Texas-Iowa Preview

Dec. 11, 2006

Texas will be closer to home this postseason, but it's a lot farther from a national title.

A year after winning a national championship in upset fashion, the 18th-ranked Longhorns (9-3) end a disappointing season against Iowa (6-6) in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30.

Texas beat Southern California in the Rose Bowl last season to win the national championship, but lost any chance to defend its title after concluding the regular season with consecutive losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M.

The Longhorns didn't even make it into the Big 12 title game after winning the last two Rose Bowls.

While disappointed his team cannot return to the Bowl Championship Series, Texas coach Mack Brown doesn't think his players are disappointed to be close to home. This is the Longhorns' first appearance in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, only a 75-mile trip from their campus.

"I think they'll really like it," Brown said. "They'll be around their high school coaches, their friends and family. When you don't finish like you wanted to, it's always great to have that tremendous support."

After being set at quarterback with Vince Young in last year's bowl, Texas is facing some uncertainty with Colt McCoy nursing a pinched nerve in his neck.

McCoy set a school record with 27 touchdown passes as a redshirt freshman, but was hampered by the injury in the two season-ending losses.

Longhorns trainer Kenny Boyd said McCoy is progressing well in his recovery.

"We're going to leave that up to the doctors," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Sunday. "If they say he can play 100 percent, then we'll go from there. He has made great progress to this point and we'll continue to evaluate the situation."

But even if McCoy starts, Texas knows the Hawkeyes could send him back to the bench with one hit. Matt McCoy - no relation - is the backup. He's a senior walk-on who hasn't thrown a pass in college.

The Longhorns were left without their second-string quarterback when Jevan Snead announced in late November that he will be transferring out of the program.

Brown said he'll also prepare an emergency QB in case neither McCoy works out.

Receivers Quan Cosby and Billy Pittman both were standout quarterbacks in high school but became receivers in college.

"We always try to keep an extra QB available," Brown said. "We'll take a look at an emergency guy."

Even with the injury issue and disappointing end to the season, Texas remains rich with talent.

The Longhorns led the way with six first-teamers on The Associated Press Big 12 all-conference team. Offensive tackle Justin Blalock, center Lyle Sendlein and guard Kasey Studdard made the list; a trio of defensive players: lineman Tim Crowder and defensive backs Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin joined them.

For the Hawkeyes, a bowl game provides an opportunity to cap a tough year on a positive note. Iowa jumped out to a 4-0 start before losing to Ohio State and bouncing back to beat Purdue.

But the season's second half was a disaster.

Iowa lost road games to Indiana and Michigan before returning home to knock off Northern Illinois, but closed the season with losses to Northwestern, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"What has happened this year has happened," said Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz. "You can run from it or you can face it, and we're going to face it. ... Like any year, there is just something about winning a bowl game, coming out of a bowl game victorious."

Ferentz also said the month off should give his team an opportunity to heal. That could mean the return of starting cornerback Adam Shada and defensive end Kenny Iwebema after both missed most of the season's second half.

Iowa is led by quarterback Drew Tate, who trails only Chuck Long for most of the school's career passing records but has not had the senior season the team envisioned. Tate has completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,349 yards and 16 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

Tate completed more then 60 percent of his passes in his previous two seasons, throwing for more than 20 touchdowns each year.

In the Hawkeyes' final regular season game on Nov. 18, the quarterback completed 26 of 36 passes for 354 yards and two scores, but also lost a fumble and threw three interceptions in a 34-24 loss to Minnesota.

Tate lacks a top receiver at his disposal. No Iowa player has more than 46 receptions or 614 receiving yards.

The Hawkeyes are making their fourth appearance in the Alamo Bowl and first since 2001, when they beat Texas Tech 19-16.

Iowa defeated Texas 55-17 in the only previous meeting between the schools, at the 1984 Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, Calif.



Football Home