Texas wins Alamo Bowl 26-24
For Horns, 10 victories enough reason to cheer
Sunday, December 31, 2006
SAN ANTONIO — The Longhorns' come-from-behind 26-24 victory over the hardluck Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday might have represented more of a relief than a classic bowl win for the ages.
Or, as more than one Texas player shouted to the sellout crowd after all the Alamo Bowl hardware had been handed out:
"It's all about the 10 wins, baby."
The Longhorns, with 26 seniors giving one final curtain call, picked up their 10th win, defeating a 6-7 Iowa team and extending their national-leading streak of double-digit victory seasons to six. That achievement was the main remaining goal for the team.
"We win so much at the University of Texas that a 10-win season doesn't seem that big," said Longhorn receiver Limas Sweed. "But a 10-win season is a good one."
To achieve No. 10 in the Alamodome, Texas relied heavily on an offense that junked the run in the second half and a much-maligned defense that finally played the pass late in the game the way many expected it to do all season.
The significant plays were many in a game in which the Longhorns found themselves down by 14 midway through the opening quarter. They included:
•Aaron Ross' interception in the end zone late in the second quarter that kept Iowa from taking what would have been a momentum-gutting, 21-3 lead at halftime. On the previous play, Iowa had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
"The momentum change from that point was huge," understated Texas coach Mack Brown said.
•Colt McCoy's 20-yard touchdown strike to Sweed on the ensuing possession that allowed Texas to cut the score to 14-10.
When the Longhorns got to the line of scrimmage, McCoy and Sweed immediately saw that Iowa was using a single cornerback to cover the split end. As they've done so many times during the season, McCoy gave Sneed a nod for an audible, changing the route from a post to a sideline streak.
•McCoy's throw on a little-used wheel route to tailback Jamaal Charles, who then jetted 72 yards for the touchdown. The throw was McCoy's 29th touchdown pass of the year, tying the national freshman record. More important, it gave the Longhorns their first lead at 20-14 with 7 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"That was his best throw of the game," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said of McCoy's toss, the longest completion of the season. "It was over the shoulder; he laid it right in there and then he got blasted right after it."
McCoy, who suffered a severely pinched nerve after he was blasted at the end of the Texas A&M game, showed no lingering symptoms, completing 26 of 40 passes for 308 yards. He was voted outstanding offensive player of the game.
•McCoy's unexpected scramble on fourth down with 11 minutes to go in the game to set up Selvin Young's winning touchdown. McCoy bootlegged to the right with fullback Chris Ogbonnaya as a lead blocker, running 8 yards to the Hawkeye 2.
•Safety Marcus Griffin's stuff of an Iowa trick play — an attempted flanker pass that has burned Texas all season. The play, with 3:35 left to play, resulted in an 11-yard loss.
"I knew it was coming — we'd been beaten by that play in the last 10 games," Griffin said. "We knew it had to come, I guess that was the best time for it."
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz described the call as "totally my fault. I was being greedy, I thought we had a secure play."
Iowa quarterback Drew Tate threw two incomplete passes, then the Hawkeyes punted with a little more than 2 minutes to play. The Longhorns, buoyed by an 11-yard end around from flanker Billy Pittman, burned all but 10 seconds off the clock. Greg Johnson's 56-yard punt pinned Iowa at its own 15.
A play later, the game was over, setting off a Longhorn party that at times turned as rowdy as any celebrated championship. At least a dozen Texas starters climbed to the podium at midfield to to preen next to the trophy, while an Alamo Bowl volunteer passed out commemorative T-shirts to all the players.
The last celebration of the season culminated with a cacophony of loud pops, as Texas players and coaches stomped on balloons that littered the field as they trotted to the locker room to extend the party.
"This team was really under a lot of pressure," Brown said. "Because a lot of people thought we didn't want to be here.. . . We continued with a legacy of 10 wins. That's really something to get excited about for the fall."