Were it not for losses by each of these teams on Thanksgiving weekend, they would both be playing in BCS games. Texas lost 38-30 to rival Texas A&M the day after Thanksgiving. Arizona State fell 44-24 to USC on Thanksgiving evening.
Still, Arizona State was able to claim a share of the PAC-10 title, its first such accomplishment since 1996. Meanwhile, Texas has not returned to the Big 12 championship game since winning the BCS title in 2005.
The passing game let Texas down, with Colt McCoy throwing 18 INT's against 21 TD's. Running back Jamaal Charles picked up the slack, rushing for 1,458 yards and 16 scores.
Defense is usually a staple of Mack Brown teams, but the Longhorns allowed over 374 yards a game to rank 54th, and conceded 24.6 points per game to rank 45th.
Texas is going bowling for a school record tenth straight season, while Brown has appeared as a head coach in 16 straight bowl games going back to his days with North Carolina. The Longhorns have won three straight bowl games, and five of their last six.
Arizona State is appearing in a bowl game for the fourth straight season after turning in its best regular season mark since 1996 in Dennis Erickson's first season as head coach.
The Sun Devils' Rudy Carpenter completed nearly 63% of his passes for 3,015 yards with 23 TD's and 8 INT's. Carpenter will look to exploit a Longhorn pass defense that ranked 109th nationally.
Arizona State also has a huge statistical advantage on defense, ranking 21st over-all and 13th against the run.
The Sun Devils and Longhorns have never met before.