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A Time to Celebrate, A Time to Reflect

The Longhorns may have needed a few lucky breaks to overcome the Cornhuskers and the incomparable Ndamukong Suh and any proper analysis of the game will reveal a litany of complaints regarding every facet of the offense. But with more than a month until Texas faces off against Alabama in Pasadena, there will be plenty of time for to analyze, further analyze, and overanalyze the Nebraska game and everything related to the match up between the SEC champion and the Big 12 champion.

Today, however, is a day for celebration, for reflection. For celebrating a team that accomplished a feat that only the 2005 team accomplished under Mack Brown -- beating both Oklahoma and A&M in the same season while finishing undefeated and winning the Big 12 championship. For celebrating a team that replaced three starters along the defensive line, lost a starting linebacker to injury in the first game, and absolutely counted upon improvement from the entire secondary and role players like Sam Acho, Eddie Jones, Kheeston Randall, and Ben Alexander. For celebrating a team that replaced two starting receivers after the departure of ultra-reliable Quan Cosby and the academic ineligibility of Brandon Collins, who broke out in the final games of 2008.

For celebrating a team that discovered leaders in Sergio Kindle, Lamarr Houston, and Roddrick Muckelroy. For celebrating the effort of Marquise Goodwin against Oklahoma, Colt McCoy's year-saving tackle after his late-game interception, interceptions by Earl Thomas, Curtis Brown, and Blake Gideon against Oklahoma State, exorcising the demons of a certain Halloween past. For celebrating Hunter Lawrence, one of the greatest kickers in Texas history. For celebrating a team the lived up to the highest of standards -- perfection. Losing was not an option and this team did not lose.

Today is a day for reflection. Reflection on the how the seasons ended in 2006 and 2007, with the Longhorns dropping games to Kansas State and Texas A&M late in the season, causing both teams to lose opportunities to play for the Big 12 championship and make it to big-money BCS games. Reflection on why those teams fell apart -- mostly the complete and utter inability of those defenses to stop the passing game and imperfect defensive coordinators. Reflection on the best decision that Mack Brown has made as head coach at Texas in his hire of Will Muscahmp as defensive coordinator and the subsequent decsion to name him the next head coach of the Longhorns. Reflection on the other hard decisions that Brown made to forge this team into a champion -- bringing Major Applewhite back to Austin, moving Ken Rucker into an administrative position, instituting a higher level of accountability, looking hard at himself as a coach.

Most of all, it's a day for reflection on just how far the Longhorns have come since last season. Reflection on the feeling of complete and utter lack of control, having relinquished all power to determine the ultimate destination of the team with the last-second loss in Lubbock. Reflection on the 45-35 campaign, all the politicking and arguments about the meaning of head-to-head victories and resume ranking, planes with banners flying over stadiums, accusations of whininess directed towards a heartbroken fanbase. Reflection on the hatred of Bob Stoops after risking the health of his starters to string together 60-point scoring games. Reflection on how karma can be a bitch, can't it Big Game Bob? Reflection on how 0.128 is now in the past, just a small wound now healing, a footnote to history. Reflection on just how hard this team worked to avoid a repeat of last season, how hard they worked to keep their BCS destiny in their own hands.

Yes, today Burnt Orange Nation must celebrate and reflect, look back upon the road now traveled, full of victories and nary a defeat. The cycle is now complete -- Texas returns to the Rose Bowl four years after Vince Young stood there in confetti, having won one of the greatest college football games ever played. After the loss by Florida, the Longhorns have the nation's longest winning streak, now standing at 17 games. Not only that, but Tim Tebow's college career is all but finished, with the lasting memories an impotent speech to his defense and him crying on national television like a six-year-old Sooner fan. After a long season, Texas is undefeated and headed to Pasadena. There is time in the coming month for all the worry a Longhorn fan desires, so what is there to do today but celebrate and reflect, with a strong emphasis on the former?