It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The Texas Longhorns (5-2, 4-0) are trying to squeeze every drop out of that mantra, and following a slow start to the season, Texas has reeled off four straight wins in the Big 12 and is beginning to show signs of being a title contender.
Here's a short recap.
After getting rolled by BYU, Texas made a change at defensive coordinator. Despite dropping its next matchup to Ole Miss to drop to 1-2, the Longhorns began to improve defensively.
A couple of shaky wins against Kansas State and Iowa State preceded the 'Horns' most impressive victory of the last three seasons: their 36-20 handling of Oklahoma.
Now coming off a telling road victory over TCU—a game that included a three-hour weather delay—the Longhorns are suddenly 4-0 in the Big 12 with a possibility of a six-game winning streak before finishing the year against three ranked opponents.
With confidence seemingly on the rise in Austin, the talk of a championship run creates some interesting drama down the stretch.
But there are two sides to every coin and two extreme scenarios to consider. Let's look at them both.
Worst-Case Scenario: Texas wins six in a row, but then lays eggs against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
This would be a huge letdown, considering how far Texas has come since the beginning of the season.
The defense has dramatically improved, and the offense has established an identity with Case McCoy playing an effective brand of football. All told, there is some legitimate buzz around the team's late-season prospects.
But to come that far only to whiff on three opportunities—against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor— to legitimize the season would indeed be the ugliest of endings for Texas' 2013 campaign.
Best-Case Scenario: Texas goes into its season finale against Baylor with the Big 12 Title on the line.
For McCoy to lead this team to that kind of finish would be legendary, considering that the senior was away from football activities for some 10 weeks over the summer. To rally the team from the depths of disaster would be one of the best endings for McCoy's career in Austin.
But back to Baylor.
As many should know by now, Art Briles' Bears are the most prolific offense in the FBS, pouring in nearly 64 points per game. Add that to a defense that is allowing just 15.9 points per game, and the Bears have Big 12 favorite written all over them.
For all intents and purposes, Baylor has shown that it is capable of running the table, which means that the Dec. 7 matchup between undefeated Texas and Baylor could effectively serve as a Big 12 title game.
Like that was even a real possibility after the Ole Miss loss.
The Bottom Line
|Texas Longhorns Against the Run|
|Opp. Rush Yards Per Game|
|First 3 Games (1-2)||308.67|
|Last 4 Games (4-0)||122.75|
Texas has shown real improvements, especially on defense against the run, and has physically dominated its last two opponents, teams that are known to be physical themselves.
The Longhorns are riding a hot streak at just the right moment, and continued success will create the perfect springboard for a trio of games to finish out the season.