If the Texas Longhorns are going to make it back to the National Championship game there is only one clear path. They need to go undefeated.
And that isn’t going to be easy.
There are four games this year that could derail Texas’s hope of playing for the crystal football. A dream undefeated season could easily turn into a three or four loss nightmare.
Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas A&M are all winnable games, yet it is still conceivable that Texas could lose one or even all of them.
The first stumble could be Texas’s visit to Lubbock September 18th. No one really knows what Tech will be like this year. With Tommy Tuberville taking over from Mike Leach, the big question is will the offense still be as potent? Tuberville won’t abandon the pass happy, record smashing, Playstation style of offense that put Tech on the map, but he will add more balance. Expect to see more runs and even a few snaps from under center.
The other question is will Tuberville be able to bring his SEC defense to the Big 12? Defense has never been Tech’s strong suit, but with Tuberville at the helm this could change.
Texas will need to overcome the demons of the last time they played a night game in Lubbock. They will be facing a hostile and rowdy crowd that will be pushing for the upset. If the team responds to Tuberville’s new systems, Texas could be in for a long night.
Once again, and for the final time, the Big 12 South will be decided at the Cotton Bowl. Both teams come in stacked as usual, but this year Oklahoma seems to have the perceived advantage.
OU has a lot to prove after last season’s disappointments, and there will be no better place than the Red River Rivalry to show that the previous year was just an aberration.
Add that to a stellar defense and Landry Jones has had a full year at the helm, OU could dash Texas’s hopes of playing in the big game for a second year in a row.
Two weeks after the OU game, Texas has to travel up to Lincoln to meet the Huskers in what will probably be their last game for a very long time (unless they meet in the Big 12 Championship).
The Husker’s have had this game circled on their calendar since last year’s last second defeat at the Big 12 Championship. They even briefly made beating Texas their motto for the entire season in a marketing video.
While Nebraska has definite questions on the offensive side of the ball, they still will be stellar on defense even with the loss of Ndamukong Suh. They will be playing with fire in their bellies, as they will most assuredly try to put pressure on Texas’s young quarterback, Garrett Gilbert.
This game will probably be a low scoring defensive slug fest so it will come down to the X-factor which in most likelihoods will be Nebraska’s famous fan base. The corn heads want this win more than anything other than a National Championship. After the last second loss and the power struggle over the Big 12, Nebraska fans would like nothing more than to stick it to Texas as they head out the door to the Big Ten.
Anything can and usually does happen when these instate rivals meet on Thanksgiving night. Records, talent, and home field advantage mean nothing in this game. It comes down to who wants it more.
If Texas goes into this game with a shot at the National Championship, or even the Big 12 Title Game, the Aggies will do everything they can to play spoiler. They could end the season with one win, but if that win came against Texas then the season would be deemed successful.
Armed with probably one of the best quarterbacks in the conference if not the Nation, A&M will light up the scoreboard and could score enough points to make it a very unhappy Thanksgiving for the Longhorns.