Unranked Texas turns its focus to West Virginia

Posted Monday, Nov. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It’s a relatively irrelevant detail now, just another reminder of the collective skepticism in Texas’ chances to run the table and win the Big 12. But the fact that the Longhorns aren’t ranked in any major poll is still surprising to some.

“We should be ranked,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve played like a Top 25 team in the last five weeks. But that’ll start happening this week if we do our job. … You go up and down really fast in those rankings. So I’m not worried about that. We’re worried about winning.”

Despite winning their first five games in conference play, including a 35-13 victory over Kansas on Saturday, the Longhorns (6-2, 5-0) are not among the eight two-loss teams ranked in the major polls.

For the first time ever, a team that has won its first five games in Big 12 play is not ranked in the BCS standings. Four Big 12 teams are ranked in the BCS, including No. 10 Oklahoma, whose only loss came in a 36-20 thumping to Texas at the Cotton Bowl last month.

“I’ve had a full plate and rankings haven’t been a part of that,” Brown said. “We’ve got three ranked teams at the end so it’ll take care of itself.”

After this week’s trip to West Virginia (4-5, 2-4), Texas’ first in school history, things get a little tougher. The Longhorns end the regular season with games against currently ranked opponents — the first two at home against No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Texas Tech, followed by a finale in Waco against No. 6 Baylor.

“It’s exciting that we’ll get an opportunity to play some top teams again and really prove ourselves some more,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “I know there’s still some doubters out there that don’t think we’re the real deal. So we’re going to show it.”

Among unranked teams, Texas earned the most votes in the AP, coaches’ and Harris polls. The Longhorns cracked the Top 25 in four of the six computer ratings used by the BCS standings and, if they beat West Virginia on Saturday, they should be included in the BCS.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Jeffcoat said. “I don’t pay too much attention to it. It’s about winning. We need to win. That’s all that’s important, what goes on in this house and what we need to do to get better.”

The Longhorns were on the outside looking in when the Sooners won the conference championship in 2008 because they were ahead of Texas and Texas Tech — the two teams they were tied with atop the Big 12 standings the end of the season — in the BCS.

If Texas finds itself in a similar three-way tie this year, one where each of the three teams go 1-1 against the other two teams, those rankings would suddenly become significant again.

Like in 2008, the highest-ranked team in the BCS would win the conference. That is, unless that team is only one spot ahead of the team in the tiebreaker that beat it — like Oklahoma (No. 2) was one spot ahead of a No. 3 Texas team that beat the Sooners 45-35 in 2008.

For now, the Longhorns claim to be solely focused on beating West Virginia — an approach that has paid off in their last five games. But it hasn’t paid off in the polls yet.

“Maybe it’ll give the guys a little edge,” Brown said.

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