Texas' slow start to the season has not held the Longhorns back from Big 12 title hopes and a berth in a BCS bowl game. Texas has overcome a 1-2 start to be undefeated in conference play. But the second half of the Longhorns schedule will have the toughest obstacles.
Where Texas Stands
|Texas Longhorns Rankings|
|Record||AP Poll||Coaches Poll||BCS|
Biggest Obstacles to BCS Berth
Texas will likely need to win out in order to play for a BCS bowl game and that task will not be easy. The toughest portion of the Longhorns schedule lies ahead with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Oklahoma State's loss to West Virginia does not change the fact that the Cowboys are stacked from top to bottom. Quarterback J.W. Walsh is second in the conference in total offense, averaging 268 yards per game.
For the second straight season, the Longhorns' Thanksgiving Day game will be a challenge when Texas Tech comes to Austin. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury has made magic out of his alma mater, starting the season with a 7-0 record. The Red Raiders have been rotating between two true freshmen quarterbacks and it could not have worked out better.
But the biggest challenge Texas will face will be on the road against Baylor in the final week of the regular season. The Bears are averaging 714.3 yards and 64.7 points per game and managed to put up 71 points against the same Iowa State team that Texas beat by only one point.
To make matters worse for Texas, Baylor's defense has progressed into a Top 25 defense for the first time in recent memory—since 2000, the highest the Bears defense ranked in total defense was No. 63. If Texas somehow manages to overcome a challenging slate of games in the second half of the season, the Longhorns final test against the Bears will make or break their BCS hopes.
At this point of the season, the Longhorns do not necessarily need their upcoming opponents to lose games, since they are currently in control of their own destiny with a 3-0 record in the Big 12. However, in order to help its strength of schedule, Texas needs both BYU and Ole Miss to continue to do well.
Texas' defense allowed 550 yards against BYU, which is obviously terrible. But, if BYU can put up similar numbers against its opponents, the Longhorns loss to the Cougars may not be as devastating as it did immediately after the setback.
Using the same argument, Ole Miss needs to continue to compete with the top teams in the SEC. The Rebels upset over No. 6 LSU, as well as its commendable performance in its loss to No. 9 Texas A&M bolsters Texas' strength of schedule.
|Texas Longhorns Remaining Schedule|
|October 26||TCU||Fort Worth, Texas|
|November 2||Kansas||Austin, Texas|
|November 9||West Virginia||Morgantown, West Virginia|
|November 16||Oklahoma State||Austin, Texas|
|November 28||Texas Tech||Austin, Texas|
|December 7||Baylor||Waco, Texas|
The Big Picture
Having scheduled Ole Miss could help the Longhorns' final strength of schedule. The Rebels upset over LSU helps prove Ole Miss has legitimate talent. Since the Big 12 does not have a conference championship, the Longhorns final game of the season against Baylor will help determine Texas' bowl destiny. Assuming Baylor continues to dominate its opponents, a win over the Bears could be just enough to sway the voters to put Texas into a BCS game.
With the amount of inconsistency seen from Texas thus far, it is difficult to predict a BCS future for the Longhorns. It would not be surprising if Texas drops three conference games and finished the season 8-5 with a win in the Holiday Bowl. But the Longhorns games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are both in Austin, which gives Texas a bit of an upside.
If the Longhorns can use this home-field advantage to beat the Cowboys and the Red Raiders, even though it lost to Baylor, Texas then will play in the Cotton Bowl.