In what has shaped up as a down year for the Big 12 Conference, the league's only other ranked teams visit Austin on back-to-back Saturdays, starting with the October 15 matchup against No. 24 Colorado. Sandwiched between Texas' next two ballgames will be the release of the season's first BCS Poll, amid reports that Texas is ranked no higher than 4th -- and as low as 8th -- in the system's computer ratings.
"The teams that pay too much attention to what everybody else is doing in the BCS usually are the ones who get upset because they're not focused," Brown said.
Memories are fresh, however, of Texas' final-hour admittance into the BCS pantheon last season by hundredths of a percentage point. Could the same system that rewarded Texas in 2004 be its undoing in 2005 just because teams like Oklahoma and Texas A&M aren't living up to preseason expectations?
"What we've tried to sell the team on, and so far they've done it, is playing to a Texas standard and not to another team's standard," Brown said. "Some teams play down to the opponent or up to the opponent, and that's really dangerous. That's why you see so many upsets. We have a theme of being consistently good so you can become great. Right now, they've played hard each week but they haven't played great yet. We think we can still improve."
Brown said he would not expect Texas to fall below the No. 2 spot in the BCS ratings should Texas finish as a 12-0 Big12 champion. Even if they did, there remains the possibility of at least a split national championship now that the AP Poll is a stand-alone vote after pulling out of the BCS last winter.
Fueling the speculation that computers may be Texas' Achilles Heel is the emergence of Virginia Tech, positioned at No. 3 and sporting a 6-0 mark in all three human polls. Yet the Hokies have not played a team that is currently ranked in this week's A.P. Poll and are hanging their hats on a lopsided home win over previously ranked Georgia Tech (a game in which Yellow Jacket QB Reggie Ball had just been released from the hospital while still recovering from viral meningitis). The Blacksburg bunch still faces the strength of their schedule starting October 29 by hosting No. 14 Boston College and No. 7 Miami on consecutive weekends. Should Virginia Tech run the table, it would likely set up an ACC Championship Game with No. 4 Florida State. The Seminoles, meanwhile, have remaining road games at Virginia, Clemson and No. 11 Florida.
No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Alabama, No. 8 Penn State and the No. 13 Red Raiders are the other unbeatens of note. The Nittany Lions will be exposed before the season is done, probably as early as this weekend at underachieving Michigan. Penn State still faces No. 23 Wisconsin before traveling to No. 16 Michigan State. Besides, Joe Pa is not the sentimental favorite among cold, calculating computers.
The Bulldogs and the Tide are on a collision course to meet in the SEC Championship which obviously means one of them will lose and be out of the national title hunt. The 'Dogs must still play No. 11 Florida and No. 21 Auburn before concluding the regular season with its annual throw-out-the-record-books match at Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, the Tide face a critical, season-ending stretch when they host No. 10 LSU, travel to arch-rival Auburn before topping off the regular season with, again, what is expected to be a showdown with Georgia,
In short, those most likely to crash Texas' party still have their most formidable stretch ahead of them in November. For the Horns, the future is now. The only team on Texas' November slate that received a single Top 25 vote this week was (who woulda thunk it?) Baylor.
"It shapes up a great couple of weeks for college football in Austin," Brown said.
It's the general consensus among coaches and players that Texas has yet to play its best game of the season. The staff can coach players harder after a win than following a loss, Brown noted.
"When everybody's down on them -- fans, the media, their parents -- it's a real difficult thing to get everybody back in the same direction," Brown said. "You have people pointing fingers and splintering. Last year, (the media) had Greg (Davis) fired this week. It was a tough week for me. It's easier this week because we can go back and address the kicking game, we can go back and address turnovers, we can go back and address penalties, and things that need to be fixed."
Both the Colorado and Texas Tech games are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. kickoffs on ABC.