Published September 26, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas – There were seven losses for Texas last season. One of them sticks out as worse than the others.
To coach Mack Brown, the 28-21 shocker at home to Iowa State was the "lowest point" in a disaster of a season that ended 5-7.
"And there were a lot to choose from," Brown said.
Now comes the Saturday night rematch at Iowa State with more than just a little payback on Texas' mind.
"They did come in here and embarrass us," Texas senior safety Blake Gideon said Monday.
The No. 17 Longhorns (3-0) are in the middle a four-week stretch against teams that beat them last year. The revenge tour began Sept. 17 with a win at UCLA, followed by a bye week.
And now it is the Cyclones in the Big 12 opener for both teams. Iowa State (3-0) is expecting a rested Texas team still angry about last season's beatdown in Austin.
"I know that's one of the things on their mind. We came to their home field and we beat them," Iowa State defensive back Ter'ran Benton said. "They want to come to our home field and beat us."
Texas senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho said the Longhorns want to have a "little something extra for these teams" that beat them last season.
Losing to Iowa State proved to be breaking point for a fragile and fractured team that was a shadow of the squad that played for the national championship in 2009. After losing two in a row to UCLA and Oklahoma, Texas seemed to rebound with a huge win on the road at Nebraska.
The Longhorns were feeling so confident there was talk of winning the rest of the games on the schedule and still challenging for the Big 12 crown.
The Cyclones certainly didn't look like a threat. Iowa State had never beaten Texas and usually hovered near the bottom of the Big 12.
Instead, Iowa State jumped out to a 28-6 lead and pounded Texas with tough running, tougher defense and big plays on special teams to earn its first road win over a ranked opponent in 20 years. Cyclones players danced on Texas' home turf and coach Paul Rhoads called the victory "historic."
After the game, Brown was as emotional as he has ever been with the media. In candid postgame reviews of his entire program, Brown said he couldn't trust his coaching staff or his players to give their best effort on the field.
"When the head coach says something like that, everybody knew it as time to turn it on," Acho said. "(But) you can't just flip a switch in the middle of the season."
Texas stumbled badly the rest of the way, losing four of its last five games to finish with its first losing record since 1997.
"I couldn't believe we would not play with more emotion and passion. They outcoached us, outplayed us and outhit us," Brown said of Iowa State.
Brown has spent the last year trying to fix everything he saw go wrong that day.
He shook up his staff with six new assistants, challenged his veterans to earn their starting jobs and two weeks ago benched starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert for the tandem of Case McCoy and David Ash. Gilbert had shoulder surgery last week and is now out for the season.
The result has been a great start. Texas started 3-0 last season as well, but Brown said he can feel this team is different.
"It's just been a fun team and I credit the seniors and the staff for that," he said. "This staff is fun. It's fun for these guys, they have never been in these stadiums and it's an adventure for them."
Before the win at UCLA, Brown told his team to take in the views of the Rose Bowl, one of the revered stadiums in college football. Then Acho stood up and reminded his teammates "you better win. It's not as pretty if you don't win,'" Brown recalled.
"Whatever got into that group (last season), it's not the same," Brown said.
AP Sports Writer Luke Meredith contributed to this report from Ames, Iowa.