It has been awhile since the Longhorns have been faced with replacing as much production as they are tasked with this year, while still being a favorite to win the Big 12. And glancing at their schedule, it is easy to hone in on the LSU game and the Red River Rivalry as season-defining games.
Certainly, the players themselves do the same thing. It is only natural to daydream about the big league matchups. That’s why those guys went to Texas. To play on the big stage in front of 100,000+ fans while trading blows with another national contender. Certainly, those two marquee matchups will dictate the ceiling of this year’s team, the games before, after and in between will dictate the floor.
This season will not be an easy road
Texas has one of the toughest schedules in the Big 12 in 2019. There are the LSU and Oklahoma matchups already mentioned, but the rest of the conference cannot be overlooked. Iowa State is currently ranked in the top 25, and TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State are currently on the cusp of the rankings.
Texas will surely be tested early by LSU, but two weeks later they have a game against a team they have recently struggled with at home. Oklahoma State has continually beaten Texas in Austin and has won the last four matchups.
The good news is that as tough as the Longhorn’s schedule is, their toughest matchups are spread out.
Texas gets Rice before the Oklahoma State game. Before the Red River Showdown, they travel to Morgantown to face a rebuilding West Virginia. Before the TCU game, they get Kansas at home. The Horns then, following their second bye week, get K-State before their toughest two-game stretch of the season in at Iowa State and at Baylor.
Then the final game of the regular season shouldn’t be over-looked. Texas Tech is similar to the Cowboys in that the series has left the Longhorns scratching their heads as the home team has lost the last five matchups!
While the schedule is spread out, it is also a trap game gallimaufry which could derail the Longhorn’s hopes of contending if they are not ready to play every week.
“You ask me if we have any big goals; the only one I’ll ever talk about is being in the hunt for the conference title in the months of November and December, and us knowing that if we play our best, our best is good enough to play with or beat anybody on our schedule.”– Tom Herman at Big 12 Media Days
So What Is The Floor?
The floor for Texas could be lower than expected. Drop one or two of the bigger games on the schedule and get caught in a trap game or two as the team’s confidence fades, and losing four or five games is a realistic outcome for this year’s squad. Especially if quarterback Sam Ehlinger cannot remain healthy.
Unfortunately, the ‘Texas is Back’ jokes would surely ensue. Are we asking too much of a team replacing a considerable amount of production?
Maybe, but the ceiling for Texas rests firmly on the shoulders of Austin native Sam Ehlinger. A realistic ceiling for Texas is an 11-win season and a Big 12 Championship berth, and possibly more. Where does the loss come from though? If Texas is able to make it through their schedule with only one loss in conference play, they could find themselves firmly in the College Football Playoff discussion come season’s end.
However, if Texas does not live up to the hype in Austin, then it could be a completely different season for the Longhorns. Regardless, this is the best time of year. It’s football week, and the season’s possibilities are endless.