Don't waste it.
That's Texas coach Mack Brown's message to his players after a big win against Nebraska put the Longhorns back into the Top 25 and righted a season that had gone woefully off course.
The Longhorns (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) play five of their last six games at home, giving them a chance to still make something special out of the season.
"This means absolutely nothing if you don't build on it and grow," Brown said Monday. "We have not shown we are a mature football team yet ... We've shown we can play good."
Brown says he'll treat the next six games like an entirely new season with the goal of going undefeated. First up is Iowa State (3-4, 1-2), a team that has lost 68-27 and 52-0 in its last two games.
Brown acknowledged the pressure that was on him and the program over the last few weeks both on the field and personally. Texas lost consecutive games to UCLA and Oklahoma after having only two losses over the previous two seasons.
The back-to-back losses had knocked the Longhorns out of the rankings for the first time since 1999.
"I just can't stand to lose. Losing stinks. We've won so much around here, I just got used to it," Brown said.
Brown's brother-in-law, David Larson, died Friday and the funeral was Saturday. Brown's wife Sally, a fixture around the program, attended the funeral and Brown said the players wanted to give her the game ball. It was the first game she had missed since they were married.
"(That) was very emotional," Brown said.
Several Longhorns said they heard Brown's message of moving forward and by Monday many had dropped the scowls from the last two weeks.
"Everybody's happier when you win," junior safety Blake Gideon said.
Texas has won at least 10 games for nine consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the nation, second only to the record 14 set by Florida State. Even if Texas wins out, the Longhorns need some help to get back to the Big 12 championship game.
For that to happen, Texas would need Oklahoma to lose twice. It's happened before. In 2001, Oklahoma beat Texas, then lost twice late in the season to send the Longhorns to the title game.
Senior wide receiver James Kirkendoll said the Longhorns will spend the next few weeks trying to take care of what they can, knowing that more stumbles end any Big 12 title hopes outright.
"We realized what we're capable of and how important every opportunity is," Kirkendoll said. "We've got to build off this win, to take advantage of what we've done."
At Iowa State, coach Paul Rhoads noted that after playing three ranked teams in the first half of the schedule, three more (Texas, Nebraska and Missouri) come in the second half.
In the three losses to ranked teams, Iowa State has been outscored by an average of 52-11. Texas is 6-0 against the Cyclones in Big 12 play and the games are seldom close.
"We don't go into any game just desiring to be competitive. We certainly going into any game to win ... We're going to play a very good football team this Saturday," Rhoads said.
"We certainly aren't without athletic and speedy players, but you don't have them with the numbers that opponents like this do," Rhoads said.
Texas jumped on Nebraska for an early lead behind a defense that shut down Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez in the option, and on offense jump-started by the surprise running of Longhorns quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
"I think this is a huge week for us to see if we can come out with same kind of confidence and intensity," Brown said.
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