The Texas Longhorns have been no stranger to drama in recent years, and their 2012 season has provided quite the roller coaster ride.
Let's take a quick snapshot of where this season stands in the grand scheme of things.
After a 5-7 record in 2010, Mack Brown made some wholesale changes to his program, invigorating the 40 Acres with some of the best, young minds in college football.
The 2011 season saw the Horns improve to an 8-5 record with a strong Holiday Bowl win, and the future looked bright.
Now one game away from completing their 2012 season, the Longhorns are in a position to deliver consecutive losses to the former No. 1 team and current No. 6 Kansas State.
Sitting at 8-3, Texas has already matched last season's win total, but there were a handful of concerns that undermined the progression of the team.
And just when many thought things were finally coming together, the Horns stumbled on Thanksgiving, losing to TCU 20-13.
So with the Longhorns preparing to travel to Manhattan for their final Big 12 game of the season, Texas has a unique opportunity to justify a possible 9-3 season.
Setting the Stage
Prior to its Thanksgiving Night implosion, Texas was looking at a possible two-game set that could present a shot to claim a place at the BCS table.
Whether or not the Longhorns were overlooking the Horned Frogs, having circled the Kansas State matchup as the critical game of the season, the Horns are still in a position to impress on the road against one of the country's top teams.
The stakes are considerably lower now that Texas has no BCS hope.
But with bowl placement very much in mind, the Longhorns still have plenty of scenarios ahead of them, as long as they finish strong.
Additionally, as bad as their effort was against TCU, the Longhorns still need to get back up.
Kansas State is a perfect opponent to target.
Kansas State is no Chump
Throughout the season, Texas has been about as two-faced as a team can get having had impressive wins over Texas Tech and Iowa State, but also alarming efforts against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU.
Kansas State is easily the class of the conference this season, and the finale is a spotlight opportunity for the Longhorns to showcase exactly what kind of team they are.
Are they the complete team that came out against Texas Tech and Iowa State or are they an underdeveloped group still trying to find a true rhythm this deep in the season?
One thing is for certain.
Everyone knows what kind of team Kansas State is, and if the Longhorns manage to come away with a victory, they will have made the right kind of statement that can alleviate much of the heat they have taken this season.
A home loss to TCU hurts, but a road win against KSU to end the season is the biggest confidence booster to have to finish Big 12 play.
The Bottom Line
The Longhorns are young at several key positions, notably quarterback, running back, wide receiver and linebacker.
While youth and inexperience caused plenty of issues this season, one would have to think that the foundation is setting itself nicely.
And with a statement victory against Kansas State, it can only breed more confidence moving forward, something that will cultivate nicely with a more veteran team down the road.
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