We've always said (actually, somebody else has always said, but not remembering who, we're going to take the credit) that a team's bowl game is the first game of the following season. The only time it really isn't true is when a team loses its identity in the offseason and has to start over.
To prove our point, take a look at Texas' recent bowl history and compare them to the seasons that followed:
2006 Alamo Bowl -- 'Meh' bowl win over Iowa, 'meh' season in 2007
2006 Rose Bowl -- VY over USC, VY leaves, next season does not correlate
2005 Rose Bowl -- VY over Michigan, VY over college football in 2005
2003 Holiday Bowl -- Bad loss to WSU, rough start to 2004 (12-0 anybody?)
2003 Cotton Bowl -- Texas overpowers LSU, starts over in 2003
2001 Holiday Bowl -- Wild and unpredictable win over Oregon, unpredictable and inconsistent team in 2002
Texas started over in 2003 and 2006 but every other year the bowl game correlated with the team that followed. Even the 2004 Horns which won the Rose Bowl over Michigan were not a very good team until the second half of the season.
So, you may ask, what does it all mean? The answer seems to us to be that it means a lot...maybe. Mack Brown in his post game interview with his stepson (whose name you'd think ESPN would have figured out and broadcast during the game, we're shocked they didn't) was a lot more like the Mack Brown of 2004 and 2005 than of 2006 and 2007. Colt McCoy did exactly what Texas needed (run when possible, throw well enough to keep the chains moving), and Jamal Charles proved why he is a special back.
More importantly, perhaps, the defense put pressure on Arizona State all game, causing numerous turnovers and making plays all over the field. This was a defense we hadn't seen all year. Lost in all the hooplah with "touchedballgate" (which could use a post by itself. INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE ANYONE?!) is the amazing play by Roddrick Muckelroy and Roy Miller to cause and recover the fumble respectively. Throw in solid offensive line play by a line without a single senior, and you can see why there is reason to be optimistic.
You can obviously make the argument that the Pac-10 sucks, Arizona State was not that talented, and Texas was simply fired up. All of that is true and could certainly mean that 2008 will be no different than 2007.
We like to think that Mack has proven he can/will change. The Mack Brown of 2005 that won a title was a product of disappointments in 2001, 2002, and 2003. As we said after the A&M loss, Texas is lucky to have Mack Brown. With the victory, Texas has now won 10 or more games 7 straight seasons. No other school in the country can claim that. We, therefore, enter the 2008 offseason cautiously optimistic that Texas can compete for another title.