Texas vs. Texas A&M
It was the second greatest victory in Coach Mack Brown’s 37-year career and it didn’t win a championship or a bowl game. It was bigger than that.
When Texas beat A&M 27-25 on Kyle Field Thanksgiving night, the Longhorns proved that one can be a team of destiny at 7-4. Justin Tucker’s 40-yard field goal as time ran out sent the Horns' most hated rival to the Southeast Conference with revenge on their minds, which they might not be able to act on for years. It was like sleeping with your feuding neighbor’s daughter the night before he ships off to Greenland to track glacial melting.
The second greatest victory in Coach Mack Brown’s career was very close to being his second worst loss.
That’s how tense it was at 10:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving night when Tucker, who looks like he just stepped out of “Dazed and Confused,” joined Dusty Mangum, Ryan Bailey and Hunter Lawrence as UT kickers that have won huge games in recent years. But Tucker’s true boot was the biggest of them all.
Consider losing to Michigan, Oklahoma State or Nebraska on a missed field goal. Now imagine how Kyle Field would’ve been if Tucker hooked a frozen duck. Nobody rubs it in like those jarhead Aggie fans and the women who can somehow stand to kiss them. Texas would've had to live with the loss a long time. Now the Aggies do.
Case McCoy’s magical 25-yard romp with under a minute left, set up the stone that killed two birds: the Aggies' season and egocentric stupidity. The more gripping the game became, the more the powers at UT and A&M seem ludicrous for ending such a spectacular annual event. These people would bulldoze the Alamo because of hurt feelings and a big cable deal.
A come-from-behind victory over A&M, whose players, especially #11, acted like little butthairs all game, was as sweet a win as I've ever watched (in complete terror.) Baylor on Saturday will be fun- Thursday’s game felt like life and death.
I own a DVD of the Longhorns 2005 national championship victory over USC, which I’ve watched about three times. I’m already on my fifth viewing of the Texas/ A&M game, though I have to admit that I fast forward whenever Texas has the ball in the first three quarters.
Lately, I’ve been replaying the game on a loop with the sound off and music in the background. Some folks have plants, I have Texas 27, A&M 25. On iTunes shuffle, Pavarotti’s “Nessun Dorma” started playing one time just as McCoy engineered the game-winning drive and it was maybe the only song that could match the drama.
I almost passed out from the blood rushing to my head when the kick sailed true, McCoy exploded into euphoria on the sidelines and Tucker raced down the field, as Pavarotti’s voice soared into the galaxy. Two days later I was still high. Oh, lord, if J-Tuck missed... but he didn't.
Every year TV announcers in October try to build up Texas vs. Oklahoma as the most intense rivalry, but A&M has always been Longhorn Enemy #1. It doesn’t matter if they’re both 2-8 going in. A win against the other team makes the season a success.
So, congratulations to the hard-fighting, never-give-up Longhorns, who’ve had some tough games, some devastating injuries and an offense all too well acquainted with “three and out.” We've been hard on them, but they stuck together like brothers and now can celebrate a glorious 2011 season.
They beat the Aggies! While A&M decided to take away 118 years of tradition, the Longhorns left them with something deep and dark- redemption canceled- that'll have them coming back, Reveille's tail between the legs. Because of what happened on the field Thanksgiving night and all the emotions wrapped around a single moment, those in power will have to do what's right.