This weekend, Texas players and fans alike must do something they probably never imagined they’d have to — root for Oklahoma.
The Longhorns can clinch a share of the Big 12 title with a win over Baylor, but the only way they can earn an outright conference championship and trip to the Fiesta Bowl is if the Sooners defeat Oklahoma State.
“I’ll be rooting for them,” senior quarterback Case McCoy said of the Sooners. “It makes me sick to my stomach to think about, but I hope they play well.”
Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State share identical 7-1 records in conference play, but the Cowboys control their own destiny for a trip to the Fiesta Bowl due to their wins over both the Longhorns and the Bears. Should Oklahoma upset the Cowboys on Saturday, the winner of the Texas-Baylor game would clinch the conference crown.
Texas figures to have a good idea of whether it remains in contention for the Fiesta Bowl by the time its game against Baylor kicks off at 2:30 p.m., as Oklahoma versus Oklahoma State begins at 11:00 a.m. Despite this, head coach Mack Brown wants the Longhorns to remain focused on their own game and nothing else.
“The game before us is something that’s out of our control,” Brown said. “Let’s worry about how we play. As a team, we talked about the championship run with Oklahoma State. We didn’t play well. We’re going to talk about us playing well, the preparation, practice. We’re going to talk about the things we do.”
McCoy seconded this, saying he would rather not even know the outcome of the Bedlam game before he takes the field.
“I don’t want to know at all,” McCoy said. “I don’t think it will change the way I play. In this situation, you can’t control everyone. All I can control is how I play, how I get my team ready to play.”
Other players, like senior cornerback Carrington Byndom, would like to know the outcome of the morning game as soon as it ends, but he agrees the team’s focus should be on beating Baylor.
“It wouldn’t hurt to know,” Byndom said. “Obviously we’ll be getting ready to take the field. Our main focus is winning the game. Everything else will play out as far as that.“
Regardless of what happens before they take the field against the Bears, senior defensive Jackson Jeffcoat believes the Longhorns should be proud of how far they’ve come this season.
“It’s great that we’re in this position,” Jeffcoat said. “Starting the year off 1-2 was frustrating. To be able to work our way back up here, to be able to get a conference championship, is special. Only two teams are normally battling for it. We’re going to be working hard for it.”
A win over Baylor allows Jeffcoat and the rest of the seniors to earn at least a share of the conference championship for the first time, but they need some help from their hated rivals to earn their first BCS bowl appearance too.