2003 SBC Cotton Bowl Classic No. 9 Texas 35, LSU 20
DALLAS -- Down by 10 points early, the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns devised a simple game plan; get the ball to junior WR Roy Williams.
The Odessa native turned a short slant into a 51-yard touchdown, went 75 yards after a leaping grab to set up another score and snaked 39 yards for a score on an end-around as No. 9 Texas rallied past LSU, 35-20, in the 67th SBC Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Longhorns (11-2) trailed 17-7 three minutes into the second quarter, with the defense producing the lone score courtesy of senior LB Lee Jackson's 46-yard return of a Marcus Randall fumble in the first quarter. The offense, which ran only three plays in the opening quarter, then caught fire.
UT scored the next 28 points beginning with senior QB Chris Simms' 51-yard strike to Williams in the second quarter and concluding with another Simms touchdown pass, an 8-yard toss to junior FB Ivan Williams. The Longhorns broke a four-game losing streak in the Cotton Bowl stadium with the 15-point triumph.
The Longhorns finished with 382 total yards (113 rush/269 pass) against a defense that was surrendering an average of 278.8 yards per game. Simms completed 15-of-28 passes for 269 yards, well above the 143 passing yards per game LSU was giving up, which ranked second nationally entering the contest.
Roy Williams, the game's Offensive MVP, finished with four receptions for 142 yards to close out the season with a school-record five consecutive 100-yard games.
Simms wrapped up his standout Texas career with his 26th victory as a starter, tying Marty Akins (1973-75) for second-best win total in school history.
The Longhorns now have consecutive 11-win seasons for the first time in school history and most likely will have back-to-back Top-10 season finishes for the first time since 1977-78. It also marked the 40th win for the 1999 recruiting class, tops in UT annals.
For LSU (8-5), it was the second consecutive game a 17-7 lead was wasted. The Tigers were up by that score in the fourth quarter of their regular season-ending 21-20 loss at Arkansas. A victory would have put them in the SEC Championship game against georgia. The Classic loss ended a streak of five straight bowl victories for the program.
Randall led LSU to 10 first-quarter points against a defense that had allowed a national-best 16 in the quarter all season. His only mistake was fumbling when sacked by senior DE Cory Redding, who was tabbed the game's Defensive MVP (eight tackles, four TFLs). Jackson scooped up the loose ball and ran 46 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble return in Cotton Bowl history.
Randall had a 76-yard run on LSU's second play of the second quarter, the Tigers' longest play of the season (one more than his famous "Bluegrass Miracle" pass that beat Kentucky with no time remaining). RB Domanick Davis capped that drive with a 10-yard TD run to extend the lead to 17-7.
Two plays later, the Roy Williams Show began.
On first down from the UT 49-yard line, he shook CB Corey Webster at the line of scrimmage, caught a bullet pass from Simms in stride and ran away from the defense for a 51-yard touchdown. The next time Simms threw his way, he made a nice catch in traffic and raced 75 yards toward the end zone before being shoved out of bounds at the five. Sophomore RB Cedric Benson capped the scoring drive when he scored from one yard out to put UT up for good (his sixth consecutive game with a rushing TD).
Both teams came out sluggish in the second half and LSU seemed to grab the momentum when Davis ran for 44 yards on third-and-22 from its 8-yard line, but that drive ended with Randall fumbling and Jackson again recovering.
After an 18-yard pass to Roy Williams and a 17-yard run by Benson, Simms faked a handoff to Benson and slipped the ball to Roy Williams, who came across from the left side for a 39-yard TD run. Williams weaved between several defenders and avoided being hit until the 5-yard line, but it didn't stop him from lunging across the goal line.
LSU got a 39-yard field goal from John Corbello early in the fourth quarter and recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Tigers couldn't score again.
It took 40 years, but UT avenged a 13-0 loss to LSU in the 1963 Cotton Bowl, the last meeting between the two schools. The Longhorns now hold a 9-7-1 adavantage in the all-time series.