The team's penultimate victory of the season, the Big 12 Championship Game, featured the biggest margin of victory in the history of that contest. They finished the season by winning the 2006 Rose Bowl against the University of Southern California Trojans for the national championship. Numerous publications have cited this victory and this team's season as standing among the greatest performances in college football history, and ESPN awarded the 2006 ESPY Award for the "Best Game" in any sport to the Longhorns and the Trojans. The Longhorns finished as the only unbeaten team in NCAA Division I-A football that year, with thirteen wins and zero losses.
Texas earned their second Big 12 Conference football championship to make 27 conference championships total, including 25 in the Southwest Conference. It was their fourth national championship in football and the ninth perfect season in the history of Longhorn football.
The team set numerous school and NCAA records, including their 652 points which set an NCAA record for points scored in a season. After the season ended, six Longhorns from this championship team joined professional football teams through the 2006 NFL Draft. Seven more Longhorns followed suit in the 2007 NFL Draft and they were joined by two free agents. Another nine followed through the 2008 Draft and free-agency to make a total of twenty-four players who entered into the National Football League (NFL).
In the 2004 season Vince Young led the team to the 2005 Rose Bowl, the school's first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, and a top 5 finish in the major polls. Young returned for the 2005–2006 season, as did most of the other key players from 2004–2005, with the exception of Cedric Benson, Derrick Johnson, and Bo Scaife. Texas was given a pre-season #2 ranking (behind the defending National Champions, the University of Southern California) by Sports Illustrated magazine, the Associated Press Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
During the summer of 2005, a period free of official team practices, Young and his receivers spent extra practice time working on their timing and team-work. The fall Orange and White intra-team scrimmage was held on August 21, 2005 as an event open to the public. Running back Ramonce Taylor returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Young completed 5 of 7 passing attempts for 68 yards and one touchdown. Senior Richmond McGee made two 33-yard field goals and emerged as the top candidate to handle field goals, kickoffs and punts. Brown said of McGee, "We've never had one person do all three, so it's a concern, but right now, he would be the guy."
The success of the 2004 team and the efforts during the off-season fueled anticipation by sports writers that Texas would play for the national championship if they could win their away game against Ohio State University and end their five-game losing streak against Oklahoma. The BCS system required any team competing in the championship game to be ranked either number one or number two in the BCS Standings at the end of the season.
|September 3, 2005||No. 2||Louisiana-Lafayette||W 60–3||Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium|
|September 10, 2005||No. 2||@ No. 4 Ohio State||W 25–22||Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio|
|September 17, 2005||No. 2||Rice||W 51–10||Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium|
|October 1, 2005||No. 2||@ Missouri||W 51–20||Faurot Field, Columbia, Missouri|
|October 8, 2005||No. 2||vs. Oklahoma||W 45–12||Red River Rivalry, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas|
|October 15, 2005||No. 2||No. 24 Colorado||W 42–17||Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium|
|October 22, 2005||No. 2||No. 10 Texas Tech||W 52–17||Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium|
|October 29, 2005||No. 2||@ Oklahoma State||W 47–28||Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma|
|November 5, 2005||No. 2||@ Baylor||W 62–0||Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas|
|November 12, 2005||No. 2||Kansas||W 66–14||Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium|
|November 25, 2005||No. 2||@ Texas A&M||W 40–29||Lone Star Showdown, Kyle Field, College Station, Texas|
|December 3, 2005||No. 2||vs. Colorado||W 70–3||Big 12 Championship Game, Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|January 4, 2006||No. 2||vs. No. 1 USC||W 41–38 †||2006 Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Pasadena, California|
* Rankings are from the Associated Press poll released prior to each game.* "College Football Rankings". ESPN.com. The Walt Disney Company, Retrieved on 2007-08-27.
@ Indicates opponent's field
vs. Indicates neutral field
Opponents listed in bold are conference games.
† Denotes first national championship in football for the University of Texas since 1970 (BCS, AP).
Texas had very few problems affecting the roster. Only one defensive starter missed a game due to injury. On offense, starting running back Selvin Young injured his ankle in the game against Louisiana-Lafayette and re-injured it the following week against Ohio State. He did not play in the games against Rice or Baylor. Receiver Jordan Shipley missed the entire season due to a pulled hamstring.
The Austin Police Department charged UT receiver Myron Hardy with a Class A misdemeanor for carrying a prohibited weapon, a “ ‘butterfly-style knife’ that operates like a switchblade, making it a prohibited weapon.” Hardy appeared in four games for the 2004 team, catching one pass for four yards. He redshirted in 2005. and returned to the roster for 2006.
The police investigated assault allegations against Cedric Griffin and Ramonce Taylor but no charges were filed. The incident allegedly occurred December 10, 2005 near the Sixth Street entertainment district. The UT athletics department found no reason to discipline the players and they both played in the final game of the season. Also in December, the police announced they were investigating a Longhorn player in a separate incident that occurred in September. This incident allegedly involved armed robbery with a handgun. The police did not name the target of the investigation.
Three Longhorns, freshman running backs Michael Houston and Jerrell Wilkerson and sophomore defensive back Bobby Tatum, elected to transfer prior to UT’s bowl game. All three were reserve players.
Prior to kickoff of the 2005 game, the stadium announcer made an appeal for donations to help those suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated parts of Louisiana five days previously. Donations were not accepted at the game because of a policy against official fund-raising. As the Longhorns entered the field, special teams player Karim Meijer carried a United States flag that was given to the team on Thursday by former Longhorn Nathan Kaspar who flew the flag during missions in southeastern Iraq. For this game only, the Longhorns wore throwback uniforms furnished by Nike as a way of honoring the past. The throwback jerseys were similar to jerseys worn during their 1963 National Championship season under Coach Darrell K. Royal. Football's origins in the Northeastern United States have created an expectation that it is a cold-weather sport, but the temperature at kickoff was 90°F (32°C) which is also the average temperature in Austin for the month of September.
Texas scored first when Selvin Young ran the ball in for a touchdown. The extra point attempt by Richmond McGee was no good. The Cajuns were able to score three points on a field goal by Sean Comiskey making the score Texas 6, Louisiana Lafayette 3. Texas replied with 54 unanswered points to win the game 60–3. With the win, Texas improved its record in season-opening games to 93–17–3 and 72–2–2 when they open the year at home. That figure includes 11 straight wins and victories in 30 of their last 31 games at home. Their home record under Mack Brown improved to 39 wins and 3 losses.
Several new Longhorn players entered the game. True freshman running back Jamaal Charles set the UT rushing record for a debut game with 135 yards and a rushing touchdown alongside one reception for 18 yards, after taking over during the game for injured running back Selvin Young. True freshman running back Henry Melton also saw his first action and scored his first touchdown at the college level. True freshman Quan Cosby got his first college start, and two other true freshmen (Roy Miller and Aaron Lewis) saw action.
According to USA Today, the match-up between the Longhorns and the Ohio State Buckeyes (OSU) was one of the most-anticipated games of the 2005 season. Teams have become increasingly conservative in scheduling highly-ranked non-conference opponents, so a meeting of the number 2 and number 4 teams in the country was unusual this early in the season. Because of the significance of the game in the national championship race, ESPN College GameDay chose the game as the site of its weekly broadcast. The American Football Coaches Association brought the national championship trophy to the game and displayed it on the field near Bevo, the UT mascot (photo below).
Texas and Ohio State are two of the oldest and "most storied programs in college football, but this game was the first meeting between the two teams. For Texas, it meant playing a second Big Ten Conference "powerhouse less than one year after winning the first meeting between Texas and the University of Michigan at the end of the 2004 season.
The game was played in Ohio Stadium, also known as "The Horseshoe" or "the Shoe". This stadium is notoriously tough for visiting teams, as its large capacity and structural design focus a tremendous amount of crowd noise that can make it difficult for the visiting team to call audibles at the line of scrimmage. The game's attendance was 105,565, which set the all-time attendance record for Ohio Stadium. The Ohio State/Michigan game eclipsed that mark on November 17, 2006.
Texas scored first with a 42 yard field goal, which was a career-long for Longhorn kicker David Pino. A five yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Billy Pittman gave the Longhorns a 10–0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Buckeyes controlled most of the second quarter. Their first score was a 45 yd field goal by Josh Huston followed by a 36 yard touchdown pass from Troy Smith to Santonio Holmes to tie the score at 10–10. They took the lead with two more field goals from Josh Huston. Texas made a field goal to trim Ohio State's lead to 16–13 at the half. In the third quarter, Texas made one field goal and OSU made two, extending Ohio State's lead to 22–16. In the fourth quarter, Texas regained the lead with a touchdown pass from Young to Limas Sweed. UT's Aaron Harris sacked OSU's Troy Smith for a safety and Texas took a three point lead, which they held when time expired.
Texas' win, by a score of 25–22, was the lowest scoring game Texas would experience all season, both in terms of points scored by Texas and total points. Fourth-ranked OSU became the highest-ranked non-conference opponent the Longhorns had ever beaten at an opponent's home stadium. The previous high came in 1983 when third-ranked Texas pulled off a 20–7 upset versus fifth-ranked Auburn. Texas became the first non-conference opponent to beat the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium since 1990, putting an end to a 36-game home victory string over non-conference opponents. The Longhorns also were the first team to beat the Buckeyes in a night game at The Horseshoe and it was UT's 10th straight victory in a night-game road contest. ESPN and College Football Rivals each named the game one of the best football games of the season.
The Horns took possession of the ball to start the game and used less than two minutes in scoring on a 25-yard carry by Jamaal Charles. Rice advanced to the Texas 43-yard line before punting the ball to Texas' one-yard line, forcing the Longhorns to start from inside their own end zone. UT drove the ball 99 in seven plays for a second touchdown. With four seconds left in the first quarter, Vince Young threw a pass that was intercepted by Ja'Corey Shepherd at the UT 20-yard line. Rice lost yardage on their possession and failed to convert on fourth down so they turned the ball over on downs. The rest of the first-half scoring was dominated by the Longhorns as they scored four more touchdowns to take a 42–0 lead. The Owls had four–more possessions in the second–quarter but never advanced the ball past their own 30-yard line.
In the second half, each team scored one field goal and one touchdown, although Texas missed their extra point so they won the game 51–10. UT's Jamaal Charles ran for 189 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries in his first start for the Longhorns. After the game, Charles said that his goal was to rush for 200 yards each game but that he was not disappointed to fall short of 200 yards rushing because he hit his goal of rushing for three touchdowns.
The Longhorns and the Tigers each scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, though Missouri missed an extra point to let Texas take a 14–13 lead. Texas scored another touchdown and a field goal to make a 24–13 lead at halftime. In the second half, Texas scored four more touchdowns, missing one extra point to increase their lead to 51–13. Missouri was scoreless for 40 minutes of play until they scored a touchdown with 3:54 left to play; it was their only score of the second half. Texas won the game 51–20 to extend its series lead over Missouri to 15-5.
Football fans consider the annual game between Texas and the Oklahoma Sooners (OU) one of the greatest rivalries games in all of college sports. Though officially called the Red River Rivalry, it remains better known by its traditional name, the Red River Shootout; the 2005 match-up was the 100th in the series.
Since 1912 the teams have played the game at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas, amid the atmosphere of the adjacent Texas State Fair. This is unusual because most college football games alternate between the opponents home stadiums. Dallas was chosen as the neutral site because it is approximately halfway between the two schools. The stadium is divided down the 50-yard line, with half of the stadium predominately clad in the crimson and cream colors of Oklahoma, and the other half mostly wearing the burnt orange and white of Texas.
The game frequently has implications for the conference and national championship races. Since 1945, at least one of the teams was ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation coming into 60 out of 65 games. Prior to the 2005 game, Texas held an advantage in the all-time series 55–39–5, which included a 43–35–4 edge in Dallas, but Oklahoma had won the 5 previous games, including the two worst losses ever for a Texas team in the series. Those losses had helped build a reputation that Mack Brown was not capable of winning in "Big Games". Four times during those five years, Texas' loss to Oklahoma prevented them from playing in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game. One of these two teams appeared in four of the nine BCS national championship games from 1999–2007.
The Longhorns scored first with a touchdown run by Ramonce Taylor; this was the first time for Texas to lead Oklahoma since 2002. The Sooners' Garret Hartley answered with a 52-yard field goal, the longest of his college career, and a 9-yard field goal. Longhorn Jamaal Charles scored next on a 80-yard touchdown run. UT then scored with a 38-yard field goal by Richmond McGee and a 64-yard long bomb from Young to Billy Pittman just before halftime, giving Texas a 24–6 lead at the half. UT made the only score of the third quarter: a 27-yard touchdown pass from Young to Pittman. In the fourth quarter UT scored two touchdowns while OU scored one.
UT was favored by 14 points and won the game by 33 points, tying the biggest margin of victory for the Longhorns in the history of the rivalry, a 40–7 victory in 1941. The game also marked the sixth time the Longhorns entered the contest ranked second nationally; they have won all six. With the win, Texas started their season 5–0 for the first time since 1983.
Texas scored touchdowns on all five of their first half possessions; these included three rushing touchdowns by Vince Young, one rushing touchdown by Selvin Young, and one touchdown pass from Vince Young to Limas Sweed. Colorado was scoreless in the first quarter. In the second quarter they scored with a 48 yard field goal by Mason Crosby and a touchdown pass from Joel Klatt to Evan Judge. After neither team scored in the third quarter, each team completed one touchdown pass in the final period.
Vince Young had the best statistical performance of his career to date, completing 25 of 29 passing attempts for 336 yards and 2 passing touchdowns in addition to 58 yards rushing and 3 rushing touchdowns. His 86.2% completion percentage set a new single-game record for UT, breaking his previous record of 85.7% set against Oklahoma State in 2004. After the game, Colorado Head Coach Gary Barnett said of Young's passing performance, "We can’t do that in practice against air”, . meaning that his team would not have been able to complete 86.2% of their passes even if playing unopposed.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders came into the game undefeated and ranked number 10 in the nation with hopes of beating Texas, winning out the season, and playing for a national championship.
The Longhorns scored a field goal on their first possession and Texas Tech answered with a touchdown pass by Cody Hodges. Texas regained the lead when Henry Melton rushed for a touchdown. In the second quarter, the Red Raiders tied up the game with a field goal before Texas regained the lead with two touchdown runs by Selvin Young and a touchdown pass to Billy Pittman. In the third quarter, the Longhorns extended their lead with two touchdowns to one by Texas Tech. Texas' seventh touchdown came with 6:30 left in the game and it was the last points scored in the game.
Texas won the game 52–17 and moved into first place in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings for the first time since they were implemented in 1998. The BCS formula took into account strength of schedule so that teams received more credit for beating stronger opponents. This allowed Texas to advance in the rankings since they beat an unbeaten team while University of Southern California, who previously held the number one spot, beat Washington, a 1–6 team.
The week following the Texas Tech game Vince Young said he still planned to return for his senior season in 2006. Young, a candidate for the Heisman trophy, also apologized for striking the "Heisman pose" during the win over Texas Tech; this had been viewed as an immodest indiscretion.
Oklahoma State scored first, with a surprising 49 yard pass from Al Pena to D'Juan Woods. The Cowboys had lined up tight on 4th and 1 as if trying a short, power run, but faked that play and threw a deep pas instead, catching the Longhorn defense off-guard. Texas replied with a touchdown pass from Young to Thomas, but David Pino missed the extra point, allowing the Cowboys to retain the lead. Oklahoma State scored another touchdown and Texas completed a field goal to make the score 21–9 at the end of the first quarter. The Cowboys scored one touchdown in the second quarter off of a pass that was deflected by Texas, and Texas made a field goal near the end to cut into the lead, leaving Oklahoma State ahead 28-12 at halftime. The second half was dominated by Texas as they scored five unanswered touchdowns to win the game. The scores consisted of two rushing touchdowns by Vince Young, two rushing touchdowns by Ramonce Taylor, and a 21 yard touchdown pass to Neale Tweedie.
Despite Oklahoma State's 0–4 start to conference play, they led Texas the entire first half, including a lead of as much as seventeen points. It was the third straight year that Texas trailed Oklahoma State at halftime and came from behind to win by a sizable margin (47–28). Vince Young set a school record for total yards in one game with 506 yards (239 passing, 267 rushing). Young also became one of only seven players in NCAA history to have accumulated over 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing in a single game. Over the past three meetings between the two schools (2003–2005), the Longhorns outscored the Cowboys by a combined second-half score of 118–0.
TBS announced that the Longhorns’ come-from-behind victory scored a record viewership rating of 1.927 million viewers. This represented a 21 percent increase over the previous TBS network record for Southern California vs. Stanford in 2004.
Texas was stopped on their first drive due to an unsuccessful fourth down conversion. Baylor's first possession ended when UT's Michael Huff intercepted a pass from Baylor's Terrance Park. Longhorn Jamaal Charles scored a touchdown on the drive but the kick was blocked, giving Texas the only first-quarter score and a 6–0 lead. Texas extended the lead in the second quarter with rushing touchdowns from Henry Melton, Jamaal Charles, and Ramonce Taylor. Taylor made two more touchdowns in the third quarter and Quan Cosby caught a touchdown pass from Young. In the fourth quarter, Taylor scored his fourth touchdown and backup quarterback Matt Nordgren scored on an odd play where he was hit and fumbled while scrambling for the goal line but the ball traveled forward at about the same speed he was running and bounced right back up into his hands. Texas won the 2005 game 62–0 making it the only shutout of the 2005 season for the Longhorns.
The 2005 Baylor game was played in Waco, Texas, approximately 100 miles (161 km) north on Interstate 35 from Austin. Since UT home games are usually sold out and Waco is relatively close to Austin, recent games against Baylor have attracted numerous Texas fans driving to Waco to see the game. The Baylor athletic department suspended ticket sales at one point in an effort to limit the number of Longhorn fans who purchased tickets. The average attendance for Baylor's home games for the season was 37,428, but for the UT game the attendance was 44,783 still short of the 50,000 official capacity for Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium.
In the first quarter, Texas scored touchdowns on a pass to Limas Sweed, a run by Jamaal Charles, a pass to Quan Cosby, and a punt return by Aaron Ross. In the second quarter, the Longhorns had a touchdown run by Ramonce Taylor and touchdown catches from David Thomas and Peter Ullman. David Pino also kicked a field goal for the Horns. In the third quarter, Kansas opened the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown by Jon Cornish. Taylor scored another touchdown. UT had the only score of the fourth quarter, a touchdown by Selvin Young.
UT fans were unhappy with ABC's television coverage of the event. The network elected to stick with the Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M game instead of switching to the Kansas vs. Texas game. ABC stayed with the Oklahoma vs. A&M game through the final down and then ran three full minutes of commercials while the Texas vs. Kansas game continued. By the time they switched over Texas was already leading 14–0. The ABC announcers started their coverage saying “And now, we’ll join the game you’ve been waiting for all week, which has pretty much already been decided.” ABC then broke away from their coverage at halftime to broadcast other events. This left thousands of UT fans who assembled to watch the game in Darrell K. Royal Texas - Memorial Stadium stranded without coverage for much of the game.
The lopsided victory allowed Texas to play several less-experienced players. Back-up quarterback Matt Nordgren entered the game in the third quarter, replacing Vince Young. Third-string quarterback Matt McCoy replaced Nordgren just past the mid-point of the fourth quarter. Since Colt McCoy was listed third on the UT depth chart, television broadcasters referred to Matt McCoy (no relation) as Colt McCoy, a mistake they repeated over the season. The Longhorns did not play Colt in the 2005 season, choosing to redshirt him instead. After viewing this game as part of a recruiting visit to UT, Jevan Snead - ranked as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation, elected to switch his commitment from University of Florida to Texas.
This game marked the 112th meeting between Texas and the Texas A&M Aggies and the game is part of a multi-sport rivalry called the Lone Star Showdown. It is the longest-running rivalry for both the Longhorns and the Aggies and the football series is the seventh most-played rivalries in college football. Texas came into the 2005 contest with a 72–34–5 record. During the week before the game, the Longhorns conducted their traditional Hex Rally. As a result of a tragic accident in 1999, the Aggies did not host a school-sponsored version of their traditional Bonfire but an unofficial version called "Student Bonfire" was held November 19, 2005 despite a county-wide ban on bonfires. The game's attendance was 86,616, which is 4,016 more than the official stadium capacity for Kyle Field.
Like the contest against Missouri, sportswriters touted the Texas A&M game as showcasing two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks playing in college football. However, Texas A&M's starting quarterback Reggie McNeal missed the game due to an ankle injury; instead, freshman quarterback Stephen McGee made his first start. The game was a back-and-forth affair ultimately won by Texas, 40–29. The eleven point win was their second slimmest margin of victory of the regular season to that point, and they lost points in all three major polls but still remained solidly in second place.
The game was the poorest performance of the season by the Longhorns, both offensively and defensively. On offense, Vince Young had only 162 yards of offense, his lowest output of the season. The Associated Press remarked on the poor performance and said that Young, considered one of the nations best quarterbacks and a Heisman trophy candidate coming into the game, was "not even the best quarterback on the field that day". The Daily Texan predicted that the game could hurt Young's chances for the Heisman, but they also quoted UT head coach Mack Brown as saying "Looking at the numbers from what Reggie Bush did last week and Vince did today, Reggie probably leads, but next week, Vince plays at noon, and Reggie at 3, so I think voters will wait and watch to see what happens."
UT running backs Henry Melton and Ramonce Taylor also received criticism. Taylor was criticized for running backwards and sideways in an effort to gain yards, instead of moving ahead and breaking tackles. The Daily Texan observed "Five of Taylor's 15 carries resulted in a loss or no gain for a total of minus-17 yards. However, the other 10 carries totaled 119 yards for an average of 11.9 yards per positive running play. The sophomore didn't have a positive gain of fewer than 5 yards and accumulated three runs of 20 yards or longer." Greg Davis, UT's offensive coordinator, said "Ramonce is a darter. The only time that really concerned me was a third-and-two situation. We talked to him on the sideline about a little bit more down and distance awareness." Melton was criticized for "tiptoeing indecisively". and letting himself get tackled near the line of scrimmage.
On defense, the Longhorns held A&M to only 118 yards passing but gave up 277 yards rushing; the highest allowed by the Longhorns all season. Despite the poor outing, Texas finished the regular season undefeated. Gene Chizik, UT's defensive coordinator, said "This really is an eye-opening experience. Obviously, we've got to get better. But I'll tell you what, we're all going to drive home 11–0."
The Big 12 Championship Game is held by the Big 12 Conference each year. The championship game pits the Big 12 North Division champion against the South Division champion in a game held after the regular season has been completed. Despite losing the last two games of the regular season, Colorado retained the best record in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference. Prior to the game, Colorado head coach Gary Barnett said, "I do not think anybody expects us to come in here and beat Texas." His team lost the game 70–3, the most lopsided score in any college football conference championship to date.
The Longhorns scored ten touchdowns in their first eleven possessions. They started with first-quarter touchdowns by Henry Melton and Jamaal Charles. The Buffaloes got their only score of the game, a field goal, at the start of the second quarter. Vince Young, Limas Sweed, David Thomas, and Jamaal Charles scored touchdowns in the second quarter to give the Horns a 42–3 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Selvin Young, Charles and Melton each scored rushing touchdowns. Brandon Foster scored a touchdown on defense due to Michael Griffin blocking a Colorado punt. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, Texas already had 70 points, but went on cruise control from that point on and didn't score again.
Following the victory, the largely UT crowd stayed in the stands to celebrate the Longhorns' return to the Rose Bowl — this time for a shot at a National Championship. As players circled the stadium giving high-fives and handshakes to fans, a section of the railing collapsed and fans spilled onto the sideline. One person suffered injuries and was removed from the field on a stretcher.
Texas earned its second Big 12 football championship to make 27 conference championships total, including 25 in the Southwest Conference). The week after the game, Barnett was fired as Colorado's head coach and replaced by Dan Hawkins, the former head coach of Boise State.
For the 2005 season, the Rose Bowl also served as the BCS National Championship Game as a result of the Bowl Championship Series agreement. In the weeks leading up to the 2006 Rose Bowl, the game was described by numerous publications as one of the most-anticipated match-ups in college football history and even as the greatest college football game of all time. This was Texas' second trip to the Rose Bowl in school history, alongside their trip the previous season.
Less than three weeks before the game, USC Trojan Reggie Bush won the Heisman trophy ahead of second place finisher Vince Young. Bush had the second highest number of first place votes in Heisman history (behind O.J. Simpson) and the highest percentage of first place votes, while Young had a record number of second place votes. Bush's 933-point margin of victory was the 17th highest in the history of the Heisman voting. The third finalist was USC's Matt Leinart, who won the Heisman trophy in 2004. This Rose Bowl would mark the first time two Heisman trophy winners would ever play in the same backfield.
The game's outcome was in doubt until the final minute of play. With 19 seconds left on the game clock, Vince Young ran for a touchdown and regained the lead for the Longhorns. He followed up by running the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion. Leinart had time to attempt one pass but his pass fell out of bounds as time expired; UT beat USC by the score of 41–38.
Young completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards and carried the ball 19 times for 200 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. His 467 total yards set a new Rose Bowl and BCS Championship Game record. He won the Rose Bowl "Most Valuable Player" (MVP) award for the second consecutive year, joining Ron Dayne, Bob Schloredt, and Charles White as the only two-time winners but the only player from outside the Big Ten or Pac 10. David Thomas' ten receptions set a UT record for most receptions in a game by a tight end.
Prior to the game, commentators had postulated that the 2005 USC team was one of or even the "greatest team of all-time". ESPN analysts were virtually unanimous in their declaration of the 2005 USC Trojans as the best offense in the history of college football, despite the fact that they were in second place behind Texas in terms of points scored during the season. ESPN analysts Mark May and Kirk Herbstreit declared, before the 2005 Rose Bowl had even been played, that the 2005 USC Trojans were the 2nd best college football team of the past 50 years. May placed them behind only 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers; Herbstreit behind only 2001 Miami Hurricanes. This led to Texas fans at the Rose Bowl mockingly chanting "Best...Team...Ever" during the post-game celebration. Stewart Mandell of Sports Illustrated observed, "ESPN spent the better part of Christmas season comparing that Trojans squad to some of the most acclaimed teams of all time only to find out that they weren’t even the best team that season.
Texas' Rose Bowl win was the 800th victory in school history and it earned the Longhorns their fourth consensus national championship in football. Since the game, the media, coaches, and other commentators have heaped praise upon the Texas team, Young, and the Rose Bowl performance. Both the Rose Bowl win as well as the Longhorns' overall season have both been cited as standing among the greatest performances in college football history by observers such as College Football News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Scout.com, Austin American-Statesman, Bodog Entertainment, and Sports Illustrated. ESPN awarded the two teams the 2006 ESPY Award for the "Best Game" in any sport.
Texas' win over USC was their ninth consecutive victory when facing a ranked opponent. Texas broke USC's winning streak (then the longest in the nation) at 34 and claimed the longest running winning streak for themselves at 20 wins in a row. Texas 20 game winning streak was the second-longest winning streak in school history; Texas had 30 wins in a row from 1968–70. Texas extended the winning streak to 21 before a September 9, 2006 loss to Ohio State University. In beating USC, Texas defeated a #1 ranked team for the first time since defeating Alabama in the Orange Bowl on January 1, 1965. The Longhorns ended the season ranked third in the all-time list of both total wins and winning percentage (.7143).
On October 24, 2005, Texas passed USC in the BCS rankings due to a strong showing in the computer rankings, which favored the Longhorns because of the overall strength of their opponents as well as the October 22, 2005 win over previously unbeaten Texas Tech. The first place ranking was the first for UT in the BCS era, and the first top ranking in any major football poll since October 8, 1984, when they were atop both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. The 0.0007% margin separating Texas from USC was the slimmest margin between the top two teams since the inception of BCS rankings.
The stay at the top was short-lived. With the October 31, 2005 BCS rankings, Texas remained first in the computer rankings, with Virginia Tech pulling even with USC for number two in the computer rankings. However, USC remained atop both human polls and was able to reclaim the top overall ranking. Texas and USC won the rest of their games and faced each other in the National Championship, which Texas won 41–38. This was only the 35th meeting of the two top-ranked teams in the history of college football, including both regular season and bowl games. The BCS system now ensures that the two top teams in the BCS rankings face each other annually in a national championship game, but the methodology for ranking the teams remains controversial among fans and sportswriters.
The 2005 season marks only the eighth time in 50 years that exactly two teams have gone into the bowl season undefeated. This has been a major criticism of the BCS format, which does not use a playoff to determine the national championship. Unless there are exactly two&nbps;unbeaten teams the choice of the top two teams can generate controversy. If more than two undefeated teams remain, then one or more of those teams must be left out. If one or fewer undefeated teams remain, then an opponent must be chosen from among the one-loss teams, meaning that other one-loss teams will be left out.
In the eight National Championship games through the 2006 Rose Bowl, the team ranked number one prior to the game has won five times, while the number two team has won three times. Up to the 2007 season, no school had won the BCS championship twice. In the final polls after the bowl games, Texas received all 62 first place votes in the Coaches Poll and all 65 first place votes in the AP Poll.
Analysts labeled the team, their season, and their championship victory as the greatest or among the greatest in the history of the sport. College Football News judged the 2005 Longhorns to have played the greatest college football season ever. Sports-writers at College Football News also consider the 2006 Rose Bowl to be the best college football game ever played. Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said "if there ever has been a greater game, I never saw it, and I’ve been watching college football games since 1934." Scout.com called it "one of the best national title games ever", while Kevin Hench of Fox Sports called it "perhaps the greatest college football game ever played. ESPN declared the 2006 Rose Bowl Game an instant classic and re-aired it within a week of the original broadcast. ESPN later awarded the 2006 ESPY Award to the Longhorns and Trojans for the 2006 "Best Game" in any sport. Vince Young and Matt Leinart accepted the award on behalf of their teams. ESPN columnist Mark Schlabach ranked the 2005 Texas Longhorns as fourth-best among the first ten BCS-era champions.
The championship game drew attention from political figures. Head Coach Mack Brown took a congratulatory call from United States President George W. Bush, who told Brown, "Congratulations on a wonderful moment...Tell the team congratulations, we're proud of them." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Bush wished Brown and the Longhorns all the best, and said that he looked forward to having them visit the White House soon. Bush was formerly a Governor of Texas and his daughter Jenna is a UT graduate. On February 14, 2006, Bush did host the team and coaches at the White House. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lost a bet with Texas Governor Rick Perry on the outcome and had to send Perry a basket of “California wines, fruit and other goodies”. The food was donated to National Guard troops in Texas. Both governors also offered autographed, handmade cowboy boots that were auctioned to benefit survivors of Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, lost a bet with Austin Mayor Will Wynn and had to send a basket of produce, such as avocados, from a local farmers' market; Wynn had bet Texas finest barbecue.
Seconds after Texas beat Southern California 41-38, the university lit the UT tower orange, the traditional signal of victory on the campus. Since this was a national championship, office lights were also left selectively lit in order to form a number "1" on all four sides of the tower (pictured). Texas students and fans spilled onto the streets of Austin and made their way to campus for an impromptu celebration. Though police were out in force, there were no reports of problems. The school commissioned a painting titled The University of Texas National Championship 2005 by Opie Otterstad to commemorate the win in the Rose Bowl and the National Championship.
Special editions of magazines and products featured the team. Dave Campbell's Texas Football put out a 45,000-copy special issue titled One for the Ages - Vince Young Leads Longhorns to the Fourth National Title. This issue included a column from Longhorn fan Matthew McConaughey as well as 15 pages of photos from the Rose Bowl. The cover featured Young kissing the "crystal football" national championship trophy. Sports Illustrated held up their regular weekly edition to await the results of the Rose Bowl. They finally went to press with a cover showing Young diving into the end zone with the label "Superman". Analysis inside the issue gave Young a large part of the credit for the win. They also printed a special commemorative issue in the state of Texas with Young on the cover, shouting in triumph amidst a storm of multi-colored confetti after winning the game. Features in the special edition included a story on Vince Young's Glory Days by Tim Layden, as well as a story dissecting How the Rose Bowl was won by Austin Murphy. The issue was on sale alongside the regular edition of the magazine. General Mills produced a commemorative issue Wheaties box featuring Mack Brown and a Texas Longhorns football helmet on the front. The commemorative packaging was sold nationwide. Texas is the first national college football champion to be featured since Nebraska was on the box in 1997.
Individual players and coaches also received honors. "Vince Young Day" was proclaimed by Mayor Bill White in Houston, Texas on January 10, 2006, to honor the Houston native. White said that Young is "an inspiration to all Houstonians, both young and old." On January 15, 2006, 51,244 Texas fans gathered in Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to celebrate the team and their victorious season. Mack Brown was named the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Football Coach of the Year, as voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Brown became the first winner of the award from UT since Darrell Royal in 1963. The championship season lifted the reputation of Mack Brown and the offensive coordinator, Greg Davis. Davis was consistently criticized for over-conservative play-calling. After the championship win the criticism quieted down, but did not go away completely. As of 2007 sportswriters continue to debate whether Vince Young and the other talented UT players succeeded despite Davis or because of him.
Despite previous statements that he would return for his senior season, redshirt junior quarterback Vince Young announced that he would forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility and made himself eligible for the 2006 National Football League draft. The Tennessee Titans chose him as the third overall draft pick. Besides Young, five other Longhorns from this championship team joined professional teams through the 2006 NFL Draft - Michael Huff (number 7 overall), Cedric Griffin (number 48 overall), David Thomas (number 86 overall), Jonathan Scott (number 141 overall) and Rodrique Wright (number 222 overall). As a result, fullback Ahmard Hall was re-united with his former team-mate Vince Young in the NFL, playing for Tennessee. One year later, seven more members of this team were selected in the 2007 NFL Draft - Michael Griffin (number 19 overall), Aaron Ross (number 20 overall), Justin Blalock (number 39 overall), Tim Crowder (number 56 overall), Brian Robison (number 102 overall), Tarell Brown (number 147 overall), Kasey Studdard (number 183 overall). Lyle Sendlein and Selvin Young were not drafted but signed with NFL teams as free agents. In the 2008 NFL Draft, five more Longhorns from this team were selected: Limas Sweed (number 53rd overall), Jamaal Charles (number 73 overall), Jermichael Finley (number 91 overall), Tony Hills (number 130 overall), and Frank Okam (number 151 overall). In addition, Brandon Foster, Marcus Griffin, Nate Jones and Derek Lokey agreed to sign free-agent contracts with NFL teams.
For the fiscal year which ended in August 2005, just as the 2005 football season was starting, Texas was the nation's richest and most profitable football program, with revenue of $53.2 million, and a profit of $38.7 million. Following the national championship, for the 2005–2006 fiscal year, UT also led the nation in royalties from merchandise sales, setting a new national record at $8.2 million. These royalties went to the University as a whole, not specifically to the athletics programs. The team topped the merchandise rankings again for he 2006–2007 fiscal year.
The official website of UT football posted a special logo (pictured) proclaiming the Longhorns as the national champions. The logo featured the script "National Champions" centered prominently in the center, with "MACKBROWN-TEXASFOOTBALL.COM" in the lower left and "THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS LONGHORNS" in the lower right. In the background was an image of a rose, with a small Longhorn symbol appearing in front of the rose and between the two sections of the smaller print. In the upper right-hand side, the years "1963, 1969, 1970, 2005" appear, with the "2005" given special emphasis. These years correspond to the four consensus national championships won by the UT football team. The special logo was removed from the website's home page after a few months, but as of 2007 it is still found on certain portions of the site related to the 2005 season.
The team also set school and NCAA records and received accolades.