Every Sunday, Mack Brown sits his Texas team down and explains what's on the table when it comes to titles, BCS bids and other big-picture accomplishments.
Ears naturally perk up this time of the year when those goals get closer and shift from theory to reality, but every week, the tradition is the same.
Once that little presentation is over, players and coaches don't bring it up again. The rest of the week is about preparing for the next opponent. There's no written rule, but everybody knows.
This week, there was surely talk of the possibility of a Big 12 title in Austin for the first time since 2009. The same for a BCS bid. The Longhorns need help, but it's still possible.
"Obviously, the guys know unless we beat TCU, none of it is going to be what we want it to be at the end. This team has been talking about finishing strong since after the Oklahoma game, and I’m really proud of them," Brown said. "They’ve worked really hard, so this’ll be another big step on Thursday night, but they’re only looking at continuing to win, because they know that’s the only way they can get where they want to go."
The Longhorns don't have in-state rival Texas A&M to clash with on Thanksgiving night on national TV, but a new in-state foe is headed to Austin this year. Big 12 newcomer TCU will kick off with the Horns at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) in hopes of reigniting an old rivalry, although Texas' greatest rivalry is over, for the time being.
"My experience here in 15 years is our fans and the media get more excited about the old Southwest Conference games than they do the games from out of conference or the games from the old Big 8. It was harder to go to Missouri and fans to be excited and with Kansas and some of the other schools," Brown said. "Our players do understand the magnitude and how important it is to TCU, but it’s really important to us, as well."
The Longhorns bounced back from a 42-point loss to Oklahoma to win four consecutive games and insert themselves back into the Big 12 title race. Texas will close its season Dec. 1 with a crack at one-loss Kansas State and still needs a Sooners loss to win the race, but Texas used the bye week to mend hurting players and prepare for future title runs.
"We were banged-up enough last weekend that some guys probably would have been limited or not been able to play. It came at a really good time for us," Brown said. "This is a very important game for us and a key game for us to finish strong."