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What to take with you as you move on from Texas’ win over USC

Longhorns fans have been in this position before.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Texas Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bad relationships of the past can limit a person’s emotional capacity to trust and love someone else in the future.

Texas Longhorns fans can relate.

No, this isn’t a story about the trials and tribulations of dating. Here at Burnt Orange Nation we are not in the business of providing couple’s therapy. You wouldn’t want that advice from anyone on our staff anyway.

This is, however, an in-depth look into a predicament Texas fans have faced during the last eight seasons, and each time the Longhorns have left their followers broken hearted and feeling burned.

I hate to bring up the past, but context is important.

In 2012, Texas ended its season with a win in the Alamo Bowl and a lot of returning talent, setting up expectations for 2013 as the season the Longhorns returned to prominence. The following season Texas limped back to that same Alamo Bowl and got destroyed by Oregon in Mack Brown’s final game as head coach.

In the Charlie Strong era, it was a Texas win over Oklahoma, a victory that was pegged as the game fans would look back on as the turning point in the Strong era. The Longhorns didn’t go to a bowl game that season, finishing 5-7.

And, of course, I would be remiss to leave out the win over Notre Dame to kick off the 2016 season. The Longhorns jumped to No. 11 after that victory, but the season, as well as Strong’s tenure at Texas, ended in Lawrence, Kansas with a loss to a Jayhawks team that hadn’t beaten a FBS team in more than a year.

Needless to say, there’s a reason the Longhorn Network continuously plays the 2006 Rose Bowl.

Speaking of the 2006 Rose Bowl, did you see the “Trilogy” on Saturday night? The third installment of Texas vs. USC? If you were at the game, drink some tea today and talk as little as possible. Get those vocal chords back to 100 percent.

If you watched from afar, I hope you recovered from Saturday night in time to watch all of Sunday’s NFL games.

The Longhorns absolutely dragged the Trojans, and they did it on national television with a slew of recruits on the sidelines enjoying their official visit, one of whom gave coach Tom Herman his commitment on Sunday.

But you’ve been here before, Texas fan. What do you make of such a game? Most likely, based on what social media has told me, you’re hesitant to let it make you a believer that this program truly is headed upward.

With TCU making a trip to Austin this weekend after giving Ohio State all it could handle for three quarters on Saturday night, there are mixed emotions about what Texas is and isn’t.

Pack your bags. It’s time to move on from the USC game. Here’s what I’m taking with me from the victory over the Trojans.

Texas Fought!

Amazing, isn’t it? The Longhorns faced a double-digit deficit in the first quarter, but they didn’t roll over and lay down. I’m not insinuating Texas has mailed it in when the going got tough in the past. I’m telling you Texas has pretty much mailed it in when the going got tough in the past. Any team can thrive and survive on a good start, but when adversity kicks down the door, that’s when you find out what a team is made of. Go back through the last eight seasons and count how many losses by less than a touchdown. No, Texas “mailing it in” doesn’t mean it gave up. What I’m implying is that the Longhorns didn’t have the stuff to win games in crucial moments.

Down 14-3 on Saturday evening, instead of letting the pressure of the situation break them, the Longhorns took the game back and gave themselves a chance to compete. Texas scratched and clawed its way to a 16-14 halftime lead, and then it blew the doors open in the second half.

I haven’t seen a Texas team put together such a complete game in years.

This will go a long way in a season that has merely just begun, especially during Big 12 play. Texas has experience being in a hole and fighting its way out of it. This win is going to provide calm and confidence for Texas the next time the Longhorns are facing a familiar setback early in a game.

Don’t Get Hung Up On Who Texas Beat.

I picked Texas to win 26-17. USC is, in my opinion, likely going to finish the season somewhere around seven or eight wins. The backstory to this game mattered. It was fun. But in the grand scheme of things, Texas beating USC is not what it would have meant last year had the Longhorns pulled off the win against Sam Darnold’s Trojans. Don’t spend any time championing this Texas team for a win over a USC team that truthfully didn’t have any business being ranked. I predicted Texas at 10-2, and that’s still possible, but it seems to me that Saturday night was a game that will be the deciding result between 8-4 or 9-3 for these two teams.

What to Expect From Texas During Big 12 Play

This is the biggest question looming now that the Longhorns scrapped together a 2-1 start. The Longhorns are going to have to hold onto what made Saturday evening possible in order to finish this season with nine or 10 wins. If the USC win did anything for Texas it’s that the Longhorns are now building onto a tremendous success instead of trying to repair multiple failures.

The mindset isn’t that Texas has to do X, Y, or Z to turn its season around. Instead, the Longhorns are looking at how they can do X, Y, or Z to continue this success. The mental approach to conference play truly is a night-and-day difference with this win over USC. I think we will see a Longhorns team that is in games through all four quarters against TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia. And if Texas can simply accomplish that, staying in the game until the final quarter, anything is truly possible because the Longhorns have the talent.

Does a Loss to TCU Send Texas Back to The Sunken Place?

A loss to TCU could be a letdown, but because of the USC win and the manner in which Texas won, not only do I believe Texas has a great chance at beating TCU, but the Longhorns are set up better for the rest of the season even if they lose on Saturday. It’s not like this is a 1-2 TCU team. The Horned Frogs just gave Ohio State all it could handle. This isn’t an excuse, but TCU is a better team than USC, likely the best team Texas will have faced thus far when kickoff comes this Saturday. And this goes back to expectations.

A win over USC shouldn’t mean Texas is primed to run the table in Big 12 play, it just simply shows that the Longhorns are not going to limp to another six- or seven-win season. The good thing for Texas is that nearly every conference opponent going forward will have its own significance for the Longhorns to lean on to get up for the game. Texas’ last win against TCU came in 2013, and in addition to the losing streak the Longhorns are suffering at the hands of the Horned Frogs, Texas is more than aware that Saturday’s momentous win over USC has less of a shine to it if it comes out and gets destroyed by TCU.

Likewise, the following week presents Texas with the chance to win at Kansas State for the first time in more than a decade, which is followed by the Red RIver Showdown. If the Longhorns truly take the season on one week at a time, there’s plenty to use for motivation. So, I don’t think losing to TCU negates the success from Saturday night’s win over USC, but it certainly brings back some of the pressure the Longhorns rid themselves of.