A funny thing happened on the way to the Big XII title game.
Somehow Colorado exploded and scored the most points ever allowed by a Nebraska team (63), and Oklahoma State — a team who has had a losing season in 12 of its last 13 years — stunned Oklahoma, the defending national champs.
After sportswriters and fans across the country had penciled in a Nebraska vs. Oklahoma rematch in the conference championship game, Colorado and Texas are now scheduled for their very own rematch. But the game at Texas Stadium this weekend has much higher stakes.
The winner would likely go to the Fiesta Bowl, and for Colorado, it would be its first-ever BCS bid. If the Buffaloes lose, however, expect them to play Washington in the Holiday Bowl.
The Longhorns must have mixed feelings for playing in a game with such high stakes. Had the Sooners defeated the Cowboys last week, UT would have an almost definite at-large bid for a BCS bowl game. Now if the Longhorns lose, they are out of the BCS picture and will drop even further than Cotton Bowl, since OU will very likely send in its RSVP for Dallas this week. Then, Texas will be sent packing for San Diego to face the Huskies.
But Texas may have nothing to worry about if they play the way they did against Colorado on Oct. 20. The Longhorns racked up 425 yards offensively, en route to a 41-7 drubbing of the Buffs. It was freshman running back Cedric Benson’s coming-out party in his second start of the season, as he ran for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns.
But rematches always turn out to be a different style the first game. Colorado can only hope that it doesn’t remain the same style as it was on that long day in Austin, Texas.
Nonetheless, both have been playing extremely well since then, as the Buffs have won five straight and the Longhorns are on a six-game winning streak since losing to Oklahoma on Oct. 6.
Here are the keys to success for each of these red-hot teams.
Why Texas will win: The Longhorns have the best turnover margin in the Big XII, giving up the ball just 13 times and forcing 26 turnovers. Colorado, on the other hand, has been prone to cough the ball up at key times in games.
The Longhorns should blitz early and often against Colorado quarterback Bobby Pesavento. If UT can force a few key turnovers early, they will be in business. After all, last week CU showed they can jump out to big leads.
Also, Texas cannot rely on putting up big numbers to win this game, like they have done all season. Granted, Chris Simms and wideout Roy Williams need to connect on big plays, but that alone will not win the game.
It’s simple: win the turnover battle, and you?ll win the game.
Why Colorado will win: The Buffs’ running game was unstoppable last weekend in Boulder. They must have an effective week against Texas. They are averaging 229 yards per game as a team rushing the football and cannot be held significantly below their season average.
In their loss against Texas, Colorado only managed 124 yards on the ground. If that?s the case, expect Pesavento to be heavily pressured and the Buffs’ offense to go nowhere.
Last week, they gained 380 yards on the ground and seemed to put the ball in the end zone at will. Once again, expect Colorado to split up the carries between Bobby Purify and Chris Brown. If they can combine for over 200 yards on the ground, expect a tight one on Saturday night.