The 2011 college football season has reached the halfway mark, and everyone's talking about bowl game scenarios. There are quite a few postseason possibilities for No. 24 Texas this year, as they look bowl-bound after last year's 5-7 finish.
The Longhorns have managed a somewhat expected 4-2 record by this stage. Although their back-to-back losses were to Top-10 teams, they were both blowouts. So, at this point, a trip to a BCS bowl is a long shot—if not outright impossible.
To add to this, the 'Horns have a rocky road ahead, seeing as how their schedule features either tough, unpredictable or just flat out better opponents. While the likes of Texas A&M and Kansas State fall in the 'better' category, Baylor and Missouri are in the 'tough' bracket. And, Texas Tech and Kansas might look like gimmes, but these teams could stun a Texas team low on confidence.
Therefore, the Longhorns need to count their losses, move on and ensure they don't falter in the next two home games. Thereafter, they'll have to outperform some really good teams to make sure they end up in one of the better bowl games.
With that in mind, here's some bowl game scenarios for the Texas Longhorns.
Let's start off with the least possible and work our way to the most likely scenario.
Texas playing in the Cotton Bowl Classic largely hinges on either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State going undefeated the rest of the year. It also depends on the 'Horns winning all of their remaining six games.
While the top (hopefully, unbeaten) Big 12 team will head to the National Championship game, the second place team will go to the Fiesta Bowl. This would leave a Texas team with a 7-2 Big 12 record eligible for the Cotton Bowl.
Again, this is highly unlikely, but if it pans out, it'll be the best case scenario for the 'Horns. They could go on to face either Auburn, Arkansas or South Carolina here.
This is the second least likely outcome for the Longhorns. They'd have to ensure their place in the top four in the Big 12. This means they need to move ahead of Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M (or Kansas State).
To make it here, they can afford to lose only one game the rest of the year, which will be a tough task. A lot also depends on who they lose against—and if that team doesn't face any upsets after beating the 'Horns.
Based on current form, Texas could face either Oregon or Washington should this pan out.
This is the third least likely bowl game scenario for the Longhorns.
To get here, Texas will have to place fourth in the Big 12, ahead of Texas A&M or Kansas State, along with the rest of the pack—save, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. While this is not impossible, current form suggests otherwise.
The Longhorns will have to win big against either Kansas State or Texas A&M, and also hope for an upset of better positioned team. Getting to this particular bowl game will be a great achievement for a team that has only recently picked its starting quarterback after grappling with the idea of a two-QB system.
Texas could face either Penn State or Iowa in this game. However, there is a distinct possibility of going up against old foe Nebraska in the Insight Bowl, should the 'Horns make the cut!
While Texas might not be the best team in the Big 12, it's definitely not the worst bowl-eligible team in the conference either. However, in the event that the Longhorns are placed lower than Missouri, Texas Tech and Baylor, they'll head to the Military Bowl.
They're likely to face a low-ranked ACC opponent, like NC State, Virginia or even Miami (the way they're going). Again, this is the fourth least likely scenario, and there are better bowl games to look forward to, even in a rebuilding year like this one.
This is just as likely/unlikely as the Military Bowl, since it requires the same effort—or lack thereof—to get there. The only difference is Texas will end up facing a low-ranked Big Ten opponent here.
So, should this play out, the Longhorns might face either Purdue, Iowa or Ohio State.
To get to this particular bowl game, the Longhorns will have to place seventh in the Big 12. This is, therefore, the third most likely bowl game for a bowl-eligible Texas team.
While there is a possibility of Baylor or Missouri—most likely, Baylor—pulling ahead of the 'Horns in Big 12 rankings, it's a long shot for both these teams to do better than Texas. However, should this turn out to be the case, Texas will face a Big East opponent like Syracuse, Pittsburgh or USF.
This is the second most likely bowl game for Texas.
Right now, the 'Horns seem destined for a mid-table finish in the Big 12. They're more than likely to finish behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas A&M. However, there's also a good chance of Baylor edging past Texas in the Big 12 rankings.
This would mean the sixth place Longhorns would head to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Here they could face either Iowa, Ohio State or Purdue—depending on which of these teams finishes sixth in the Big Ten.
Given their form, and the fact that this is essentially a rebuilding year, a trip to the Holiday Bowl seems like the most likely postseason trip for the 'Horns.
Placing fifth in the Big 12 seems highly likely—if not, inevitable. Despite all its troubles, Texas has the depth and talent to go 4-2 in its remaining schedule.
For this scenario to play out, Texas doesn't have to rely on higher-placed teams facing the odd upset. So, as of now, it seems like the Longhorns could face Washington or Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
However, if things take a slightly bad turn for No. 10 Oregon, the 'Horns could end up playing the Ducks here in the battle of the most traditional and the most absurdly innovative uniforms!