AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas started the season with an impressive 5-0 record that had them ranked No. 3 in the country. The Longhorns attributed their success in large part to an improved culture.
That hot start and the ensuing momentum were stopped with a crushing defeat at the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma. Now, after a bye week following the loss, that culture really gets tested.
“That’s when a lot more eyes – if they weren’t on you at first they are now,” said senior linebacker Jaylan Ford about Texas reacting to a loss. “Everybody is wanting to see how we’ll respond. How we’ll bounce back.”
The Longhorns actually moved up a spot in the Associated Press Top 25 to No. 8 during the bye week. The open weekend provided a reset for some players and what they say is a renewed focus.
“We didn’t look at the [Oklahoma] game as something that’s going to make or break us,” said Longhorns senior linebacker David Gbenda. “We looked at it as this is how the [Oklahoma] offense got after us. This is what we need to improve on. This is how we need to get better. We took that approach into the bye week.”
The bye week for Texas came at the midpoint of their season. With six games to go, there is still a clear path for the Longhorns to get to the Big 12 Championship Game.
Longhorns sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers said it’s human nature to think about their path to Arlington for the conference championship, but the team has to stay focused on the game in front of them. He also sees benefits for Texas from the loss to the Sooners.
“[It was] disappointing against [Oklahoma] but I think this team took some positives away from it,” said Ewers. “We learned a lot about ourselves like we’re never going to quit against each other. We’re always going to stick together.”
Texas is set to battle Houston at 3 p.m. Saturday at TDECU Stadium. The Longhorns enter as a 23-point favorite over the Cougars, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.