Final four-game stretch will define Longhorns season


Elisabeth Dillon

James Sims (29) looks downfield as he cruises past Kenny Vaccaro (4). Sims would finish the game with a career-high 176-yards rushing on 28 carries. The Longhorns may not have to worry about the Red Raiders racking up a ton of yards on the ground, but they will have their hands full with the rest of the Texas Tech offense.

Christian Corona

6-2. This is familiar territory for Texas.

This time last year, the Longhorns had won six of their first eight games, exceeding the number of victories they accumulated the previous year, and checked in at No. 16 in the BCS standings.

They aren’t ranked quite as high right now, but the Longhorns are still in that same 6-2 spot. They said they came into the season intending to run the table but, while they’re a bad snap against West Virginia away from being 7-1, they’re also a pair of fourth-down completions against Oklahoma State and Kansas away from being 4-4.

“We choose our own destiny. Y’all can either start playing hard or this season’s going downhill,” senior safety Kenny Vaccaro said he told the Texas defense. “If you win out, yeah it’s really possible. 10-2, that’s a great season, especially with Kansas State in there. That’s a great team.”

Now Vaccaro and many of his teammates are saying that they believe Texas can win out, which would give the Longhorns their first 10-win season since they played for a national title following the 2009 regular season.

Does that give Texas a chance to play for a BCS bowl?

“I feel like we can still go to a BCS bowl,” junior wide receiver Mike Davis said. “We’ve got hope. College football today is crazy. You can lose at anytime. You don’t ever know what can happen. You just have to be ready.”

Theoretically, of course, the Longhorns, with 10 wins and two of them coming against Texas Tech and Kansas State, could make a strong case to earn a BCS bowl berth. But, realistically speaking, there’s no way that will happen.

Lubbock is a tough enough place to play as it is. But Texas Tech, boasting a much improved defense and facing a Texas offense that struggled against last-place Kansas, could very well beat Texas by double digits Saturday. As it stands right now, the Red Raiders are eight-point favorites this weekend.

“There’s a lot of two-loss teams right now that are not happy,” head coach Mack Brown said. “We win only two of the last five games and we were in the same spot last year. We lost at Missouri, we lost a tough one to Kansas State, we beat A&M and then we lost to Baylor and won the bowl game. What we’ve got to do is play better down the stretch than we did last year.”

Texas’ two games following this weekend’s in Lubbock are both very winnable contests that it should not be underdogs in. But following those home games against Iowa State and TCU, the latter on Thanksgiving, the Longhorns travel to Manhattan to face a Kansas State team which has their number.

The Wildcats, who narrowly beat Texas at DKR last November, are vastly improved. Collin Klein is the current Heisman Trophy frontrunner and Kansas State has its eyes on the national title game.

Chalk that one up as a loss. And 9-3 won’t get Texas in a BCS bowl game. 8-4 would probably keep the Longhorns out of the Cotton Bowl, a mark the Longhorns are likely headed for if they lose in Lubbock.