ohio State 2005 The Buckeyes got the best of Texas in Ausitn this season, but the Texas defense was up to the task last season, when they made up for multiple mistakes by the offense to limit the Buckeyes to field goal after field goal. After Vince to Sweed gave Texas a one point lead late in the game, the Texas defense sealed the victory when Drew Kelson popped Justin Zwick and forced a fumble. Brian Robison recovered and Texas held on for the big win.
Best Play, Special Teams: Mike Griffin Finishes Aggies, Texas A&M 2005 With the pesky Aggies hanging around on a day in which Vince wasn't feeling well and the defense was uncharacteristically below average, Texas turned to special teams to finally bury Texas A&M. After a Ramonce Taylor touchdown run gave Texas a 28-22 lead, Texas forced A&M to punt on their very next possession. When they did, Mike Griffin exploded to the ball, blocked it, and Cedric Griffin was there to pick it up and run it in for the score. Texas would win the game 40-29.
Best Win, Regular Season: Ohio State 2005 It wasn't Vince Young's best night overall, but he once again showed why he was the most dangerous player in football when it was late in the game. His game winning toss to Sweed was a perfect ball that helped propel Texas down championship road. No doubt the Buckeyes are hoping their win in Austin will do for them what it did for us.
Scariest Moment: Dusty Mangum Field Goal, 2005 Rose Bowl It was a clutch kick from a guy who always made me a little nervous. The ball may have been tipped, but it fluttered its way down the field and, eventually, through the uprights. Texas won by a point as time expired, and Mr. Rose Bowl promised to bring Texas back. Yes, sir.
Final Thoughts We've been saying for some time now that we needed to be reasonable, even in defeat. And that we needed to be grateful to have been witness to such a wonderful run. And that there's no way to take away anything from what Mack Brown has done, or what he did with Vince Young. Only the foolish will talk about Mack "without Vince." We don't talk about other coaches that way - you win a national title because you have a special team and an over-the-top player or two. That was Vince. Mack was supposed to win a national title with that group of talent, and he did. He deserves all the praise we heap upon him, and those that want to point to tough losses can't see the forest for the trees.
Congratulations to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Texas Longhorns for 21 memorable games. Let's start a new streak this Saturday and hope to take it all the way through this season. It's just one loss, and an early one at that. No need to hit the panic button, fans. This team's still a good one.