The Texas Longhorns have completely controlled their destiny within the Big 12 in two of their last three games. 3). It was a disappointing stretch as Texas left golden chances of wins against No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 4 TCU on the table because Steve Sarkisian’s group couldn’t play anywhere near their best football together.
Despite their recent failings, Texas can still salvage their season, but there’s literally no room for error if Sark’s second season is ultimately to be considered a success.
For starters, Texas somehow still has a shot at sneaking into the Big 12 title, which is unsurprising and unusual for a team that drops games on the line, but here we are.
“The reality is this – we have a chance if we can win our last two games, there’s a chance we could be in the Big 12 championship game,” Sark said, telling his team but adding that The most important thing is this week’s game against Kansas.
Of course, that shouldn’t be the deciding factor in a successful season for Texas. Again, they twice had complete control of their Big 12 path and twice moved away from the driver’s seat. A wise man wouldn’t pour an amount of money into the Longhorns to get revenge on TCU, but there’s a pretty simple yet seemingly unlikely formula — win and wish Kansas State to stumble.
This second part will be difficult because all that’s left for K-State is West Virginia and Kansas, so it would take the Wildcats a disappointment to let Texas back to Arlington.
That would be the best scenario, but also the most unlikely.
More sanely, given what’s in their own control, Texas can end the regular season on par with the most logical preseason expectations — 8-4.
Then, of course, the already-bowl-qualified Longhorns could top off the season even further if they come out on top in the postseason, possibly converting 6-4 to 9-4 after a three-game winning streak.
However, Texas’ ability to salvage their season depends solely on them winning, at least from what’s left of the regular season. While 6-6 or 7-5 would technically be a step up from Texas’ 5-7 performance last season, for the most part it wouldn’t feel like it. Such a finish would mean the Longhorns have lost at least three, if not four, of their last five games, and you’d be lucky to find someone considering that progression throughout 2021, no matter how underperforming this finish was.
“I’m thinking about where we were this time last year, which was a difficult situation,” Sark said. “I feel like we’ve made progress. Would I like to have a better record than 6-4 now? Certainly. But the idea that we’ve lost a few games and where we are in the conference standings, I think there’s still a lot of confidence in what we’re doing. I think there’s still a lot of hope for what this season can be.”
What this season may be remains to be seen. With a little luck and much better performances than we’ve seen lately, 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 only needs to mow its own yard. It’s the least they have to do if they don’t want this season to be lost when the smoke clears.