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Tonight the Texas Longhorns conclude a tumultuous 2020 college football season that had everything from canceled games to players opting out, not to mention widespread speculation regarding the departure of head coach Tom Herman

Despite all the adversity, the Longhorns finished the season with a 6-3 record and earned a berth in the Alamo Bowl, where they will face their former foes from the Big 12, the Colorado Buffaloes. During the game, the Texas Longhorns helmets will be adorned with a special “FA” sticker. What does it stand for?  

Texas Longhorns earn Alamo Bowl berth 

The Texas Longhorns had a roller coaster of a season. After a season-opening win over UTEP, the Horns won in come-from-behind fashion the next week in a 63-56 overtime thriller on the South Plains against Texas Tech.

The Longhorns then suffered back-to-back conference defeats to TCU at home and Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. Those two losses dramatically altered any realistic hopes for a chance at the Big 12 title. 

Tom Herman’s squad won three straight after the loss in Dallas, including an impressive 41-34 road win in Stillwater over the-then No. 6-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. A disappointing home loss on Senior Day against Iowa State snuffed out any lingering hopes of a chance at playing in the Big 12 championship game. 

The Texas Longhorns concluded the season with a dominant 69-31 road victory against Kansas State. After the Kansas game was canceled due to COVID issues with Texas, the Longhorns finished the season with a 6-3 record and earned a berth to the Alamo Bowl against the Colorado Buffaloes. 

Texas Longhorns honoring the late Fred Akers with helmet sticker

The matchup between the Texas Longhorns and Colorado Buffaloes will evoke a lot of old memories for both fanbases and a time when the Buffs were part of the Big 12.

One of the most memorable contests between the two teams happened 19 years ago at the Big 12 championship. After the Longhorns dominated the Buffaloes, 41-7, during the first meeting of the 2001 season in Austin, Colorado got revenge in Dallas. Texas quarterback Chris Simms threw three first-half interceptions and the No. 3-ranked Longhorns never recovered, losing 39-37, and more importantly, losing out on a chance at a national title. 

Former Texas head coach Fred Akers knows a little something about close calls and national titles. He guided the Longhorns to a pair of near-misses in both 1977 and 1983. The Texas Longhorns are honoring the late coach at the Alamo Bowl with the “FA” sticker on the back of Longhorn helmets.  

Fred Akers died earlier in December

Fred Akers, who led the Texas Longhorns to an 86-31 record during a decade in Austin, passed away on December 7 in Austin. He lived in Austin after he retired from coaching Purdue in 1990 and was a regular at Texas football practices. He was inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor in 2015.

In recent years, Akers struggled with dementia and lived in a memory care facility. Following his death, many in the Longhorn community fondly remembered the coach, including his star running back Earl Campbell.

“There is so much to say about the relationship I had with Fred. As a coach, he believed in me more than I did when he took over the team. I remember running for over 200 yards one evening in College Station and he told me that the Heisman was all mine. My brothers and I tell people all of the time to go back and look at the talent Fred coached at The University. Not sure if he gets the proper acknowledgment he deserves, but he did a lot of great things for Texas football.” 

Fred Akers followed the legendary Darrell Royal, and despite never winning a national title, is still one of the most beloved coaches in Texas Longhorns history. 

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