For the California Dreamin' Longhorns, the playoffs begin November 25 against a Texas A&M squad looking to become bowl-eligible and to salvage a disappointing season by dashing the national title aspirations of its arch-rival. Meanwhile, the Horns want to post three-straight wins at Kyle Field for the first time since the stretch from 1969-73 which, not coincidentally, included the program's last national championship.
It still shapes up as one of those throw-out-the-record-books emotional rivalries, Brown said.
"It sounds like an adage but, if both teams were 0-10, this game would still be important to the people of both schools, to the people in the state and to the players on both teams," Brown said.
It's just that the 5-5 Aggies are closer to 0-10 than most pigskin pundits thought they would be by this time of year, especially considering A&M was fortunate at home to clip a Baylor team in OT that Texas rolled on the road, 62-0. A&M has been beset with injuries on both sides of the ball, and the last time we saw Aggie QB Reggie McNeal, he was on crutches on the sideline in Norman, Oklahoma last Saturday. North of the Red River, the Farmers showed some unexpected fight against the Sooners before falling for the third straight week, 36-30.
"They've had every break go against them and they still have a chance to go to a bowl game," Brown said. "People thought A&M would have trouble up at OU. They got behind 28-7 and then came back, and fought, and nearly won the game. To me, that's the character of a team and a credit to the coaching staff."
Even so, A&M's pass defense was exposed early by the likes of Texas State and now has literally hit rock bottom. The 318.9 ypg that the Farmers surrender through the air ranks dead last among 117 Division-I schools. Overall, the defense-formerly-known-as-the-Wrecking-Crew is ranked 109th nationally (454.6 ypg).
The A&M offense, however, deserves more props than it's been getting, Brown said, and that has a lot to do with the Ags' RB tandem.
"Courtney (Lewis) is still a great threat inside and he can score at any time," Brown said. "Jorvorski Lane has added to that because he's such a big, strong power back. Whether it's Reggie or Stephen McGee. They both have the ability to run the option and get to the outside. Dennis (Franchione) has always used a lot of different formations and makes it very difficult for a defense to line up against it. I don't think people give the A&M offense the credit it deserves. They're averaging 447 yards per game and 32 points per game. They're one of the best offenses in the country this year."
Brown recruited both McNeal and Heisman favorite Vince Young to run the Longhorn offense.
"They were two of the best quarterbacks in the country and we had to get one of them," Brown said. "Reggie decided to go to A&M and we got Vince. Both of them have had great careers. Reggie will be a great pro player and, thank goodness, we were able to redshirt Vince so we have him for another year."
Texas' opponent in the Big 12 Title game will be determined a few hours after the conclusion of its game at Kyle Field. That's when Colorado hosts Nebraska for the right to meet Texas at Reliant Stadium in Houston on December 3. A Colorado loss, though, could send Missouri or Iowa State to Houston.
Texas has posted three straight games of 600+ yards, and has averaged 58.3 ppg, against defenses that rank statistically higher than A&M's. And this is a Longhorn team that is still looking for a complete game, according to Brown.
"This football team still has some room at the top in that they can still play more consistently for 60 minutes," Brown said.