They've won three in a row, quarterback David Ash is coming off his best game of the season and fan discontent with coach Mack Brown has cooled a bit with a 31-22 road win at Texas Tech.
Even the much-maligned defense has a shot of confidence.
"We're getting better," sophomore defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said Monday. "We're getting a lot better."
Next up for No. 19 Texas (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) is Iowa State (5-4, 2-4), the team that ripped the heart out of the Longhorns' season in 2010. Texas had just returned from an upset win at Nebraska -- which until Saturday had been its last win over a ranked opponent -- only to stumble to a 28-21 loss to the Cyclones that sent the Longhorns skidding to a 5-7 finish.
Brown certainly remembers that one. It took him about 30 seconds to bring up that loss during his weekly meeting with reporters and said he had already talked to his team about avoiding a similar letdown.
"It's a team that wants to do well. It's a team that wants to grow up," Brown said. "This is a huge week for us."
The Longhorns seem to have the ingredients to avoid a meltdown similar to 2010. Although inconsistent over the last month, the offense seemed to find its groove again against Texas Tech. Ash shook off getting benched the week before against Kansas to pass for 264 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Mike Davis.
"I had a lot of desire to redeem myself for the week before," Ash said.
Oddly enough, Ash refused to give his opinion on the Longhorns at this stage of the season. Others were more willing.
`"If we put it together and play as a team like we did last week, we can be really good," senior guard Mason Walters said.
Brown heard a lot of similar comments back in 2010. Texas had snapped a two-game skid with a big win at Nebraska that was supposed to get the Longhorns back on track. Instead, Texas came out flat for a game that started at 11 a.m. and had several turnovers.
"This is a team that played inconsistent," Brown said. "What I told them is it's time to grow up. If you're playing in a parking lot you should still win."
There is little doubt the defense played arguably its best game against the Red Raiders. The Longhorns allowed just two touchdowns and forced the Red Raiders to kick three field goals where earlier this season opponents had little trouble marching to the end zone.
Brown, who had said he would get more engaged with coaching the defense, downplayed his role in the resurgence on Monday.
"They seem to be playing with more confidence and more urgency the last two weeks," Brown said. "We're at least covering people."
Iowa State will be seeking its second straight win in Austin and that all-important sixth victory as it tries to become bowl-eligible.
"I don't believe that that's everyone's goal or priority is `OK, we've just got to get that sixth win. I think it's `OK, we've got to go out and focus on beating Texas this week," sophomore linebacker Jevohn Miller said.
The Cyclones are coming off a 35-20 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma last week, their third in four games. Iowa State did manage to show glimpses of a consistent running attack, rushing for 99 yards on 24 carries.
Texas is ranked 107th in the FBS in rushing defense at 206.2 yards per game, and Iowa State seems likely to try and take advantage after the decent showing against the Sooners.
The Longhorns took the last meeting with the Cyclones 37-14 on Oct. 1, 2011. Ash -- then sharing time with Case McCoy -- went 8 for 13 for 156 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Jaxon Shipley caught six passes for 141 yards and a score.
Top 25 Overview
Texas is on track to crack the Cotton Bowl and maybe more if it keeps winning. It ended a long losing streak to ranked teams a week ago on the road against Texas Tech, but its previous win over a ranked team was on the road against Nebraska in 2010. The following week? Iowa State beat Texas in Austin for its first road win over a ranked team since 1990.