It is fortunate for Texas football coach Charlie Strong that he does not make his living as a prognosticator.
Last November, Strong told ESPN.com that a five-loss season “will never happen in this program again.” At the time of that statement, the Longhorns were riding a three-game winning streak that allowed them to become bowl-eligible after a 3-5 start. Texas ended Strong’s first season at the school with a 6-7 record.
But in his second season, the Longhorns are back in a familiar spot. Texas will carry a 3-5 record into Saturday’s game against winless Kansas (7 p.m., Longhorn Network), with the Longhorns in need of another November surge to become bowl-eligible in the wake of last week’s 24-0 loss to Iowa State.
Strong, 3-7 as the Longhorns’ coach since saying that a five-loss season at Texas would not be repeated on his watch, addressed his 2014 prediction at this week’s news conference in Austin.
“I can make those predictions, but it doesn’t always happen. So there’s not much I can do about it,” Strong said. “We’ve just got to keep playing.”
Texas (3-5, 2-3 Big 12) must win three of its four remaining games against Kansas (0-8, 0-5), West Virginia (3-4, 0-4), Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3) and No. 6 Baylor (7-0, 4-0) to become bowl-eligible. That will require significant improvement over last week, when Texas suffered its first shutout at the hands of an unranked team since a 6-0 loss to TCU in 1961.
Strong dealt with several pointed questions in the wake of the Iowa State loss, expressing confidence in quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson to develop freshman starter Jerrod Heard and downplaying concerns about the team’s mental toughness.
“I don’t think they’re soft at all,” Strong said. “They have some mental toughness to them … When we go on the road, we’re going to get the [other] team’s best, but we’ve got to be able to match their best. And we haven’t done it on the road.”
Although the Longhorns defeated No. 15 Oklahoma 24-17 at a neutral site (Dallas), the team is 0-3 in road games at opponents’ home stadiums. Texas has lost those three matchups to Notre Dame, TCU and Iowa State by a combined margin of 112-10.
No. 6 Baylor 38, Kansas State 24 (6:30 p.m. Thursday, FS1): Bears and QB Jarrett Stidham survive the transition phase, keep undefeated record intact.
No. 8 TCU 41, No. 14 Oklahoma State 38 (2:30 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/Ch. 4): Horned Frogs find a way to win another shootout in a high-stakes battle between undefeated teams.
Texas 35, Kansas 7 (7 p.m. Saturday, Longhorn Network): Longhorns face the perfect opponent while in rebound mode from lopsided loss to Iowa State.
No. 15 Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 17 (6 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU): Sooners continue their post-Cotton Bowl awakening by pounding the team that pitched last week’s shutout of the Longhorns.
West Virginia 42, Texas Tech 38 (11 a.m. Saturday, FS1): Long road trip combined with early kickoff equals another close loss for the Red Raiders.
Last week: 3-1