SAN ANTONIO -- In the end the balloons fell from the sky and swirled around the jubilant, and yes relieved, Texas players and coaches.
A tumultuous season on and off the field was over with an ending that, while not to script, featured enough feel-good moments that it was clear, at least on this day, nobody would burst their bubble.
And now, following a 31-27 win over No. 13 Oregon State (9-4) in front of 65,277 fans at the Valero Alamo Bowl Saturday, the wonder is if that bubble in on the rise.
That's long been the claim of Texas coach Mack Brown. This youth-laden team was one built for the future, Brown continually contended in the face of increasing criticism. The future started 15 minutes early for Texas. The No. 23 Longhorns (9-4), an underdog who played the part to Tony-worthy accolades for three quarters, showed fourth-quarter mettle and moxie rarely seen from a program whose heartbeat had been faint for several seasons.
Finally there was a team coming together. For three years and three quarters there were questions if this collection of players, coaches and the person at the top was right for Texas football. One win won't end those questions. It will quiet them if only because of the way that win came about. Texas had not won after trailing by 10 points all season. The Longhorns trailed 27-17 after David Ash threw an ill-timed interception in the third. That's when Texas folds, Bevo shrugs and the Longhorns start talking about their next recruiting class.
Not this time. The words they had thrown around -- commitment, earn the right, swagger, never quit -- became tangible feelings and were, for the first time, manifested on the field in that fourth quarter.