Leave it on the field
The going gets tougher: Texas' next six weeks may define the next two years
"Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi (yes, I'm on a bit of a Lombardi streak)
Perfection is an unattainable goal, of course, and the Oklahoma Sooners' 2011 season already messed that up. But the Texas Longhorns came as close as a football team can get last weekend against Kansas—and it means the Horns might beat the Oklahoma curse.
“I thought this was probably as physical as we've been around here for a long time. To rush for 441 yards is exceptional,” said Mack Brown after the game.
You didn’t read that wrong: 441 yards rushing for Texas. And the amazing stats just kept coming. The defense threw a shutout, holding Kansas to no points and just 46 yards of total offense… yes, 46 yards TOTAL offense.
The Longhorns domination came against a struggling—well, that’s charitable… Kansas is not a good football team. But struggling or not, Kansas is the tonic Texas needed.
With the Horns back on the winning road, it might be a good time to take a look at the remainder of the Texas football season.
Few would have predicted the Big 12 as one of the toughest conferences in the country. Every team left on Texas schedule is or has been ranked recently and there are no easy games left for the Longhorns.
The last half of the 2011 schedule will first teach the young up and coming stars how to win, and it will say a lot about where this team can go in the next couple years. If Texas heads to the 2014 National Championship game, you will look back on the last half of 2011 and say it all started here.
Texas Tech - November 5
Tech was one of only two Big 12 teams that lost to Texas last season—blood was in the water and Tech missed out on the meal. This season Tech is the Jekyll and Hyde of the Big 12. After beating—no, trouncing Oklahoma— in Norman no less just two weeks ago, the Red Raiders believed they were on the path to ranked pride; and then they laid an egg against Iowa State—at home in Lubbock. Which Texas Tech will come into Austin? Texas needs to be ready for the team that stomped OU because Tech is still hungry.
at Missouri - November 12th
Missouri is under-performing. After starting the season with a Top 25 ranking, they played decidedly mediocre football for the first half of the season, losing to Arizona State, OU, OSU and K-State, then they crushed Texas A&M. In the meantime, Missouri keeps making noise about heading east to play in the SEC with the Aggies. So the Tigers come to Texas to save their season and save face as they leave the Big 12.
Kansas State - November 19
K-State owns Texas, even when they are not good, and this year, they are good. Despite his most recent loss to the Aggies, Coach Bill Snyder knows how to beat Mack Brown. Playing in Austin helps the Horns a lot. Before the season began no one thought much about K-State. Even after being blown out by OU (who hasn’t been… oh yeah, Texas Tech), and maybe because of that loss, the Wildcats will be frothing for Texas.
at Texas A&M - November 24
Here’s how you beat Texas A&M—you let them jump out to about a 30 point lead in the first half, and then you bring the “A” game in the second half and destroy them. Texas A&M is the 1995 Cornhuskers in the first half, and the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks in the second half. This is “The game of the year”—no wait, it’s the game of the next decade, because chances are it’ll be at least that long before these two greatest of rivals meet again. The Aggies hate the Longhorns, they hate the Longhorn Network, they hate the Big 12… the Aggies are haters right now and as they go the SEC, perhaps with new BFF Missouri, they want a signature, in your face, f--- off win; and the Longhorns, their most hated rival, provide all the fodder they need.
This will be a very tough game for Texas and it will have all the hype you would expect from a rivalry game—and they play it at Kyle Field. The Aggies will be the 1967 Packers in this game. Can the Horns bring their best impersonation of the George Halas Bears? They better.
at Baylor - December 3
Can you say trap game? This just doesn’t seem right. The season ends with Texas A&M, always has. This Baylor game will either be the last dot on the ellipses of a 6-6 Texas season or it will be a dangerous game threatening to derail an over-achieving but still young Longhorn squad. Coming off the emotion of the A&M game Texas must be ready to play and that might be Mack Brown’s biggest challenge. Baylor beat Texas only once over the last 17 years, that was last season and given the underperformance of Baylor’s season so far, this game could be their signature win.
Every team left on Texas schedule can win and win big—and Texas can beat every team left on this schedule. There are no more Oklahoma’s and there are no more Kansas Jayhawks. The Kansas game showed Texas what they can be, the rest of this season will define what they may still become.