Holiday Bowl 2012: Texas Longhorns Coming Home for the Holiday (A Look Back)

A.J. HernandezContributor IDecember 8, 2011

Holiday Bowl 2012: Texas Longhorns Coming Home for the Holiday (A Look Back)

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    Prior to the 2010 season, the Texas Longhorns had gone bowling in every season of Mack Brown's twelve-year Texas coaching tenure. After the unexpected—and very much unexcused—nuclear meltdown of last season snapped the long bowl streak, Coach Brown's charges are returning to a bowl game once again, and yes, it feels like a little bit like coming home.

    The venue for the Longhorns' thirteenth bowl appearance in fourteen seasons is a familiar one, indeed: the Holiday Bowl, or more officially, the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. Four times previously in the Mack Brown era, the Longhorns have ventured west to San Diego to participate in this game; twice they have won (2001 vs. Washington, 2007 vs. Arizona State).

    A quick peek at the record book reveals one thing: The Holiday Bowls in which the Longhorns have participated have been high-scoring, dramatic affairs. In fact, the average final score of Texas' four appearances in this bowl has been 37-35. As bowl games go, it simply doesn't get much better than this.

    Let's take a timeout, flop into a comfy chair and take a stroll down Longhorn Lane. The Longhorns' history in the Holiday Bowl demands as much.

Holiday Bowl 2000: Oregon Jumps 'Horns Early, Hangs on for Thrilling 35-30 Win.

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    The 12th-ranked Longhorns' first foray in the Culligan Holiday Bowl ended on a down note, as Texas dropped a thrilling, decidedly gut-wrenching 35-30 seesaw battle with the eighth-ranked Oregon Ducks (10-2).

    Finding themselves in a 0-14 first quarter hole, courtesy of Duck QB Joey Harrington's two touchdown tosses, the Longhorns buttoned up, exploded for three touchdowns in a rousing second quarter and took a 21-14 halftime lead.

    Longhorn QB Chris Simms steered the 'Horns on touchdown marches of 76 yards (14 plays) and 71 yards (six plays) in the second period to tie the game. Longhorn safety Greg Brown provided the third Texas score of the second quarter when he stepped in front of a Harrington pass and ran it back for 23 yards and the 21-14 lead at intermission.

    A 55-yard screen pass from Harrington to RB Maurice Morris, on the Ducks' first second-half possession knotted the game at 21 apiece, providing the only score of an otherwise quiet third quarter.

    Capping a nine-play, 90-yard Oregon march, QB Joey Harrington called his own number and ran nine yards for a score and a 28-21 Duck lead with 9:43 remaining in the game.

    The Longhorns answered promptly, as Victor Ike returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the Longhorns' first kickoff return for a score since 1978.

    With the game knotted at 28, Harrington and the Ducks went back to work. Moving 68 yards in only six plays, the Ducks regained the lead on a four-yard end-around run by Jason Willis. After a Josh Frankel extra point, the Ducks led again at 35-28 with only 5:43 to play.

    Not dead yet, Chris Simms marshaled the Longhorn offense and marched the 'Horns all the way to the Duck 22-yard line. The drive ended, however, with four consecutive incompletions.

    Trying to run the clock down, Oregon fumbled three plays later, affording the Longhorns another shot at tying the game. Rashad Bauman's interception of an errant Simms pass on the Duck 22-yard line dashed that opportunity for the Longhorns, however.

    Unable to run out the clock, Oregon took a safety with 21 seconds left in the game, trimming their own margin to five at 35-30. The never-say-die Longhorns, not quite finished, however, put together a final stirring march into Oregon territory. From the Duck 39-yard line, Chris Simms threw a pair of incompletions that ended the game.

    The Longhorns, who finished the year at 9-3, were paced by Chris Simms' 245-yards passing on a 17-of-33 night that included one touchdown pass and one touchdown run; Simms also threw four interceptions.

    For Oregon, Joey Harrington passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and even caught a pass for a touchdown. The star Oregon QB, who completed 19-of-30 passes for 273 yards and a single interception, was voted the game's offensive MVP.

    Defensive MVP honors went to Oregon defensive back Rashad Bauman.

Holiday Bowl 2001: Applewhite Orchestrates Greatest-Ever Longhorn Comeback.

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    Starting his final game as a Longhorn quarterback, Major Applewhite scripted a fairy-tale ending for his storybook Longhorn career, bringing the Longhorns all the way back from a 19-point third quarter deficit to a heart-stopping 47-43 Culligan Holiday Bowl triumph over Coach Rick Neuheisel and the Washington Huskies.

    Passing for personal and Longhorn bowl bests—473 yards and four touchdowns on 37 completions in 55 attempts—Applewhite stamped a fitting epitaph to a legendary Longhorn career, directing Texas to 27 fourth quarter points and scores on six of their last seven possessions.

    One of the greatest games played in the history of the Holiday Bowl began conservatively enough, as the ninth-ranked Longhorns (11-2) and the 21st-ranked Huskies (8-4) played a scoreless opening quarter.

    The drama began in earnest in the second quarter, when a ball-hawking Washington secondary picked off three Applewhite passes, converting them into 13 of their 23 second-quarter points. Applewhite's touchdown tosses to B.J. Johnson and Roy Williams kept the turnover-prone Longhorns in striking distance, as they went into halftime trailing only 23-14.

    Things began to look especially bleak for the Longhorns when midway through the third quarter, the Huskies struck again, this time marching 91 yards in 12 plays and culminating with a 17-yard Cody Pickett touchdown pass.

    Behind 30-14, the 'Horns countered with a pair of short Dusty Mangum field goals before quarter's end, but surrendered yet another Washington touchdown march, this one covering 65 yards in just six plays.

    Trailing 36-20 as the fourth quarter started, the Longhorn offense finally hit stride and began to click. Three consecutive drives (48, 54 and nine yards) for touchdowns—the last coming with only six minutes to play—put the 'Horns ahead finally at 40-36. No doubt, the collective sigh of relief from Longhorn nation could be felt across the universe.

    Someone apparently forgot to tell the Washington Huskies, however, that the game was over. When Willie Hurst sprinted 34 yards for a Washington touchdown to cap a seven-play, 80-yard march, the Longhorns found themselves again on the short end of the scoreboard at 43-40 with but 1:49 to play.

    Down again, but hardly out, the Longhorns moved quickly down the field behind Applewhite-to-B.J. Johnson completions of 25 and 36 yards. With 38 seconds remaining, RB Ivan Williams completed the remarkable and improbable Longhorn miracle, scoring from three yards out to give the Longhorns a thrilling 47-43 win.

    Two offensive MVP awards were presented: Major Applewhite, of course, for the Longhorns, and RB Willie Hurst of the Huskies. Hurst finished the game with 137 yards rushing on only sixteen carries and scored two touchdowns.

    Texas All-American linebacker Derrick Johnson was voted the defensive MVP. He registered seven tackles, one for loss, recorded a sack and had one interception.

Holiday Bowl 2003: 7 Sacks, 3 Turnovers Key Washington St. Win over 'Horns.

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    Turnovers, aggressive, opportunistic defense and a punter's accurate leg spelled disaster for the Longhorns in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, as the Washington State Cougars defeated Texas 28-20.

    Three fumbles by the Longhorns in the second half proved costly, as did the seven sacks registered by the fired-up and aggressive Cougar defense. Punter Kyle Basler, the game's defensive MVP, punted seven times for the Cougars, averaging an ordinary 40.1 yards per kick; what the statistics do not reveal, however, is that five of his kicks pinned the Longhorns inside of their own 13-yard line and handcuffed the Texas offense all night.

    The Longhorns, who controlled the ball for a Holiday Bowl-record 39 minutes, saw their six-game winning streak snapped and ended with a 10-3 record for the season. Washington State of the Pac-10 conference, also finished at 10-3.

    Playing in their third Holiday Bowl in four years, the Longhorns once again failed to register a single point in the opening quarter. Washington State, likewise, failed to score in the opening quarter.

    Drawing first blood in the second quarter, RB Cedric Benson capped a 6:17 Longhorn scoring drive with a one-yard plunge over the middle. The lead held for most of the second quarter.

    With 59 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Cougar QB Matt Kegel found Sammy Moore in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown, capping a 66-yard, eight-play drive, and tying the game at seven apiece.

    Playing aggressively, the Longhorn offense quickly marched down the field, setting up a 39-yard David Pino field goal with 0:04 left. The kick was true and the Longhorns led at halftime 10-7. It was to be the last time the Longhorns led in this game.

    The Longhorns came back on the field for the third quarter, but apparently left their focus in the locker room. Dominating the third quarter, the Cougars scored three times—offensive touchdowns of 54 and 12 yards and an 18-yard fumble recovery returned for a score. In spite of missing two of three extra points in the quarter, the Cougars, nonetheless, held a commanding 26-10 lead going into the fourth quarter.

    A second David Pino field goal early in the fourth quarter brought the Longhorns within two touchdowns at 26-13.

    Stopping the WSU attack with growing success, the 'Horns defense managed to keep the Cougar offense from scoring in the fourth quarter. The Cougars did score a safety with 8:41 left in the game when the Longhorn offense was flagged for a holding penalty in its own end zone.

    Down 28-13, QB Chance Mock quickly moved the Longhorns into Cougar territory. Finding WR Roy Williams—the school's all-time leader in receptions, reception yardage, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard receiving games—racing down the sideline, Mock hit him in stride for a 30-yard touchdown. The David Pino point-after was good, and with 4:29 to play, the 'Horns were back in the game.

    The Texas defense stood tall, holding Washington State to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Mock and the offense wasted no time and again drove the Longhorns into Cougar territory; a hook-up of 46 yards to Roy Williams set the Longhorns up on the Cougar 11-yard line.

    Following an incomplete pass to Sloan Thomas, Mock was sacked at the 25-yard line and fumbled the ball in the process. WSU recovered at the 36-yard line at the 2:16 mark.

    Once again, the Longhorn defense stuffed the Cougar offense, forcing another three-and-out and a punt. Starting at their own 26, the 'Horns began their final possession. Two quick completions of 15 and 13 yards to B.J. Johnson set Texas up on the Cougar 46. After another incomplete pass and another sack—the seventh of the game—the game ended.

    Chance Mock finished the game with 14 completions in 34 attempts for 181 yards passing. The leading runner for the Longhorns was Cedric Benson, who rushed for 83 yards on 22 carries.

    A player destined to become a Longhorn legend played in this game: Vince Young. Young completed six of 14 passes for for 15 yards, and ran the ball nine times for 50 yards.

Holiday Bowl 2007: Charles Runs for 161; Longhorn Ground Game Buries Sun Devils

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    Jamaal Charles ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the 17th-ranked Texas Longhorns (10-3) pounded the 12th-ranked and favored Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3) in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

    Behind the effective generalship of sophomore QB Colt McCoy, an efficient passing game and a bruising, downhill running game, the Longhorns jumped on the Sun Devils early and often, making the outcome of this game all but preordained.

    The Longhorns, who in three previous Holiday Bowls had failed to score a point in the first quarter, lit up the Sun Devils for 21 points in the initial quarter. A two-yard, McCoy-to-Derek Lokey pass for touchdown just 1:21 into the game initiated the scoring barrage.

    Moments later, following a 48-yard run by Jamaal Charles, John Chiles scored from four yards out to give the Longhorns a 14-0 lead.

    With two minutes left in the opening period, McCoy hooked up with WR Quan Cosby for 55 yards. On the very next play, Charles bolted into the end zone from 15 yards out. After a Ryan Bailey extra-point kick, the Longhorns led ASU 21-0.

    In the second quarter, the Sun Devils put together their first scoring drive of the game, going 80 yards in 10 plays, capping the march with a seven-yard touchdown pass from QB Rudy Carpenter to Chris McGaha.

    Two possessions later, the Longhorns answered the Sun Devils' score with another score of their own. Colt McCoy drove the Longhorns 69 yards in nine plays, accounting for the final nine yards and the touchdown himself. Ryan Bailey's extra point was good and the Longhorns took a 28-10 lead into the intermission.

    With the Longhorns on cruise control, Arizona State opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 38-yard march that culminated with a Thomas Weber 46-yard field goal.

    Late in the third quarter, Texas TE Jermichael Finley jumped atop a McCoy fumble in the ASU end zone for a touchdown. Prior to the fumble, Colt had just run for 30 yards to the Sun Devil three-yard line, at which point the ball was knocked out of his hands and into the end zone, where Finley recovered. In any case, the Longhorn lead was extended to 22 points at 35-13.

    ASU added a touchdown late in the third quarter, but never seriously threatened the Longhorns.

    A Ryan Bailey 21-yard field goal and a 28-yard touchdown dash by Vondrell McGee put the Longhorns up by 32 points with 11:09 to play. The Sun Devils answered with consecutive, meaningless scores of their own, cutting the Texas lead to 11 at 45-34.

    The exclamation point of this Longhorn bashing of ASU was provided by Jamaal Charles, who ran 32 yards for the final Longhorn points of the night.

    The offensive MVP of the game was Colt McCoy, who, while plagued with “fumble-itis”—McCoy had four, but lost only one to the Sun Devils—put up solid numbers, going 21-for-31 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. McCoy also added 84 yards on the ground and another touchdown.