Life will always bring you to a crossroads. One path is promising, the other is filled with uncertainty.
Which direction will Texas be taking for the remainder of its season?
The Longhorns (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) remain in the hunt for the Big 12 title and a rematch in Arlington against for now No. 3 Oklahoma. They also are a loss away from likely playing in the Texas Bowl or another trip to the Alamo City for a shot to beat a lesser Pac-12 team.
So, which path are you taking, Texas?
"We've got five games left," defensive tackle Keondre Coburn said Monday. "And why not finish with a bang and let God put our destiny in his hands?"
Conference championship talk should be the last thing on Longhorns' fans minds at the moment. They first must get past No. 18 Baylor (6-1, 3-1 Big 12), who also should be well rested for a matchup at McLane Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Baylor coach Dave Aranda has put an emphasis on defensive play. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian has made sure his Alabama 2.0 offense is finding its footing early in his career.
Who wins the outcome? How about the team that shows up in the fourth quarter. Texas would likely be 6-1 should they just know how to close out games.
Sarkisian made the players during the bye week watch Free Solo, a documentary on how Alex Honnold free-climbed El Capitan at Yosemite National Park in 2017.
What what the point of all this? Honnold could have let go at any moment. He could have climbed down the mountain and called it quits.
Texas is Honnold halfway up El Capitan entering Week 9 of the season. They're dangling but still can reach the summit should they come together in the second half of games.
"We've got a lot of football ahead, and in my opinion, a lot of really good football ahead of us," Sarkisian said Monday at his weekly in-person press conference. "And the chips are going to fall where they may."
Sarkisian spent the bye week rewatching the implosion that was the final two quarters in both the Red River Showdown and a home loss to Oklahoma State. He tried to find what went right amongst the come from behind victory from both the Sooners and Cowboys in games that felt over at halftime.
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Maybe he found an answer? He didn't say out loud anything of the course.
Texas knows where it must improve. It starts be remaining hot in the third quarter and putting up points. In both losses, the Horns recorded just one touchdown in the final 30 minutes. They tallied 17 points total following hot starts in the first half.
Quarterback Casey Thompson must also improve. For as good has he's been in the first half, the junior has been inconsistent at best in the second. Throws like a pick-six against Oklahoma State or a holding the ball far too long will come back to haunt him should the losing streak continue.
"If we use these games to learn and grow instead of looking at them as failures, I think we will be in a good spot," Thompson said.
Texas travels to Waco before hitting up Ames to take on the Cyclones. Maybe the Horns should be thanking Matt Campbell's squad for taking down Oklahoma State. Only two more losses from the Pokes and Texas takes control over second place in the Big 12.
After that, the schedule becomes a tad more relaxed. The Horns will return home to take on Kansas, travel to face West Virginia and conclude the season back at DKR against Kansas State.
Should the Longhorns win their next two road games, it would be hard to imagine them not being favored in all three matchups.
Year 1 of the Sarkisian era has come with plenty of learning experiences. Now comes the fork in the road that will dictate what to expect in Year 2.
One path leads to a 9-3 finish with a shot at playing in the Big 12 title game and maybe even a New Year's Six game. The other trail leads a far more disappointing finish, in which bowl eligibility comes into question.
Sarkisian is focused on Baylor for now. A chance at any title came come as the days grow shorter.
"Let's take this thing one game at a time," Sarkisian said. "We'll worry about December when December comes."
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