As indicated by their .500 record, a lot hasn’t gone right for Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns this year. After the season opening win over Notre Dame lost its luster, the Longhorns hit a three game losing streak after opening the season 2-0. For a team that is leaning heavily on underclassmen, a streak like that could be an absolute confidence killer. After a heart breaking loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, the Longhorns were looking for positive momentum in any way, shape or form and had the eighth ranked Baylor Bears coming into town next.
After what transpired last season in Waco in which Texas upset Baylor in the season finale and then again this summer when several Baylor signees defected to Austin, you knew the Bears had this game circled and highlighted on the calendar for some time. With the Longhorns coming off a bit of a heart breaker and the Bears coming in ranked in the top 10 and undefeated, this looked like a prime opportunity for Baylor to get some satisfying revenge on the Longhorns’ home turf.
Before kickoff, the Bears were only four point favorites in Vegas over the Longhorns. The number seemed awfully tight to me all things considered, but the folks that make these spreads are rich for a reason. Of course the good folks in Vegas proved to be geniuses as usual, as the Longhorns were able to squeak out a victory over the Bears on the back of running back D’Onta Foreman, who rushed for 250 yards and the leg of Trent Domingue, who drained a last minute field goal to put the Longhorns up for good.
This game is obviously meaningful for a young Texas team who has been looking to get on track throughout conference play, but what did it mean for head coach Charlie Strong? Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, you probably have heard the chatter of Strong potentially being dismissed as head coach at the end of the season. After the disappointing loss to Kansas State, could a win like this potentially buy Strong more time in Austin? As things sit right now, I’m not so sure it does. While this win was obviously huge for the team heading down the home stretch, I think if Strong wants to have any shot at keeping his job then he will have to win the rest of the games on the schedule. As daunting as that may sound considering Texas’ struggles, it’s not out of the question.
The games that remain on the schedule for the Longhorns are Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas, and TCU. While Texas Tech definitely poses a threat with Patrick Mahomes and their offense, they also have arguably the worst defense in the FBS and haven’t been able to slow down many offenses. West Virginia just dropped their first game of the season in Stillwater and looked vulnerable against the Cowboys, Kansas has only logged one win this year, and TCU is sitting at 4-4 just like Texas. Texas benefits from getting the two toughest of those matchups at home, but with their road struggles all year nothing is a given.
I’m not saying Texas will win out from here, but the schedule doesn’t look nearly as tough as it did at one point and each game looks to be winnable depending on how you want to look at it. If Texas is able to win out and get to 8-4 with a potential ninth win hanging out there with the bowl game, I wouldn’t want to be Texas AD Mike Perrin. People in Austin want a change, but how would you be able to fire Strong after a finish like that? These final few weeks of the season have a chance to be very interesting in Austin and I truly think it could play out in a number of different ways.