Texas took its biggest step toward No. 1 ranking before the season started.
That's when coach Fred Akers shelved the wishbone. He moved Earl Campbell from the fullback position, two yards behind the quaterback, to tailback, seven yards back where he can see where he is going. That path probably also leads to a Heisman Trophy.
Then Akers moved Olympic sprinter Johnny (Lam) Jones from halfback to flanter, spreading the defenses and giving Campbell even more running room.
The Lognhorns have rolled to 10 straight victories going into Saturday's regular-season finale, against Texas A & M. (The game will not be televised in the Washington area.)
More is at stake than simply being the best team in the state of Texas and having an undefeated season.
The Southwest Conference tilte is on the line, too, and Texas has a chance to clinch a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face Notre Dame.
The Longhorns might get to the Cotton Bowl anyway, even if they lose to Texas A & M, because the Aggies, with a conference loss to Arkansas, have a conference game left with Houston next week.
The Longhorns don't want to back into the Cotton Bowl, though. They want that undefeated season and the national championship. The Longhorns went undefeated in 1969 and were undefeated again in 1970 before losing to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.
Campbell, the nation's No. 2 rusher and the leasing Heisman Trophy candidate, has gained 1.522 yards and scored 15 touchdowns this season. Heh is averaging 152.2 yards a game. Teh leader is Oklahoma State's Terry Miller, whose average is 157.7.
Perhaps the most revealing thing about Texas' strength is that it lost its two top quarterbacks against Oklahoma in the fourth game of the season but never skipped a beat.
Randy McEachern stepped right in. Then he got hurt three games ago and returned just last week.
In his absence, freshman Sam Ansley played as if he had been there all along.
Texas in not afraid to throw the football anymore. In 10 games, Longhorns quarterbacks have completed 63 of 133 passes for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.
For all of last season, Texas completed only 46 of 108 for 908 yards and three touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
"They hace a better moved passing game because they moved Lam Jones outside," Texas A & M cornerback Mike Williams said.
"When you have a world class sprinter running pass routes as well as a split end like Alfred Jackson, you know you've gor to have a pretty good passing game."
Texas is almost as powerful on defense as it is on offense. It has yielded an average of only 8.6 points a game fourth in the mation and is third in rushing defense and total defense. The Longhorns do it with seven sophomore starters, tow jumiors and only tow seniors.
Texas A&M, with 280pound fullback George Woodard, kicker Tiny Franklin and quarterback David Walker, is not a pushover.
The Aggies have lost only twice - to fourth-ranked Michigan and to sixth-ranked Arkansas. They have beaten Texas the last two seasons, Wasltzing 27-3 last year in Austin.
"I think everyone agrees that for the last four or five years, Texas A&M has had the best physical talent in the country," Akers said.
"They (the Aggies) have speed and quickness. It's a great rivalry and it should be a great game. The stakes are high and I would think that both teams will be at their best."
Akers compares the Aggies with Oklahoma, a 13-6 loser to Texas this year.
"They present some of the same problems Oklahoma does, but they are a better passing team and have more strength inside with a bigger fullback and a bigger offensive line," he said.
The only thing really bothering Akers is the status of his kicker-punter, RUssell Erxleben.
Erxleben is punting at a 45.9 average and has made 14 of 26 fields goals, his longest being 67 fards. He has a briused thigh, however, which caused him to miss the baylor game last week and makes him questionable for the A&M game.
If he can't play, the kicking will be handled by Steve McMchael, a starting defensive takle who was one for two on field goals and two of three on extra points last week.
both Texas and Texas A&M are assured playing in a bowl game. Which ever one doesn't make it to the Cotton Bowl to oppose Washington Southern California.
In the other games Saturday, Arizona takes on Arizona State, alabama plays Auburn and Grambling tangles with Southern University.