On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 3, the Texas Longhorns were 2-0, ranked No. 9 nationally, and had their sights set on a Big 12 title.
On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 25, the Texas Longhorns are 3-2, unranked, and still have their sights set on a Big 12 title.
Outside of public perception, nothing has really changed for the expectations Tom Herman’s team had just weeks ago. No, Texas isn’t this finally-dominant force many may have anticipated it to be in early September, but fortunately for the Longhorns, nobody in the Big 12 appears to fit that description. No. 16 Kansas State (4-1, 4-0), No. 6 Oklahoma State (4-0, 3-0), and No. 23 Iowa State (3-2, 3-1) currently headline the Big 12 title race, but a simple recipe tosses Texas right back into that conversation — win.
Despite Texas’ early-season struggles and inability to dominate lesser competition, ESPN’s FPI projects the Longhorns to do just that, favoring the Horns in each of their five remaining contests.
- @ No. 6 Oklahoma State — 51.4%
- West Virginia — 84.4%
- @ Kansas — 97.0%
- No. 23 Iowa State — 76.1%
- @ No. 16 Kansas State — 66.6%
Of course, it wouldn’t be wise for a betting man to wager the house on these FPI projections proving true — by that metric, a betting man would have been homeless following the TCU loss — but in any case, ESPN’s predictive rating system anticipates a much more successful second half of the season.
In fact, ESPN’s FPI currently gives Texas the second-best odds to win the conference at 20.4 percent, trailing only Oklahoma State at 31.2 percent — a figure that will swing either for or against Texas on Halloween when the Longhorns visit Stillwater. Then, if Texas can deal Okie State its first loss of the season next Saturday, the Longhorns will enjoy what’s arguably their most manageable two-game stretch of the season against West Virginia (3-2, 2-2) and Kansas (0-5, 0-4) in preparation of their most challenging and critical two-game stretch against Iowa State and Kansas State to cap the regular season.
Unless the Longhorns collapse beforehand, what takes place against the Cyclones and Wildcats may very well determine if Texas’ season ends as a success story or potentially, the end of the Tom Herman era in Austin.
At least at this point, ESPN projects the former to become the far more optimistic reality on the Forty Acres, with an 8-2 (7-2) Texas meeting an 8-2 (7-2) Oklahoma in Arlington for the conference crown.