Rarely does the University of Texas find itself in a position where they are expected to lose. Just the idea of not being favored in a game is a bit awkward, even insulting to the most chauvinistic of Orangebloods.
Nonetheless, when Texas plays Alabama for the BCS National Championship, they will take on the unfamiliar role of the underdog.
How Texas will respond to this role remains to be seen, but growing up a Texan and being acclimatized to the University, I know that the pride of the players, coaches, and fans for that matter, is second to none; with this group especially, all they know how to do is win.
Texas QB Colt McCoy set the NCAA career win-loss record this year with a mark of 45-7, eclipsing that of former Georgia QB David Greene. In addition, the Texas Longhorns have the nation’s current longest winning streak at 17 games, which could have been longer if not for a miraculous last second touchdown catch by Michael Crabtree that still resonates in the heart and soul of the Texas faithful.
Winning breeds winning. Under Mack Brown, Texas has done a lot of it; more in fact than any other school during his tenure. So if you find Texas a little exasperated at the idea of not only losing, but being humiliated by our worthy opponent when we take the field in January, blame that, juxtaposing with the hint of arrogance that comes with being born here.
What most call swagger we call "walking", in the Lone Star State.
The last time Texas was billed the underdog in a football game was Oct. 11th of 2008, in the annual Red River Rivalry game. Texas came in at 5-0 and was the number five team in the country, but was generally overlooked by the national media and most college football pundits. Oklahoma was the number one team in the land and came in with the most prolific offense in the nation; one that would surely dismantle the longhorns, starting two freshman safties in the secondary.
What followed was one of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen by Texas in the Mack Brown era. Bradford and the Sooners did score. Bradford would finish the game with five TD passes, but every time the Sooners would score the Horns would answer and take back the momentum. Jordan Shipley’s Kickoff return, when down 14-3 in the second quarter, may be the most defining moment in his illustrious career at Texas, and most important of the 2008 season.
For the first time since that remarkable game, Texas finds itself under similar scruitiny. Alabama, coming off what may be the most impressive game by any team of the 2009 season, took apart the Florida Gators in the SEC championship game in overwhelming fashion. In contrast, Texas struggled vs. a much less talented Nebraska Cornhuskers team with an anemic offense, needing a last second field goal by Hunter Lawrence (from my hometown of San Antonio ;) ) as time expired to win the game.
As expected, Texas players aren’t playing into the whole underdog mantra as a tool for motivation when being accosted by the media (just as in the months leading up to the Rose Bowl in 2006), but giving political answers instead.
Said Earl Thomas, “If you can’t get up for this game, you don’t need to be here. It’s a big game. It’s a big stage.”
Indeed, although I find it interesting how out of all the questions this was the only one he smiled at before answering, if you look closely, I sware he gave us one of ;)...those.
Said Colt McCoy, “We’re going into this game just like we’ve gone into every game this year.” But then added, “They’ve got our complete attention.” Good to hear Colt, because for a while there y'all looked so lethargic on offense vs. Nebraska, I wonder if you devised a game plan at all.
No disrespect, Mr. Suh…. PLEASE DON’T HURT ME!
One final note: Texas has won 5 straight bowl games, is 3-0 in BCS Bowl games, and 2-0 in Pasadena.
Texas has done considerably well on the grandest of stages, and they will look to add another big win to their resume come January.
Favorite, underdog, it will be business as usual for the Horns.