Big 12: Fiesta Bowl first take
After earning a share of the Big 12 South Division title, Texas believed it should have fared better than a berth in Tempe before the BCS controversy played out. But that snub should serve as inspiration for the Longhorns, who still harbor a slim chance at the AP media poll with an impressive victory and a lackluster BCS title game.
Texas' defense progress was its biggest story down the stretch, allowing a combined 16 points to its last two opponents, limiting seven opponents to 14 points or less, ranking second in rush defense and leading the nation in sacks. In the Big 12 -- or anywhere else -- that's pretty good production.
Colt McCoy has been the ringleader of an offense that has posted big numbers without a featured running back. McCoy has been the Longhorns' top rusher, throwing to a pair of wide receivers in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby who rank among the top 20 nationally in receptions per game.
That offense will be challenged by a typically stout Ohio State defense that places in the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, turnover margin and pass defense. And the Longhorns probably still have nightmares about the way that James Laurinaitis ripped through them in an earlier game during a 2006 loss in Austin.
Texas beat the Buckeyes in Columbus in the previous season and the rubber match between the two proud programs should be a good one. But the Longhorns have the kind of across-the-board talent that teams like Penn State and USC utilized to beat the Buckeyes earlier this season.