Inside the Gameplan: The pre-conference slate

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The 2019 schedule and greater Big 12 context is all very favorable to Texas. The Longhorns leave the state of Texas twice, to play at West Virginia the week before the Red River Shootout (and a week after a bye), and to play at Iowa State down the stretch of the season. The bye weeks fall between Oklahoma State and the two-game stretch against likely descendant West Virginia followed by the Sooners, then between TCU and Kansas State when the Longhorns will likely need to rest and heal.

The non-conference slate is much easier than previous seasons, at least there isn’t a bizarre game against a unique and talented Maryland squad before injuries sap their roster but instead the LSU home game sandwiched between bouts with Louisiana Tech and “at Rice” in NRG which will likely hold mostly Texas fans. There’s all the potential in the world here for Texas to win the Big 12 championship and make the playoffs under one of the following three scenarios.

Scenario 1: Texas is undefeated.
Scenario 2: Texas defeats LSU, drops a single B12 game but wins the title.
Scenario 3: Texas loses to LSU, then goes undefeated in B12 play, including the title game.

Losing two games generally knocks anyone out of playoff contention but a single loss offset with a Big 12 title and/or win over LSU offers a really strong resume for a blue blood program like Texas. Obviously the chief goal against the first three opponents of the 2019 slate is to get through the smaller schools without giving away much or suffering injuries and then to drive out the Cajun invaders. A win over LSU isn’t essential to the season but it does create playoff hype and additional recruiting momentum as Herman sells “3-0 vs the SEC” against Oklahoma and A&M and “scoreboard” over LSU. It’d also probably make “big game Tom” into established vernacular, which would also boost the program’s profile.

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History major, football theorist.