Darrell Royal had to be smiling as the Longhorns lined up in Wishbone formation, honoring Coach on their first offensive play of the game. That formation is as close to Darrell Royal football as Texas would get because as David Ash received the snap, the Longhorns ran a double reverse pass, surprising everyone in the stadium including the Iowa State Cyclone defense.
The play went for 47 yards and the Horns were on their way to a dominating 33 - 7 victory against a good but overmatched Iowa State team. The win takes Texas to 8-2 on the year with a Thanksgiving date against TCU coming up.
Don't look now, but there is another 8-2 team about 90 miles east of Austin. While the Longhorns may be considered a "weak" 8-2, the Texas A&M Aggies could never be described that way now.
As much as Longhorn Nation may wish it to be so, the Texas Longhorn football team is not nearly the best in Texas. And guess who's laughing now? Texas A&M, the team many a Longhorn thought (hoped?) would be sucking wind in the "best college football conference ever" (better known as the SEC) is about to jump into the rare air of top 10 football teams after defeating the juggernaut formerly known as the No. 1 ranked national-champion-to-be Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Longhorns of Saturday bear little resemblance to the team that barely got out of Lawrence, Kansas with a win and completely failed to show up in Dallas.
The Aggies were not supposed to be this good — they were not supposed win six games let alone beat the unbeatable Bama and place the SEC's six-game national championship streak in jeopardy. Yet here they are, driving Longhorn fans insane and playing for a BCS berth, yes, it could happen. Apparently all the Aggies needed was a new coach, a new conference and a freshman phenom now known as Johnny Football.
Meanwhile, back in Austin, Mack Brown has his team coming around. Sure, it took 10 games to get there, but this Texas Longhorn team seems poised to make a strong finishing run. They need to be. TCU will be ready for a season defining Thanksgiving win and Kansas State will be working toward a national championship berth.
"They’re starting to show signs of what we want," said Brown after the game. "And I think offensively, we’ve seen that. Whereas defensively, we saw nothing from about Ole Miss to Baylor. Then the second half of Baylor we started seeing some guys getting in the right places. The last three weeks we’ve played better defense at times."
Better is an understatement. The Longhorns of Saturday bear little resemblance to the team that barely got out of Lawrence, Kansas with a win and completely failed to show up in Dallas. Texas' offense has been clicking most of the season (Kansas and OU notwithstanding) and again went over 600 yards Saturday.
It's the defense that shows the most remarkable turnaround.
Texas held Iowa State to under 300 yards of offense and had it not been for a momentary loss of focus at the end of the half, would have thrown a shut-out.
Iowa State is not an offensive juggernaut like Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma or Baylor, but they are not a bad football team; Texas is just that much better.
The Horns now have a weekend off before bringing TCU to town on Thanksgiving. Practice needs to be hard and physical. These last two games will decide whether the Longhorns can maintain any semblance of bragging rights over those hated Aggies.