Big 12: Phil Dawson

Brown delivers on pre-game guarantee in No. 10 memory

June, 29, 2009
6/29/09
6:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then beats Nebraska  

Date: Dec. 7, 1996
Place: TWA Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
Score: Texas 37, Nebraska 27

The first Big 12 championship game had much meaning and symbolism on both sides.

Nebraska and Texas had been on opposite sides of practically every major issue in the early history of the Big 12 -- from the first commissioner and site of the conference office to how many partial qualifiers would be acceptable to each conference school.

Nebraska was a two-time defending national champion that came into the game looking for a chance to play for the national championship. Texas arrived as a three-touchdown underdog, but one that had played well down the stretch. The Longhorns entered with a late four-game winning streak that boosted them to the South title after losing four of five games earlier in the season.

When reporters asked Texas quarterback James Brown about the Longhorns' huge underdog status before the game, he brazenly predicted his team might win by three touchdowns.

And while he didn't quite live up to that boast, Brown was masterful in directing one of the most memorable upsets in Big 12 history.

The Longhorns weren't intimidated by the Cornhuskers from the opening snap, marching 80 yards on 11 plays on the first drive of the game, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Priest Holmes. Texas was poised to extend the lead on its second drive after moving inside the Nebraska 10, but Brown was intercepted by Eric Stokes in the end zone to kill the drive.

The Cornhuskers tied the game on their ensuing possession on a 2-yard TD run by DeAngelo Evans.

Holmes later added a 61-yard TD run later in the first half that was matched by a 23-yard TD run by Evans later in the second quarter. Texas claimed a 20-17 halftime lead on a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 1:00 left before the break.

After another Dawson field goal, Nebraska took its first lead of the game on Evans' third TD jaunt of the game -- a 6-yarder with 2:11 left in the third quarter that boosted them to a 24-23 advantage.

The Cornhuskers then extended their lead to 27-23 on a 24-yard field goal by Kris Brown with 10:11 left.

But Brown, who passed for 353 yards on the game, put the Longhorns ahead to stay by arching a 66-yard TD pass to Wane McGarity with 7:53 left.

McGarity, a converted running back, made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch over the outstretched hands of Nebraska safety Mike Minter near the sidelines before streaking past him for the final 35 yards into the end zone.

The Cornhuskers were stopped in Texas territory on the ensuing drive, but opted to punt the ball on fourth down to the Texas 7 with about four minutes left.

Texas coach John Mackovic then converted on the gamble of the year. Facing fourth-and-inches from his own 28, Brown faked a dive and rolled left. Tight end Derek Lewis was wide open down the left sidelines, Brown hit him in stride with a perfect pass, gaining 61 yards before he finally was stopped.

Holmes scored on an 11-yard TD run on the next play, punctuating a wild 37-27 upset victory that gave the Longhorns the first Big 12 title.

Factoids: Coming into the start of the Big 12, Nebraska coach Tom Osborne was the loudest critic of staging a conference championship game. But he and other coaches were outvoted because of the revenue generated for each conference school by the extra game ... Holmes rushed for 120 yards on nine carries ... Ricky Williams was used as a decoy, rushing for a career-low 7 yards on eight carries. But his pass blocking was invaluable in the Longhorns' triumph  ... Evans rushed for a game-high 130 yards on 32 carries ... Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost rushed for 47 yards on 18 carries and completed 15-of-24 passes for 155 yards ... The Longhorns gashed the Cornhuskers for a season-worst 503 yards of total offense, despite having the ball for only 20 minutes, 25 seconds. Texas produced 8.82 yards per snap ... Before the loss, Nebraska had won its previous nine games and their last 31 games against conference opponents.

They said it, part I: "I could have thrown that ball behind my back and hit him. The play was so wide open. I looked up and Derek was open deep. I just had to get him the ball," Texas quarterback James Brown on the "Roll Left" pass to Derek Lewis.

They said it, part II: "Oh God. The losses stick with me more than the wins. And that game was disappointing to say the least. We were more talented with that team than the 1997 team that won the national championship," Nebraska defensive tackle Jason Peter on the disappointment of the Cornhuskers' loss.

They said it, part III: ''That was a tremendous call. It was a big gamble, but it worked,'' Nebraska coach Tom Osborne on Texas' dramatic fourth-down conversion.

The upshot: Texas ruined Nebraska's hopes of playing for a shot at the national championship. Instead, the Longhorns earned their first berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. The Longhorns squandered a halftime lead as the Nittany Lions stormed back to outscore them 31-3 in the second half en route to a decisive 38-15 victory. The loss dropped Texas to 8-5 for the season, finishing No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll.

While knocked out of the national title picture, Nebraska took advantage of four-straight scoring drives in the second half to claim a 41-21 triumph over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The Cornhuskers finished the season 11-2 and No. 6 in the final AP poll -- their lowest end-of-season finish in four years.

The countdown:

11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms."
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Mackovic's UT coaching career doomed in 66-3 loss

June, 22, 2009
6/22/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 15

Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo

Date: Sept. 13, 1997
Place: Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
Score: UCLA 66, Texas 3

Simply stated, it was one of the most embarrassing moments in Texas football history.

 
  Stephen Dunn /Allsport
  Bruins quarterback Cade McNown threw for a school-record five touchdown passes.

Rebuilding UCLA came into the season unranked. And the Bruins' national perception took a hit after starting the season with losses to Washington State and Tennessee.

The No. 11 Longhorns met UCLA without starting quarterback James Brown, who was nursing a bruised left ankle. Texas still had many of weapons returning from a team that had notched an upset victory the previous season to claim the Big 12 championship over Nebraska.

But those factors didn't matter to UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, who blistered Texas' secondary for 202 passing yards and a school-record five touchdown passes to spark the stunning victory.

McNown blew the game open with a pair of touchdown throws 20 seconds apart early in the second quarter; he hit Skip Hicks on a 43-yard scoring pass and then hooked up with Mike Grieb on a 1-yard touchdown reception after a Texas turnover.

But he was just getting started. McNown hit Jim McElroy with a 4-yard touchdown pass and Grieb with another 1-yard scoring toss that boosted UCLA to an improbable 38-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first half.

Texas got a 35-yard field goal from Phil Dawson early in the third quarter to account for all of its scoring, but the landslide didn't stop when UCLA coach Bob Toledo pulled his starters and inserted his substitutes.

The Bruins erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a 10-yard scoring run from Keith Brown with 4:24 left and a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown from Damian Allen 23 seconds later.

The Longhorns struggled with eight turnovers and seven sacks in a humiliating performance that hasn't been matched in Texas' modern football history. It was the worst home defeat in Texas history and at the time was the worst loss for a ranked team in the 61-year history of the Associated Press poll.

The game was played before a crowd of 77,203 that shrank to a few thousand hardy souls before halftime.

But it still didn't keep those fans left fromgiving the Longhorns a standing ovation late in the first half -- after the beleaguered defense forced a incompletion by McNown on third down, stopping UCLA from scoring for the first time.

After the loss, Texas coach John Mackovic was living on borrowed time on the Forty Acres.  

Factoids to note: UCLA scored on its first six possessions ... Mackovic tried two quarterbacks to fill in for Brown with little success. Starter Richard Walton went 16-for-27 for 145 yards with an interception and four sacks before he was pulled. Replacement Marty Cherry was sacked three times and completed 9 of 18 passes for 105 yards and three interceptions ... UCLA's underrated defense shackled Ricky Williams and held him to one of the worst performances of his career. Williams rushed for only 36 yards on 13 carries, the third-lowest total of his career. His only games with less rushing production were 4 yards against Oklahoma in 1995 as a freshman and 7 yards against Nebraska in the 1996 Big 12 championship game ... The victory was the most lopsided for UCLA since the Bruins romped over San Diego Naval Training Center, 67-0, in 1954 ... UCLA turned six of its eight turnovers into touchdowns.

They said it, part I: "My family's out there waiting. I know it sounds horrible, but I don't want to look them in the eye. Playing sports all my life, fighting with my brother, I've never seen something like this. It's embarrassing," Texas center Ryan Fiebiger, who told reporters of his angst after the loss.

They said it, part II: "What do you say to friends and family who see this score?" Texas coach John Mackovic after the loss.

They said it, part III: "When the landslide starts, it's hard to get it stopped. I feel bad for John," UCLA coach Bob Toledo, who spoke after the game of his empathy for Mackovic.

They said it, part IV: "At least the band kept playing." The classic first paragraph in Kirk Bohls' column about the game.

The upshot: Mackovic was never able to overcome the loss as he was fired after the season ended. Only a year after the Longhorns claimed the Big 12 title, Texas finished 4-7. But the Longhorns have been to a bowl game every season since hiring Mack Brown.

Walton would win the starting job in Mack Brown's first season. But he sustained a season-ending injury early-on against the Bruins at the Rose Bowl and never started again for the Longhorns.

The Bruins used the big victory to spark them on a memorable comeback. After losing the first two games of the 1997 season by a combined nine points, UCLA erupted on a 10-game winning streak to finish the season, capped by a 29-23 victory over Texas A&M in the 1998 Cotton Bowl. In that game, UCLA overcame an early 16-0 A&M lead to charge back for the triumph that helped them finish No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll.

The countdown:

16. Kansas State finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

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