COTTON BOWL Bad memories motivate Texas in rout
Texas will likely finish in the Top 10 for a second straight year.
DALLAS (AP) -- Finally walking up the tunnel of the Cotton Bowl as a winner, Chris Simms couldn't contain himself.
Emotions pent up from losing four straight games in the stadium came gushing out. So did the realization that his college career is over.
"I don't know if it's relief," Simms said. "It's an odd feeling.
"At the same time, I think knowing the feeling of going off this field a loser drove us to win. I didn't want to go off the field and have to answer these questions again."
Simms helped No. 9 Texas beat LSU 35-20 Wednesday by doing two smart things -- getting the ball to Roy Williams and avoiding game-changing mistakes.
Williams turned a short slant into a 51-yard touchdown play, went 75 yards after a leaping grab to set up another score and snaked 39 yards for a TD on an end around. He finished with four catches for 142 yards and 181 total yards, easily the most one player has had against LSU this season.
"He might be the best football player I've seen all year," Tigers coach Nick Saban said.
Simms finished 15-of-28 for 269 yards and, most important, had one turnover: an interception on his final pass. It was a star-crossed ending to a four-year career filled with record-setting highs and excruciating lows.
Despite being 26-6 as a starter, tied for the second-most wins in school history, Simms' failures in big games will be a prominent part of his legacy. Many of his worst outings came in the Dallas area -- against Oklahoma in their annual game at the Cotton Bowl stadium and against Colorado in last year's Big 12 title game at Texas Stadium.
"No questions about interceptions this time," Simms said when he entered the interview room. "I get to walk in here with a smile on my face for once. It's about time, too."
Texas (11-2) used "Take Back Dallas" as its rallying cry. The goal was to enjoy the time spent here so there will be more of a positive feeling when they return in 10 months to play the Sooners.
"It was about getting the monkey off the young guys' backs," senior Rod Babers said. "You've got to win in Dallas if you want to win a Big 12 championship or a national championship."
Simms, Babers and Cory Redding -- the game's defensive MVP -- were all part of the 1999 recruiting class that was hailed as the nation's best. This was their 40th win and it gave Texas consecutive 11-win seasons for the first time. The Longhorns most likely will finish in the Top 10 for a second straight year, something they haven't done since 1977-78.
About all they didn't do was win a conference title, much less a national one.
"This bunch has exceeded every expectation anyone could've asked," coach Mack Brown said. "You can say they didn't win a championship -- other than that, they did everything else."