Texas Longhorns Football: 2011 Schedule Game-by-Game Breakdown and Analysis
Texas Longhorns Football: Predicting and Analyzing their 2011 Regular-Season Schedule
No matter if you are the most avid college football fan, or someone who lives under a rock on a 24/7 basis, we can all attest to the fact that the Texas Longhorns didn't quite live up their expectations in 2010.
Longhorn fans endured the program's first losing season (5-7 overall) in over a decade, including a four-game losing streak in the heart of their regular season.
This season brings with it some of the most foreign presumptions Texas has ever known. Yet the consensus around the re-organized Big 12 is that the Longhorns will be, once again, at or near the top of the conference standings once the dust settles.
So with spring training heating up, and confidence abound, here is a game-by-game prediction of how the Longhorns' season will shake out.
Week 1: Vs. Rice
Traditionally speaking, the Longhorns have consistently dominated Rice no matter what venue, and despite Texas' disappointing 2010 campaign, there should be no difference in the scoreboard when these two teams meet up.
Chalk up a "W" for the Longhorns as they begin their 2011 season on a positive note.
Prediction: Texas 34, Rice 17
Week 2: Vs. Brigham Young
Another tough out-of-conference opponent, the BYU Cougars were directed to a 7-6 record under freshman quarterback Jake Heaps.
Heaps, one of the most unheralded quarterbacks of the 2010 season, threw for over 2,300 yards and 15 touchdowns to go with a 116.20 quarterback rating in his freshman campaign.
However, that's where the positives end for the Cougar offense—lacking a clear tailback heading into next season—and Mack Brown will be sure to key in on that fact.
Expect a competitive, surprisingly low-scoring affair between these two out-of-conference opponents, and for Garret Gilbert to begin an impressive junior season at quarterback for the Longhorns.
Prediction: Texas 24, BYU 20
Week 3: @ UCLA
The first true test for Mack Brown's squad in 2011, UCLA will be primed and ready for a pivotal matchup with one of the Big 12's most impressive squads.
Though the Bruins only managed to finish 4-8 last season, sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut showed signs of improvement in UCLA's final two weeks of the regular season, accounting for 551 yards and four touchdowns.
If Brehaut can manage a solid outing against Brown's prevailing defense, UCLA will have a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset.
However with senior running-back Cody Johnson looking to break through in his final season with Texas, UCLA's lacking defense won't be able to contain both quarterback Garrett Gilbert and Johnson for the entire contest.
Expect the Longhorns to make a statement game on the road against the Bruins.
Prediction: Texas 37, UCLA 21
Week 4: @ Iowa State
After handling their out-of-conference opponents with relative ease, the Longhorns head to Trice Stadium. However don't expect Mack Brown to take this game lightly, as Iowa State managed to steal the show against these Longhorns 28-21 last season.
Nevertheless, these Longhorns should be ready and able to begin their Big 12 schedule in 2011, and we should expect nothing less than a stellar performance from Texas' defense as they take on an inexperienced quarterback in Jerome Tiller for the Cyclones.
In a world where guarantees are few and far between, expect a blowout issued by the Longhorns in this one.
Prediction: Texas 41, Iowa State 17
Week 5: Vs. Oklahoma
One of the top quarterbacks in the country a season ago, Landry Jones will likely be at the top of his game against arch-rival Texas.
Last season, Jones threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns against Mack Brown's stout defense. However the Sooners will be without DeMarco Murray—one of the top tailbacks in the country last season.
If the Longhorns are somehow able to get to Jones in the passing game via an aggressive pass-rush, Texas should be able to take this game in front of their home crowd.
We're going to play it safe here and grant the Longhorns their first loss of 2011.
Prediction: Texas 21, Oklahoma 27
Week 6: Vs. Oklahoma State
Last season, Oklahoma State was arguably the best overall squad in the Big 12; they will be a serious contender for the National Championship in 2011.
These Cowboys will be without their star running-back Kendall Hunter this season. But don't expect Oklahoma State to abandon the ground-game completely, as Joseph Randle looks to become a solid performer in just his sophomore season.
Additionally, Oklahoma State still maintains prolific quarterback Brandon Weeden and one of the best receivers in the country, Justin Blackmon.
With a surplus of NFL worthy prospects, these Cowboys should be able to handle the Longhorns in Texas Memorial Stadium.
Prediction: Texas 20, Oklahoma State 31
Week 7: @ Baylor
If this picture is any indication of what is to come, Texas should be the outright favorites in their third road contest of the season.
That wasn't the case last season, however. Mack Brown's bunch fell to these same Bears last season in a closely-contested 30-22 matchup that sent the Longhorns plummeting to an unattractive 4-4 overall record.
Garrett Gilbert threw for 229 yards and one interception in the game, while also notably leading the Longhorns in rushing yardage with 79 yards on the ground.
This season, Baylor returns their athletic quarterback Robert Griffin III for his junior season, as well as a solid front seven on defense.
Expect a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire game at Floyd Casey Stadium that should turn out to be a Longhorns victory.
Prediction: Texas 24, Baylor 20
Week 8: Vs. Kansas
The Jayhawks boasted a 1-7 record against Big 12 opponents last season, and this season isn't looking much better.
Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb fared well in his inaugural season, with 1,195 yards and seven touchdowns; however, a Jayhawks group void of any ground-attack won't serve them well against a re-vamped Texas defense bustling with young talent.
Chalk one up for the Longhorns, as they approach the stretch run of their 2011 season.
Prediction: Texas 37, Kansas 20
Week 9: Vs. Texas Tech
Behind the leadership of senior quarterback Taylor Potts, Texas Tech managed an 8-5 overall record. But with poor performances against Big 12 opponents, the Red Raiders went just 3-5 against conference opponents.
The loss of Potts, leading rusher Baron Bach and leading receiver Lyle Leong will prove detrimental to Texas Tech's hopes for success in 2011; and when they make the trip to Texas Memorial Stadium, they could be in for a walloping.
Expect a breakout performance in all phases for Mack Brown's crew, and for them to make a push for an appearance in the Big 12 title game.
Prediction: Texas 35, Texas Tech 14
Week 10: @ Missouri
When the Longhorns make the long, unwavering trip to Faurot Field, they'll have one of the most complete teams in the country waiting for them.
Missouri carries one of the best defenses in all of college football: allowing just 16.1 points per game to the opposition—and you can be certain that Mack Brown will be aware of that fact.
Though the Tigers and Longhorns weren't able to duke it out on the field last season, both teams will make up for it in one of the best games of the 2011 college football season. And if Garrett Gilbert can produce up to his capabilities, Texas should come out on top.
But for the time being, Missouri's defense will most likely be at there best when the Longhorns come to town.
Prediction: Texas 17, Missouri 23
Week 11: Vs. Kansas State
Losing their star-studded running back Daniel Thomas and senior quarterback Carson Coffman, Kansas State will be one of the few truly regressing teams in the Big 12 this season.
A trip to Texas Memorial Stadium probably won't help these Wildcats in the second-to-last week in the regular season, either.
For the time being, Texas fans should be looking forward to one of their easiest in-conference opponents of the season.
Prediction: Texas 31, Kansas State 20
Week 12: @ Texas A&M
The Longhorns' last opponent of a successful regular season, Texas A&M will prove to be quite the opponent come late November.
Led by then-junior quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Aggies were able to make a Cotton Bowl appearance against LSU, only to fall in an aggressive 41-24 contest. Yet despite their BCS loss, Tannehill's status as one of the Big 12's most prolific passers skyrocketed. Will he be able to hand Mack Brown and the Longhorns another loss in 2011?
Within the confines of Kyle Field, its a serious possibility.
Look for a down-to-the-wire contest like that of their 2010 dispute in which Texas A&M came out victorious, 24-17.
Prediction: Texas 21, Texas A&M 24