Spring football is over and we now all begin the countdown to the Big 12 Media Days, Fall Camps, and then, yes, the start of the 2018 college football season. So, with that being said, let’s have some fun and look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every team in the Big 12 conference. We will start rolling these out throughout the month of May. Agree? Disagree? Don’t be afraid to let us know in the comments below!
We now take a closer look at the Texas Longhorns, who begin year two under head coach Tom Herman and are coming off a 7-6 season with an Advocare Texas Bowl win in 2017. Will the offense improve and is this the year Sam Ehlinger breaks out? Will the defense continue to be good? Let’s look at the best and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Texas Longhorns.
Texas Longhorns: Best-Case Scenario
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger runs away the starting job and improves his accuracy and decision making. He is mobile but only runs when needed. The shaky offensive line from last season gets help and most importantly stays healthy to make room for running backs Tre Watson, Daniel Young, Toneil Carter and freshman Keaontay Ingram. WRs Collin Johnson and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey have a breakout season to make this offense balance out.
Defensively, Texas doesn’t skip a beat from last season. Charles Omenihu, Breckyn Hager and Malcolm Roach lock down the defense line and get to quarterbacks. Even though they lose LB Malik Jefferson to the NFL, Gary Johnson has another fantastic season chasing guys down. Don’t forget a secondary that should have high expectations with plenty of talent coming in from the 2018 class. Let’s pump some sunshine, shall we?
Texas starts 2-0 to kick off the season as they get revenge from the week one loss against Maryland last season along with beating a Tulsa team at home. Then comes the big test against USC in Austin where Texas pulls out a close one against a USC team with a lot of questions heading into the year. After a 3-0 start in the non-conference the Longhorns have a tough three game stretch against TCU, K-State (On the road) and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl. Best case scenario, they go 2-1 in those three games. Before the bye week, they host Baylor at home which should be a win against a rebuilding team. That puts Texas at 6-1 heading into the bye week.
After the bye, Texas will travel to Stillwater and beat a rebuilding Cowboy team for the first time since 2014. Then comes a HUGE game against WVU at home but the Longhorns come up short. Texas then closes out the season against Texas Tech in Lubbock, at home against Iowa State and at Kansas. Iowa State at home could be tricky but traveling to Lubbock is no easy task either but mark down 3 wins for me. Texas finishes the regular season at 10-2 and makes a Big 12 title game in December.
Texas Longhorns: Worst-Case Scenario
Sam Ehlinger struggles to complete passes consistently while the offensive line play is still shaky and lacks depth. The running backs have a hard to finding wiggle room and the fumbling issues continue in Austin. Even though they have talent at the wide receiver position, the inconsistent quarterback play makes this offense one dimensional and “Co” offensive coordinator Tim Beck could be looking for a new job.
Meanwhile, the defense takes a step back with the loss of DT Poona Ford clogging up running lanes and Texas struggles to rush the passer even though they are stout against the run. The loss of LB Malik Jefferson hurts but the losses of CB Holton Hill and Safety DeShon Elliot hurt even worse. CB Kris Boyd may be the best CB on the roster now but his up and down play forces some younger guys to step in before they are ready. Let’s throw on those negativity shades, shall we?
I still like Texas to start off 2-0 but USC gets the best of them in Austin and puts this team at 2-1 before kicking off Big 12 play. Against TCU, the Horned Frog defense shuts down a struggling Texas offense as TCU beats Texas for the fifth straight season. The Longhorns bounce back against K-State on the road but fall short once again in in the Cotton Bowl against their rival Oklahoma. Before the bye, they squeak bye a rebuilding Baylor team at home putting them at 4-3 at the break.
Texas has extra time to prepare for Oklahoma State as they win on the road before taking on a high-powered Mountaineer offense at home. The offense can’t match the productivity of WVU and lose a heart breaker. Texas will bounce back against Texas Tech on the road but have another head scratching loss at home but this time, it comes against the Cyclones late in the year. The final game Texas will play Kansas on the road and although they struggle, they find a way to win that game. Texas fans are still searching for answers as they finish the season at 7-5.