Texas earned a bowl bid for the first time since 2014 on Saturday, but Tom Herman made one thing clear: The Longhorns still have plenty to play for when Texas Tech comes into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this Friday.
The Longhorns’ 6–5 record is good enough to get them to a bowl game. But once the lights turn on Friday night, the Longhorns will have a chance to not only finish with a winning record for the first time since 2013, but finish with a win on senior night — something Texas has struggled with in recent years.
“In the last seven senior days here at the University of Texas, we’re 1–6,” Herman said. “There’s only three guys on this team that have ever seen a senior class take a victory lap around the stadium after the game. There is still a ton left to play for. I think our guys know that.”
Getting their first senior night win in four years won’t be easy, though. Texas is set to host a 5–6 Texas Tech team still searching for bowl eligibility. The Red Raiders’ head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, is currently on the hot seat, which should lead to a more than motivated Texas Tech squad.
Texas has plenty of additional motivation as well. The Longhorns are not only trying to finish with a winning record but also have the potential of winning their last three games for the first time since 2009.
But Texas isn’t just thinking short term as it prepares for Friday. The burnt orange is also considering what a win could do for the future of the program.
“I really talked to our guys about leaving your legacy,” Herman said. “The opportunity to head into the offseason with a tremendous amount of momentum, with a tremendous amount of positivity, is something that really appeals to these guys, especially these seniors.”
As the seniors prepare for one final home game, they have a chance to go out on a good note in what has been a brutal stretch for this Texas program. Few players were a part of the 2014 team that went to the Texas Bowl, and zero players have won a bowl game. That is what the seniors want to be remembered for.
Players like fifth-year senior linebacker Naashon Hughes have played under Mack Brown, Charlie Strong and now Tom Herman. The seniors have seen the lows of losing to Kansas and failing to make a bowl in back-to-back seasons.
But the Texas program appears to be heading in a different direction now. Whether or not the Longhorns will turn things around in the future is yet to be determined. But for now, the seniors have a shot to conclude Herman’s first season with a win, capping off what would be a 7–5 season and a trip to a bowl game.
“They don’t want to be remembered as the senior class that went through the worst three-year stretch in the history of Texas football,” Herman said. “They want to be remembered as the senior class that ushered in a new way of doing things and a return of prominence where they all believe Texas should be.”