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November 28, 2008

Texas pounds Texas A&M, will it be enough?

AUSTIN - The Texas fans did all the talking for the Longhorns.

Everywhere the eye could see inside Royal-Memorial Stadium during Thursday night's 49-9 rout of Texas A&M were signs reading, "45-35."

"I agree with them. It cost me a lot of money to make all those signs," Mack Brown joked about thousands signs depicting the score of Texas' October victory against Oklahoma.

"I think that's the deal. We won head-to-head. I don't want to make a big to-do out of it. But Alabama and Florida get to play theirs off. The Big 12 South isn't going to get to play it off, and if that's the case, the two highest ones (in the South) have already played it off, and that's why I think we deserve to go (to next week's Big 12 title game against Missouri)."

After a thorough waxing of Texas A&M, the Longhorns (11-1) have beaten their last two opponents 84-16 (including a 35-7 victory at Kansas on Nov. 14). Texas had six sacks Thursday, which helped UT hold the Aggies to a series record, minus-24 yards rushing.

Now all the Longhorns can do is sit and await their fate. Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State on Saturday, where a grassroots group of Texas fans including more than 17,000 members in a Facebook group - plans to fly an airplane over Boone Pickens Stadium with a sign reading, "45-35."

"It's frustrating not to have our destiny in our own hands," said senior defensive tackle Roy Miller. "It's great to see the support from our fans. Hopefully, we did our campaigning tonight. The good thing is the voters are smart, and I think they will vote the right way."

Colt McCoy also made his statement in the Heisman Trophy race by accounting for four touchdowns. Voters saw McCoy complete 23 of 28 passes for 311 yards and two scores (20 yards to Brandon Collins and 9 yards to Quan Cosby). McCoy also ran 11 times for 49 yards (4.5 ypc) and scored on carries of 14 yards and 16 yards.

"Obviously I'm biased, but I think Colt is the best player in the nation," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "What he's done accuracy-wise and rushing the football and what he's done in a leadership capacity, there's no doubt in my mind our team wouldn't be where it is without his leadership, poise and performances."

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who has 42 touchdown passes and six interceptions, will get another chance to show off for Heisman voters on Saturday at Oklahoma State.

McCoy (32 TD passes and seven INTs) replaced Vince Young (30-2) as the all-time victory leader among quarterbacks at Texas with 31 victories (31-7). He also set the school single-season passing record with 3,445 yards.

Despite a failed attempt by Texas to establish the run early in the game, McCoy led an offense that kept converting on third down. Texas finished 14 of 17 on third-down conversions and totaled 536 yards. Cody Johnson became the third UT player to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, joining McCoy and Chris Ogbonnaya. Johnson finished with eight carries for 102 yards, including TD runs of 1 and 23 yards, as well as a long run of 61 yards - all in the fourth quarter.

"We wanted to leave it all out on the field, and we did that," McCoy said. "We dominated the first half, and we wanted to make a statement coming out in the second half, and we did. From that point on, we controlled the game. If nothing else happens, we share a part of the South, and that was our goal from the very beginning. So we're excited about that."

Texas A&M finished up a 4-8 season under first-year coach Mike Sherman.

"Texas played a whale of a ballgame, and we didn't," Sherman said. "I thought our guys played their hearts out. I thought they played hard. We were overmatched at different times in the ballgame and didn't handle that very well."

A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson started the game, but senior Stephen McGee played most of it. McGee, who had gained a reputation as a Longhorn slayer after leading two straight victories against UT in 2006 and 2007, finished 16 of 24 passing for 207 yards. Johnson was 4 of 11 passing for 62 yards.

"I felt like Stephen deserved to play in this game," Sherman said. "It had meant so much to him in the past, and meant a lot to him today. It was unfortunate we couldn't get anything done."

Johnson was sacked three times, McGee twice and Ryan Tannehill once for A&M. Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, playing extended minutes for the first time since a knee injury suffered in a loss at Texas Tech, had 1.5 sacks, caused a fumble and had four quarterback hurries. Repeated cornerback blitzes also allowed corners Deon Beasley and Ryan Palmer to get to the quarterback.

Other than a 54-yard catch-and-run flare pass to Mike Goodson and a 36-yard missed field goal by Ryan Bailey, Brown said he had little to complain about in Thursday night's game.

"This team has been unbelievable this year," Brown said. "Whether we get to play next week or not - I hope we do - I think we will end up in a BCS game somewhere. Hopefully, we can continue to play like we did."

Chip Brown is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at cbrown@rivals.com.



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