The Longhorns’ loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday did more than just end their six-game win streak and drop them to third in the Big 12 standings. It also relinquished their ability to control their own destiny.
Texas must win its final two games against Texas Tech and No. 4 Baylor to remain in contention for a conference championship, but now it also needs No. 10 Oklahoma State to lose one of its final two games. The Cowboys, who hold the tiebreaker over Texas after Saturday’s win, close out the season with home games against Baylor and No. 20 Oklahoma.
Despite this, head coach Mack Brown remains optimistic about Texas’ chances to win the conference. Brown believes a Big 12 championship is still realistic because of Oklahoma State’s difficult remaining schedule, and he said it’s up to his players to keep fighting.
“The goals are still there,” Brown said. “They’re still in place. They just don’t control their own destiny, so now they have to beat Tech. But Oklahoma State’s got Oklahoma and Baylor left. Baylor has got some tough games. There’s a lot of football to be played. You just can’t get your head down and lay down and quit when you have a bad night. You have to go back to work.”
While they are also behind undefeated Baylor in the Big 12 standings, the Longhorns can clinch the tiebreaker against the Bears with a win in Waco on Dec. 7. First, Texas needs to win on Thanksgiving against Tech for that scenario to remain in tact. Sophomore defensive tackle Malcom Brown believes the players must be ready to bounce back against the Red Raiders.
“We still have two more games going into the Big 12 championship,” Brown said. “We have to stay focused and go and play Texas Tech like we didn’t even lose.”
The Longhorns catch Tech at an ideal time, as the Red Raiders have lost their last four games after beginning the year 7-0. Texas could once again control its own destiny by the time it plays Tech on Nov. 28, as a Baylor victory over Oklahoma State on Nov. 23 would allow Texas to move back in front of the Cowboys in the conference standings.
While Saturday’s loss complicated the Longhorns’ Big 12 title hopes, the players realize their chances are far from over. It remains up to them to rebound in their final two games, and junior running back Joe Bergeron said that’s exactly what they plan to do.
“We still have two more games, and we just have to get everybody to understand it is not the end of the world,” Bergeron said. “Every team has a loss at some point. It is not like we haven’t lost before, and this is the University of Texas; we know how to handle that. We will come back, watch film, fix whatever we did wrong and we will come back to win these next two games.”