For the Texas Longhorns, the chances of making the College Football Playoff is less than 1%. Currently, they rank as the No. 3 team in the Big 12 conference and the No. 19 team in the nation. At face value, these rankings won’t put them in the conversation for a New Year’s Six bowl game — a position they didn’t think they would be in the preseason.
But Texas is still in a position to play a marquee opponent during bowl season. Depending on its next three games, fans may be seeing the Longhorns against blue-blood opponents like Notre Dame or the University of Southern California.
Texas is heading into the crucial part of its schedule. With back-to-back games on the road, the Longhorns have a tough road ahead.
“We’re in November right now, and we’ve got a critical game on the road in a great environment,” defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said Wednesday. “We’ve got a lot on the line, and this is where you have to be really dialed in.”
The key to figuring out where Texas will play during bowl season is in the next two weeks. If No. 10 Oklahoma beats No. 13 Baylor, next week’s Baylor-Texas matchup would essentially be a play-in game for the Big 12 Championship. In this scenario, Baylor would only have one conference loss, but if Texas wins, it would have the same record and hold the tiebreaker for the second spot. No matter who wins this week’s game, there’s one thing that must happen for Texas to get to the Big 12 Championship Game — winning out.
Currently, Texas is projected to finish third or fourth in the Big 12. With Oklahoma and Baylor gatekeeping the top two spots in the conference, the Longhorns would sit out of the Big 12 Championship.
The Big 12 Championship’s victor will also likely not go to the College Football Playoff, but instead to the Sugar Bowl, making Texas’ bowl seeding even more complex.
Though it may sound bleak to fans who celebrated the Longhorns’ win over Georgia in last year’s Sugar Bowl, Texas’ potential bowl opponents will still make for an exciting end to their season. If Oklahoma and Baylor take the Sugar Bowl and the Alamo Bowl, respectively, Texas is projected to receive a bid from the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida, against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
One of the more interesting, yet highly unlikely, possibilities for the Longhorns would come to fruition if they lose the remainder of the season’s games. If this occurs, the Longhorns could potentially play Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl in Houston. There has been talk between the schools about reviving the rivalry, but certain obstacles have kept the old tradition from making a return. If the college football gods allow the matchup to happen, it would be an incredible game to witness.
Texas is lined with a myriad of options for the postseason, with the Big 12 Championship Game being the end goal. Despite the challenges they face, the Longhorns control their own destiny — but they need to win out in order to fulfill it.
“I feel like it would be (a disappointment),” senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay said Tuesday about the possibility of not making it back to the Big 12 Championship Game. “That’s what you work for all year (and) all season, to get to that point, so anything short of that is kind of a failure.”