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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Texas Football: The Missouri Game 

Week Seven: No. 1 Texas (6-0) vs. No. 11 Missouri (5-1)
Last Week: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35; Oklahoma State 27, Missouri 23
Last Meeting: (#2) Texas 51, Missouri 20
All-Time Series: Texas leads 15-5

The most ubiquitous gesture in sports is not the "Hook'em" sign, at least not outside of Austin, Texas (or, in its modified form, College Station, Texas, or Norman, Oklahoma). No, the most ubiquitous gesture in sports is something a little simpler: a single raised digit.

You see it almost every time a camera person pans through a throng of fans; it doesn't matter if it's News 8 Austin gathering highlights from the High School Game of the Week or ABC covering two top ten teams on Saturday night in prime time. The sentiment remains the same.

"We're number one."

But how many teams get to actually say they're number one? Watch any game this weekend and invariably after a big play a fan of Ball State, or TCU, or Vanderbilt will flash their index finger toward the camera. But those teams aren't number one. They're not going to be number one.

The Texas Longhorns, on the other hand, are the number one team in the country.

It's early, yes. But that's a moniker to be worn with pride. More than one hundred teams play in the Football Bowl Subdivision and every single one of them is looking up at the Texas Longhorns this week, including the team that could have owned that spot themselves if not for a loss against Oklahoma State.

It's a target; it's a bullseye. It's also a barometer for where this team stands right now, and where they want to stand when this season ends. Our Texas forefathers knew what it was like to possess something the enemy wanted. Their response?

Come and Take It.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin may be the best QB-to-WR combo in the country (or they may be the third- or fourth-best in the conference) but no matter who you put in or atop that group, they're included, and it doesn't take long to call roll, if I may be so bold as to paraphrase Coach Royal.

Texas kept Oklahoma at bay by pressuring Sam Bradford without having to resort to blitzes. If Brian Orakpo and company can duplicate that against a line that probably isn't as stout as the one they faced in Dallas, then even a few Daniel TD passes won't let Missouri escape Austin with a win.

Matt sands the floor with this week's The Week That Will Be
These Longhorns, and specifically Colt McCoy = Daniel LaRusso.

Colt McCoy and the Longhorns enjoyed a stellar beginning to the 2006 season, when it appeared that they were a cinch to repeat as Big 12 champions and go to another BCS bowl game. But then one night in Manhattan, Kansas they ran into Johnny Lawrence, and they were shown no mercy by the Wildcats that night or the Aggies the game after that.

Johnny made the Longhorns life hell in 2007, as Kansas State once again tripped up the Horns, as did Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Then Mr. Miyagi came to their rescue.

As I touched on last week, Will Muschamp and Major Applewhite were brought in to reverse the tide, to stop the senseless losses to the Wildcats and Aggies of the world, and make the Longhorns a tougher team, both physically and mentally.

The Longhorns went to work. And not work in Spring and Summer. And not after a nice breakfast. Their waxing on and waxing off was nearly 100 percent participation in off-season workouts that began at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. Their painting a fence was several recruits (among them phenom safety Blake Gideon) registering early in the Spring semester so that they could hit the ground running. Their sanding the floor was seniors on the team taking on a leadership role, as many of them were old enough to have sniffed a national championship run in 2005, but young enough that now they wanted hardware that they could truly call their own.

Through the training in the Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso not only learns karate from his teacher, but also learns life lessons, such as balance and the importance of not only physical strength, but the strength of the mind as well.
The Karate Kid came out in 1984. Texas last played a regular season game in 1984. Hmmmm... Do you think Mr. Miyagi could use that hand-rubbing healing technique on Blaine Irby?

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"It's nice now. Our goal is not to be No. 1 in October. It's to be the No. 1 team at the end"

Texas OL Adam Ulatoski
Football players can't say, "Come and Take It." That's why guys like me write columns that few people read.
"I don’t think anyone knows who’s No. 1 right now. If I was voting, I would’ve (voted) Alabama at No. 1."

Mack Brown
Of course we don't know who is really number one right now, but half of the fun of following college football is yapping about who's overrated and underrated (note to readers: don't yap about this with SI.com columnist Stewart Mandel [see below]). And of course Mack Brown would have voted Alabama number one, because as Shakespeare said in Henry IV, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Football coaches can't say, "Come and Take It." That's why guys like me write columns that few people read.
"Uncomfortably long."

Christopher Ainley, Longhorn Band cymbal player, with regard to the length of time Colt McCoy's fourth quarter two-point conversion pass hung in mid-air before Quan Cosby nabbed it.
Try looking at it from the top row on the upper deck, where you can't get a handle on exactly how high it bounced.
"The Oklahoma game was the end of the first half of the season. It’s over. Bury it."

Mack Brown
This one is reminiscent of a quote we'll all remember from the spring of 2005: "Rose Bowl's over, y'all." That's not going to stop fans from enjoying the biggest conference win in Brown's tenure, but the team has to be forward-looking, and if nothing else, Brown and his team are saying the right things.
"I'm well aware that Aggies don't consider Texas Tech a rival. I reckon that might make losing 10 of the last 13 games against the Red Raiders easier to stomach."

Dallas Morning News columnist Tim McMahon
I include this because it's always fun to have a laugh at Texas A&M's expense. And I like McMahon's stuff.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Coming soon...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

By now everyone knows that on Saturday Texas will pay its first game as the country's top-ranked team since 1984. So instead I'll throw out two facts that you probably also know, but that probably aren't wuite as top of mind.

(1) Mack Brown has not lost in the week after OU during his tenure on the Forty Acres.

(2) Texas has won all three home games in 2008 by the same score: 52-10.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

2004 didn't hold quite the same magic as 2005. But as Texas prepared to meet Mizzou on a beautiful fall Saturday, my second favorite sports entity prepared to meet a Missouri-based team 120 miles east of here. The St. Louis Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead into Game Four of the 2004 NLCS, and though I had tickets for the Horns' game I sported my Astros gear during the tailgate. Two random Mizzou fans meandered into our corner of the lot and asked if they could partake in the bountiful spread before them, and being the hospitable Texans we are, we happily obliged. Then one of them, the cocksucker, saw my shirt and made an unpleasant remark about the great Craig Biggio. I held my tongue, and ultimately I got the last laugh that afternoon when both Texas and Houston triumphed (we won't discuss the events of Game Seven a few days later). But even four years later I hold little regard for "the best fans in baseball," so for at least a portion of this weekend's tailgate, you can recognize me by looking for this shirt:

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"Live every second, live right on through to the end."
Doc Holliday uttered this one from his deathbed. Texas is more alive now than they've been at this point in most of the hundred-plus years they've fielded a football team, but the sentiment rings true.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

A thread at TigerBoard.com asks posters to "Name two of the main things that come from Texass." Overlooking, for a moment, the asinine modification of our great state's name, I think his hopes for someone to reset one of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's more famous lines fell flat. Most of the replies went a different direction, and this guy hit it on the head. No one heaps praise on Missouri women. And speaking of Missouri, since it's easily modified into "Misery," perhaps "bluesox7" should show some respect when referring to the Lone Star State.

I could go for an encore of this showing...

After the 2005 NLCS I remember watching a great video of two douchebags crying big, fat tears after the Astros clinched the pennant in Busch Stadium's final game. Try as I might, I could not locate that video, so you'll have to watch a relatively ho-hum video of a relatively ho-hom Horns' blowout.

The one I couldn't find went something like this... "boo hoo... the Cards' lost... boo hoo... my uncle used to bring me here when I was six... boo hoo... I love this team... boo hoo... I miss when my uncle used to touch my pee pee... boo hoo."

For the record, Albert Pujols had nothing to do with Brad Lidge's decline in 2006 and 2007.

Prediction: I opt to sleep in instead of visiting the GameDay set.



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