Dec. 7, 2003
The 5th-ranked University of Texas Longhorns have accepted an invitation to play in the 26th annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, December 30 at 5 p.m. (PST), 2003 Bowl President Pete Hedley announced today. Texas will face the 14th-ranked Washington State University Cougars, the runners up from the Pac-10 Conference.
"I'm sure the entire San Diego region shares my excitement with the announcement that the Longhorns have accepted our invitation to play in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl," said Hedley. "We sincerely look forward to welcoming Texas and its great fans back to our world-class city."
The Longhorns finished their regular season with a 10-2 record overall, 7-1 in the Big 12 Conference. Texas has won 10 or more games for a school-record third-straight season.
"After what happened last night we feel extremely fortunate to have landed in such a wonderful place as the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "We have had a great relationship with the folks in San Diego. We have a lot of respect for the Washington State program, and look forward to playing in what has become one of the best bowl games in America."
This is the third trip for Texas to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl in the last four years. In their most recent San Diego appearance in 2001, Texas rallied from behind twice in the fourth quarter to defeat the Washington Huskies 47-43 in a Pacific Life Holiday Bowl classic. That game was Texas' greatest comeback in school history, as they were down 36-17 in the third quarter. In 2000, the Oregon Ducks defeated the Longhorns in another thriller 35-30.
The Longhorns feature a number of standout performers including All-America junior linebacker and Butkus Award finalist Derrick Johnson, senior wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Roy Williams, senior cornerback and Thorpe Award semifinalist Nathan Vasher, and the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year quarterback Vince Young. In all, 11 Longhorns were named to the All Big 12 Conference Coaches Team.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams, the first since 1961. The Longhorns have been victorious in the prior meetings. In the 1961 game, Texas defeated the Cougars 41-8 en route to a 10-1 record, finishing the season ranked 3rd in the nation.
BILL DOBA COMMENTS FROM SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE:
WSU vs. Texas: "I know it is an honor to play a program with the tradition of Texas and to go against a coach like Mack Brown, who is a proven winner. And here I am just a rookie. It is a great opportunity for our kids and it will be a thrill to play them. I can think of a lot easier teams I would rather play, but it will be a real challenge to play the University of Texas."
How much time spent preparing for Nebraska: "Very little. The video got here Thursday or Friday last week. We (coaches) got into town late Thursday, so we haven't spent much time. I think Kelly Skipper said he looked at some of the special teams video. We have been trying to prepare our team. We have gone over fundamentals Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
As it turned out, you would not have gone to the Rose Bowl (even beating Washington): "I'm just as happy to go to the Holiday Bowl. As far as our kids and fans, I think we will have a better time, honestly, at the Holiday Bowl. It is a great city, a lot of fun. I was at that bowl a number of years ago and we had a great time when we were there then."
BSC: "USC was a good football team. They were sharp and played well as the season went on. I think they are deserving of a national championship."
First year as a head coach: "It was all new to me and I just felt my way along. I had a good role model in Coach (Mike) Price for 14 years. The smartest thing I did was not change things much. As we started winning it made it a lot easier as a head coach. It was a smooth transition. I was able to hire a really good staff, I think. I tried to turn the reins over to them. Coach (Robb) Akey runs the defense and Coach (Mike) Levenseller takes care of the offense and Kelly Skipper takes care of special teams. It has been a lot of fun, to be honest with you. I think it is good, as you go through life, to get new challenges and new experiences. I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time and get this job."
How will practices be different, knowing the opponent: "Not much different this week (Dec. 11-12-13-14). I think if you start too soon the kids get stale. We need to sharpen our base offense and base defense and tackling and blocking, get better at those things. We'll start instituting the game plan at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. We'll really start cranking into the Texas game plan Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before we go to San Diego (Dec. 23)."
Matt Kegel's progress: "Not real well. He's going to have an MRI Tuesday (shoulder). They (medical personnel) are not sure if there is cartilage damage. We will know better after the MRI."
Now playing a top 5 team. Are the players more excited: "I think so, yes. I am. It is an opportunity, if we are fortunate enough to win, to probably get us near the top 10 in the country, if we have a good showing or win that ball game."