The Longhorns senior class will take the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the last time on Saturday, and they couldn’t have picked a better opponent for their send off.
Kansas State is the only team in the Big 12 to lead an overall series against Texas (6-5). The Wildcats have bested the Longhorns of late, winning three in a row. UT hasn’t beaten KSU since 2003, when Vince Young was the starting quarterback.
Senior night is always an emotional game, though, and this is no different.
“It’s going to be sad,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “But at the same time I really despise (Kansas State). I won’t care about my emotions at that time.”
Last year, the Longhorns invaded Kansas State for the Wildcat’s home finale, only to lose, 39-14. This time around, Texas hopes to return the favor against the No. 16 team in the country.
Blake Gideon has started all 48 games in his career, and has been the lone constant on defense for four years. He’s experienced the highs — BCS bowl games, a national championship appearance — and the lows — a 5-7 season and the infamous loss to Texas Tech in 2008 — in his time on the 40 Acres. The safety, though, admitted this game snuck up on him.
“It really has flown by,” Gideon said.
Gideon succumbed to his emotions on Monday afternoon as a crowd of reporters huddled around him, asking him about Fozzy Whittaker’s season-ending knee injury. He fought back tears and choked up as he described his first memory of his fellow senior.
“He would lay down in the street for anyone of us,” he said, before pausing and apologizing as he gathered himself.
It was a rare sight to see Gideon in that state, but it wasn’t a huge surprise considering all that Whittaker meant to his teammates. Unfortunately for the tailback, he won’t be on the field with his classmates on Saturday.
So will there be more tears?
“We’ll see,” Gideon said. “It will all flash before me, those four years and everything I’ve been through. And to see my parents out there and have my name called, there will be emotion.”
Still, it’s difficult for the 22 seniors to grasp the fact that this will be their last time to run out of the tunnel with the band playing, fans screaming and smoke blowing.
“I haven’t really accepted that it’s going to be my last home game,” said senior left guard David Snow. “I really don’t know what I’m going to be feeling like. It’s going to be mixed feelings.”
Snow said it wouldn’t hit him until sometime in January, when he returns for his final semester.
“I’m kind of thick-headed anyway, stuff takes a little bit to sink in with me,” said Snow, whose 28 starts are the most of any offensive player.
Saturday’s game will end with the Longhorns walking to the south end zone to sing the “Eyes of Texas,” just as the senior’s previous 25 home games ended. The lasting image they desire?
An orange tower, shining bright.