IRVING, Texas -- The excitement of being in the Big 12 championship began leaving Texas coach Mack Brown about the time he started watching the game film of Colorado's dominating performance against Nebraska.
Seeing the Buffaloes run over, through and around the Cornhuskers' defense in a 62-36 victory was all Brown needed to realize the No. 3 Longhorns wouldn't have it as easy against No. 9 Colorado as they did six weeks ago.
"I've never seen a team line up and get after Nebraska like Colorado did," Brown said Monday. "Our defense is very similar to Nebraska's. In fact, they were rated better than us going into the game.
"We're just amazed. I stood there saying, 'What do you do?"'
Now, Texas (10-1) is ahead of Nebraska in a much more important ranking: the Bowl Championship Series standings.
The Longhorns are No. 3, meaning if they beat the Buffs and if either No. 1 Miami or No. 2 Florida loses, UT could be headed to the national championship game. Even if that happens, it's not a certainty, though, because Tennessee - which plays Florida on Saturday - could slide ahead of Texas in the BCS formula.
Regardless of how it works out, the fact the Longhorns are this close is something they hardly expected after losing to Oklahoma the first weekend in October. The Sooners were knocked out of the way Saturday when they lost to Oklahoma State.
"We've been saying since Oklahoma that we're going to just finish the season and see how things play out," UT cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "It's happened like we wanted so far. Hopefully, we'll win this game on Saturday and see where the BCS puts us."
Colorado (9-2) is seventh in the BCS standings. Its only chance of making a BCS bowl is by beating Texas.
"In my opinion, this is playoff football," coach Gary Barnett said. "If you wanted a football playoff, you're getting it. Every game, everybody's got to be up for it."
Colorado was sure geared up for the Huskers, taking a 35-3 lead early in the second quarter and scoring three touchdowns in the final period. The Buffs ran for 380 yards while scoring the most points ever by a Nebraska opponent.
In a 41-7 loss to Texas in Austin on Oct. 20, Colorado ran for only 124 yards. The Buffs gave up the run for the pass after falling behind by 17 points at halftime. Colorado committed three early turnovers and missed a field goal.
"Basically, we beat ourselves," said quarterback Bobby Pesavento, who made his first start that day. "Texas is a great football team, and you can't take anything away from them, but we had too many turnovers."
Brown watched the Colorado-Nebraska film with his staff before showing it to the team. Players already knew the details.
"If we think it's going to be like when we played them here, we've got another think coming," Texas offensive lineman Mike Williams said. "It's going to be a bigger, rowdier-than-ever Colorado team that shows up."
Considering the game is in the Dallas area, the Longhorns should have the crowd on their side - presuming Texas fans can pry them away from disappointed Oklahoma and Nebraska fans quick enough.
"Playing in Texas Stadium against Texas will NOT be a neutral site," Barnett said.