Home finale provides Texas seniors with last chance to leave mark

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Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Shortly after the Longhorns defeated No. 23 West Virginia on Nov. 8, an Instagram video of head coach Charlie Strong surfing over and celebrating with his players
went viral.

The win was significant for a variety of reasons. It was Texas’ first home win over a ranked opponent since 2008 and its first multi-game win streak
under Strong.

Following the game, players were hesitant to call it a “signature win,” but nearly everyone acknowledged that it was a huge step towards what Strong was trying
to build.

Fast-forward two-and-a-half weeks, and the victory over West Virginia has lost a bit of its luster, as the Mountaineers have now dropped three games in a row.

The Longhorns, on the other hand, approach Senior Night bowl eligible, on a three game win streak and with an opportunity to cap off the regular season with a definitive signature win over No. 5 TCU.

“You look at it, and it’s the No. 5 team in the country, so we’re going to go out, going to go compete, and it would be good for the program — get us to [win] number seven,” Strong said.

A victory on Thanksgiving could drastically accelerate the trajectory of the program. It would also be further proof that the Longhorns did not quit after a 3-5 start to the season, giving Strong a monumental victory in Austin.

“I think it would really set the foundation of this program,” senior wide receiver John Harris said. “You get a win over a top-25 team, then you get a win over a top-5 team in the month of November; you’re basically undefeated with a four-game win streak. So I think it would be a huge momentum swing going into next year and especially going into the bowl game.”

The last time the Longhorns went undefeated in November was in 2009. Despite the struggles the senior class has faced, the group has worked to help change that trend for the future.

“I think we’re a prime example of sticking together through it all and continue to strive,” senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “We want to be the class to do great things and get this thing turned back around.” 

From 2000-09, they went 55-4 at home, only losing multiple contests in Austin in 2006. Texas lost five games at home in 2010 alone and dropped multiple home games in each of the last five seasons.

But if the Longhorns find a way to beat the Horned Frogs, the coaching staff knows people will generally forget the seniors’ struggles to protect Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“We’ve just got to make sure our players understand this is a big game,” Strong said. It’s big, and I always look at it from the seniors’ standpoint in that it’s their last home game in the stadium, and we need to send them off the right way.”

Despite what is at stake for the opponent, the Longhorns insist the matchup is not so much about trying to ruin TCU’s season but rather just keep winning for their own sake.

“We are not going in with the mind-set [that] we [can] spoil their season,“ senior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “We are going in [with the mind-set] to beat TCU.”

A win would mean Texas’ second Senior Night victory in a row, after dropping three straight from 2010-12.

“We want to end the season right,” Reed said. “You know it’s [the last] home game for the seniors. We are going to give them everything we got.”