Game-by-game predictions: Can Texas top last year's 10-win season?
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) celebrates one of his touchdowns against Georgia during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in New Orleans. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
When the Longhorns celebrated their Sugar Bowl victory in January, the program was just two years removed from a 5-7 year, which was bookmarked by that infamous loss to Kansas.
Now, anything less than an appearance in the Big 12 championship is essentially a let down. The conference has returned to Oklahoma and Texas at the top followed by everybody else, but with marquee matchups against LSU and the Sooners, potentially twice, this season won't lack fireworks.
Here are game-by-game predictions for Texas' 2019 season:
Season openers have not treated Texas well in the Tom Herman era thus far. Maryland, the doormat of the Big 10 conference, is the sole reason for the Longhorns' back-to-back week one losses.
It's difficult to give Texas a blowout win here simply based on its performances in season openers, and against group of five teams -- the Longhorns only beat Tulsa by a touchdown last season. It should also be noted that Louisiana Tech isn't exactly the easiest group of five opponent.
This is a team that only trailed LSU by three points in the fourth quarter last year. The Bulldogs also return plenty of talent on offense, including quartebrack J'Mar Smith and wide receiver Adrian Hardy Jr.
With all this being said, the Texas program is in a much different place than it was at this point last season. Herman won't let his team look forward to the mammoth of a game against LSU slated for the following week. Despite the Longhorns' struggles in season openers, Herman will finally win the first season opener of his tenure at Texas in convincing fashion.
This game currently has one of the best cases for non-conference game of the year, only rivaled by Notre Dame's trip to Athens, Georgia on Sept. 21. This is where college football fans will see exactly what this season has in store for LSU's Joe Burrow and the Longhorn defense.
Ehlinger typically rises to the occasion for games like this, it's how he emerged onto the national scene last year. Ehlinger and the Texas offense will put the Longhorns into a position to win this game. It's the combination of LSU's offensive line and the returning talent at wide receiver, and on defense, that gives the Tigers just enough for a game-winning field goal in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
Disregard just about everything I said about Texas' performances against group of five opponents. Rice isn't Louisiana Tech. The Owls have managed to combine for just three wins over the last two seasons.
It's even hard to believe that whatever occurs the week prior against LSU will prevent a blowout win for Texas at NRG Stadium. If Texas enters this game with a 2-0 record, it would usually be a potential hangover game. That only applies if this game is against just about anybody other than Rice.
Texas' recent struggles against Oklahoma State are well-noted. A four-game losing streak to any team is hard to miss for the Longhorns. Aside from 2016, Texas' losses all came by a mere three points.
Hawaii grad transfer Dru Brown is reportedly battling with freshman Spencer Sanders for the starting gig. Whoever gets the job will have wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who gave Texas headaches -- 222 receiving yards worth of headaches.
This game will resemble ...
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