Oh, how things can change in only a week on the 40 Acres.
Following Saturday night’s thrilling victory over the No. 8 Baylor Bears, Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns improved to 4-4 on the season with 240 minutes of football remaining.
Texas is now in position to tack on 60 more minutes to that total depending on how the final month of the season shakes out.
Yes—there’s legitimate reason to believe the Longhorns will reach a bowl in Strong’s third season after falling short of that feat with a 5-7 record in 2015.
The blueprint to a bowl game is relatively plain and quite attainable.
Two more wins for Texas would see the ‘Horns reach bowl eligibility and Strong’s team will have four opportunities to reach said goal.
Two of the remaining four regular season games are on the road and one of which is against the bottom-feeding Kansas Jayhawks. Texas hasn’t lost to Kansas since 1938 and it would take a mini-miracle (maybe more) for that streak to end this season. Kansas played TCU tough this season, but still lost 24-23 and has resorted back to the typical Jayhawks in every other game.
Texas could play pretty horribly and still leave Lawrence with a victory.
The other remaining road game comes next week against Texas Tech. Both offenses can score—Texas Tech more so than Texas—but if the ‘Horns defense can make a few stops and force a turnover or two; there’s no telling what could happen.
The other two remaining games will be back at Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium against No. 10 West Virginia and TCU, where the Longhorns are a perfect 4-0 this season. Both games are winnable and will come against teams that lost over the weekend—West Virginia fell to Oklahoma State 37-20, while Texas Tech outlasted TCU in double overtime 27-24.
Considering the Kansas game is essentially a given victory, the ‘Horns will need to win only one of three against Texas Tech (4-4), West Virginia (6-1) and TCU (4-4) to secure a bowl bid. Between Kansas being Kansas and TCU looking like a far-cry from the Horned Frogs teams of late, Texas is likely even favored in two of its final four games.
While saying Texas could potentially win out may still be a bit of a stretch given how inconsistent the ‘Horns have been—primarily on the road—there’s reason to believe Texas has a decent (at the least) chance in each of the three remaining realistically losable games.
Texas’ blueprint to a bowl game sounds simple because it is—beat Kansas, just as everyone does, and win at least one of the remaining three with two coming in Austin, including the season finale, which likely has the full attention of the staff and players given the topic of Strong’s future in Austin.
Of course, actually executing well enough to come out on top is easier said than done, but Texas has proven it can beat anybody on any given night—evident in the ‘Horns knocking off their last three top 10 opponents and last five top 12 opponents.
A lot can change in a week and that’s now the case for Texas after getting back to .500 on the season with the victory over a Baylor team that many expected to topple Texas.
Now, with some winnable games looming, Strong’s Longhorns are only two wins in four tries from reaching bowl eligibility.
Sounds simple enough.