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Analyzing and predicting results for the revised Texas schedule

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There’s no time like the present to walk through Texas’ 2020 conference schedule

Eric Gay/ Associated Press

In the midst of a nationwide pandemic and other Power Five conferences cancelling their fall football seasons, late Tuesday evening the Big 12 decided to buck the trend and announce that their focus would be to move forward as planned with a fall football season in 2020. And speaking of plans, the Big 12 piggy-backed on last night’s decision with the release of a revised 2020 conference schedule on Wednesday morning.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Of course, this isn’t the final schedule for every Big 12 team — the Texas Longhorns, for instance, are still slated for a non-conference date with the UTEP Miners to open the season on Sept. 12. But it seems as if the Big 12, for better or worse, is determined to play football this fall, and above is the blueprint by which the madness will take place.

And since a brand new schedule has just been released, why don’t we try to sift through the games and predict how this year will shake out?

Week 1 (9/26) — @ Texas Tech

Last Season: 4-8 Overall, 2-7 Conference

The 4-8 mark for the Red Raiders looks bad on paper, but don’t be fooled — this was a competitive team — four of Texas Tech’s eight losses were by three points or less. So Tech’s season under head coach Matt Wells will ultimately come down to the health of quarterback Alan Bowman, who has played well for the Red Raiders but has missed 13 games in the last two seasons. He’ll likely be healthy to open Big 12 play, and Texas has struggled at times up in Lubbock. That being said, this still should be a Longhorn victory.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 2 (10/3) — vs. TCU

Last Season: 5-7 Overall, 3-6 Conference

TCU doesn’t stay down for long, and the Horned Frogs look on paper like they’re ready to rebound from last season’s disappointing, bowl-less campaign. In fact, the last time TCU missed a bowl was in 2013, but the Frogs then followed up in 2014 with a 12-1 season. This year’s Frogs team returns plenty of young talent on both sides of the ball, and the team hopes young quarterback Max Duggan takes a step up after a dismal freshman season. Throw in the additions of consensus five-star running back Zach Evans and LSU transfer Marcel Brooks and the Horned Frogs got better this offseason. Last year’s loss at TCU was a mistakes-laden affair for Texas, and though I expect this rematch to be close, the conference home opener should end in another victory.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 3 (10/10) — vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas*)

Last Season: 12-2 Overall, 9-1 Conference [Lost to LSU in Peach Bowl, 63-28]

Finally, Oklahoma has to start a quarterback that isn’t a veteran presence *or* preseason Heisman candidate. On top of a new leader behind center, the Sooners also have to break in replacements for key 2019 stars like wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and linebacker Kenneth Murray. Of course, knowing Oklahoma, finding talent on the roster shouldn’t be a problem for head coach Lincoln Riley, who has won the Big 12 title every year at the helm.

Oklahoma vs. Texas has been a close game the past few years, and this year’s contest looks to be no different. With a more experienced offensive line and dynamic offense play-calling, we’re most likely going to be looking at another track meet style of scoring contest a la 2018’s thriller. And, like in 2018, in his final Red River Rivalry game, look for Sam Ehlinger to lead the Longhorns on a late drive to seal the game for Texas.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 4 **BYE WEEK**

Week 5 (10/24) — vs. Baylor

Last Season: 11-3 Overall, 8-1 Conference [Lost to Georgia in Sugar Bowl, 26-14]

Baylor’s shockingly good 2019 season was driven by their tough-as-nails defense, which held opposing teams to just 19.8 points per game. Though head coach Matt Rhule took a job in the NFL, another defensive-minded replacement in LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda takes the job of leading the Baylor Bears for 2020. Unfortunately for Aranda, there won’t be many Bears returning with game experience under their belts — 10 starters from the Big 12’s best defense are gone, as well as leading rusher JaMycal Hasty and leading receiver Denzel Mims. Couple the inexperience with a new coaching staff and a trip to Austin, and Texas should be favored to win this one. There’s some trap game potential with this matchup coming one week before a trip to Stillwater, but the Longhorns should avenge last season’s loss to the Bears in this one.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 6 (10/31) — @ Oklahoma State

Last Season: 8-5 Overall, 5-4 Conference [Lost to Texas A&M in Texas Bowl, 24-21]

After suffering through the growing pains that all young teams experience in 2019, Oklahoma State has its best chance at a Big 12 title in nearly a decade this season due to the abundance of returning starters and playmakers at critical positions. Running back Chuba Hubbard is a preseason Doak Walker Award favorite, but the air attack featuring quarterback Spencer Sanders and WR Tylan Wallace could easily lead the Big 12 in passing. In all, OSU loses only four starters from last year’s team, and returns 17 defensive players with starting experience. The biggest question mark for the Cowboys isn’t talent, but consistency.

Unfortunately for Texas, the Longhorns usually get the best version of the Cowboys, at least in recent years. In what is expected to be a close game, I’m predicting the first Texas loss of the season to come on the road in a night game at OSU.

Prediction: Texas L

Week 7 (11/7) — vs. West Virginia

Last Season: 5-7 Overall, 3-6 Conference

Head coach Neal Brown kept the Mountaineers on the radar all season last year despite coaching an obviously under-talented squad. WVU struggled mightily on offense in 2019, and there’s hope that another year under Brown with a new infusion of talent will improve upon a paltry 20.6 points per game that ranked 116th in the NCAA. The Mountaineer defense looks...ok, as it returns a healthy amount of starters. But it wasn’t particularly impressive last year, either. If this was a game in Morgantown, there would be more cause for concern. But a long trip to Austin coupled with a previous week’s loss against Oklahoma State means I’m taking the Horns in this one.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 8 **BYE WEEK**

Week 9 (11/21) — @ Kansas

Last Season: 3-9 Overall, 1-8 Conference

Last year’s Kansas game was, unfortunately and unbelievably, an instant classic. A Cameron Dicker field goal as time expired staved off a furious Jayhawks team that racked up 48 points at Texas. Head coach Les Miles garnered plenty of praise for his work in Lawrence last year, getting the Jayhawks three wins and several other moral victories. There’s a glimmer of hope that this team can compete for a bowl bid in a season or two. But as for 2020, this Jayhawks team lost 60 percent of their players who had started in a game last year and there isn’t a clear cut choice at quarterback. This will likely be another rough year in Lawrence — the Longhorns should run away with their game against the Jayhawks.

Prediction: Texas W

Week 10 (11/28) — vs. Iowa State

Last Season: 7-6 Overall, 5-4 Conference [Lost to Notre Dame in Camping World Bowl, 33-9]

Seemingly always on the cusp of very good, Iowa State is yet again poised for a leap this season. The Cyclones return one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Brock Purdy and supply him with an impressive arsenal on offense anchored by running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar. To assume head coach Matt Campbell can finally get a consistently great season under his belt might feel like a stretch, but on paper, Iowa State looks like a formidable opponent week in, week out this year.

Circle this game on your calendars, because this has all the makings of a great matchup. Texas will hopefully have enough defense in the backfield to contain Purdy, and enough talented bodies up front to keep the Cyclone running game from penetrating to the second level of the defense. But Iowa State’s underrated defense, one that also returns nine starters from last year, will be the difference in this game, as it does enough to steal a win from Texas.

Prediction: Texas L

Week 11 (12/5) — @ Kansas State

Last Season: 8-5 Overall, 5-4 Conference [Lost to Navy in Liberty Bowl, 20-17]

The Wildcats overachieved in 2019, thanks to a great defense and a consistent offense, rooted in new head coach Chris Klieman’s FCS juggernaut system that was brought over last season from North Dakota State to Manhattan. Quarterback Skylar Thompson and his versatile RPO ability return this year and that style of play has always given Texas defenders fits in the recent past. But alongside Thompson, little production is returning from a team that, despite limiting mistakes, was just a middling offense, ranking as the 61st best in the nation. A trip to Kansas State is always cause for concern, especially this late in the year with postseason implications on the line. But Texas has the fire power to out-gun Kansas State’s defense — or at least just enough to score more points than the Wildcats can put up.

Prediction: Texas W

Final Conference Record Prediction: 7-2

Poll

How many conference wins will the 2020 Texas Longhorns finish with?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    9
    (497 votes)
  • 41%
    8
    (541 votes)
  • 10%
    7
    (136 votes)
  • 6%
    6
    (90 votes)
  • 1%
    5
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    4
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    3 or less
    (24 votes)
1311 votes total Vote Now