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Tigers try to prevent Texas' usual OU rebound
Missouri looks to improve to 3-0 in Big 12 action.
By Jim Vertuno ~ The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas -- If history can be used as a guide, this week is when the Texas Longhorns get really good.
Texas has shown a remarkable ability to bounce back from tough losses to rival Oklahoma the past four years, going 23-1 in the regular season after the midseason matchup. As part of that streak, Texas is undefeated the week after losing to Oklahoma.
To keep their run going, and to keep any hope of a league title and BCS berth, the No. 9 Longhorns (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) must regroup for today's matchup with Missouri (4-1, 2-0).
The Tigers, meanwhile, would like nothing better than to write a new chapter to the old story. With versatile quarterback Brad Smith's throwing and running, the Tigers have emerged as a favorite to the win the Big 12 North.
"We better not lay around and pout," said Texas coach Mack Brown, whose team was shut out last week for the first time since 1980, a span of 282 games. "We don't have time for that."
The Tigers have recovered from their own devastating loss this year, a 24-14 defeat at Troy on Sept. 9, a setback that knocked the wind out of Smith's Heisman Trophy hopes and shattered early season confidence.
Last season, Brown retooled his entire offense after losing to Oklahoma, inserting Vince Young at quarterback and reverting to a power rushing attack that smashed its way to six straight wins. The Longhorns still run the same offense and Brown said he won't make any drastic changes other than to press for more production in a passing game that has been mostly absent in the first five games.
While tailback Cedric Benson and the nation's No. 2 rushing attack crank out an average of 314 yards on the ground, the Longhorns rank a lowly No. 102 in passing at 157 yards per game.
Young completed just 8 of 23 passes for 86 yards last week against the Sooners as his receivers rarely got open and he often misfired.
Complicating matters is a shoulder injury to senior Tony Jeffery, the Longhorns' leading receiver with 16 catches. Jeffery was hurt against the Sooners and if he can't play today, it would take away one of Young's few reliable targets.
"The other young receivers need to step up this week," Young said.
The Tigers' Smith brings a challenge the Longhorns haven't faced: a quarterback as fleet of foot as their own.
Smith ran for 1,406 yards last season, the fourth-highest total ever for a quarterback, while Young had 998. Although neither has put up big numbers on the ground this season, both defenses respect their ability to take off and run.
Smith also has 10 touchdown passes to Young's eight this season.
"There are a lot of similarities," Smith said of the two offenses. "We saw Texas on film and said 'Man, that looks like us."'
Young said he's recovered from his poor outing against the Sooners, in which he also fumbled twice.
"I know everybody's looking at my face to see how I'll respond. I took a couple of nights to remember," he said. "But it's behind me now."
If his teammates feel the same way, the Longhorns could be ready to roll.