If you were to look at the season in chunks — as Texas coaches like to do — then this is how it would look:
First chunk: After wins over Rice, BYU, UCLA and Iowa State, the Longhorns’ 4-0 record seemed to be more of a product of their easy schedule than their dominance. After all, they were still playing quarterback roulette and had yet to establish a concrete offensive identify.
Second chunk: Two losses to the Oklahoma schools — by a combined 93-43 margin — had us wondering if the season could perhaps end as poorly as last year.
Third chunk: Texas runs over awful Kansas and inconsistent Texas Tech to become bowl eligible. (Finally!)
Fourth and final chunk: Suddenly, with a powerful offensive identify and a quarterback who has improved in each game, Texas, after a 5-7 record in 2010, looks like it has a chance to run the table against a schedule that features one ranked team and maybe even earn a BCS at-large bid.
Already reading the BCS tea leaves, a year ahead of schedule? Now that’s some progress.
“We have more games to play,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “And we aren’t going to stop at six wins.”
Whether they stop after seven, eight, nine or 10 wins will depend on a few things. First, Texas has to keep running the ball effectively. Feed Joe Bergeron. Feed Malcolm Brown. Keep going to the “Wild” Foz in the red zone, a package that accounted for three touchdowns against Texas Tech.
“It just seems like the misdirection of the formation freezes defenses,” Whittaker said.
With four dangerous offenses left on the schedule, the defense is going to have to keep up its strong level of play, too.
First up: Missouri, who ranks No. 12 nationally in rushing offense.
“I like the fact that we’re running the ball in practice, because our defense can actually see it,” said head coach Mack Brown.
So, to recap: keep running the ball and keep stopping it. Then, get lucky. Hate to label an injury as “lucky,” but you’re crazy if you don’t think the loss of stud running back Christine Michael for the season doesn’t help Texas’ odds against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving.
Louisiana State, Wisconsin and Stanford all need to win out.
Oklahoma State needs to beat Oklahoma. A Boise State loss to TCU wouldn’t hurt. Then the Longhorns have to hope the computers prefer their hot-streaking selves to a two-loss Oklahoma team that has an ugly history of losing big bowl games and is without its best player (Ryan Broyles is out for the year).
“Wait a second,” you might say, “OU beat Texas this year. That’s not fair!”
Ah, you must not remember 2008, when a three-way tie sent Oklahoma to the title game and Texas to the Fiesta Bowl, just months after UT had won the Red River Rivalry, 45-35.
OK, OK, all this BCS talk might be a bit too early. After all, the Longhorns still have to win four challenging games and get some help.
Wait a second, that’s all that has to happen? Who woulda thunk it.
Printed on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 as: Horns have shot at playing in BCS bowl