Should the Texas Longhorns be in the Top 25 now?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Texas head coach Mack Brown thinks so.

Five wins to start conference play, including a resounding victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, haven't been enough to wash away the negative perception earned by the early losses to the BYU Cougars and Ole Miss Rebels, as the Texas Longhorns remain outside the Top 25.

That includes the BCS standings, the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, which has Texas No. 26, a solid 41 votes behind Notre Dame, and the AP Poll, in which the Horns also rank No. 26, 86 points behind Texas Tech.

According to the Longhorn Network, that's rather surprising given the conference's history -- no team has ever started Big 12 play 5-0 and remained outside the BCS standings.

Head coach Mack Brown said Monday during his media availability that he believes the Longhorns have been playing like a Top 25 team over the conference schedule, a claim that does lose some of its credibility when considering the high-profile struggles against Iowa State and a win over Kansas that didn't earn many style points with the final score.

Quarterback Case McCoy echoed similar sentiments during the player availability.

Other than how terrible Texas looked in those two early-season losses, the struggles of Kansas State and TCU undermine the case to slot somewhere in the back end of the rankings. Wining against West Virginia won't help much, either.

And the advanced metrics don't provide much of a case for the Horns with a No. 50 ranking heading into the Kansas game that isn't going to receive a boost this week, although the FEI likes Texas much better, slotting them at 31 last week.

Then it comes down to arguments against the teams ranked low in the polls this week. Texas Tech's only win over a ranked team came against TCU early in the season, as the losses the last two weeks appear to have exposed them as a pretender in the race for the Big 12 title -- in a power poll, none of the Red Raider wins can match the dominant outings Texas put together against TCU and Oklahoma.

As for Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish lost badly to the common opponent for the two teams, Oklahoma, and can only boast a close win over Arizona State. And this last weekend, Notre Dame struggled mightily against Army.

Here's the thing though -- Texas will probably have to sit outside the Top 25 for another week, assuming a win over West Virginia, and then games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor will decide whether or not Texas actually is a Top 25 team.

The conference standings will determine the bowl game and the BCS is probably out of the picture right now in a way that would probably require a lot more love from the polls than the Horns are receiving at the moment, so in the big picture, where Texas ends up at the end of the season is in within the team's control -- just keep winning.

Is it a little bit unfair that Texas is being judge more harshly for their high-profile losses than for the strong recent performances? Sure, but that's what happens when a team melts down like the Horns did.

And in a couple weeks, it won't matter whether Texas was ranked this week -- wins will do the job and losses would result in a drop back out.

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