Bill Little commentary: Enjoy the trip
It is, perhaps, the most remarkable run in school history.
The record book reminds us of a time in the decade of the 1960s, when Texas football dominated the college football landscape. There was that window between the start of the 1961 season through the middle of 1965, when Darrell Royal's teams posted a 44-3-1 mark.
That was in a time where a regular season was only 10 games. A National Championship could be -- and was in 1963 -- achieved in a season with a maximum of 11 games.
Now, the gauntlet includes a minimum of 12 games, and this year, that total could rise to 14.
And since October 11, 2003, Texas has won 40 games and lost only 3. Three. Against No. 15 Washington State, 28-20 in the 2003 Holiday Bowl, No. 2 Oklahoma, 12-0 in 2004, and No. 1 Ohio State in the second game this year. In that one, Texas lost 24-7, but with 12 minutes remaining in the game, the Longhorns were still very much in it as they missed a field goal that would have cut the score to 17-10.
Saturday's 36-10 victory over Oklahoma State was the Longhorns' 29th win in their last 30 games.
When Mack Brown has been asked to rate his football facilities at Texas, he often has deferred comparisons, saying, "I won't say 'It's the best,' I'll just say 'no one has one better."
So it is with comparing eras of Texas football. But what we know is, Southern Cal, which is 39-2 over the same period, is the only team in the country running on the same track as the Longhorns.
The victory over Oklahoma State was a statement game in a series that has been scary for the Longhorns during the Mack Brown era at Texas. By Brown's figures, UT had trailed the Cowboys at some point in almost every single game. The widest margins, of course, were the 28-point margin (35-7) in the 2004 game, and 19 points (28-9) last year. Those, by the way, rank as two of the largest deficits the Longhorns have ever overcome.
All week, the Longhorn defense had heard the jeers -- a "porous" secondary, an overall national ranking of 112 in pass defense.
Into that environment came Oklahoma State and Bobby Reid, red hot after a definitive, solid victory over Nebraska. Pair Reid with the history of the series, and even some national commentators were picking an upset.
Other national leaders had struggled on this first weekend in November. Texas did not.
Quarterback Colt McCoy had another stellar day, this time setting a school record for touchdown passes in a season. With scoring tosses of 13 yards to Nate Jones, 28 yards to Billy Pittman and 27 yards to Jermichael Finley, McCoy ran his season total to 27. Vince Young and Chris Simms, both starters in the NFL, had held the school mark at 26.
Brown would say afterward that the Longhorns still had their "best" game ahead of them, but for all practical purposes, this was the most complete. The defense came raging after the Cowboys, holding them to just 80 yards rushing and stifling Reid, who hit 11-of-28 passes for only 123 yards. He also had two interceptions.
McCoy, meanwhile, directed an offense that amassed 510 yards, hitting 23-of-29 passes for 346 yards and a directing a rushing game that accounted for 164 more yards. Seven receivers caught McCoy passes. Billy Pittman had seven catches for 88 yards and Quan Cosby cracked the century mark with 101 yards on four catches.
The balance was evident, the victory complete.
The Texas offensive line had been challenged by some pre-game comments by some of the Oklahoma State folks, and they rose to the occasion. On the game's final touchdown, a nine-yard run by Jamaal Charles, center Lyle Sendlein knocked down three Cowboy defenders on the same play.
"Aw," he said afterward, "I think Kasey (Studdard) pushed one of them over to me."
It was a solid team victory, with lots of individual stars, but as Brown always says, "You can coach a team harder after a win." And Texas has been winning a lot, lately.
The results of the weekend put the Longhorns only one win away from clinching the South Division of the Big 12, which would put them in the Championship game in Kansas City on December 2.
What is important to note is that this is the kind of program Brown set out to build when he began laying the foundation when he came to Texas in 1998. And while speculation will focus on what may, or may not happen at the end of this season regarding BCS games, what we know is, the Longhorns have been doing what they are doing for a very long time.
And as you keep you focus on the destination, it is wonderful to see a group of coaches, players and fans who are getting a chance to enjoy the journey.