Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Texas Must Put Its Foot Down

Texas Must Put Its Foot Down

Texas fans who anticipated a deeply religious experience this season now find themselves embroiled in a food fight thanks to the Oklahoma Sooners. The Longhorns faithful have spent the last week on social media complaining about everything from tattoos, and tee-shirts, and how their team got shafted by the referees. Their team’s 34-30 loss to the Sooners brings Texas to the halfway point of the season with a disappointing thud. The loss sent Texas tumbling down every poll and power ranking on the college football landscape. Texas must put its on the gas if it is to regain control of a season. A season that started with high hopes before Oklahoma came along.

The Longhorns will be called to the dean’s office any day now to discuss their midterm grades. Meanwhile, their fans have laid out how simple the rest of the season should be. Texas will win the rest of their regular-season games and be 11-1. Then they will face Oklahoma again in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 2. They will exact revenge against the Sooners and catapult themselves into the College Football Playoff. As elementary as Texas fans make it sound, a deeper examination of their logic is necessary.

Texas Must Put Its Foot Down

All Aboard the Boomer Schooner

The scenario being bandied about Texas is that a rematch between an unbeaten Oklahoma and an 11-1 Texas team would send the winner to the CFP. And in the blink of an eye — poof! — Texas fans are now rooting for Oklahoma. The best advice to Longhorns fans willing to embark on such an existential crisis is to start drinking heavily.

The most apparent flaw in this thought process is that it ignores the achievements and potential of college football’s current honor roll. Namely, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Penn State, Washington, and Oregon. They’re each outstanding in their own way. Some of these teams will be playing against each other in the coming weeks, although that does not guarantee Texas anything. As TCU demonstrated last season, not all one-loss teams are viewed equally by the CFP Selection Committee. The Horned Frogs were beaten by Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship and made the playoffs anyway. Texas fans can hope for Oklahoma victories the rest of the way and, when it’s all said and done, still watch their playoff hopes go down the drain.

Getting Defensive

Oklahoma linebackers Jaren Kanak and Danny Stutsman both got “Horns Down” tattoos after the Red River Rivalry and sent Texas fans on social media into a tizzy. Stutsman doubled down on the audacity when he started selling a “Texas Fears Oklahoma” shirt online. In the eyes of Texas fans, these were more than futile and stupid gestures. They added fuel to the fire in the event the teams meet again for the conference title. Texas already wanted a piece of the Sooners after the rivalry game, and Oklahoma players rubbing it in just made it worse.

What Texas needed to get a piece of against Oklahoma was a defensive scheme to counteract Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Go ahead and re-watch Gabriel carve apart the Texas defense like it was a scout team on the Sooners’ game-winning drive 100 times if you like, and it never gets any better for Texas. When you think you have a championship-caliber defense, is it supposed to be this soft? Texas will have to rebound from that debacle if the Longhorns are going to run the table the rest of the way. Keep in mind Texas has faced starting quarterbacks in only three of the six games it has played so far this season. For all the highlights and impressive stats it has amassed, it may be one of the most untested defensive units among the group of teams still in contention for the CFP.

Beware The Schedule

Texas fans will tell you how their Longhorns will likely be favored by double digits in each game for the rest of the season. They’re probably right, assuming the team gets on a roll after the Oklahoma loss. But it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and neither is the current season. In fact, there’s a long way to go until early December.

Our look at the remaining schedule will be pre-empted by revisiting the conspiracy theory held by some of the Texas fans that think the referees are out to get the Longhorns. It’s an opinion that’s been shared since Texas and Oklahoma announced they were leaving the Big 12 after this season. The theory is that the powers that be in the Big 12, embittered by the looming departure of its two flagship programs, have an axe to grind. The theory blew up in August when Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark displayed what many considered to be a morally casual attitude when he made inflammatory comments about the Longhorns during a Texas Tech alumni event.

The remainder of the Longhorns’ schedule include Houston, BYU, Kansas State, TCU, Iowa State, and Texas Tech.  Tech figures to present Texas with enough challenges notwithstanding Yormark’s comments. Texas fans can afford to pencil their team into the Big 12 Championship and reserve their tickets for the Dec. 2 game in Arlington. The players better not look past anybody.

No Room For Error

The loss to Oklahoma has landed Texas squarely on double-secret probation. Another loss and they would be lucky to find themselves in the Fiesta Bowl. Some pundits are already predicting a trip to the Peach Bowl and there’s still half a season left to play. The Longhorns are now in survival mode.

Texas must approach the rest of the schedule one game at a time. The Longhorns are banged up as they get underway. Defensive backs Ryan Watts and Jalen Catalon are both on the injury report. Also out with injuries are offensive linemen Hayden ConnorCole Hutson, and Jake Majors, as well as defensive lineman Kristopher Ross. Tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders has been hampered by an ankle injury the last two games and his production dropped off against Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Tough Get Going

Texas controls its own destiny.  Most of the pieces are in place from a personnel standpoint despite a growing list of injuries. The coaches utilized the bye week to hit the recruiting trail while the team worked on getting healthy. The upcoming game against Houston will be a prime opportunity for the Longhorns to move on and play football.

Now is the moment of truth for the Longhorns. The time has come for someone to put their foot down. And that foot is them.

Texas Must Put Its Foot Down
Photo Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK


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