The Texas Longhorns enter the 2013 football season as one of the favorites in the Big 12, if not the favorite, and Las Vegas sports book at the Golden Nugget essentially agrees with that take, favoring the 'Horns in all the games listed, with the exception of one big pick 'em.
Saturday, September 7
The 'Horns travel to Provo in hopes of coming out with better results than they did in the other trip to Utah, a blowout suffered under David McWilliams. It may not be a high-scoring contest with the Cougars returning some significant parts of a defense that was among the best in the country last season, including edge terror Kyle Van Noy, one of the top outside linebackers in the country. BYU may struggle putting points on the board, though, with some question marks about Taysom Hill at quarterback and not a lot of playmakers around him.
It will be a good early-season road challenge for the 'Horns in what should be a raucous environment, but Texas should come out on top, as Vegas believes.
Saturday, September 14
This line would surely look a little bit different this year if the 'Horns were heading to Oxford instead of the other way around. An improving Ole Miss team will surely offer a more stiff challenge this time around, but quarterback Bo Wallace is prone to turnovers after throwing 17 interceptions last year and all the young players in the 2013 recruiting class won't be as experienced as they will be later in the season. Play this game in December and it may be a toss-up, but the 'Horns get the nod in September.
Saturday, September 21
If this the year that Texas finally breaks through and pulls out their first victory against the Wildcats since the 2003 season? Texas fans certainly hope so and Vegas believes that it's possible after Purple Merlin after big departures like quarterback Collin Klein, wide receiver Chris Harper, defensive end Meshak Williams, and linebacker Arthur Brown. At home, early in the season, with a potential quarterback controversy looming for the Wildcats, this is a game the 'Horns have to win.
Thursday, October 3
The Cyclones may be better at quarterback in 2013 with emerging starter Sam Richardson, who took over for Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz late in 2012, but all the top receivers are gone and much of the defense's core, including linebackers Jake Knott and AJ Klein, who were somehow eligible for approximately a decade in Ames. The victory in Austin in 2010 is the lone Cyclone triumph over the 'Horns and it's hard to see 2013 becoming the first home win for Paul Rhoads and company in the series.
Saturday, October 12
Given major question marks at major positions like quarterback, along the defensive line, and at spots in the secondary, it wouldn't be surprising to see Texas favored in this game. Except for the recent history, which includes blowouts the last two seasons and three straight wins overall for the Sooners, who have once again taken control of the series. Texas can't afford to lose, but also doesn't have an extensive history of winning close match-ups in the Cotton Bowl. The hope, then, is that Texas has the significant advantage in experience will tell on the field this year, but Vegas clearly isn't leaning in that direction.
Saturday, October 26
Other than Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, this is the season-defining game for Texas. It's a close call for Vegas, with the home-field advantage for TCU narrowing what appears to otherwise be a little bit of a gap between the teams. The bottom line in this game? Texas couldn't run the ball last year and though they will be doing it in a different way this season, if they can't pick up yards on the ground, the Horned Frogs are going to win another. But can Casey Paschall keep it together all season and have some targets step up at wide receiver?
Saturday, November 2
Yeah, this looks about right, especially with Texas hosting Kansas for this game. The Jayhawks are hoping that a massive infusion of JUCO talent, as well as transfers like former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps and former Oklahoma wide receiver Justin McCay can help improve a team that finished 1-11 last year, but was competitive in a handful of Big 12 contests, including what was nearly Mack Brown's worst loss of his career at Texas.
Saturday, November 9
Morgantown is a tough place to play, but that may only have kept the line here down under 14 or more points, as the Mountaineers have major question marks on defense and lost all their best offensive playmakers. It could be a tough season for Dana Hologrsen and company if a lot of things don't come together for West Virginia and a lot of young players step forward.
Saturday, November 16
The third of the season-defining games for Texas, getting Oklahoma State at home is a big advantage against a team that will be a major contender for the Big 12 championship. The quarterback situation is still unresolved following Wes Lunt's departure, but contenders Clint Chelf and JW Walsh are both so capable that head coach Mike Gundy should receive strong play from whichever one wins the job, supported by perhaps the top wide receiver corps in the Big 12 and a strong group of running backs. The defense replaces coordinator Bill Young and a few pieces here and there, but the linebacker corps is also a strong group if they can become more consistent and the defense overall looks like it could be a strong unit for the Cowboys. This one may be closer than the line right now indicates.
Thursday, November 28
The first Thanksgiving match up between the two teams comes at home for the Longhorns this season against a Red Raider team adjusting to a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, and a new defensive coordinator once again, who will seek to improve the unit's playmaking ability after some major issues forcing turnovers last season. As excited as Texas Tech fans are with their new head coach, and rightfully so, turning in a successful season isn't gong to be an easy task for Kliff Kingsbury in his first year back in Lubbock.
Saturday, December 7
Texas lost the last game played in Waco in 2011 when Art Briles expertly picked apart the Texas defense. The offense will be formidable again if new quarterback Bryce Petty makes the transition to starter as expected, while running back Lache Seastrunk has the potential to become a star in short order after a monster finish to last season.
The defense, however, will once again define the team's upside and while there are some reasons to feel positive about it, especially in a front seven that features extremely capable linebackers in Britt Hager and Eddie Lackey, the secondary was a mess and most of those players return, so defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has his work cut out for him there after some improvement late in the season helped him keep his job.
Here's the take from ODB on the game:
Now this is some &*$# right here. Look at Texas' team and tell me how you think they're 8-point favorites at our place. Is it David Ash? Does David Ash strike you as a guy worthy of all that confidence? I hope it's not David Ash. Because David Ash isn't great. I'd bet a lot of money that Bryce Petty is better this season.
In fact, I'll bet money right now that Baylor not only covers this spread, it wins that game (health of the key players being assumed for the most part). That's my call. Baylor wins the last game in Floyd Casey history.
Hmm, Bryce Petty hasn't started a college game yet, but he should be better than one of the rising quarterbacks in college football? That's some confidence right there. What say you, Texas fans?
The odds-makers believe this will be the comeback season for Texas Mack Brown has been proclaiming that it will be, though Brown is probably saying that at least in small part because it has to be that way for him to continue as the head coach in Austin. The Vegas linemakers, however, don't have any investment other than in making money, and they at least think the favorable lines for Texas will spark some betting on either side.