Billy Smith II Houston Chronicle
Colt McCoy and the top-ranked Texas Longhorns hope to avoid another close call against Oklahoma State Saturday.
AUSTIN — Texas coach Mack Brown might want to reverse the script and give his halftime speech before the game Saturday.
Home or away, the Longhorns have made a habit of starting slow against Oklahoma State. Four times in the past five seasons, the Longhorns have trailed the Cowboys:
• • They were down by nine points in the second quarter in 2003.
• e_SBlt They fell behind by 28 points in the first half in 2004.
• • In 2005, they trailed by 19 points at halftime.
• • Last season, they were down 21 points entering the fourth quarter.
Whether it was Vince Young’s heroics or a last-second field goal, the Longhorns rallied each time.
“It’s definitely been a crazy game,” wide receiver Jordan Shipley said. “It seems like we always fall behind and end up coming back. Hopefully we won’t start off bad this year like we have the last few years.”
No time to waste
Brown warns another slow start could be fatal for the top-ranked Longhorns this time against No. 7 Oklahoma State. At 7-0, the Cowboys are off to their best start since 1945. For a program that’s never finished higher than third in the Big 12 South, the Cowboys are tied with Texas and Texas Tech for the division lead and remain in the national title discussion as one of only nine remaining unbeatens in Division I-A. The Cowboys also represent the most balanced offense Texas will face this season.
“The past games have absolutely no bearing on this year,” Brown said. “This is by far their best team. We’re not talking about an Oklahoma State team that’s 4-7. We’re talking about an Oklahoma State team that is undefeated and has a chance to win the national championship.”
In 2003, Oklahoma State led 16-7 in the second quarter only for the Longhorns to score 48 unanswered points and win 55-16 in Stillwater. In 2004, the Cowboys jumped out to a 35-14 halftime lead over the Longhorns in Austin. What followed was the biggest comeback in school history, as Texas scored 49 unanswered points for a 56-35 victory.
Saving title hopes
The biggest threat to the Longhorns’ national title run in 2005 came against an Oklahoma State team that was 0-4 in Big 12 play. Trailing 28-9 at halftime, Young accounted for a school-record 506 yards total offense in a 47-28 victory. The 19-point rally tied the second-largest in UT history.
During those three games, the Longhorns outscored Oklahoma State 118-0 in the second half.
“We definitely don’t like to put ourselves in that position,” quarterback Colt McCoy said. “We’ve been fortunate to finish strong in those games and come out on top.”
A year ago, the Longhorns posted their biggest fourth-quarter comeback in school history. Oklahoma State led 35-14 before the Longhorns engineered three touchdown drives — including two that covered 99 and 91 yards — to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining. Ryan Bailey hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired for the 38-35 victory.
“They always come out ready to play,” cornerback Ryan Palmer said. “They’ve proven it to us in past years. They come out excited to play. We just have to match that intensity.”