Texas Football: Way Too Early Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions for 2013
Spring football hasn't even started, but what better time to look ahead than now?
As college football programs across the country gear up in preparation for the 2013 season, many will begin to see the big picture unfold as they address strengths and weaknesses over the next handful of weeks.
The Texas Longhorns are coming off a 9-5 year, but are still in search for an identity that can carry them much further than their recent finishes.
But while it may be too early for teams to be visualizing the results of the coming campaign, that is hardly the case for the talking heads.
On a way-too-early whim, here is a quick look at the game-by-game projections for the 2013 Horns.
8/31: vs New Mexico
The Longhorns will open their 2013 season with a home warm-up match against New Mexico.
The two teams played last season in Austin with the Horns serving up a 45-0 shutout. The Aggies would finish the season on a six-game losing streak en route to a 4-9 record with just a single conference win.
As usual, Texas will look to shake off the rust and find some early rhythm against New Mexico before its more reputable competition.
Prediction: 52-10 W. Texas' offense will be much improved, but its defense will be under the spotlight. New Mexico ranked fifth in the country in rushing yards per game last season, and the Horns' run defense was awful at best in 2012.
9/07: at BYU
Brigham Young went 0-3 against ranked opponents last season, dropping matches to Boise State, Oregon State and Notre Dame. However, the Cougars finished third in scoring defense by the end of the year, giving up just 14 points per game over their 8-5 record.
Texas got the upper hand in a 17-16 win the last time these two teams met in 2011, but the dynamic of the game will likely be much different in the mountain air in Provo.
The Horns' spread offense will get a taste of a solid defense in early September, but their defense will be the point of interest.
Prediction: 24-17 W. The Cougars' defense will put up a much better show than New Mexico's, but the Longhorns will do just enough on either side of the ball to squeeze out an uncomfortable win on the road.
9/14: vs Ole Miss
The Longhorns impressed on the road in Oxford last season, pinching off a thrilling 66-31 win over Ole Miss in very entertaining fashion.
The Rebels will look to have some momentum after reeling off a noteworthy finish to their 2013 recruiting class, picking up three huge commitments on national signing day.
Offensively, Ole Miss was just above average, but its defense often proved to be the difference between a win and a loss.
Texas will host the Rebels in Austin, and it figures to have the edge with so many returning players. The Horns' offense recorded its season-high in points against Ole Miss last season, but it will be tough to repeat that kind of output this season.
Prediction: 42-24 W. Comfortable in its own home, Texas shouldn't struggle too much against an Ole Miss team that won't reap too many benefits this early from a strong recruiting class.
9/21: vs Kansas State
Texas closed out its regular season last year with a 42-24 defeat to Kansas State, the eventual Big 12 Champion. But this year, the Wildcats will be ushering in a new quarterback for the post-Collin Klein era.
Make no mistake, however, a Bill Snyder-coached team is one to be feared. In doing more with less, Snyder has put together consecutive 10-win seasons, but he will face a tough challenge in 2013.
The Longhorns appear to be favored on paper at home, but with the way Kansas State has had Texas' number in the past few years—not limited to just football—a gritty matchup is to be expected.
Prediction: 24-20 W. Without Klein, the Wildcats will struggle to find their rhythm offensively, but a stout defense will keep them in the game for a possible late rally to steal the win. However, Texas' speedy offense will find the right plays at the right time to breathe a sigh of relief two weeks before it clashes with Oklahoma.
10/05: at Iowa State
The Longhorns put together their most complete performance against Iowa State last season, winning in Austin 33-7 in a commemoration to the late Darrell K Royal.
Although Ames provides a tricky atmosphere for the Cyclones, Texas is by far the superior team on paper and should come away with a road win just before going off to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry.
If Texas begins looking ahead to its matchup against Oklahoma, Iowa State can easily roll one by the Longhorns for the upset victory.
Prediction: 38-21 W. Texas flexes its muscle on offense, but defensively has some lapses that issue some concern heading into the OU game.
Note: this game could be rescheduled for Thursday, October 3.
10/12: vs Oklahoma (in Dallas)
The 2013 Red River Rivalry has got to be a circled date on the calendar for Mack Brown and many of his players.
After getting blown out in consecutive appearances, in the grand scheme of things, the Longhorns need this year's game much more than the Sooners do. And fortunately for Texas, the stage could be set for that kind of outcome.
Oklahoma will be entering a new quarterback era after Landry Jones makes his way to the NFL. Blake Bell was often utilized in the running game in the red zone, and his arm was never fully tested.
Offensively, the Sooners figure to be just as potent, but a few key losses on defense could prove to be the biggest difference against a Texas offense that has sputtered in this game in the past two years.
Prediction: 38-33 L. It happens again. The Longhorns are in the game every step of the way, but one or two critical mistakes down the stretch has the Sooners leaving Dallas with a win yet again.
10/26: at TCU
Under Mack Brown, the Longhorns have lost just once in the game following the Red River Rivalry.
This season, a bye week separates that game and the matchup in Forth Worth against TCU, and that contest can easily put Brown's record to the test.
The Horned Frogs snatched a Thanksgiving night win in Austin last season, and they figure to be just as dangerous, if not more so, in their second season in the Big 12.
Under Gary Patterson, TCU is always very competitive. But the growth out of the Texas program will be too much for the Frogs this time around.
Prediction: 27-21 W. It isn't always pretty, but Texas holds on late after allowing a late rally, and the Horns breathe a little bit easier.
11/02: vs Kansas
Kansas was in the Big 12's basement yet again in 2012, and the 2013 season cannot figure to be much kinder to the Jayhawks.
After winning its opener last season, Kansas lost 11 straight games while ranking nearly dead last in passing yards, scoring offense and scoring defense.
The Longhorns will host Kansas in Austin this year, and the game will prove to be an opportunity to fine-tune the miscues before entering the final quarter of the campaign.
Prediction: 52-10 W. Kansas is no match for the speed that Texas boasts. An early jump is enough to see the game through to the end in dominating fashion.
11/09: at West Virginia
The Mountaineers got the better of the Longhorns last season in their first trip to Austin as part of the Big 12, beating the home side 48-45 in a wild contest.
But with the departures of quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin, West Virginia's offense figures to be much less potent. And with the possibility of playmaker Stedman Bailey declaring early, the Mountaineers could be brand new on their offensive front.
The Longhorns will be out for vengeance after virtually giving away the win last year, and a steady offensive output combined with a solid defensive performance will have Texas leaving Morgantown riding momentum.
Prediction: 48-38 W. West Virginia still finds ways to muster the points, but a poor defense has Texas scoring too easily.
11/16: vs Oklahoma State
Perhaps the biggest trap game on Texas' schedule comes in mid-November when Oklahoma State comes to Austin.
The Cowboys had an up-and-down season to say the least, but really put together a good brand of football late in the season despite losing two straight to end the regular season.
With a young offense that put up over 45 points per game and 330 yards passing, OSU is primed for a strong year in the Big 12.
That being said, Texas will have to come out with a focused attitude in order to stifle a prolific passing attack.
Prediction: 45-42 W. In another Big 12 shootout, the Longhorns come out victorious with a late score to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
11/28: vs Texas Tech
Texas' annual Thanksgiving contest will be against the Red Raiders, a program under new leadership with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who joins his alma mater years after putting up huge offensive numbers under the spread genius Mike Leach.
The Red Raiders could have one of the country's best passing offenses, and this late into the season, they could be very dangerous.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, they will meet up in Austin where Texas will be in a position to win the Big 12. Key defensive stops will be the difference, and the Longhorns will figure to have the stronger unit that evening.
Prediction: 38-30 W. It's a close battle, but Texas' defense proves to be just enough to keep the Texas Tech passing attack at bay.
12/07: at Baylor
Sitting at 10-1, the Longhorns are a game away from clinching the Big 12 Title and a chance at a national championship bid.
Texas will finish out the season at Baylor, a team ushering in a new quarterback. Still, the Bears have proven to be multiple in their offensive capability after Robert Griffin III left for the NFL. With Nick Florence running the show at quarterback last season, the Bears ranked fourth in passing yards and scoring offense.
A recharged Baylor program is a tough win in Waco, and Texas' determination to win a conference title will be the difference in the season finale.
Prediction: 45-31 W. Not too much defense in this contest, but Texas manages to hang on for its first conference championship since 2009.