Eliminated from a bowl game, Longhorns playing strictly for pride

Texas coach Charlie Strong says, "We just need to go beat Baylor."
Brendan Maloney/Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas eliminated itself from the traditional route to a bowl game with its Thanksgiving loss to Texas Tech.

And earlier this week, the NCAA removed the Longhorns (4-7, 3-5 Big 12) from consideration as a possible back-door entry. Because there won’t be enough six-win teams to fill out the 80 bowl spots this season, some 5-7 teams will get an invite.

The NCAA decided those invites will be doled out to teams based on their multiyear Academic Progress Rates, and too many teams come in ahead of Texas — not that Longhorns fans had their fingers crossed for such a bowl entry.

So when the Horns, who have secured a second consecutive losing season under coach Charlie Strong, visit McLane Stadium and No. 12 Baylor on Saturday, all that will be on the line will be personal pride. The Bears (9-2, 6-2) have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 58-17. The Bears will start third-string quarterback Chris Johnson, while Texas will start second-stringer Tyrone Swoopes in place of Jerrod Heard, who suffered a concussion against Tech.

"I think our guys will go out and compete," Strong told reporters during his weekly press conference. "They don’t want to get embarrassed."

But Longhorns fans have heard that before. Texas shouldn’t need much motivation against Baylor, which has four of the last five meetings. But if they do, earning a first true road victory should be at the top of the list. 

Texas has been humiliated away from Austin, save for the 24-17 win against Oklahoma at the neutral-site Cotton Bowl. Otherwise, in four road losses, the Longhorns have been outscored by Notre Dame, TCU, Iowa State and West Virginia, 150-30. Now they face the nation’s No. 1 offense, albeit with an inexperienced quarterback who has been playing wide receiver before pressed into duty.

"We just need to go beat Baylor," Strong said.

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