Call Texas' matchup with Oklahoma this Saturday "judgment game" for head coach Mack Brown because the outcome will determine whether he will ever coach in another Red River Rivalry.
To say the least, Brown's situation at the helm is dire. He was an irreversible replay away from being 2-3, he has been humiliated in his two losses and he will be without starting quarterback David Ash in the biggest game of the season.
Then there is this, as reported by SI's Pete Thamel.
"If it's like the last couple years, the gig is up," said a high-ranking Texas official of the Oklahoma game. "If [Brown] rallied and came back and won out, I still think there would be a possibility he'd still resign. I'm not sure he wants to work for another athletic director. My guess is this is his last season."
"The last couple years" is referring to the 2011 and 2012 Red River Shootouts in which Brown's team was outscored by 80 points and outgained by 582 total yards. Overall, the embattled head coach is 6-9 against the Sooners and has dropped the last three in a row.
Making matters worse is that, with Texas A&M off to the SEC, Oklahoma is Texas' lone true rival. In-state foes like Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU still remain, but none come with the hype and history of A&M or Oklahoma.
Another blow Brown suffers from the Aggies' departure is that he can no longer offset a loss to the Sooners with a win over the neighbors in College Station. He holds a 10-4 record against A&M, including a 5-2 mark in seasons he has lost the the Golden Hat.
That said, all scrutinizing eyes are on this game. This is the barometer for Brown's success in rebuilding a program that should have never needed it in the first place. It will tell everyone if the head coach is still worth $5 million per year.
With a loss on Saturday, Mack Brown becomes the 1st coach in Texas-OU history to have a 5 AND 4-game losing streak in the #RedRiverRivalry— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) October 10, 2013
And the odds are way out of Brown's favor to cool the hot seat. The Sooners have the nation's seventeenth-best rushing attack while the 'Horns are seventh-worst against the run. The Longhorns have allowed career-best rushing numbers to two quarterbacks this season, and Blake Bell is "Belldozing" his way to 4.4 yards per carry.
With Case McCoy, who is averaging under six yards per attempt and is 3-5 as a starter, a rout could be on once again—especially with the Sooners allowing just 13 points per game, good for first in the Big 12.
Brown's offense does still have matchup nightmare Daje Johnson primed to put up big numbers, as well as athletic freshman Tyrone Swoopes in his back pocket. But unless both sides of the ball have made some major strides since Iowa State, it is far more probable that Texas will get blown out than actually win this game.
Be it another 40-point blowout or not, losing this game spells the end for Brown. He told anybody who would listen that his team full of 19 returning starters was in for a "special year." Another shellacking proves that he no longer has the tools to fix this program.
Since 2005, the Sooners have only had two recruiting classes ranked better than Texas' haul according to Rivals.com. There is no excuse for Brown's teams to get handled by the Sooners, other than his failure to turn talent into wins.
But even in the worst of scenarios, do not expect Brown to be the third major college coach to be fired this season. He is well-liked and is a former national champion that has lost his touch—more Bobby Bowden than Lane Kiffin.
A win would move Brown away from the bandsaw, but have we seen anything from this team that would convince us that it's much different from the 2011 or 2012 squads? The answer is a resounding "no."
Take Oklahoma in the over and watch the final nail get drilled in Brown's coffin, soon followed by the slow death of a season that could have been so much more.