Coaches Of Big 12's Three-Way Tie Take Narrow View
By Dan Harralson
After all of the outcry by the Texas faithful, the Longhorns and Mack Brown control their own destiny to win the Big 12 and make a BCS bowl.
Who would've thought that?
With their impressive win over Bob Stoops' Sooners and Oklahoma State's loss to West Virginia, Brown and the Longhorns are 3-0 and in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 standings.
Can Texas actually win the Big 12? Can Mack Brown stick it to all the naysayers who wanted him out after the BYU and Ole Miss losses? The schedule benefits Brown and it also leads to Texas playing Texas Tech and Baylor the final two games of the regular season — the two teams currently tied with Texas.
Brown told me today that he likes how his team has bounced back from the season's rough start.
"We divide the season up into four parts," Brown said. "The Oklahoma game was the last part of the second season and then we have a four-game stretch here before we take a break and play Texas Tech on Thanksgiving."
The Longhorns defense has played better, allowing Texas to compete and win games. That same level of defensive play will need to continue.
"We're playing better defense, which was obvious against Oklahoma," Brown said. "We ran the ball better last week, so we're getting the identity we thought we would have at the first of the year, more people back that are healthy, so this league's wide open. It's an exciting time for a team because they know they have a chance to win the conference."
Then there's Baylor and Art Briles' offense. Baylor has put up video game numbers (besides the Kansas State game) during the first half of the 2013 campaign, but the schedule does get tougher. Meanwhile, Briles' offense should put up video game numbers once again at Kansas. Briles knows it should be a tougher stretch during the final six games against more physical and defensive-oriented teams.
"To coach-speak a little bit, we don't even see six games," Briles told Football.com. "We see it as this Saturday at Kansas, that's the only game on our schedule. So, we'll just go up to Lawrence and play as well not only offensively, but defensively and special teams."
After this week's Kansas matchup, the Bears host Oklahoma for Thursday night football and then have dates with Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas. We are about to find out if Baylor's video-game numbers translate into second-half wins.
Then there's Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury. The beauty of these teams currently in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 standings is that they all play each other. A team outside of the current three-way tie also could claim the Big 12 championship. All it would take is for Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech to beat on each other and split their contests.
Texas Tech will learn their fate this weekend after the Red Raiders play at Oklahoma.
"I think the biggest deal is knowing that we can overcome adversity and knowing that we haven't in a long stretch played our best football," Kingsbury told Football.com. "That's encouraging to our team and if we can get all three phases clicking at once, we have a chance to be pretty decent."
If they can pull out a W, they'll bet relevant for a stretch run against Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. No matter who claims the Big 12 championship and a BCS bowl berth, it will be an entertaining finish.