They can celebrate in Austin. It's allowed now, right?
|Next up for Colt McCoy and Texas: Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. (Getty Images)|
Texas is No. 1 for the first time since the 2005 national championship season and the first time in the regular season since 1984. It jumped up from No. 5, with a bullet, making it the largest hop to the top spot in 20 years.
That's Texas, the brand name known worldwide. A school, like many, with a sense of entitlement so large that an absence from the top five is treated like a death in the family.
Texas is alive again along with the city that makes it one of the best college football stops in existence. You might have heard -- the locals wiped away the post-Vince Young angst with a 45-35 victory over previously No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday. For the first time in three years, Austin's world-class music scene has a football program to match.
Coach Mack Brown has said all along that he'd like to get one more national championship before he hangs it up. At the midpoint of the season is it possible to capture one-half of the glass ball (at 6-0)? Uh, no. Texas is going to have the finish the deal with a long, hard slog.
Do the 'Horns and their legions of McConaugheys -- that's fans to you and me -- dare to hang their emotions out there like the confetti that reigned down from the upper deck of the Cotton Bowl on Saturday?
They're smarter than that aren't they?
|Dodd's Power Poll|
|3. Penn State|
|7. Ohio State|
|8. Texas Tech|
|10. Oklahoma State|
|15. Michigan State|
|16. South Florida|
|19. Boise State|
|20. Ball State|
|21. Virginia Tech|
|24. North Carolina|
|25. Wake Forest|
One would hope. Confetti blows away, just like the No. 1 ranking.
It's not just that Texas is the seventh different No. 1 in the AP poll since the beginning of the 2007 season. Or that there were a total of six in the previous five years.
It's that the Longhorns should honk their horns while they can. Since the start of 2007, the average No. 1 team has spent less than three weeks at the top (2.85). Few of those had to navigate the road ahead for Texas' -- No. 11 Missouri, No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Texas Tech. Including Oklahoma, that's the first time Texas will play four ranked teams in consecutive weeks.
If the 'Horns complete the forced marched, it will have earned unconditional football love. There are 10 undefeated major college teams left. Three of them are in the Big 12 South. Texas plays two of them in the next three weeks.
Altogether, this four-game walk over tire spikes is either a killer or a vacuum seal on a national championship game berth.
"It is what it is," Brown said. "We can sit and talk about what kind of problem it is. But we've got to use it for focus. We've got to use it as a challenge. We told the team, 'Who knows who the best team is in this gantlet?'"
A dream 1 vs. 2 game with Missouri next Saturday was ruined by an Oklahoma State team that answered every question I had for it.
• Schedule? The Cowboys played an I-AA Missouri State team that lost to Division II Washburn. But the schedule was good enough to prepare the Cowboys to walk into Columbia and win.
• A defense that was giving up 374 yards per game to I-A competition? Heisman leader Chase Daniel didn't look comfortable all night and proved it, throwing three interceptions.
• The nation's No. 2 offense built on a pile of cream puffs? Not exactly. Kendall Hunter ran for 154 yards including a 68-yard touchdown run. Zac Robinson might be the best quarterback in the Big 12 right now. That includes Texas' Colt McCoy.
Oklahoma State knocked off previously No. 3 Missouri without receiver Dez Bryant having a big game (seven catches, 47 yards).
Texas Tech seems like it has a little somethin' stored up for the 'Horns. The Red Raiders haven't beaten Texas since 2002. There is no hiding the lack of love coming out of Lubbock.
Head pirate Mike Leach was fined last year after criticizing officials ("atrociously bad calls") after a 16-point loss to Texas. He went on to accuse a Big 12 official of favoritism because the official lived in Austin. Leach has transferred the chip on his shoulders to his players, who are playing like their current ranking is an insult.
"We don't know for sure who will be the best (out of those teams). Missouri may be the best, they may be better than any of us," Texas' Brown said. "This also gives a chance because of strength of schedule to end up where we want to be if we're good enough. We answered some questions today but we still have some more questions to answer."
McCoy looks like one of those spiritual leaders who doesn't look the part but gets things done. Remember, LSU has won national championships with a duelin' Matts. One, Matt Mauck, a former minor leaguer, led the Tigers to the '03 title. Last season the physically unimpressive Matt Flynn led LSU to a championship.
Texas' defense isn't great, but in this age it doesn't have to be to win. Brown's bunch made up for shortcomings with big plays -- a kickoff return for a touchdown, an interception and three sacks of Sam Bradford.
"We don't look pretty when we walk out there," Brown told the Austin American-Statesman. "They've just played a lot of football and won a lot of games."
If form holds, then Texas will have a natural letdown against Missouri this week. It happens. USC beat Ohio State, then spent 12 days listening to how great it was before losing to Oregon State. Alabama barely snuck by Kentucky at home the week after torching Georgia.
College players -- especially in Austin -- can't juggle class, girls, practice, girls, games, girls and girls in equal measure each week. Or maybe it's just class, practice and games that are a distraction.
"The fact that we won this game makes next week's game with Missouri even that much bigger," Brown said Saturday, "because now it puts us in a different place."
Yeah, maybe like El Arroyo at happy hour this week. Grab yourself a Pearl, Austin. Order the special.
In this national championship race you're either (fajita) meat or you're eating it.