UT, Tech In Rare 'Top 10' Matchup At DKR

ESPN's College GameDay is setting up shop for just the third time in Austin this Saturday because, believe it or not, something like this hasn't happened at Memorial Stadium in nearly a decade.

With Texas entrenched at No. 2 (and gradually climbing) in all major ratings this week, Saturday's opponent Texas Tech checks in at No. 10 in the AP Poll while soaring to nearly unprecedented heights with a No. 8 ranking in the current USA Today (coaches poll). It marks the first Top 10 matchup in Austin since No. 9 Notre Dame upended No. 6 Texas, 27-24, in 1996.

"It's neat to have the eyes of the nation with college football this weekend on the state of Texas and on Austin because it's so unusual to have two Top 10 teams play," Brown said, "especially in your own league."

Sure, it's "neat" but it sounds like another Saturday in the SEC. Even so, it's as good of a Big 12 matchup as you'll see in several seasons as long as squads like Texas A&M, Nebraska, Kansas State and Oklahoma don't live up to their end of the bargain.

"People talk about the strength of our league this year," Brown said, "but very few have two Top 10 teams in their own league. I don't think Tech has got the credit they deserve for what they've accomplished."

The high-flying Red Raiders still remain under college football's radar screen... until now.

"Recruiting services don't talk about them very much," Brown said. "They don't have the same media coverage we do. Nobody ever gives them credit for being talented."

Brown is absolutely correct in terms of how rare it is that a matchup of Top 10 teams from the same conference have met in Austin. The last time it happened, you'd have to go all the way back 25 years to September 1, 1980 (a Labor Day matchup played on the night before my first day of class as a UT freshman, as a matter of fact). That's when No. 10 Texas clipped No. 6 Arkansas, 23-17.

The Red Raiders enter the Texas game with a national ranking for the first time since 1995 (a 48-7 Longhorn win) and are ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 1976 (No. 6 Tech knocked off No. 15 Texas, 31-28, in Lubbock). But are the 2005 Red Raiders a gen-u-ine, bona-fide Top 10 ball club given a non-conference slate loaded with more cream puffs than a Krispy Kreme bakery?

"I think this is a legitimate Top 10 matchup, I really do," Brown said. "Too much has been talked about their first three games and not enough about the last three. I think they would have beaten whoever they played in the first three had it been other schools with different names. The stats might have been different but the scores would have been the same."

Tech's September consisted of home games against Florida International, Sam Houston State and Indiana State. The Red Raiders throttled their willing victims by a combined score of 66-10. Tech then mailed-in a 30-17 performance against Kansas before snatching a freakish 34-31 win at Nebraska in a roller coaster of a contest.

"If you look at their first three games, people talked about their schedule," Brown said, "but you have to give them credit for their last three games. They beat Nebraska in Lincoln and we all know that's hard to do. And Nebraska is a good football team. They totally dominated Kansas State (59-20). It's just amazing to see what they do. And Kansas is playing really good defense right now and Tech scored 30 points against them."

Texas' current 13-game winning streak is second only to USC's and the program's best since it won 15-straight in 1963-64. The Horns have also won seven straight games against nationally ranked opponents. A win Saturday would tie the school record with most consecutive wins against a ranked foe, dating back to the 1968-1970 national championship seasons. It is evident, however, that the Horns are far less concerned with school records than Saturday's opposition.

"The thing that I like is that our defense and our coaches have enough respect for Tech that they'll be excited about playing," Brown said. "They know it's a good offense. They know those receivers are really good. It's a respectful challenge that they're excited about. I could see that (Sunday) in our meetings."

Saturday's contest marks just the second time this season that Texas Tech has spent the weekend away from Lubbock.

"I'd play 13 home games if I could," Brown said.

Other than the two teams playing in Austin Saturday, the only other undefeated teams in this week's major polls are USC, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Alabama and UCLA. The collection will be inevitably pared on December 3 when USC and UCLA collide while Alabama and Georgia will likely meet that day in the SEC title game.

"It's hard to be undefeated any more," Brown noted. "We could actually have a national championship game with two teams that aren't undefeated this year. And one of us is going to fall this weekend."

ESPN's College GameDay airs live, starting 9:30 a.m. Kickoff is set at 2:30 p.m. on an ABC national broadcast.


RB Jamaal Charles' official status will not be disclosed until Thursday, Brown said, adding that he got "chewed out" by the Mens Athletic Department attorney for disclosing to media that Charles practiced on Wednesday. (The attorney cited student privacy statutes that were enacted in 2002.)

"I'm not supposed to say anything," Brown said. "In fact, I'm not supposed to tell (media) if they practice. If you say they practice, then you're telling his status."

But LCB Aaron Ross will be good to go, and we got that from the horse's mouth. Ross left the Colorado game in the fourth quarter with a minor hip injury.

"I guess I just had a cramp where it tightened up on me," he said, "but I'm ready to go."

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