The Longhorns aren’t heading into Waco with Big 12 Championship aspirations — not anymore.
At 3–4, 2–2 Big 12, Texas’ sights have shifted from winning the conference to just getting back into the win column and making a bowl game. If it wasn’t clear after Texas’ loss in the Red River Showdown, it seemed evident following Texas’ 13-10 overtime loss to Oklahoma State — its second-consecutive conference loss — pushing the team down to sixth place in the Big 12.
“We’ve got an opportunity to send these seniors out with a bowl game, something they haven’t had in the last two years,” head coach Tom Herman said following Saturday’s loss. “We’re gonna do everything possible to go on the road against Baylor this week and go be 1–0 in Waco.”
The Longhorns now enter the final five games of the season. With games against No. 4 TCU and No. 22 West Virginia on the docket, earning bowl eligibility won’t be an easy task for the burnt orange.
“I’m tired of being that team that hasn’t made a bowl game or (that) wins five games, because we aren’t that team talent-wise,” junior linebacker Breckyn Hager said. “And we’re definitely not that team coaching-wise.”
But Texas must first face Baylor, an 0–7 team still looking for its first win. Despite the Bears’ winless record, however, Herman and his team know Saturday isn’t a guaranteed win.
“Turn on the film,” Herman said. “If you want to look at the record — this is me speaking to the team — then you’re looking at the wrong thing. Turn on the film: This is a good football team, and this is a football team as hungry and as eager for a win as we are.”
Baylor fans watched the Bears lose their first two games to Liberty University and UTSA — at home. Although the Bears have yet to win since then, things have looked more promising after the team nearly beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma and then fell just two points short against No. 22 West Virginia last week.
Now they have their eyes set on 3–4 Texas for their first win, and Herman knows his team can’t take the Bears lightly.
“We’re not good enough,” Herman said. “I told our team, ‘We’re not good enough to not play our A-game and beat anybody.”
Texas is set to take on Baylor at 11 a.m., marking the Longhorns’ first matchup in Waco since the burnt orange’s 23-17 over the Bears in 2015. That matchup saw a bench-clearing altercation that broke out between the Longhorns
Junior offensive lineman Patrick Vahe said he didn’t travel with the team for that game because of injury, but he hasn’t forgotten what he saw unfold on his television two years ago. And expects to see the same intensity this
“I was watching on TV, and it was pretty intense,” Vahe said. “The sidelines clearing and all that … it was intense. I feel like it’s gonna be the same way, regardless of the record. Baylor plays their heart out every single week … we can’t turn our backs on Baylor, because they will come out swinging.”