Bowl hopes still motivate struggling Longhorns

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With a 3-5 record heading into November, the football team’s performance thus far  has been described in many ways.

Some players say they are disappointed, others find it frustrating, and most have said the poor record is surprising. But the coaching staff considers it unacceptable and below standard.

At this point, the best Texas can do is get to eight wins, and that would mean beating Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in hostile road environments, knocking off No. 22 West Virginia and No. 10 TCU at home and winning a bowl game.

Given how the Longhorns have played this season, that scenario seems unlikely. But it is the last part — the opportunity to win a bowl game — that continues to motivate head coach Charlie Strong and his team.

“It’s all about the seniors,” Strong said. “We’ve got to get them to a bowl game.”

Although a losing record through two-thirds of the season would squash any postseason aspirations for some sports, college football’s bowl system is more forgiving.

Despite the historically bad start, Texas will gain bowl eligibility if it can finish the season with six wins. Winning three of the last four to get there will be a tall task.

“There’s four games left, we can go out there and win them all,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “There’s no doubt in my mind we have the potential to go out and win every single game we line up.”

The first step in getting back to .500 will come in Lubbock this weekend, as Texas travels to take on Texas Tech — a team reeling after an embarrassing 82-27 loss to TCU on Saturday.

As evidenced by last week’s score, Tech’s defense has been one of the worst units in the country but the offense is nothing shameful.

Led by sophomore quarterback Davis Webb, whose status is still up in the air for this weekend, Tech’s passing offense ranks eighth nationally, averaging 332 yards per game.

“We have to go out there with a lot of respect for them,” Hicks said. “If we take them lightly, they’ll come out, and they’ll attack us, and they can score some points. We’ve got to be ready for them.”

With a matching 3-5 record, the Red Raiders are easily the weakest team left on the Longhorns’ schedule, so a loss at Jones AT&T Stadium would essentially squash any chance Texas has of playing after Thanksgiving.