November 27, 2009
Texas 49, Texas A&M 39. The short take on the Longhorns' rocket-fueled escape from College Station is "Colt McCoy remains awesome" -- the senior had the defining game of his season with 478 total yards, five touchdowns and a career night as a runner. With some more perspective and a dash of pessimism, you might add, "And it was a good thing he did," with Texas A&M lighting up the previously impenetrable Longhorn defense for its worst game of the season in pretty much every way imaginable -- the Aggies obliterated previous season highs against the 'Horns by 15 points, 117 total yards and 2.4 yards per play and went almost three full quarters without a punt to close the game.
So it was a rough night for the Big 12's best defense, or as rough as it can be en route to a double-digit win over a hated rival to close the first 12-0 regular season in school history. If any Texas fans are looking to sober up, though, they should compare tonight's sudden Aggie outburst not only to the Longhorns' exemplary efforts this year, but also to the defenses on teams the 'Horns are most trying to emulate in the long run:
Against Texas A&M, the Longhorn defense ...
• Allowed more points (39) than any eventual BCS champion has ever allowed in regulation. The only teams to score more than 39 against an eventual BCS champ are Kentucky (43) and Arkansas (50) in upsets over LSU in '07, but both came in multiple overtime sessions. Only three teams (Ole Miss vs. Florida in 2008, Kentucky vs. LSU in 2007 and Alabama vs. LSU in 2007) have managed 30 points against an eventual BCS champ since 2001.
• Allowed more yards (531) than any eventual BCS champion has ever allowed in regulation. The only 500-yard games against a final No. 1 this decade were Arkansas' triple-overtime shootout with LSU in '07 (fueled by a pair of soon-to-be first round draft picks, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones) and USC's 574-yard effort against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl, and Jarrod Johnson, Christine Michael and Jeff Fuller aren't exactly Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Dwayne Jarrett.
• Allowed more passing yards (343) than any eventual BCS champion since the '05 Longhorns allowed 369 to Texas Tech, on twice as many passes (64) by the Raiders' Sonny Cumbie as Johnson threw (33) tonight. None of the last three BCS champs has allowed 300 yards passing in a game, and no eventual BCS champ has ever allowed four touchdown passes in one sitting.
• Allowed more yards per play (7.6) and per pass (10.4) than any BCS champion has ever allowed in a game.
It could very well be that the 'Horns found themselves on the wrong end of the blossoming of a burgeoning offensive nightmare at A&M, with Johnson looking for all the world like he's finally caught up to the hype and nine of the top 10 skill players around him coming back next year as sophomores and juniors; the Aggies are an exceptionally young offense with a vault of momentum tonight they can draw on throughout the offseason.
The one thing Texas didn't need now, though, is the return of all the questions that had slowly receded as the defense continued to emerged as one of the most improved units in the country. UT had only won two games before tonight by less than 24 points (34-24 over Texas Tech and 16-13 over Oklahoma), both of which corresponded to the point spread going in. That wasn't the case tonight, which has the Longhorns looking at least slightly vulnerable for the first time, at the worst time.