DALLAS, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Quarterback Chris Simms went out a winner Wednesday thanks to a spectacular game by wide receiver Roy Williams as the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns rallied from an early 10-point deficit to down No. 25 Louisiana State in the Cotton Bowl, 35-20.
It was the first meeting of the schools since the 1963 Cotton Bowl, when LSU upset the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Longhorns, 14-0.
"Chris finished his career today like he should have," Texas Coach Mack Brown said. "He has matured as much as anyone I have seen. He'll be able to buy all of those people who have criticized him in a year or two because he is going to be a great pro."
Williams caught four passes for 142 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a score as the Longhorns (11-2) scored 28 straight points after falling behind 17-7. Texas improved to 11-10-1 in a record 22 Cotton Bowl appearances.
Criticized for his poor play in big games, Simms finally won in Dallas. He threw seven interceptions in back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and was picked off three times in the last season's setback to Colorado in the Big 12 Conference championship game.
Williams, who has caught a pass in a school-record 34 straight games, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"I feel like the whole offensive unit should be the MVP," he said. "We started slow and put it together at the end."
In a game of big plays, Simms completed 15 of 28 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns in his final appearance for the Longorns. He had been 0-4 at the Cotton Bowl, where the annual Texas-Oklahoma game is played.
"It was real emotional," Simms said. "The ball never bounced our way in this stadium. We have bounced back from adversity all season long. I am very happy to be taking off my jersey a winner. I am going to miss this team a lot."
Ironically, Simms' final pass was intercepted as Brown elected to go for it on fourth and two from the Longhorns' 42 with 1:07 left.
LSU turned the ball back over on downs after gaining just two yards and this time the Longhorns ran out the clock by having Simms take a knee twice.
"I'm excited for our players who have won 11 games (in consecutive years for the first time in school history), and there aren't a lot of things you can do at the University of Texas that haven't already been done," Brown said.
Early on, however, Texas sputtered and the Tigers (8-5) shredded the Longhorns' defense, holding a 268-17 edge in total offense two minutes into the second quarter.
Marcus Randall threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to LaBrandon Toefield in the first quarter before his career-long 75-yard run set up Domanick Davis' 10-yard run that made it 17-7 with 12:04 left in the first half.
The Longhorns were fortunate to be that close as they got their first touchdown on Lee Jackson's 46-yard fumble return with 3:49 left in the opening period.
But Simms sparked the Longhorns, tossing a 51-yard TD strike to Williams just 40 seconds after Davis' score.
"We got after them early," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "They were in a tough situation and perservered. They had a couple of big plays and three turnovers caught up to us."
After John Corbello missed a 36-yard field goal for the Tigers, Simms' 75-yard pass to Williams set up Cedric Benson's one-yard touchdown plunge with 3:11 left in the half that gave the Longhorns a 21-17 lead at the intermission.
"Williams is the best player I have played against this year," LSU linebacker Bradie James said.
Williams scored on a 39-yard end-around reverse to make it 28-17 with 4:08 to go in the third quarter before Simms tossed an eight-yard touchdown strike to Ivan Williams with 9:58 left in the contest.
"We just needed a chance to get on the field and get into a flow," Simms said. "We gave them some matchup problems and after that first big play to Roy, they never went to a single safety defense again."
Randall completed only 19 of 41 passes for 193 yards and rushed for 78 yards on 11 carries. Davis paced the Tigers on the ground with 85 yards on 13 attempts.
The loss snapped a five-game bowl winning streak for LSU, which played in consecutive New Year's Day games for the first time since 1964-65. Last season, the Tigers defeat Illinois, 47-34, in the Sugar Bowl.
Corbello kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 35-20 with 7:46 remaining.
The Tigers recovered on onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and reached the Longhorns' 34, but the drive stalled as Randall's pass on fourth and five was incomplete.