The Texas Longhorns are on a bit of a hot streak.
With their wins over the USC Trojans and the TCU Horned Frogs, Texas has beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2008. However, like each and every week, Texas head coach Tom Herman is preaching to his team that with each Sunday morning comes a new challenge and, necessarily, mental distance from what happened the day before.
“I told our team yesterday: They’re not going to spot us seven points in Manhattan because we beat TCU,” Herman said Monday in his weekly press address. “What happened against TCU, what happened against USC, for that matter what happened against Maryland, is inconsequential to how we play and how Kansas State plays against us in Manhattan.”
It’s a smart focus for the team to take as they try to prove that Texas has officially turned a corner. Texas has not only struggled when traveling to Manhattan — the last road victory against the Wildcats came in 2002, when star freshman safety Caden Sterns was two years old — but they’ve also struggled handling success in recent history.
A year ago, after knocking off No. 24 West Virginia to earn bowl eligibility, the Longhorns managed to let a win slip away from them against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. In 2016, Texas won back-to-back games to open the season, including a win over No. 10 Notre Dame, then dropped the next three games and finished the season 5-7. The year prior, after upsetting No. 10 Oklahoma and beating Kansas State, Texas was shut out by Iowa State and missed out on a bowl berth.
For Herman and the coaching staff, the most important thing heading into a game like this is to take the lessons, but leave the game in the past.
“I think the memory of what it felt like to win, regardless of opponent, is certainly one that we want to keep engrained and we want to feel that again but we’ve also got to know that it doesn’t just happen on Saturday,” Herman said. “You want that feeling again? Great. You’re very capable of getting it. But you’ve got to go do the things you did Sunday through Friday last week.”
As Texas looks to move forward, a win over Kansas State could signal a turning point for the program. If the Longhorns can pull out a win on Saturday, it would set them up for their first 4-1 record since 2012, in addition to snapping the string of losses in Manhattan. A four-game winning streak would be the longest since winning six straight in 2013.
However, rather than doing anything different this week, the key to success for the Longhorns is more of the same as they prepare.
“Now that we’ve had the added testimony to that with a couple double-digit wins here in the last couple of games against nationally ranked teams, I think — how could you walk into this building and not want to do it that way again and again?” Herman said. “It seems counterintuitive to a degree now that you’ve seen and felt the rewards of doing it our way. And so I don’t anticipate it being very difficult to motivate them moving forward.”