David vs. Goliath
Buffaloes try to spoil Longhorns' hopes for a national championship
It seems as if one team was destined to be there, and the other backed its way in.
One team is finishing its march to a national championship, and the other squeezing bye to its current standing because of an Iowa State loss.
When No. 2 Texas takes on Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game, it will be as close to a David vs. Goliath matchup a conference championship game has seen.
"Texas is on a roll right now," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said in Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference. "They're playing extremely well and are one game away from the national championship, so we know we're going to get their best shot."
If there were ever two teams in a title game going in opposite directions, this is that matchup.
Texas has rolled its way to an undefeated regular season and 18 wins in a row, dating back to last season. In those 18 consecutive wins, seven have been over ranked teams, including a Rose Bowl win over Michigan last season and the Longhorns' first victory over Oklahoma since 1999.
They capped their regular-season run with a 40-29 win over Texas A&M, a game that went down to the wire.
"We needed something like this to shake us up and get us back to work," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Colorado, on the other hand, backed its way into the Big 12 Championship game for the second year in a row.
The Buffaloes had two chances to wrap up the North title, but lost to Iowa State and Nebraska to end their season, leaving the Cyclones with a chance to steal the division.
"The Iowa State game really took the wind out of us and I think that affected our Nebraska game," Barnett said.
Iowa State had a chance to tie Colorado with five conference wins and represent the North in the title game, but fell to Kansas 24-21 in overtime Saturday.
Although Colorado failed twice to clinch the division, Barnett and his team are out to prove they belong. "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the North," Barnett said.
"We're certainly disappointed in the way we played last game, and there's no question we're here to get that taste out of our mouths."
The championship game is a rematch of an Oct. 15 game in which Texas jumped out to a 28-0 lead and never let Colorado threaten.
The Longhorns led by 32 in the fourth quarter, with quarterback Vince Young rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more.
"We made it easier for Texas than we had to," Barnett said. "You can't play a team like that and make the mistakes we made and still be in the game."
Brown and his Longhorns are throwing out the past, knowing they have a Texas-sized bullseye on their backs.
"This time of the year, we have more pressure on us than Colorado," Brown said.
"When you're on the roll we're on, you have to handle the pressure. Everyone is taking their best shot. What we have to do is play a one game season to try to get to Pasadena."
Brown also has a history with Colorado to remember.
In 2001, Texas entered the Big 12 Championship game against No. 9 Colorado as the No. 3 team in the nation, with a trip to the national championship on the line.
The Buffaloes upset Texas, 39-37, shattering the Longhorns' Big 12 and national title hopes.
Still, Barnett said he knows that game is a far cry from the one the two teams are about to play.
"Texas is a better team in 2005 than they were in 2001, obviously, and we might not be quite as good as we were," Barnett said.
The Big 12 Championship game will be played at noon Saturday in Houston and will be broadcast nationally by ABC.