The last time LSU played Texas was in the 2003 Cotton Bowl. LSU staked itself to an early lead, until Mack Brown remembered Roy Williams was on his team. 142 receiving yards, a 39-yard rush, and two touchdowns later, Texas walked out as 15-point winners.
To be honest, I don’t remember the game save for the tidbit that Michael Clayton played both ways. But if you’re an LSU fan and have met a Texas fan at any point in the past 16 years, they are required by law to bring this game up within ten minutes of meeting you.
Which speaks to the bizarre inferiority complex of the Texas Longhorn fanbase. For all of the talk of Texas Arrogance, and boy is that a real thing, Texas fans are like the New Yorkers of the college football world, always quick to show up and point out their accomplishments with the barest provocation which, ironically, makes them seem less than they are.
And Texas is certainly among the bluest of blue bloods. Texas’ 908 wins ranks third all-time among active FBS programs (though Alabama is hot on their heels at 905). The Longhorns are just one of six FBS programs to have an all-time winning percentage above .700, ranking sixth at 705, ahead of USC at .699.
Texas has their own unique color scheme, a cool logo, one of the most distinctive mascots in sports, and their own television network. They are the top program in the state is that is practically synonymous with football.
But there’s also the sense that Texas is a bit less than what they could be. They are already a giant, so Sleeping Giant isn’t the right term, but more of a Resting Colossus. And it’s not just their recent history, which even the Longhorns would admit is at a historic low ebb.
Texas won 10 games and finished the season ranked #9 in the AP poll, which allows us all to load up our TEXAS IS BACK! Jokes. But before then, Texas hadn’t won 10 games since 2009, and had not finished a season ranked since 2012. Four seasons this decade have ended with the Longhorns below 500, including a not-so-distant three-year stretch under Charlie Strong.
But even putting aside the recent history, it seems that Texas could have been a bit more. 908 wins is no joke, but for all of those regular season wins, they have four national titles to show for it. Know who else has four consensus national titles? That’s right, LSU and our paltry 797 all-time wins (12th all-time).
Texas could have five national titles, but LSU upset Texas in the 1963 Cotton Bowl, which was the last time these two teams had met before the 2003 Cotton Bowl. Both programs would rally to win a national title the next season after their Cotton Bowl loss.
LSU is pretty familiar with the whole Sleeping Giant narrative, not to mention inferiority complexes. LSU, too, has not quite lived up to the full promise of the program, all while still winning a bunch of games. In our defense, we are usually drunk. Since 2000, LSU ranks fourth in the nation in total wins at 177, ahead of even Alabama.
And, hey, we’ve got pretty distinctive uniforms and our own cool live mascot, too.
Texas has a bunch of conference titles, but a lot of that is from dominating their own backyard in the old Southwest Conference. In the post-expansion era starting in 1992, Texas has won five conference titles, two of them in the old SWC. LSU has four SEC titles in the same era. Or, closer to home for Texas fans, Oklahoma has an even dozen Big 12 titles to go with seven national titles.
We want to think of Texas as the Alabama of the Big 12, but they really aren’t. Oklahoma is. Texas is the second fiddle in conference, the flagship university of a football mad state that pumps out an absurd number of high school prospects each year, only to be constantly frustrated by the even bigger football factory right next door.
Flying so close to the sun so often means you’ve got lots of old burns to show off. And that’s why you talk about the times you landed it perfectly as often as you can.
That’s right, folks. We’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us. Texas is the LSU of the Big 12. Why do you think the Aggies swapped their rivalry with Texas for LSU so seamlessly? Heck, we even beat A&M at roughly the same rate (Texas is 69-36-4, LSU is 33-20-3).
Maybe that’s why we haven’t played a regular season game since 1954. Looking into a warped reflection is uncomfortable. Even for the reflection.