This is going to sound stupid.
Even more stupid than usual.
Idiotic, if Texas didn't agree.
|Have you heard? Mack Brown's Longhorns have been making noise. (US Presswire)|
How, you might ask, can that be possible at a place with an athletic budget bigger than the GNP of Costa Rica? Easy. There are better stories. In some cases, better players. If New York called today, the three Heisman finalists might all be from the Big 12. Just as possible, not one would be from Texas.
You might have noticed that offense is the engine that drives the conference. Texas has some fine numbers -- sixth nationally in scoring, 12th in total offense -- but the digits are pedestrian within the conference. The 'Horns are fifth in both categories in the Big 12.
These Longhorns, they're good, just not sexy enough in the outrageously hot Big 12.
"I think we've been in the perfect position," coach Mack Brown said. "We've played pretty well. We've been rated high ... At the same time, we haven't been in the circus of everybody talking about polls before they really matter. One of the worst things you can have is a team rated high before they deserve it."
That isn't the case with Texas. It is part of a group of the highest-ranked three teams in Big 12 history. Look who is third in that group, though. There's No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Missouri, followed by No. 5 Texas in the coaches' poll.
Before you get to Texas this week in the Big 12, you have to consider:
• The relative wetness of Chase Daniel. The Missouri quarterback claims he was spit on in warmups before tossing three touchdown passes against Nebraska. Apparently, the ball remained dry.
• The presidential campaign being staged by Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree for postseason awards. Harrell threw six touchdown passes against Kansas State, two of them to Crabtree, while setting the school passing record. Advantage Harrell?
"How do those footballs get in the air?" he asked.
• The nation's No. 2 rushing offense at Oklahoma State.
• Everything Oklahoma. Its first No. 1 ranking in five years is certain to last at least two weeks after a beat down of Baylor.
"I don't think it's a slap on Texas if people aren't talking about us," Brown said. "I think it's a real compliment to Kansas and Missouri and Texas Tech. The fact that this league has gotten competitive across the (board), that impacts this game."
For those of you somnambulant about Texas, here's the skinny: The 'Horns are 5-0 for the first time since the 2005 national championship season; Colt McCoy is the Texas version of Tim Tebow (circa 2007, by the way), leading the team in passing and rushing; and the defense is the only one in D-I that has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. It also leads the country in sacks-per-game.
Despite all that, the nation's No. 5 team is a seven-point underdog on Saturday.
Texas conducted its usual Oklahoma-week teleconference with reporters on Monday. The first three questions were about Oklahoma's offensive line, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Oklahoma tailback DeMarco Murray.
"I kind of take that as a compliment," Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "I take it as motivational drive. The whole season, keep downgrading us, not really talking about us ... In my opinion, I hope it stays that way to where we're not getting so much notoriety."
Let's not crazy here. Texas hasn't gone Paris Hilton, starving for attention. Bill Murray recently paid Brown a visit just, you know, because. Look out the coach's window. That's only a stadium addition they're building, not some celestial ark to take us all to Burnt Orange heaven. It just looks that way. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp makes more than the president -- of the country, not the university.
Does the public need to be reminded that Brown has produced a Heisman Trophy winner, three outright Big 12 South titles, a Big 12 title and a national championship in his 10 seasons? He is in the process of staging his own epic Ten Year War with Oklahoma's Bob Stoops similar to Bo and Woody at Michigan and Ohio State.
"When we started I knew Oklahoma, it was a great place, but like Texas it had struggled for a number of years," Brown said. "Neither program was at the top of their game. I remember talking about how lackluster the Texas-Oklahoma game had become. Nobody really cared. It wasn't even on national TV and it wasn't even a sellout."
Since Brown arrived in 1998, the schools have staged some college football classics.
• Major Applewhite trading verbal jabs with OU's RUF/NEKS in the Cotton Bowl tunnel after leading the 38-28 Texas victory in 1999. Applewhite is now Texas' running backs coach.
• Oklahoma's shocking 63-14 victory during its national championship 2000 season that announced the Sooners truly were back under Stoops.
• Roy Williams' leaping blitz that forced a Chris Simms' fumble and spawned a Sports Illustrated cover in clinching OU's 14-3 victory in 2001.
• No. 1 Oklahoma's 65-13 win in 2003 that stands as the only game in the Stoops-Brown era featuring a top-ranked team. Until Saturday.
• Texas' 45-12 victory in 2005 that ended a five-game losing streak. Vince Young threw for three touchdowns.
Stoops has a 6-3 advantage in the nine years they have gone head-to-head.
"He'll be remembered like Barry Switzer and Coach Wilkinson," Brown said of Stoops. "He's done exactly what they want him to do."
For Brown to get to the promised land again he will have to navigate an unprecedented schedule. If the polls stay relatively stable, Texas would be playing No. 1 and No. 2 (Missouri, Oct. 18) back-to-back for the first time in Texas history. There is also the possibility of playing four ranked teams in a row (OU, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech). That would be another Texas first.
That's stupid. Stupid hard.