Power Ranking the Texas 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest
The summer months have arrived, and that means college football is fast approaching.
And for the Texas Longhorns, they head into a 2013 season that could have special written all over it.
Helped along by a favorable schedule, the Longhorns have an opportunity to make a big statement this year, one that may finish with a conference title and a BCS appearance in the postseason.
But while we can talk all day about schedules and better teams on paper, at the end of the day, Texas will have to perform.
Nevertheless, a schedule that plays in favor rather than out is welcomed ammunition for a big-time splash.
Without further ado, let's power rank Texas' easiest to toughest games in 2013.
11/2 vs. Kansas
If there is a such thing as a sure thing in college football, the Kansas Jayhawks come pretty close to it.
October 10, 2009 was the last time that Kansas beat a current Big 12 opponent, coming in a 41-36 triumph at Iowa State. Furthermore, Kansas has won just six games over the past three seasons. So the Jayhawks are not exactly scaring anyone.
Kansas will have former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps possibly leading the charge during head coach Charlie Weis' second year in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks finished the 2012 season with an unimpressive 1-11 record.
Texas welcomes Kansas the first week in November just after its matchup with TCU. If the Longhorns happen to lose in Fort Worth, Kansas could face the wrath of a productive Texas offense.
8/31 vs. New Mexico State
New Mexico State comes to Austin for the Longhorns' 2013 home opener, a game that looks to begin a wild ride this season.
It is what it is—a win 99 times out of 100, a confidence builder for Texas and a warm-up before the grittier games on the schedule begin.
Texas will unveil the newest installment of its offense, an up-tempo scheme which will be heavily under the microscope. But perhaps the biggest spotlight will be on its defense, a unit that will not get a true test until the 'Horns host Ole Miss.
With Texas' other nonconference opponents fronting more formidable competition, the expectation is for the Longhorns to march all over the Lobos.
11/9 at West Virginia
No team had a bigger turnover than West Virginia, and the Mountaineers may also have the biggest repercussions.
No Geno Smith at quarterback and no Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey at wide receiver. Sure, the running backs return, and the system is the same under head coach Dana Holgorsen, but the playmakers simply are gone.
Still, Holgorsen is considered one of the top offensive minds in the game, and he could very well piece together an offense with some great potential, although a new quarterback could curtail those developments.
A lack of defense figures to be the standard, and it might be hard for the Mountaineers to field a worse unit than they did a season ago.
11/28 vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech will be under new leadership this season as former quarterback legend Kliff Kingsbury takes the head coaching reins in place of Tommy Tuberville.
The Red Raiders figure not to miss a beat in their passing attack, which ranked No. 2 in the FBS last season with 356 yards per contest.
But will Tech continue its plug-and-play concept that has worked so effectively at quarterback in the past 15 years? The Seth Doege era is over pretty much as quickly as it got started, but Michael Brewer is expected to be the next gunslinger in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders' offense is always a spectacle. But Texas has had Tech's number in recent seasons, and in what figures to be a matchup of potent offenses, the Longhorns will welcome the Red Raiders to Austin in late November.
10/3 at Iowa State
The Longhorns took a page from the late Darrell K Royal's playbook against Iowa State last year, popping an explosive play from the Wishbone formation, Royal's go-to scheme.
Much like the rest of the Big 12, the Cyclones will be welcoming a new starting quarterback to their offense, a transition that could be tough on a program that consistently struggles to place in the middle of the conference.
Iowa State can be competitive, but more often than not figures to be in the bottom tier of the Big 12. Nevertheless, road games are always challenging, and any sort of scenario where Texas begins to overlook its opponents could spell danger.
9/14 vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss looks to have some momentum after a strong national signing day haul in February, but the fabric of the 2013 team figures to be better than last year's.
In the second half of a home-and-home set, the Rebels will be looking to revenge an ugly loss to Texas a season ago, where the 'Horns marched into Oxford to come away with a 66-31 win.
Encouragingly for Ole Miss, close losses to Texas A&M (30-27) and LSU (41-35) give the Rebels something on which to build for the coming season. And with expected better quarterback play Bo Wallace, Ole Miss may be able to find some more offense.
12/7 at Baylor
Baylor, too, will be replacing its quarterback, along with other key pieces like receiver Terrance Williams.
But head coach Art Briles has been phenomenal in developing his players to fit the schemes of his up-tempo offense, and many believe his next quarterback project will be just as successful as Nick Florence and Robert Griffin III.
When playing the Bears, points are a must, especially with the low-caliber defense that they field.
Against the fourth-ranked scoring and passing offense, most will match up poorly against this high-octane offense, and the Longhorns will be in for a tough go-around if their offense cannot show up in Waco.
9/21 vs. Kansas State
Texas has not beaten Kansas State since 2003—an ongoing 0-5 mark—a hump that the Longhorns will have to hurdle if they intend to claim a Big 12 title.
The lesson learned over that five-game losing streak is that you can never underestimate a Bill Snyder-coached team.
Even without quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats' biggest offensive catalyst last year, Kansas State constantly seems to field units with bigger fight and heart than you can measure up on paper.
Luckily, the Longhorns draw the Wildcats in Austin, where the crowd will hopefully be on their side.
Running back John Hubert will test Texas' run defense, an area where the 'Horns struggled tremendously a season ago.
9/7 at BYU
Texas' first big nonconference matchup will be a road game at BYU.
The 'Horns escaped in Austin two seasons ago with a 17-16, come-from-behind win, but a trip to Provo presents an environment that will really challenge just how prepared and focused this Texas team will be.
The Cougars posted the FBS's third-best scoring defense last year, allowing just 14 points per contest, but that group returns just three starters. Nevertheless, defense is always in heavy supply for head coach Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars.
Four of BYU's five losses last season were by six points or less, so it is no pushover.
The early road test could easily be more than for what Texas bargained.
10/26 at TCU
Never underestimate a Gary Patterson-coached team.
Sound familiar? Well, that is because Patterson has develop a knack for fielding ferocious teams with the lesser-praised players coming out of high school. And his formula has been successful, with some variance, of course.
Once the muscle of the Mountain West Conference, TCU did struggle in its first season in the Big 12, finishing with a 4-5 mark in conference and 7-6 overall, including a victory in Austin on Thanksgiving night.
Texas will be seeking some revenge when it travels into Fort Worth in late October, but if anything is certain, it is that TCU will come prepared and ready to take every punch and throw plenty of its own.
TCU looks to get quarterback Casey Pachall back from suspension, but Trevone Boykin performed magically at times in his freshman campaign.
Make no mistake, Patterson's boys come to play.
10/12 vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas)
It may be the marquee matchup of every Big 12 season, and the 2013 version figures to be no different.
Although the Sooners will be looking at new quarterback blood—at least full-time in the case that Blake Bell inherits the starting job—there is always bad blood between Texas and Oklahoma.
The Sooners have had Texas' number of the past three matchups, the last two of which heavily favored Oklahoma—in blowout fashion, no less.
Oklahoma does, however, lose big pieces like quarterback Landry Jones, receiver Kenny Stills, safety Tony Jefferson and linebacker Tom Wort. Despite those departures, the Sooners will be every bit as tough.
It will be easy to look at the matchup on paper, but many who have experienced this rivalry firsthand would say that you can throw that stuff out the window.
11/16 vs. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State, along with Texas, appear to be the class of the Big 12 this season, and when these two get together in Austin in mid-November, the winner could easily hold its own destiny for a conference title.
The Cowboys will be replacing a couple of pieces along the offensive line, but elsewhere, they appear to be stacked with offensive talent, as usual.
Like Texas, OSU is one of three programs in the conference who will return its starting quarterback from a season ago. And with an offense that ranked No. 3 in the FBS, the Cowboys figure to be just as potent offensively once again.
Defensively, the Cowboys possess nowhere near the confidence and strength that they do on offense, and fortunately for the Longhorns, they get to host the Pokes in Austin.
Mike Gundy's team could be the best team in the Big 12 this season, and it will not be an easy out for anyone.