With two games left, all that matters is making a bowl

Trenton Daeschner

Tom Herman was brought to Texas to win. It is as simple as that at the end of the day.

After three years of frustration under former head coach Charlie Strong, Herman was sought after by burnt orange brass to be the man to bring the Longhorns back to the promised land.

But 10 games into Herman’s tenure, the promised land still feels like some long-lost acreage out in the middle of nowhere. Texas is 5–5 and needs one win in its last two games to reach a bowl for the first time since Strong’s first season in 2014.

The goal now is simple. A bowl berth, and win, in Herman’s first season on the 40 Acres would qualify as significant improvement, considering how things have gone in recent years.

Texas’ next two games are by no means cake-walks, though. Saturday’s matchup against 7–3 West Virginia in Morgantown, led by star quarterback Will Grier, is a tall task for a team that has been in offensive turmoil for the better part of the past month. The weather is expected to be unkind, too. The Longhorns will host Texas Tech next Friday in what could be the deciding game for whether or not Texas makes a bowl.

It’ll feel like another long offseason if this team can’t get to the postseason. Any form of progress is all Texas fans can ask for right now. The Longhorns have knocked on the door all season long but haven’t been able to break through with a marquee victory.

“We got to win one that we’re not supposed to,” Herman said. “I think right now, save for the very first game, we’ve won the ones that we’re supposed to and we haven’t (won) the ones that people said we weren’t supposed to. I think that’s got to be the next step.

“Are we learning how to win? Certainly. But the biggest next step is we got to win one of these road games against a top 25 team that most people would think we don’t have a chance of doing.”

And Saturday presents another one of those chances.

Granted, West Virginia isn’t technically a top-25 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the Mountaineers do check in at No. 24 in the AP poll.

What’s more, the clock is ticking on this senior class — a group that has had to endure one of the worst stretches in program history. The Longhorns want more than anything to send this group out with something to hang their hat on.

“Ah, man it’s huge,” senior nickelback Antwuan Davis said. “These young guys genuinely love the seniors and will play for these seniors. You know, and that’s something I really appreciate. Not many times we find young guys who would do such a thing. So Naashon (Hughes), me and some of the other seniors really appreciate that.”

Two games remain for this senior class, and there could be a third. But that third game is no guarantee. Senior wide receiver Lorenzo Joe recognizes that the hourglass is draining on his career.

“It’s flown by fast. I honestly can’t believe it,” Joe said. “I was talking to the other seniors and they also feel like we just got here yesterday. I’ve enjoyed my whole career, and it’s been fun. I’m just trying to finish on a high note.”