It's been almost two years since we've had to a deal with this, the empty feeling of walking out of a stadium with Texas on the wrong end of the scoreboard, the drop in the Sunday polls, the Monday morning quarterbacking, the uncertainty of how the team will respond. It's not a great feeling for any of us, I'm sure. On cue, I woke up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, after just a couple of hours of sleep, and couldn't go back to sleep thinking about the game. But I've gotta say -- and this may be sacrilege to some -- this loss stings less than just about any I can remember in my 20-plus adult years as a Longhorn fan.
It's not the fact that the Horns lost to the top team in the nation, one very deserving of the win in Austin. It's not any rationalization that Texas would have won if [insert play that went wrong or official's questionable call] or some sort of moral victory. And it's certainly not a lowering of standards or expectations for the program.
What it is, I think, is quite simple to explain: the loss, unlike all those that have come over the last 20 or so years, didn't extend by another year the misery of knowing that this would, again, not be THE year. We finally had THE year! It came with last season's 13-0, national championship team. And that, I think, made this loss substantially less devastating than most that came before it.
I also believe that the loss didn't knock Texas out of title contention, but from what I saw Saturday versus Ohio State, this team is not a legitimate title contender at this point. It may get there, but let's see some of the many problem areas exposed by the Buckeyes addressed -- quarterback, linebacker and secondary play, and coaching, including game planning and in-game coaching adjustments (Anthony Gonzalez, anyone?) -- and let's also see an undefeated run through the rest of September and the Red October schedule (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech), before mentioning a potential national title again.
Then we can talk title. Regardless, I don't want to find out, this season at least, whether the next loss will hurt like losses used to.