As Brown prepared his Longhorns to play the Cowboys Saturday night in Stillwater, he reflected about the reasons his team often needed those dramatic comebacks to win.
“I wondered about the slow starts, like a lot of our fans have, up in Stillwater over the last couple of years,” Brown said. “I think that their coaches just probably did a better job than I did of getting them ready to play.”
Brown might deflect some of the blame from his players, but he knows that his No. 3 Longhorns must be ready Saturday night -- even with the long winning streak over OSU.
“They are very talented and they are very well coached,” Brown said. “This is a national game with national implications and it has our full attention and full respect.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been a part of the last four losses, including dramatic collapses the last two times the Longhorns have visited Stillwater. The Cowboys squandered a 19-point lead at home in 2005 and a 21-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter in 2007.
Despite the Longhorns’ repeated success, Gundy said he doesn’t consider the Cowboys as “snake bit” in their recent games against Texas.
“That question comes up every year,” Gundy said. “I’m not so sure it’s snake bit, but the fact that when we played Texas, they have had some good football teams. If you look back over the last four years and see what their record is, it’s probably good.”
Texas’ traditional success will make the Cowboys especially attentive of factors that have led to their collapses over the years.
“When you are competing in a team sport against teams that are really good, you have to be sound in all areas,” Gundy said. “You have to have a good plan and your players tuned in to what you have to do to win. There’s some credit for putting players in position to win and then, you’d like to find a way to get it done.”
Oklahoma State has never done that when Brown was coaching the Longhorns. Here are some of his most memorable victories that he’s engineered over the years.
1998: Texas 37, Oklahoma State 34 -- Texas won the game only when Kris Stockton’s 29-yard field goal glanced off the left upright before sliding through the goal posts with three seconds left. “Shoot,” Brown said after the game. “This is a hell of a way to make a living.”
2002: Texas 17, Oklahoma State 15 -- The Longhorns jumped to a 17-3 lead before Oklahoma State charged back with 4:04 left on a 33-yard TD pass from Josh Fields to John Lewis. But their two-point conversion play was denied when Rod Babers tackled Rashaun Woods at the 1-yard line. Babers provided the clincher moments later with an interception that killed the Cowboys’ final drive.
2003: Texas 55, Oklahoma State 16 -- After trailing 16-7 late in the first half, the Longhorns blew the game open by running off 48 straight points. Cedric Benson rushed for 180 yards and Roy Williams snagged six receptions for 162 yards to key the comeback. Earlier, Oklahoma State took the lead after three field goals by Luke Phillips, including kicks of 52 and 53 yards.
2004: Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35 -- The Cowboys jumped to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter, only to have the Longhorns charge back for the biggest comeback in school history. Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and five touchdowns. The Longhorns blew the game open by scoring on six straight possessions as they limited the Cowboys to only 105 yards in the second half.
2005: Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28 -- The Longhorns’ national championship season was marked by this game, where they charged back from a 19-point second-quarter deficit against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State had lost four conference games in a row before this game, but jumped on the Longhorns fast after two long TD passes from Al Pena to D’Juan Woods. But Vince Young engineered the comeback rushing for a career-high 267 yards and two TDs and passing for two more scores.
2007: Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35 -- Ryan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns a victory to cap a comeback from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit. Jamaal Charles rushed for 180 yards and provided two of his three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. And Oklahoma State kicker Jason Ricks misfired on a 34-yard field goal attempt with 1:13 left for the Cowboys that would have given them the lead. “The mind is a powerful, powerful thing, especially in sports,” Brown said after the game. “When we put pressure back on them, I think that question arises again, ‘Uh, oh. Here we go again.’”
2008: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24 -- Colt McCoy passed for 391 yards and two touchdowns, but the Longhorns’ defense paved the way for the victory with two huge stands late in the game. Jordan Shipley provided 15 receptions for 168 yards to spark Texas’ offensive attack. But the game wasn’t preserved until Curtis Brown swatted away a desperation heave from Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson on the final play of the game near the Texas end zone.