Seven wins is not a big deal, or at least it shouldn’t be at Texas. This year, it is.
The Longhorns have not won seven regular-season games since 2013. Think about the last four years. It was a monumental struggle just to become bowl-eligible.
Texas won six straight, and happy days were here again. Then came two dramatic losses decided in the closing minutes, and the sky was falling.
For Texas to pull it together late against Texas Tech and snap a two-game losing skid shows some kind of progress. With two regular-season games left, the Longhorns may have cleared a psychological hurdle.
A 9-3 regular-season finish is now within reach, which means a 10-win season is possible. The Horns haven’t put together a 10-win season since 2009.
“They know the potential of this team,” UT coach Tom Herman said Monday, “and I think they’re hell-bent on making sure that this team achieves its potential.”
Texas (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) still has a chance to reach the Big 12 championship game. First and foremost, UT must knock off Iowa State Saturday night at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Twenty-six players will be recognized on Senior Night.
“I think we were psychologically maybe on some shaky ground after the last two weeks and the way that the games happened, with a 3-point loss on the road and a 1-point heartbreaker here to a top-10 football team,” Herman said. “There were some guys that maybe could have gone either way, had the (Tech) game turned out differently.”
Iowa State (6-3, 5-2) is no pushover. The Cyclones are ranked 18th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Coach Matt Campbell’s team was 22nd in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
Iowa State is riding a five-game winning streak, having beaten West Virginia (30-14) and Texas Tech (40-31). If Campbell’s club wins its final two regular-season games and West Virginia loses to Oklahoma, then Iowa State will head to Arlington for the Big 12 title game.
The Horns’ injury report was lengthy but optimistic on Monday. Herman started with cornerback Davante Davis. Tests revealed the senior has a bone bruise in his knee and a strained muscle in his ankle. As of now, the Horns plan on having him available Saturday.
Davis was named the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the week on Monday for his exploits against the Red Raiders. He had an interception at the Texas 2 and knocked the ball out of quarterback Jett Duffey’s arms for another red zone turnover.
Safety Brandon Jones (ankle) is running in straight lines. If he can cut and move, he could return to practice on Wednesday, Herman said. Fellow safety Caden Sterns (concussion) was scheduled to lift weights Monday and go through non-contact drills on Tuesday. He could be cleared by Saturday, too.
Receiver Collin Johnson (knee) was scheduled to have an injection on Monday. The hope is the swelling subsides in 24 hours. Running back Keaontay Ingram aggravated a hip pointer injury and should return to work later this week.
Everyone’s got bumps and bruises at this point in the season. The key is pushing through.
There’s not a single player in the locker room who has been this close to a Big 12 title. The Horns still may not get to Arlington. But they’ve got to at least give themselves a chance.
“When you win, you get a little extra pep in your step,” Herman said.
In addition to Davis, Texas receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey (offensive) and kicker Cameron Dicker (special teams) earned player of the week honors from the league office.
Iowa State will be without running back David Montgomery for the first half. Montgomery, the league’s second-leading rusher, was involved in a fight on Saturday against Baylor.
“As tired as we are, as banged up as we are,” Herman said, “now is not the time to try to take a deep breath.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org