Texas Ends Regular Season At No. 9

For the second year in a row, Texas ended the regular season as the nation's No. 9 team in both major polls (AP, ESPN/USA TODAY) while finishing at No. 10 in the final BCS rankings released Sunday.

The Horns are looking for their first back-to-back 11-win seasons in school history with a Cotton Bowl win over No. 25 (coaches' poll) LSU. Bear in mind that universities used to only play 10 or 11 regular season games during Darrell Royal's glory years (unlike the bloated 13- or 14-game schedules we see today). Then, an 11-win season meant you were likely playing for the national title.

Still, Texas has finished with a national ranking in each of head coach Mack Brown's first five years at the Forty Acres. The last time the Longhorns entered the post-season nationally ranked for five consecutive years was during the autumn of Royal's career, 1971-1975.

Miami, of course, won the right to face Ohio State for all the tostitos in this year's national champion game.

Texas and Oklahoma have identical regular season (pre-conference championship game) league marks during the past three years at 20-4, but the Sooners have won two of the past three Big 12 titles. OU faces Washington State in the Rose Bowl, which sounds almost as weird as USC playing Iowa in Orange Bowl.

SEC champ Georgia plays four-time loser Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. (A Big 12 team that finishes third, or even fourth, could clean the floor with any ACC champ these past couple of years.)

I'm sure this has never happened before, but Texas played eight bowl teams during the regular season. Of course, there are like, 106 bowls this year. Meanwhile, schools were granted an extra regular season game in 2002, meaning that you only had to break-even to become bowl eligible.

Here are Texas' 2002 opponents and their respective bowls: North Texas (New Orleans Bowl), Tulane (Hawaii Bowl), Iowa State (Humanitarian Bowl), Oklahoma State (Houston Bowl), Nebraska (Independence Bowl), Texas Tech (Tangerine Bowl), Kansas State (Holiday Bowl) and Oklahoma (Rose Bowl).

Texas returns to practice either next Saturday or Sunday, Brown said, as final exams begin Wednesday for UT students.

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