Texas lost to Kansas a season ago, so losing to Maryland Saturday shouldn’t be much of a shock.
After all, Texas hasn’t done much winning the past three seasons, but there’s been plenty of hype – from bragging about how much the Longhorns are now lifting in their expensive weight room to how fancy their new TVs are at each of the newly designed lockers.
As impressive as coach Tom Herman was last season vs. Oklahoma when he led Houston past the Sooners in the season opener, he hurt Oklahoma, and maybe even Oklahoma State, more this time around with an embarrassment against Maryland.
How? Well, public perception, of course. And perception is the determining factor of who makes the playoff these days.
Naturally, if Oklahoma wins all its games, the Sooners are going to be in the playoff. Same for Oklahoma. Same goes for Purdue or for Wake Forest or even for Kansas. You go unbeaten in a Power 5 conference, you aren’t in danger of missing out on anything. That will always be the case as long as people, not computers, decide who makes the playoff, so that’s not any news.
In that regard, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are in their own bubble, protected from Texas failures. Win and you’re in. But the reason Texas losing Saturday matters is hardly nuanced or difficult to comprehend.
When the Big 12 Conference has the recent reputation like it does, a loss to Maryland doesn’t help win the ol’ PR game. It only hurts. No one is saying cheering for Texas is mandatory, but if you’re an OU or OSU fan laugh at the Longhorns at your own risk.
Go unbeaten and don’t worry about it. Take an L somewhere along the way and the Big 12 will probably need some help. So a Texas team that seemed to be overvalued now becomes a giant wart if you lose to them and a minor blemish if you beat them. Other than a win against USC for the Longhorns or some sort of miraculous turnaround to a three-year status quo in Austin, this season will be known as the one where Texas opened up by giving up 51 points to a team it was supposed to beat by 19.
See, it doesn’t matter if Texas was ranked No. 1 or No. 101 in the nation to start the year – not when people, instead of computers – decide who lives or dies like an unstable Roman emperor. Texas losing does toxic and far-reaching damage. To us who see the Big 12 for what it is on a regular basis, sure, it’s just more of the same for an underperforming, over-hyped orange machine. But for the rest of the country, Texas losing only reinforces the fact the Big 12 is completely average and not worthy of playoff football.
Win em all, don’t worry about it.
If only it were that simple.