Battered and bruised, Vince Young and No. 2 Texas are still undefeated and a step closer to the Rose Bowl. Even if it was a much tougher step than most expected.
While far from perfect, Young and Texas were good enough to keep their national title hopes intact with a tough 40-29 win over Texas A&M yesterday at College Station, Texas.
Ramonce Taylor ran for two touchdowns, Cedric Griffin returned a blocked punt for a score, and the Longhorns survived Young's shakiest game.
The Heisman Trophy candidate wasn't even the best quarterback on the field against the Aggies, and for the first time since Texas won at Ohio State by 3 way back in September, the Longhorns had to put in a full 60 minutes of work to notch the W.
''I was never nervous. That's not me," Young said. ''Nervousness, scariness, that's not even in our vocabulary."
Young is one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy, but A&M freshman Stephen McGee made the plays and provided the inspirational leadership the Longhorns usually get from their QB.
Starting in place of injured senior Reggie McNeal, McGee ran for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns as A&M made a strong run at pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the 111-year-old rivalry.
''I wanted to have fun and lead these guys. I want to do it with everything I have," said McGee.
Young came in likely needing a big game to keep pace with USC's Reggie Bush in the Heisman chase -- and his penchant for making big plays in Texas's biggest games seemed to guarantee it.
Instead, he struggled against a defense ranked 109th in the country with 162 yards passing, 19 rushing yards, and two turnovers that led to Aggies' touchdowns. He did throw for a touchdown and led two key late drives for field goals.
''There are some great guys in the running" for the Heisman, Young said. ''I just want to keep playing and keep winning . . . may the best man win."
Despite Young's off game, Texas (11-0, 8-0) moves on to the Big 12 title game next Saturday against the winner of the North Division. With a win, the Longhorns are a lock for a return trip the Rose Bowl Jan. 4 to play for the Bowl Championship Series title.
LSU 19, Arkansas 17 -- The No. 3 Tigers won with clutch defense yet again, wrapping up a berth in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
JaMarcus Russell threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and Justin Vincent ran for a 4-yard score to help LSU beat Razorbacks in Baton Rouge, La., in the battle for ''The Boot."
The Tigers (10-1, 7-1) also registered their second safety in as many games after forcing Arkansas to punt from the back of its end zone late in the first half, earning 2 points that proved critical when Arkansas (4-7, 2-6) refused to relent after falling behind, 19-3, early in the second half.
The Tigers held Arkansas standout freshman Darren McFadden to 57 yards on 24 carries, leaving McFadden at 1,113 yards for the season.
Wisconsin 41, Hawaii 24 -- In Honolulu, Brian Calhoun ran for 149 yards, including 133 in the first half, and a touchdown to lead the No. 24 Badgers over the Warriors (4-7) in coach Barry Alvarez's final regular-season game.
Wisconsin (9-3) snapped a two-game skid and now waits to find out which bowl it will play in.
It was the 117th victory and secured the sixth nine-win season for Alvarez, who is retiring from coaching after 16 years.
Badgers quarterback John Stocco was nearly flawless, going 12 of 16 for 191 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also had a 1-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter.
Arizona St. 23, Arizona 20 -- The Sun Devils rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half to beat the Wildcats on Jesse Ainsworth's 20-yard field goal with six seconds to play in Tempe, Ariz.
The Territorial Cup victory earned Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-10) a postseason invitation to the Insight Bowl, which it accepted.
Nebraska 30, Colorado 3 -- Zac Taylor threw for 392 yards and two scores, Cory Ross accounted for 142 yards and a touchdown, and the Huskers (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) dominated the host Buffaloes (7-4, 5-3).
Water bottles and other debris rained down from the Colorado student section in the fourth quarter, forcing officials to order hundreds of fans removed for the final 10 minutes of the game.