Darrell Royal had to be smiling as the Texas Longhorns lined up in the wishbone formation, honoring the coach on their first offensive play of the game.
That formation is as close to Darrell Royal football as Texas would get. As David Ash received the snap, the Longhorns ran a double-reverse pass, surprising everyone in the stadium — including the Iowa State defense.
The play went for 47 yards, and the Horns were on their way to a dominating 33-7 victory against a good but overmatched Iowa State team. The win takes Texas to 8-2, with an upcoming Thanksgiving game against TCU.
Against Iowa State, the Longhorns bore little resemblance to the team that barely got out of Lawrence, Kansas, with a win and completely failed to show up in Dallas.
However, there is another 8-2 team about 90 miles east of Austin. The Longhorns may be considered a "weak" 8-2, but the Texas A&M Aggies could never be described that way now.
As much as Longhorn Nation may wish it were true, the Texas football team is not nearly the best in the state. And guess who's laughing now? Texas A&M, the team many a Longhorn hoped would be sucking wind in the SEC, is about to jump into the rare air of top 10 football teams, thanks to a victory over the No. 1-ranked, national-champion-to-be Alabama.
The Aggies were not supposed to be this good. They were not supposed to win six games, let alone beat the unbeatable Bama and place the SEC's six-game national championship streak in jeopardy.
Yet here they are, driving Longhorn fans insane and playing for a BCS berth. Apparently all the Aggies needed was a new coach, a new conference and a freshman phenom now known as Johnny Football.
Meanwhile, back in Austin, Mack Brown's team came around. Sure, it took 10 games to get there, but the Horns seem poised to make a strong finish — which is good when you consider the next two games on the schedule. TCU is ready for a season-defining Thanksgiving win, and Kansas State is working toward a national championship berth.
Against Iowa State, the Longhorns bore little resemblance to the team that barely got out of Lawrence, Kansas, with a win and completely failed to show up in Dallas. The Texas offense has been clicking most of the season (Kansas and OU notwithstanding) and again went more than 600 yards against Iowa State.
The defense has shown the most remarkable turnaround.
Texas held Iowa State to less than 300 yards of offense and, had it not been for a momentary loss of focus at the end of the half, would have thrown a shut-out.
The Horns now have a weekend off before TCU comes to town on Thanksgiving. Practice needs to be hard and physical. These last two games will decide whether the Longhorns can maintain any semblance of bragging rights over those hated Aggies.