Texas fortifies No. 2 ranking vs. Texas Tech

Analysis

October 24, 2005|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

Let the lobbying begin.

With last week's first Bowl Championship Series rankings of the 2005 season indicating Southern California and Texas are running a strong 1-2, Longhorns coach Mack Brown took the opportunity to distance his team from the other unbeatens that still have hopes of playing the Trojans in the Rose Bowl.

"I thought, at the first of the year, nobody deserved to be No. 2 in the polls," Brown said after Texas dismantled 10th-ranked Texas Tech, 52-17, in Austin on Saturday. "I thought USC deserved to be No. 1 because they had done enough to deserve it.

"Now, I think this team definitely deserves to be No. 2 in the country."

Based on how sloppily No. 3 Virginia Tech played in beating Maryland on Thursday night in College Park, and how lucky No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Alabama were in narrowly winning their games Saturday against Arkansas and Tennessee, respectively, Brown might be right this time.

A year ago, Brown lobbied Texas into the Rose Bowl, and the Longhorns backed up his opinion with a win over Michigan. The impressive performance by the Longhorns over the high-scoring Red Raiders should help widen the gap between No. 2 and the others in contention.

And Brown doesn't believe his team has played its best football yet.

"If you cannot play your best game and still score 52 points, it shows you that you have a chance to be special," Brown said.

No second chances

Of all the football players in Division I-A, you can make a strong case for Auburn kicker John Vaughn as having the toughest week. Vaughn missed five field-goal attempts in a 20-17 overtime loss to No. 7 LSU.

A year after getting a second chance at an extra point and using that opportunity to help Auburn beat LSU, 10-9, Vaughn missed a 49-yarder in the closing seconds of regulation and then saw a 39-yarder in overtime hit the left upright.

"About three of the kicks tonight, when I hit them I thought they were good. I got a little unlucky, and they went right or left," Vaughn said. "The last one tonight, I thought I hit it pretty good and when I looked up I knew I was probably going to need a little bit of luck right there."

At least one of Vaughn's teammates wasn't putting the loss on his shoulders, or foot.

"We can't blame it on one person," said tailback Kenny Irons, who rushed for a career-high 218 yards. "Everybody made mistakes. We just have to keep our heads up."

End of a streak

While USC kept the longest winning streak in Division I-A alive at 29 games with its win at Washington, another streak ended when Division III powerhouse Mount Union lost at home to Ohio Northern, 21-14.

It was the first regular-season loss for Mount Union in 11 years, a streak that stretched 110 games. During that streak the team had won seven national championships.

"We don't make a big deal about individual wins around here, so we don't plan on making a big deal about a loss," Mount Union coach Larry Kehres said.

The Polar Bears built leads of 14-0 and 21-7 and stopped Mount Union on fourth-and-goal at the Ohio Northern 1-yard line with one second left in the first half.

"I don't think we were necessarily surprised by what happened," Ohio Northern coach Dean Paul said. "We played them tough last year, and they just played better than we did in the fourth quarter on that day. Today, our guys battled all game long."

Best game

A day with more blowouts than nail-biters ended late Saturday night in Berkeley, as California came from 10 points down behind quarterback Joseph Ayoob, who threw two touchdowns in the last 5:19 to beat Washington State, 42-38. It was the second straight week that the Cougars blew a big lead.

Worst game

At least Alabama's 6-3 win over Tennessee had some drama. It started with the tension of Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer coming to Tuscaloosa for the first time since turning in the Crimson Tide to the NCAA and ended with a last-second field goal to help the Tide stay unbeaten. What did North Carolina's 7-5 win over Virginia have? Not much, except an opportunity to show how inconsistent the Cavaliers play under Al Groh.

don.markus@baltsun.com

The Associated Press and other news organizations contributed to this article.

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