With three games remaining in the Big 12, the No. 24 Texas Longhorns (7-2, 6-0) have complete control of their bowl opportunities.
Texas set its goals prior to the season, and winning the conference and winning its bowl are two of the four.
So as the season winds to a close, and the shape of the conference standings begin to fill out, the postseason bowl setups are becoming clearer by the week.
Baylor and Texas are the lone undefeated teams left in the Big 12, and if they stay perfect by December, their season-ending matchup in Waco will serve as the conference championship game.
The final three games for the Longhorns will be the kind of springboard that can redefine their season. They host No. 12 Oklahoma State this Saturday before welcoming Texas Tech to Austin on Thanksgiving night. Nine days later, Texas will travel 90 minutes up I-35 to play Baylor and its monstrous offense.
|Texas' Remaining Schedule|
|Sat., Nov. 16||vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Thu., Nov. 28||vs. Texas Tech||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Dec. 7||at No. 5 Baylor||TBD|
At this point, it seems safe to assume that the Longhorns will finish in the top three, which would put them in the BCS (likely the Fiesta Bowl), the Cotton bowl or the Alamo Bowl.
For Texas to reach the Fiesta Bowl, it would need to win the Big 12, a pathway that appears to go through Waco at the end of the season.
For the Cotton Bowl, a second-place finish in the conference would have them in Jerry World in Arlington. More than likely, a one-loss Texas team (in the Big 12) earns this spot, and many would point to Baylor as the reason for that first runner-up position.
If Texas plays in the Alamo Bowl, which would be its second straight trip to San Antonio, it almost certainly means that the Longhorns would have dropped two of their last three contests. And if one of those two comes against Oklahoma State, it could actually throw Texas even further down the Big 12 standings.
|2013 Big 12 Standings|
|No. 24 Texas||6-0||7-2|
|No. 5 Baylor||5-0||8-0|
|No. 12 Oklahoma State||5-1||8-1|
|No. 18 Oklahoma||4-2||7-2|
Three scenarios, three levels of projection. One is conservative, one is aggressive and one is quite neutral.
So while we aim to capture realism, a second-place finish for the Longhorns seems the most plausible.
Texas at Jerry World in the Cotton Bowl Classic
You can bet that Texas fans will travel in packs up I-35 to Arlington, a short three-hour drive to see their beloved Longhorns play football in one of the true cathedrals in all of football.
The matchup with the SEC is just the cherry on top.
With the thick of the SEC race shaping up with Alabama, Missouri and possibly South Carolina vying for position atop the conference standings, Texas could be looking at a potential clash with perhaps two former Big 12 opponents.
If the Tigers stumble against Ole Miss or Texas A&M, they could very well fall into a position to earn a trip to Arlington.
By the same token, if the right pieces topple, the Aggies joining the 'Horns at Jerry World could be the biggest headliner of any bowl game outside of the BCS National Championship.
The Bottom Line
Texas controls everything about its bowl potential. Win out and the 'Horns are bowling in the Fiesta Bowl. Drop one to either Baylor or Texas Tech and the Cotton Bowl seems the likeliest of destinations. Lose two and the talk of mediocrity will continue.