With the 2013 college football regular season coming to a close, Texas is still alive and kicking in the Big 12 title race—just like everyone predicted when the 'Horns were 1-2 in September.
Thanks to a 41-16 win over Texas Tech on Thursday, the Longhorns (8-3, 7-1 Big 12) are still in a position to win at least a share of the conference championship.
After falling behind 7-0, thanks to an amazing 51-yard touchdown run by Texas Tech punter Ryan Erxleben, Texas outscored the Red Raiders, 41-9. The 'Horns took advantage of Tech's porous run defense, putting up 281 yards on the ground. Texas' defense also got to Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield all night with 10 sacks.
In fact, Erxleben was Tech's leading rusher and his run was the longest of the season for the Red Raiders.
Texas can clinch a share next Saturday by beating Baylor. However, if Texas beats Baylor and Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, the Longhorns can win the conference outright and secure a Fiesta Bowl berth.
Texas rolls Tech 41-16. Longhorns can win share of Big 12 title by beating Baylor, and can win it outright if OU beats OSU.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) November 29, 2013
Brown has taken his fair share of criticism this season (and previous seasons), suggesting that this could be his last year as the head coach in Austin, Texas. However, it should at least be pointed out that the Longhorns are in position to win the Big 12 without several of its best players, who have been lost to injury.
Some of those players, like quarterback David Ash and linebacker Jordan Hicks, have been out most of the season.
Beyond injuries, it's been an odd year for the Longhorns. Their three losses to BYU, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State have come by an average of 22 points. Quite simply, Texas has been outplayed and outcoached on more than one occasion.
Dan Wolken of USA Today says Texas is putting together a "nice" season:
I know nobody wants to hear it but given all the players Texas has lost they've had a nice season. The BYU loss is what kills Mack.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 29, 2013
That may be a bit generous, but there is some merit to the idea that Brown and Co. have overcome a lot. Here are the 'Horns, one win away from doing what Brown said could be done two months ago, at a time when few probably believed him.
Maybe that's enough to save Brown's job. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's irrelevant.
Of course, the Longhorns could get pummeled by the Bears next Saturday and this whole conversation would be moot. The initial points spread for that game on Dec. 7 could be sizable too, depending on what happens Saturday between Baylor and TCU.
The point is that Texas still has a chance. That's more than most were willing to give this team a couple of months ago.