Pro Horns: Two teams, two horns, one victor


    I spent most of my summer up in Missouri this year, and while there, I got the distinct pleasure of going frog gigging. That’s what Texas will be doing Saturday, except without the boat and high-powered lights.See, something’s changed with this team since Texas met Michigan in the Rose Bowl in the 2004-2005 season. The team doesn’t lose big games anymore. Mack Brown has figured out how to get the best out of his team when it matters most.

    They can be taken by surprise and beaten, but TCU’s not going to be taking anyone by surprise after demolishing Baylor 27-0. Ohio State beat Texas last year in a huge non-conference game, but looking back, that game was just about unwinnable.

    TCU likes to brag that they’ve beaten five straight Big 12 opponents. If you look closer though, Oklahoma was the only eyebrow-raising triumph, and it happened in 2005. Eleven students from any given dorm – Kinsolving, Scottish Rite – could’ve beaten the Sooners in 2005. Think I’m exaggerating? TCU lost to SMU the next week.

    Meanwhile, Texas hasn’t lost to a non-BCS team in the BCS era. In fact, the last loss to someone outside one of the major conferences was to those BCS-darlings at Notre Dame in 1996.

    The Longhorns are deeper than TCU and just as fired up. The Horned Frogs are fighting for respect and wanting to shoot an “I told you so” over the Big 12’s bow. Texas is defending its home field and trying to shake off the sudden perception that its overrated.

    TCU has the luxury of being the underrated team with little to lose and worlds to gain by rolling down I-35 and knocking off the big boys at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. Don’t think they’ve got the credentials? Brown knows what they’ve accomplished the last few years.

    “They have won four of the last six games against ranked teams,” he said. “They’ve won three of the last four bowl games. They’ve won their last five Big 12 games, which answers your question about whether they could be in the Big 12 or not. Obviously they could, and would be really good in the Big 12.”

    Fair enough, but Texas has a few accomplishments of their own in the last few years. Since 2004, our record is 35-4, and half those losses were to teams ranked in the AP’s top five. The team has won a bowl game in each of those years including a pair of BCS bowls, one of which was against No. 1 USC for a national title.

    So I’ll call TCU’s good years and raise them some great years.

    While it’s probably true that TCU is as good as it has ever been, and Texas looked rough around the edges – and through the middle – Saturday, history shows that first game blowouts are often deceiving. Brown’s called the close call against Arkansas State “probably the best thing that ever happened.”

    I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Texas’ young team got a nice object lesson that tired clich‚s about “any given Saturday” aren’t just mindless rhetoric. If Arkansas State could come close to beating the Longhorns, TCU certainly can pull it off.

    But they won’t.

    When it comes down to big games, Texas simply has the magic. TCU? It’s just a bunch of muggles.