Texas season review

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Most observers thought the Longhorns were a year away from contending for the Big 12 South title before the season.

Instead, coach Mack Brown's team had one of its most rewarding seasons, coming within a whisper of playing in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

The 11-1 Longhorns earned a share of the Big 12 South title and were kept out of the conference title game only because of a three-way tie for the division championship with Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The fifth tiebreaker gave the nod to the Sooners.

Quarterback Colt McCoy came back bigger, stronger and more focused to become an integral part of the offense. McCoy emerged as a Heisman finalist, the winningest quarterback in school history and the team's primary rushing threat.

New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp cooked up an aggressive mentality that was keyed by veteran leaders like Brian Orakpo and Roy Miller.

Only a dramatic comeback by Texas Tech in the final seconds kept the Longhorns from becoming the first team in 65 seasons to beat four top-12 opponents in succession.

Instead, they will settle for a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State in a consolation game after having their BCS championship hopes snuffed out after Oklahoma's Big 12 title-game victory.

Offensive Most Valuable Player: QB Colt McCoy. After struggling with interceptions last season, McCoy came back with a productive season. He completed 77.6 percent of his passes and is in line to easily break the NCAA single-season completion percentage record. He also ranks third in passing efficiency and leads the Longhorns with 576 rushing yards.

Defensive Most Valuable Player: DE Brian Orkapo. After struggling much of last season with a knee injury, Orakpo came back determined to have a big senior season. That desire helped him produce 40 tackles and notch team-leading totals of 10.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 27 quarterback hurries. He also shared the team lead with four forced fumbles.

Turning point: Oklahoma had just jumped to a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter when Jordan Shipley returned a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That big play provided a momentum surge that boosted the Longhorns to a comeback victory in that game and started their run of eventual triumphs over top-12 teams in their next two games.

What's next: The Longhorns should have a strong chance to win the Fiesta Bowl and finish the 2008 season strongly. And with McCoy already announcing he will return along with a strong supporting cast, Texas will enter next season as the prime contender for the Big 12 championship.