Best- and worst-case scenario: Texas

Time for the next in our series on the best- and worst-case scenarios for each team in the Big 12.

Just like most years, Texas' ceiling is sky-high. This year, though, with experience and a solid depth chart, that's especially true.

Other best and worst-case scenarios.

Best-case scenario

AUSTIN, Texas -- Is Texas back?

I'm not sure. Ask Alabama. The Crimson Tide got a front-row seat to the Longhorns' last truly great team, but only for a few minutes before Colt McCoy trotted off the field at the Rose Bowl for good, holding his throwing shoulder.

Four years later, on the same field, Texas finally ended the SEC's streak of 19 consecutive national titles. ... Or maybe it just felt like 19. Either way, it's over. Safe to say you'll get no argument from Alabama about whether or not Texas is "back."

The Longhorns rolled over New Mexico State and BYU to start the season and made Ole Miss look very average in a 24-point win in Austin to start the season. Still, we'd seen this before, and skepticism abounded. Beating Kansas State a week later was a small step toward respect, but the Wildcats are rebuilding. So was Iowa State, which fell victim in Ames a week later by 17 points in a nationally televised Thursday night game with a hyped crowd hoping for an upset.

Still, nobody was taking Texas truly serious until it beat the team that tormented it the last two seasons. You want revenge? Joe Bergeron got it on a short swing pass. He took it upfield, hurdled one Oklahoma cornerback and stiff-armed a Sooners safety on the way to a 64-yard score in the first quarter. The undefeated Sooners rallied to take a 10-point lead in the second half, but a late charge led by David Ash and Johnathan Gray put the Longhorns over the top. Ash's 40-yard touchdown bomb to Mike Davis with just over a minute to play proved to be the game winner and the play that made the country finally sit up and pay attention to the Longhorns.

Two weeks later, the Longhorns found themselves in a fistfight with TCU, but earned a 21-13 win in Fort Worth with a late defensive stop. Kansas and West Virginia did little to slow the Longhorns' run, but a one-loss Oklahoma State team didn't come close, either. The Longhorns sacked Clint Chelf four times and picked him off twice in a 14-point win.

Wins over in-state rivals Texas Tech and Baylor iced the cake and sent them to Pasadena once again for a shot at the title they never truly got to chase without McCoy for most of the game at the end of the 2009 season.

This time, though, they took advantage, and the crystal football is headed back to Austin for the first time since 2005 -- coincidentally, the last time a team from outside the SEC won the national championship.


Worst-case scenario

AUSTIN, Texas -- Trade any discussion about "Is Texas back?" for talk about if it's time to make a change in leadership.

The cracks in the foundation were obvious in a home loss to Ole Miss, and the wound felt a little fresher when Texas A&M thrashed the Rebels by 30 a month later, reminding the Longhorns of the on-field gap between them and their former rival.

A week later, Kansas State did it again, throwing seven passes in a win over the Longhorns to move to 8-2 overall against Texas in Big 12 play.

At 2-2, Texas' Big 12 title hopes weren't dead just yet, but the season was more about keeping the wheels from falling off than capturing any trophies. The Longhorns barely survived a road date against Iowa State, but the next Saturday was a familiar scene at the State Fair of Texas.

Not again. Oklahoma 41, Texas 17.

Yes, again.

The Sooners scored a couple of late touchdowns to make the score worse than it really was, but that's a score folks in Austin and around the Big 12 won't forget the rest of the season.

A narrow loss the next week dropped Texas to 3-4 and officially cast the "failure" label over one of the most hyped seasons at Texas in some time.

The Longhorns beat Kansas and West Virginia to get back on the right side of .500, but then Oklahoma State humbled Texas for the third time in four seasons in Austin, knocking them back to 5-5 with games against Texas Tech and Baylor left to play. The Longhorns managed to hold serve in Austin against Texas Tech and became bowl eligible, but the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium was unfriendly for Texas, which watched the Bears charge past them by double digits for another 10-win season, sending Texas to the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC for the first time.