"So many plays in that game, so many great moments," he said.

Two seasons ago, though, Texas returned to the Rose Bowl to face Alabama for the Bowl Championship Series title.

Texas had Alabama on its heels early until quarterback Colt McCoy was knocked out with an arm injury.

"I thought it set up perfectly for us, just like the SC game," Brown said. "We were told we had no chance to win. We were in a perfect spot. The SEC had become a running league and we were throwing the ball so well. We did not think people could cover us."


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Texas couldn't overcome McCoy's loss and hasn't been the same since.

"I did not foresee the hangover from that game," Brown said.

For eight years, starting with Young, Texas' best running back was its quarterback.

Texas tried to retrofit the offense around the less mobile Garrett Gilbert, but the plan failed. The Longhorns finished 5-7 last year, which prompted Brown to reconfigure his staff.

Saturday, Texas is at UCLA, at the Rose Bowl, in search of an identity.

Brown thinks his 2-0 team has momentum after eking out a one-point victory over Brigham Young. Brown is benching Gilbert in favor of Case McCoy, Colt's younger brother.

"We are changing who we are," Brown said. "… I think we're in mid-transition and we know who we want to be and are headed back there fast."

Brown is among the few who can look forward to the Rose Bowl at the same time he looks back.

"It's a different trip going back my fifth time than it was my first," he joked.

If Texas ends up in the Pac-12, what's the big deal? It will feel like putting on an old sweater.

But if the Longhorns don't, won't it almost seem like they're leaving?

cdufresne@tribune.com