For students who arrived at the 40 Acres in 2010 — just in time for the football program to spontaneously combust — there is an understanding that the definition of a “big game” at Texas has changed.
While students of the Vince Young and Colt McCoy eras were regularly treated to Top-10 matchups, conference championships and national title games, Texas’ current crop of students hasn’t been so fortunate. Early season losses have led to uninteresting conference matchups and meaningless bowl games over the past four seasons.
As a result, the experience of watching marquee matchups has been reduced to just one thing: rivalry games. You know, those fiery contests against the Aggies and Sooners that are highly anticipated, regardless of either team’s standing.
The Longhorns are 2–4 in rivalry games since 2010, with a 2011 victory over Texas A&M in the schools’ final Big 12 meeting and a shocking upset of Oklahoma just a couple weeks ago. While those two victories were separated by nearly two years, they did have something in common: Case McCoy was quarterback in both of them.
Whether he was leading the comeback drive to set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning kick over the Aggies — a moment that seemed almost as big as Young’s run to the corner — or playing pitch-and-catch with senior wide receiver Mike Davis to seal a blowout victory over the Sooners, McCoy looked comfortable in the spotlight.
“I came to this university to play in games like that,” McCoy said. “Over my career, I’ve been able to play in some awesome, historical games that I will never forget. And we’ve performed in those games, so it’s fun to talk about.”
And while Case is certainly no Colt, their performance in high-profile games is comparable.
Case has a winning record as a starter against rivals, 2–1, and is hardly to blame for his lone loss, against OU in 2011. He was replaced early-on by David Ash, who he was splitting reps with at the time, and by the time McCoy returned to the game, Ash had already thrown an interception and it was 20–3 in favor of the Sooners.
Colt, on the other hand, often struggled in big-time contests. He lost three times against the Aggies and Sooners, including a 2006 loss to Texas A&M, in which he threw three interceptions, that cost Texas a shot at the Big 12 title. Add to that the 2008 loss to Texas Tech and a three-turnover performance in the 2009 conference championship game against Nebraska, and it’s clear that he didn’t exactly relish the big moment.
Sure, as far as overall results and the legacy he left behind, Colt McCoy was certainly more successful as a Longhorn. But when it comes to clutch performances, you could argue that the younger McCoy has been equally as impressive, and you might just have a case.