Ever since Matt Campbell arrived and turned Iowa State into a legitimate program, Texas’ showdown with the Cyclones has taken on massive importance at the end of the year when it comes up on the schedule.
Texas Tech hasn’t really been much of a problem for Texas since Mike Leach left. The Longhorns went 8-2 against the Red Raiders in the 2010s, despite it being a historically terrible decade for Texas football. The two losses were relatively recent (2015 and 2017) and also both at DKR rather than in Lubbock.
After a tumultuous offseason, we finally got to see the Longhorns take the field on Saturday night. Following the hiring new coordinators on both sides of the ball, Texas received what proved to be a fairly extensive makeover and finally gave the reveal to their fans.
The Texas game with UTEP is almost more of a glorified scrimmage than a game, but at least it’s still a game and one which the Miners will try to win. The season opener is usually against a useful patsy, but will still often reveal underlying realities.
Back in the early 2000s Texas teams all followed a very similar pattern for the season. They’d lose to Oklahoma in October and drop one other game either in the non-conference or toward the end of the year that would invariably be the difference between having a Big 12 title/BCS season or not. The three-game stretch following the Oklahoma game could always be counted on to supply a three-game winning streak as the Longhorns adjusted to whatever deficiencies Bob Stoops had made apparent for them.
Chris Ash is entering a brutal world taking on Big 12 offenses. The conference is a graveyard for defensive coaches that has laid low many a rising star who’d shown so much promise in stopping the run at previous stops. Coach after coach has fallen into the trap of thinking that the crucial point of conflict with these offenses is at the line of scrimmage only to see their schemes undone when former 3-star quarterbacks have repeatedly chucked it over their heads and dropped 40 points on the scoreboard.
Last year the TCU game came as the Big 12 opener and a big test of whether Tom Herman’s Longhorns were ready to take another step in realizing the latent potential of the program. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs had delivered a number of stinging defeats to Texas over the decade since they joined the Big 12 and making a case as the No. 1 contender against Oklahoma in 2018 meant overcoming the Frogs. TCU predictably had a good plan in place for the Texas run game but were overcome by young quarterback Shawn Robinson committing something like a half dozen turnovers while Sam Ehlinger threw for 255 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 31-16 victory.
Obviously Vegas thinks rather highly of Oklahoma given the -10.5 opening line. Vegas hasn’t had a great feel for this game in a while though, as you can see from the lines and outcomes of this game since the 63-21 thrashing in 2012 that led to the famous “When you write a piece like this” column from Scipio Tex regarding Mack Brown’s tenure.