Cedric Benson ran for 165 yards and a touchdown yesterday to lead No. 6 Texas to a 26-13 win over No. 22 Texas A&M in Austin, a victory sure to send the Bowl Championship Series arguments into high gear. Vince Young added a touchdown run and 224 yards total for the Longhorns (10-1, 7-1 Big 12), who earned their fifth straight win over their fiercest in-state rival.
Reggie McNeal passed for 247 yards and a touchdown for A&M (7-4, 5-3), which rebounded from last season's 4-8 finish to become bowl eligible against the toughest schedule in the nation. Three of the Aggies' four losses have come vs. teams ranked in the top six.
Now let the BCS bickering begin. The Texas victory kept alive the Longhorns' slim hopes of earning their first bid to the BCS -- if the win gives them a big enough boost in the standings to pass fourth-place California.
California, which only a week ago thought it had locked up a berth in the Rose Bowl, needs a win Dec. 4 over Southern Mississippi to fight off the Longhorns, who are fifth in the standings.
Boise State could ruin the party for both of them. If Boise State creeps into the top six in the BCS, it would join Utah in the two at-large berths, knocking Texas and California out of the mix.
After driving 88 yards to the A&M 1 yesterday, Texas was on the verge of punching the ball into the end zone with less than 30 seconds left in the first half. Young, trying to leap over the line of scrimmage and holding the ball in his right hand, stretched for the goal line, but A&M's Justin Warren punched it loose.
The ball bounced to Jonte Buhl, who scooped it up and dashed 98 yards for a touchdown and a 13-6 Aggies lead. After forcing the Aggies to punt on the first possession of the third quarter, Texas's Michael Griffin blocked the kick and Bobby Tatum recovered it for a TD.
Because the Longhorns' regular holder for kicks, wide receiver Tony Jeffery, left the game earlier with a rib injury, backup QB Matt Nordgren was sent in and he dropped the snap, causing Dusty Mangum to drive the kick along the ground.
The ensuing scrum ended with the Aggies' Jaxson Appel on top of the ball in the end zone, giving Texas a rare 1-point safety that tied the game at 13 and swung momentum back to the Longhorns.
Arizona 34, Arizona St. 27 -- Redshirt freshman Richard Kovalcheck threw three touchdown passes -- two to Mike Jefferson -- and the Wildcats (3-8, 2-6 Pac-10) turned five takeaways into 24 points to stun the 18th-ranked Sun Devils (8-3, 5-3) in Tucson.
Andrew Walter, Arizona State's record-breaking senior quarterback, left the game with an injury to his right shoulder with 7:30 remaining and his team trailing, 34-20. The loss probably won't affect Arizona State's chances for the Holiday Bowl, bowl representative Larry Baber said.
LSU 43, Arkansas 14 -- Marcus Randall ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more to Joseph Addai, leading the No. 14 Tigers to a rout of the Razorbacks in Little Rock, Ark.
Randall was 10 for 14 for 173 yards and had 79 yards rushing. Alley Broussard added 81 yards rushing for the Tigers (9-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), who ended the game with 26 unanswered points.
The loss keeps Arkansas (5-6, 3-5) from qualifying for a seventh consecutive bowl game.
Colorado 26, Nebraska 20 -- In Lincoln, Neb., Bobby Purify ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and the Buffaloes stayed alive in the Big 12 North race with a victory that sent the Cornhuskers (5-6, 3-5) to their first losing season in 43 years.
Colorado (7-4, 4-4) won its third straight and now needs Missouri to win at Iowa State today to advance to the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma.