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Big 12

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Tim Griffin: Tables have turned for UT-OU and Brown vs. Stoops

Web Posted: 10/08/2006 09:38 PM CDT


San Antonio Express-News

DALLAS — The gesture was more symbolic than anything that took place at the Cotton Bowl earlier Saturday afternoon.

But as Texas defensive end Brian Robison buried his school's flag deep into the turf after the Longhorns' 28-10 victory over Oklahoma, it was indicative that the Big 12's balance of power officially has changed.

The Longhorns have taken the top spot, stealing a page from the Sooners to get there.

A dominant physical defensive performance — just like the ones that OU coach Bob Stoops' team used to play against the Longhorns — was the key to UT's second-half comeback victory.

"I feel like the rivalry has turned," Robison said. "The OU-Texas game is about who is going to be more physical. And I felt like we went out and did that today."

After Saturday, UT has all the elements to turn the rivalry in its direction for several years. The Longhorns have the swagger. They have the young quarterback in Colt McCoy. And on Saturday, they had better coaching,

UT coach Mack Brown wasn't answering any questions for his players after Saturday's game as he sometimes did after previous OU games. The Longhorns' second-half defensive performance spoke volumes on the field.

UT has outscored the Sooners 75-22 in the past two games for its first two-game winning streak since Brown's first two seasons in 1998-99. It's the Longhorns' largest margin over a two-game stretch in the rivalry's 101-game history.

No better indication could be seen than in the second half on Saturday. The Longhorns were the team with the bigger hits. You could have switched them into crimson-and-cream jerseys and imagined they were one of Stoops' teams from 2000-04.

"Our No. 1 issue today was to be physical," UT defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said Saturday. "If we weren't going to be physical, I didn't think we could win."

The Longhorns swarmed to the ball and limited OU running back Adrian Peterson to only 38 yards in the second half and a season-low 109 yards for the game.

Trailing 10-7 at the half, Brown implored his team to play with more passion in the second half. UT responded with what he called its best second half in his tenure.

In the process, the Longhorns shut up the detractors who once claimed Brown coddled his players.

"In the past, we used to hear that Texas was soft," Robison said. "But I don't think that anybody's leaving here with any doubts that we're not a tough team."

And the future looks even brighter. With Peterson likely leaving for the NFL after the season and quarterback Paul Thompson's eligibility expiring, OU will be stripped of its two top playmakers.

The OU cupboard might not be bare, but it will take a big dip. Enough that the Sooners likely will scramble to keep up with Texas Tech or Texas A&M as UT's top South Division contender the next couple of seasons.

Saturday's victory gives the Longhorns a huge leg up in the division-title chase. And a chance to defend their national championship isn't out of the question.

The Longhorns clearly are the best one-loss team in the country. As other undefeated teams lose, the nation might start clamoring for a UT-Ohio State rematch in early January.

The only concern in the Longhorns' victory might have been Brown himself. He labored most of the game on a rebuilt knee and grimaced as he rode into his victorious locker room on a golf cart.

But physical pain wasn't going to keep him from soaking this one up. Five years of being tormented as Stoops' annual whipping boy finally appear to be over — for good.


wgriffin@express-news.net