When the Longhorns departed from Lubbock two weeks ago, they seemed to be oozing with optimism. Texas picked up its first road win of the season against Texas Tech just one week after upsetting then-No. 8 Baylor.
The victory gave head coach Charlie Strong a winning record for the first time since his team started 2–1 this year. But all that momentum came crashing down in a deflating defeat to West Virginia last week.
Now there’s just one goal left in play for Strong and company as they travel to Kansas for the second time in the last month to take on the Jayhawks at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“We have to get to a bowl game,” Strong said. “And we have to play well. We’ve got to play well on the road.”
The Longhorns missed bowl season a year ago after compiling a 5–7 record. Sitting at 5–5 this year, Texas is two catastrophic meltdowns away from watching the postseason action from home again.
But Strong said he doesn’t foresee a letdown in Lawrence. He said he’s confident his team will continue to improve enough to manufacture another rare win on the road.
“You know, there’s no reason we should have a letdown at all,” Strong said. “We’re trying to get to a bowl game, and we need to get one win to get there, and we deserve [it]. Our seniors deserve that, and I don’t think our guys will have a letdown.”
Last year’s seniors felt the pain and disappointment of sitting out during the postseason. Their college careers came to a halt much sooner than they would have hoped. That’s a feeling this senior class would like to do without.
“That’s never something you want to do,” senior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick said. “It’s not a good feeling to see all these other teams playing and you’re sitting at home. We definitely want to make the bowl game.”
In Strong’s first season in Austin two years ago, the Longhorns stumbled into the Texas Bowl with a 6–6 record. Hopes of a winning season in Strong’s inaugural campaign dissipated in a 31–7 trouncing at the mercy of the Razorbacks.
Two years later, Strong is still searching for a winning season at Texas. Senior linebacker Tim Cole has been through the ups and downs throughout Strong’s time on the 40 Acres. He said he’d like to see Strong notch another win to keep moving the program forward.
“This coaching staff deserves it,” Cole said. “Just how hard we have worked and what we have gone through to get this win and continue on the path to get to a bowl game would be a nice ending of
Saturday’s matchup won’t quite provide the glitz and glamour of a pressured environment. The Jayhawks lured in a crowd of just 27,282 fans per game last season. But Strong said the amount of people in the stands doesn’t matter as long his team puts on a show and performs well.
“You know, what I tell them is that, as coaches, we’re the ones who have got to provide the enthusiasm,” Strong said. “We’ve got to get them up and get them going.”