Texas Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2014 Season

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Texas Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2014 Season

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    More than two weeks have passed since Texas football wrapped up spring practice, but many questions remained unanswered for head coach Charlie Strong and his team.

    The Longhorns' performance throughout spring practice was decent considering Strong and his entirely new staff just got to know these players in January, but progress will need to be made before the Longhorns kick off the 2014 season.

    With that in mind, here's a way-too-early game-by-game prediction of the Texas Longhorns 2014 schedule.

North Texas vs. Texas

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    When: Aug. 30, 2014

    When: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    The Longhorns' first game of 2014 could very well be the easiest of the season. North Texas is coming off of a successful nine-win season but will be without 13 starters—six of offense and seven on defense—from the 2013 team. 

    The Mean Green had a strong defensive unit last season, which ranked No. 8 in scoring defense, No. 14 in rushing defense, No. 17 in total defense and tied for No. 7 in total sacks. The team will be without its entire starting defensive line from the 2013 squad, which is not an easy position to replace.

    Texas should not have a problem kicking off the season with a win over North Texas.

    Way-too-early projected record after North Texas: 1-0

BYU vs. Texas

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    When: Sept. 6, 2014

    Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    Texas fans may shutter when the words Brigham Young University are mentioned. Last season, the Longhorns suffered an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Cougars and gave up 679 offensive yards in the 40-21 loss in Provo, Utah.

    BYU returns quarterback Taysom Hill, who wrecked havoc on the Texas defense when he rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Hill's 1,344 yards rushing and 103.4 yards per game average helped him finish the 2013 season ranked No. 19 in total rushing yards, No. 24 in rushing yards per game and No. 10 in total offense as a sophomore.

    The Cougars also return running back Jamaal Williams, who managed to rack up 1,233 yards on the ground despite missing nearly two full games in 2013. Williams rushed for 182 yards against Texas and finished the season ranked No. 25 nationally in total rushing yards, again, despite missing nearly two games.

    This game will likely come down to the Texas defense's ability to stop the run. The Longhorns defensive line is expected to be a solid group, but this game will be the first big test on how good the D-line really is. If the defense can slow down the uptempo BYU offense, Texas should pick up the W.

    Way-too-early projected record after BYU: 2-0

Texas vs. UCLA

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    When: Sept. 13, 2014

    Where: AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Texas

    The Longhorns' third game of the year could end up being the toughest opponent Texas will face in 2014. The UCLA Bruins are coming off of a solid 10-3 season and have key players returning to the field in 2014.

    Quarterback Brett Hundley showed exceptional talent during his redshirt sophomore season. He ranked No. 17 nationally in passing efficiency, No. 13 in completion percentage and No. 23 in total offense in 2013. Hundley's decision to return for his junior season was huge for the Bruins, and his announcement launched an early Heisman campaign by the UCLA marketing department, according to FoxSports.com.

    The Bruins return seven starters on offense and eight on defense, which makes Hundley only a piece of UCLA's stacked puzzle heading into 2014. 

    With the number of questions that remain on the Longhorns squad, it's difficult to predict a Burnt Orange victory in Week 3 of the season.

    Way-too-early projected record after UCLA: 2-1

Texas at Kansas

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    When: Sept. 27, 2014

    Where: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan.

    The Kansas Jayhawks only won three games in 2013, but head coach Charlie Weis enters his third year in Lawrence with more hope than in previous seasons. 

    Weis named sophomore quarterback Montrell Cozart as the starter following spring practice, but Cozart's talents have yet to be seen against opponents. During his true freshman season, Cozart completed 35.6 percent of his passes for 227 total yards in the air and rushed for 214 yards and a touchdown in his seven game appearances. His one rushing touchdown came against Texas.

    The Jayhawks return a total of 19 starter from 2013: eight on offense, nine of defense and two on special teams.

    Maybe it's naive thinking, or maybe it's because of the Jayhawks 4-20 record under head coach Charlie Weis, but even with a more veteran squad, it is not easy to pick Kansas to beat Texas. 

    Way-too-early projected record after Kansas: 3-1

Baylor vs. Texas

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    When: Oct. 4, 2014

    Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    The reigning Big 12 champion Baylor Bears will once again be a difficult battle for the Texas Longhorns.

    The Bears return Bryce Petty, who was one of the most accurate passers and arguably one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season. Petty ranked No. 1 in passing yards per completion, No. 2 in passing efficiency, No. 6 in passing yards per game, No. 8 in total offense and No. 11 in passing touchdowns in his first season as a starter.

    One could only assume Petty's second season as a starter will only be better, and that should be a frightening thing for Texas fans to hear.

    Baylor is pretty stacked heading into the 2014 season, and could undoubtedly cause a major threat to Texas.

    Way-too-early projected record after Baylor: 3-2

Texas vs. Oklahoma

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    When: Oct. 10, 2014

    Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

    Arguably one of the best atmospheres in college football happens annually in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas between Texas and Oklahoma. Last year, the unranked Longhorns upset the No. 12 Sooners in a performance that stunned the college football world.

    2014 may not have the same ending as last season.

    Oklahoma ended the 2013 season with a 45-31 upset over No. 3 Alabama in the All-State Sugar Bowl. The shining star of the game was quarterback Trevor Knight, who completed 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

    The Sooners offense lost six starters from the 2013 squad but return seven players with starting experience this season. Despite losing three key starters, the defense has the chance to be better than 2013. The defensive line has a lot of depth, and if the line plays to its potential, it could very well be one of the most solid defensive lines in the nation.

    Considering the Texas offensive woes seen in the spring game, it is difficult to predict a Longhorns win in the Cotton Bowl.

    Way-too-early projected record after Oklahoma: 3-3

Iowa State vs. Texas

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    When: Oct. 18, 2014

    Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    The Longhorns should somewhat easily be able to bounce back from the Cotton Bowl with a win over Iowa State the following week.

    The Cyclones are entering summer without naming a starting quarterback, but they do return a lot of experience from the wideouts. The offensive line returns the second-most starters in the Big 12.

    The defense lost one of the most crucial players from 2013 in linebacker Jeremiah George and will enter 2014 thin in experience at tackle, linebacker and defensive back.

    Texas barely edged Iowa State last season but should not have an issue taking down the Cyclones at home this year.

    Way-too-early projected record after Iowa State: 4-3

Texas at Kansas State

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    When: Oct. 25, 2014

    Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.

    Playing in Manhattan, Kan. has not been an easy task in recent Texas history. The Longhorns have not won at Kansas State since 2002 but will head to the Little Apple to take on the Wildcats midway through the season.

    Kansas State returns quarterback Jake Waters, who helped turn around a 2-4 start and finished with an 8-5 overall record in 2013, All-Americans wide receiver Tyler Lockett and defensive end Ryan Mueller, along with 11 other players with starting experience. 

    There's a good possibility that the Wildcats could be a dark horse in 2014, but Texas should have some of its issues straightened when it heads to Manhattan, so let's give the Longhorns the nod in this game.

    Way-too-early projected record after Kansas State: 5-3

Texas at Texas Tech

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    When: Nov. 1, 2014

    Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas

    Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury led his alma mater to an impressive 7-0 start of the 2013 season. But that momentum took a turn for the worst, and the Red Raiders lost their final five games of the year. 

    Kingsbury's second year in Lubbock may not be much better than the first. Tech returns eight starters on offense and five on defense, but it only has one scholarship quarterback on campus. As the Longhorns understand, not having depth a quarterback could lead to serious issues.

    Jones AT&T Stadium is usually a very hostile environment. The fans are extremely loud and have been known to throw tortillas at opposing teams. But with the number of question marks on the Red Raiders team, one could assume Texas walks away with another victory in Lubbock.

    Way-too-early projected record after Texas Tech: 6-3

West Virginia vs. Texas

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    When: Nov. 8, 2014

    Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    The West Virginia woes from 2013 will likely continue into 2014. The Mountaineers named Clint Trickett as the starting quarterback coming out of spring practice, even though he missed the spring with injury, and they have very little experience on the offensive and defensive lines.

    This game should not be an issue for the Longhorns.

    Way-too-early projected record after West Virginia: 7-3

Texas at Oklahoma State

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    When: Nov. 15, 2014

    Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.

    Oklahoma State handed former Texas coach Mack Brown the worst home loss of his 16-year career in Austin last season. But the Cowboys enter 2014 without 17 starters from last season and will be looking to replace significant playmakers from the 2013 squad.

    The offensive line is lacking a lot of experience, the wide receivers lost three of the four starters from 2013, the linebackers lost All-Big 12 performers Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey and lost a combined 62 career starts at safety with Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary's departures.

    But counting out the Cowboys may not be a wise move at this point. There's a possibility this game could go either way, but since it is in Stillwater, let's give the W to Oklahoma State.

    Way-too-early projected record after Oklahoma State: 7-4

TCU vs. Texas

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    When: Nov. 27, 2014

    Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    The Longhorns' final game of the 2014 regular season will not be a breeze. The Horned Frogs will return nine starters on defense, and the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields returned from his season-ending injury in 2013 and has the potential of being an elite playmaker.

    The offense does not appear to be as sound as the defense. TCU returns six starters on offense but does not have a set starting quarterback. The Horned Frogs will likely have a quarterback battle between Trevone Boykin and Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel heading into fall camp.

    In the end, Texas could very well finish its first season under Strong with a Thanksgiving victory over TCU.

    Way-too-early projected record after TCU: 8-4

    Unless otherwise noted all quotes were obtained firsthand.