If Tom Herman’s debut campaign on the Forty Acres is going to be successful, his Texas Longhorns will be tasked with navigating a daunting schedule that could see the losses pile up in a hurry if the ‘Horns aren’t prepared to play.
According to CBS Sports, which ranked the Big 12 strength of schedule, the Longhorns will be face-to-face with the conference’s second-hardest schedule in 2017, trailing just Oklahoma State.
Tom Herman's first season in Austin won't be easy. The Horns start at home against Maryland and then get San Jose State the following week. After that, it's a trip out west to take on USC. Conference play begins with Iowa State on the road, and that's followed by Texas' final bye of the season. After that, it's eight Big 12 games in eight weeks, including a five-week stretch of Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, at Baylor and at TCU.
As noted, Texas will open the season against Maryland and San Jose State at home and will likely earn a 2-0 record to debut the Herman era, just as the ‘Horns did last season under Charlie Strong before spiraling downward.
The following week, though, Texas will head to Southern California for a rematch of the 2006 Rose Bowl National Championship victory over USC and the Trojans are widely considered a preseason top three team with a Heisman favorite quarterback in Sam Darnold orchestrating the offense.
Following a manageable game against Iowa State and a home meeting with Kansas State, the ‘Horns will see projected preseason top 10 foes from across the Red River in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State back-to-back.
As the season continues, Texas will hit the road for meetings with projected preseason top 20 opponents in West Virginia and TCU, with matchups against Baylor and Kansas sprinkled in before the season finale against Texas Tech. As we saw in 2016, not even a meeting with the Jayhawks can be taken for granted.
All-in-all, Texas will likely face five or six ranked teams throughout the season. On one hand, that’s a scary thought for a team that’s seen 21 losses in the last three seasons, but on the other hand, Herman was a perfect 6-0 against ranked competition in two seasons at Houston.
In any case, very little will come easy in Austin for Herman and his ‘Horns in year one.
Many project Texas to conclude the 2017 regular season with an 8-4 or 9-3 record, while some may stoop as low as 7-5 and some optimists may venture to project 10 wins in 2017, which would mark the first time the Longhorns have cracked double digits in the win column since 2009 when Texas fell to Alabama in the National Championship game.
What’s your expectations for the ‘Horns in 2017?