The Holiday Bowl: What's In It For Us?

More than half of the 2003 Texas football team has seen enough of San Diego to pass as tour guides. But much can still be accomplished when No. 5 Texas takes on No. 14/15 Washington State at the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Tuesday (7 p.m. CST, ESPN).

Or, at least that's the stiff upper lip that several players are presenting following the annual non-BCS Bowl disappointment.

"We want to end the season on a good note and have some momentum going into next season," DE Kalen Thornton said, before heading to his third Holiday Bowl in four seasons. "Finishing with that No. 3 rating, hopefully. That could make all the difference in the world. We know we’re going to finish high. You can’t finish much lower than we are if we win."

The Horns are seeking a third-straight Top 10 finish for the first time since 1968-1970. The fact is not lost on sophomore DT Rodrique Wright.

"We’re well aware that if we win out and take care of business we have a chance to finish at No. 3," Wright said. "We’ve had a streak since the OU game. We haven’t lost. The streak and the ranking is the motivation for the team. The younger players know that ending the season right gives us a tremendous amount of confidence going into the spring."

Texas is also looking to extend its school-record back-to-back 11-win seasons with a victory over the Cougars. (Of course, an 11-win season was much more impressive back when they just played 11 games instead of the current NFL schedule of 13 or 14 games).

"An 11-win season, that would be three in a row," SLB Reed Boyd said. "It would be the winningest team in Texas history since freshmen were allowed to play. That would be a tremendous accomplishment for the team."

Actually, with a 41-7 mark, the seniors have already won more games than any four-year class in school history. However, Texas has never won three bowl games in consecutive years (although the program did win five straight in non-consecutive seasons from 1963-1969).

"To get a chance to get all those wins, no senior class has ever done that," CB Nathan Vasher said. "That says a whole lot in itself. The class after us will have a chance to build on that. It’s just a really good accomplishment to see where this program has come from to where it is now."

Like Texas, Washington State was on the cusp of a BCS invitation but the Cougars’ Nov. 22 home loss to arch-rival Washington late in the fourth quarter sent them packing for San Diego. The PAC-10 runner-up actually boasts the best overall record among conference schools during the past three years. During that span, Texas is the nation’s third-winningest team (32-6) while WSU is No. 9 (29-8).

"We’re still playing for the same thing that we’d be playing for anywhere else," Boyd said. "Our goals haven’t changed. Our accomplishments will be just as great, BCS or not. That’s really not for us to say. They’ve got some things to work out themselves. We just need to go out to San Diego and play a great ball game against a great team."

Following a 9 a.m. (PST) practice slated for the University of California-San Diego campus, the Horns are scheduled to depart for the San Diego Zoo at 1:30 p.m.

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