Texas, Colorado going opposite ways since '05 game

Oct 9, 2009 - 6:13 PM By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas(AP) -- Four years ago, Texas handed Colorado a crushing 70-3 defeat in the Big 12 championship game that had to feel like the absolute bottom for Buffaloes fans.

The Longhorns went on to win the 2005 national championship. Back up in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado coach Gary Barnett was forced out, fiery Dan Hawkins was hired to replace him and good times were supposed to follow.

They're still waiting.

Struggling Colorado (1-3) is headed back to Texas on Saturday night to face a No. 2 Longhorns (4-0) team again in the hunt for the national title, not to mention the Big 12.

"Winning the Big 12 is one of the premiums on the list," said the eternally optimistic Hawkins. "It starts now."

Hawkins, who was 53-11 in five seasons at Boise State, is 14-27 with three losing seasons at Colorado. He tried to inject some life into the program when he said the goal for 2009 was "10 wins, and no excuses," but that is already out of reach after just four games.

The Longhorns have won at least 10 games eight seasons in a row, several of them including blowout wins over the Buffaloes. Texas has outscored Colorado 181-41 in the last four meetings and the Longhorns are 32 1/2-point favorites to make it a rout again.

And that's exactly why coach Mack Brown has issued a warning to his team to avoid looking ahead to next week's showdown with Oklahoma in Dallas.

"They're desperate," Brown said of Colorado. "When you come in against a team desperate for a win, you have to expect anything."

Texas has cruised through the early part of its schedule, briefly stepping into Big 12 play for a 34-24 win over Texas Tech on Sept. 19. Then came a 64-7 whipping of Texas-El Paso before an open date to rest up for the big push over the next eight weeks.

After Colorado, four of Texas' next seven opponents are ranked in the Top 25.

"We're going to start the toughest stretch of the year," Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said. The Longhorns' defense, anchored by a better-than-expected defensive line, seems to be improving every week. Texas forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, against UTEP.

Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins, the coach's son, has thrown seven picks this season as the Buffaloes have scrambled to play catchup in their three losses.

The Texas offense looks to be getting rolling at the right time. After struggling early in their first three games, McCoy and the Longhorns have seemed to find their groove in the second half against Texas Tech and the blowout of UTEP.

McCoy has not been quite as sharp as he was last season when his 77 percent completion rate set an NCAA record. He is completing 71 percent so far, but has been better over the last two games.

In the second half against Texas Tech and the game against UTEP, McCoy was 43-of-53 passing (81 percent) with five touchdowns. Those are the kinds of numbers Heisman Trophy voters will be looking for.

They'll also be looking for wins.

A slip-up against Colorado would cost McCoy and the Longhorns dearly in the chases for the Heisman and national championship.

Texas players say they won't take anything for granted against the Buffaloes.

"You can't do that," said defensive end Sam Acho, "or it will bite you in the butt."

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