The Texas Longhorns entered two of their last three games in complete control of their destiny within the Big 12. They’ve now lost both of those games and thus, 5-2 (3-1) has faded into 6-4 (4-3). It’s been a disappointing stretch with Texas leaving golden opportunities for wins over No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 4 TCU on the table because Steve Sarkisian’s group couldn’t collectively play anything close to their best football.
Yet, despite their recent shortcomings, Texas can still salvage its season, but there’s literally no more margin for error whatsoever if Sark’s second season is to ultimately be considered a success.
For starters, Texas somehow still holds an outside chance at sneaking into the Big 12 title, which is little shocking and unusual for a team dropping games down the stretch, but here we are.
“The reality of it is this — we have an opportunity if we can win our final two games, there’s an opportunity there that we could be in the Big 12 Championship game,” Sark said he told his team, but added that the most important thing is this week’s game against Kansas.
To be sure, that shouldn’t ultimately be what determines a successful season for Texas. Again, they’ve been in complete control of their Big 12 path twice and removed themselves from the driver’s seat twice. A wise man wouldn’t put any amount of money into the Longhorns getting a chance for revenge against TCU, but there is a pretty simple, yet seemingly unlikely formula — win out and wish for Kansas State to stumble.
That second part will be a be tricky because all that remains for K-State is West Virginia and Kansas, so the Wildcats would need a letdown to let Texas back it’s way into Arlington.
Going into Week 12, this is what the Big 12 title game race looks like. pic.twitter.com/cTiyM5Le66— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 13, 2022
That would be the best case scenario, but it’s also the least likely one.
More reasonably, considering just what’s within their own control, Texas can finish out the regular season right on par with the most logical preseason expectations — at 8-4.
Then, of course, the already bowl eligible Longhorns could cap the season on an even higher note if they come out on top during the postseason, potentially turning 6-4 into 9-4 behind a three-game winning streak.
That said, Texas salvaging its season hinges entirely on them winning out, at least through what’s left of the regular season. While 6-6 or 7-5 would technically be progress over Texas’ 5-7 showing last season, it largely wouldn’t feel like it. Such a finish would mean the Longhorns dropped at least three, if not four of their final five games, and you’d be lucky to find anyone who considers that progress over 2021, regardless of how sub-part that finish was.
“I think about where we were this time last year, which was a tough spot to be in,” Sark said. “I feel like we’ve made progress. Would I like to have a better record than 6-4 right now? For sure. But the idea of the way that we’ve lost a couple of the games and where we’re at in conference standings, I think there’s still a lot of belief in what we’re doing. I think there’s still a lot of hope in what this season can be.”
What this season can be remains to be seen. With a little luck and a lot better performances than we’ve seen from them of late, Texas could ultimately end up where they wanted to be from the jump — in Arlington, which in turn, would help the Longhorns land a better bowl bid. But that part is out of their control now, and hope won’t help Texas on Saturdays.
As Sark said a few weeks, ago, Texas just needs to mow its own yard. That’s the least they’ll need to do if they don’t want this season to be lost when the smoke clears.