October 29, 2009

Deja Vu all over Again? Tech loss haunts Horns

Texas has been in this situation before.

Undefeated and highly ranked. Hitting the road in the Big 12. A huge Saturday night game. Halloween weekend. An opponent amped to take you down in front of a big television audience on ABC. A contest that could shift the course of the South Division.

Last year, the Longhorns went on the road to Lubbock and Texas Tech pulled off the stunner, ruining UT's rush to the national title game. Now the Horns face an eerily-similar situation as they prepare to head to Stillwater for a game against Oklahoma State on Halloween night - making things all the odder.

If there were a football equivalent of Groundhog Day, this could be it.

So that's the situation in front of Texas, as they face its biggest - and possibly last, for all intents and purposes - challenge of 2009. A win here and the Horns should be in solid shape to run the table.

And even though that is out there to think about, Mack Brown and his herd realize how similar this weekend is to that fateful night last year when UT's championship hopes were shattered.

"It's the same week, the same situation," Brown said. "How many times in your life do you get a chance to re-do something that you're not as proud of. That's the emphasis of this week. We don't need style points. We don't need to do anything other than win. We need to find a way to win this week against a really good team, but don't be so surprised. They're talking about all the excitement up there. We should be excited too. This is fun for us. This is a great time for us, and we need to enjoy it, embrace it and go attack it."

With last year as a warning, one would expect that Texas won't come into Orange Country sleepwalking.

"It's the same situation as we were in last year going up to Lubbock," said quarterback Colt McCoy. "We have to learn from that. Coach Brown challenged us in the team meeting. We are in the same position. Everything is working out where all our goals can still be accomplished if we just take care of business this weekend."

But it won't be easy. Aside from Texas having to deal with its ghosts from the Tech game, OSU might be shouting a "Win this for Dez!" rallying cry, going hyper-emotional and downing the Horns for Dez Bryant, who is ineligible for action and likely won't play for the Cowboys ever again. That's just one more motivational headache for UT.

But any worry about OSU being amped for this game is replaced by memories of last year, as an upstart program took away a title run from the Horns. This bunch is determined to control its own destiny - and the 2008 gut-punch will be their mental focus on Saturday night.

"Well last year with a loss, we put our destiny in the hands of a computer," Foswhitt Whittaker said."This year we have a chance to control it. We want to mature from what we did last year and go into Oklahoma State with better mental focus and better preparation."

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