HORNS UP

Texas Longhorns score ESPN's No. 1 pick for best college football team in past 20 years

The 2005 Texas Longhorns were crowned the best college football team by ESPN. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Originally appeared on CultureMap/Austin.

The 2005 football season will be forever etched in the burnt-orange hearts of Longhorn loyalists. As if any diehard Horns fan needed a reminder, that’s the season when quarterback Vince Young and his teammates captured the national football championship in a goose-bump-inducing matchup against the heavily favored University of Southern California Trojans. 

Now, the Horns can hoist another trophy of sorts, as ESPN crowned the 2005 Longhorns as the top college football championship team of the past 20 years. In order to determine the best team in college football, ESPN analyzed 15,000 games over 20 years, assigned each team offensive and defensive ratings, and then used that data to calculate an overall score.

In declaring the winner, ESPN also heaps praise on Young as “the best player of the past 20 years.”

“Quarterback Vince Young, remarkably, didn’t win the Heisman Trophy that season,” ESPN notes, “but he produced one of the greatest individual seasons in recent college football history, culminating with one of the greatest individual game performances the sport has ever seen.”

USC was the favorite in the 2006 Rose Bowl, which would determine the national champion of the 2005 college football season. Young had other ideas, completing 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards, and rushing for 200 yards. Young also scored the game-winning play — an 8-yard touchdown on fourth down with 19 seconds left on the clock. (Final score: 41-38.)

“That play defined the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] era. And turned Young into a legend,” ESPN says.

ESPN does point out, though, that Young didn’t single-handedly lead the Horns to victory. Michael Huff won the Jim Thorpe Award, recognizing him as the top defensive back for the 2005 season, and went on to join Young as a top NFL draft pick. Meanwhile, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive end Rodrique Wright were unanimous All-American picks that season.

In lionizing the Young-helmed and Mack Brown-coached squad, ESPN concludes: “The ’05 Longhorns never lost. And saved their best for the biggest stage.”

By the way, the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners football team turned up at No. 13 in the ESPN ranking. There’s something fitting about the Sooners being in the unlucky 13th spot, isn’t there?

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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