After making it to the Big 12 Championship Game a year ago, the Texas Longhorns are looking to take another big step forward in 2019. Their schedule could put a few obstacles in their way.
A clash with the LSU Tigers in week two is daunting. The same goes for a road slate that includes trips to take on the Iowa State Cyclones, Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs. If there is a saving grace to the schedule, it’s that the Horns only have to leave the state of Texas to play twice all season.
UT’s schedule is far from insurmountable, but it poses enough of a challenge to believe the Longhorns will have a tough time qualifying for the College Football Playoff.
Byes: Week 5, Week 10
Week 1 — Aug. 31 vs. Louisiana Tech (Austin, Texas)
The Longhorns aren’t easing into anything this year. The Bulldogs went 8-5 last year and return a wealth of contributors from that squad, including senior quarterback J’Mar Smith, running backs Jaqwis Dancy and Israel Tucker, and receiver Adrian Hardy.
The game will give an early indication of what to make of UT’s defense, which is relying on a significant number of new faces this season.
Week 2 — Sept. 7 vs. LSU (Austin, Texas)
Texas and LSU will stage arguably the best non-conference clash of the entire season in week two. The winner will potentially gain a major trump card if it is in the hunt for the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
The Longhorns will face their most physical opponent on their entire schedule in this game. Historically, however, head coach Tom Herman’s teams use these opportunities to make statements.
Week 3 — Sept. 14 at Rice (Houston)
Texas gets a needed breather and recruiting showcase at NRG Stadium versus the Owls.
Rice was a truly dreadful team last season in year one of a major overhaul under head coach Mike Bloomgren. Even if the Owls make marginal improvement in 2019, it probably won’t lift them out of the bottom ranks of FBS teams.
The Horns should have little trouble in this matchup.
Week 4 — Sept. 21 vs. Oklahoma State (Austin, Texas)
If you’re counting, this makes four straight games inside the borders of the Longhorns’ home state to start the season. That makes life easy for UT’s travel agent.
Texas kicks off Big 12 play with a revenge opportunity against the Cowboys. Things turned chippy between the two sides late in the game in 2018, heightening the drama around OSU’s trip to Austin this time around.
This game could have serious implications down the line in the conference title race.
Week 6 — Oct. 5 at West Virginia (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Yet another opportunity for Texas to get payback for a frustrating loss from last season. The Mountaineers let more than their play do the talking a year ago in a victory at UT. Even as they racked up taunting penalties for their “horns down” celebration, the Eers still managed to put up 42 points in a one-point win. If they pull that off again, count on Texas going home with an L.
Week 7 — Oct. 12 vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)
The Red River rivals split their two meetings last season, but winning their annual showdown in the Cotton Bowl still carries plenty of weight for the Horns. The Sooners will want revenge and the opportunity to take back the Golden Hat.
One interesting angle to this matchup is that Texas has two revenge games immediately preceding it. Will that affect the team’s mentality and preparation this year? Herman usually has his teams ultra-focused for their biggest games. This poses a unique test for his motivational skills.
Week 8 — Oct. 19 vs. Kansas (Austin, Texas)
Texas enjoys a pillowy matchup in an obvious letdown spot. The Jayhawks managed to put a scare into the Horns last season in a game UT eventually won, 24-17. Don’t be shocked if KU plays them tougher than expected again this year – the Jayhawks are off the week prior.
Week 9 — Oct. 26 at TCU (Fort Worth, Texas)
The Horned Frogs slogged through a dismal 7-6 campaign in 2018 that included a 31-16 defeat to Texas, ending TCU’s four-game winning streak in the series. The Longhorns feasted on TCU’s sloppy offense, which turned the ball over four times in defeat.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson clearly relishes beating the Lone Star State’s big dog. He will have his squad fired up after last year’s embarrassment. The Horns shouldn’t take this one lightly.
Week 11 — Nov. 9 vs. Kansas State (Austin, Texas)
After a week off, Texas hosts the Wildcats. Although KSU was once a perennial thorn in the side of the Longhorns, UT has won the last two meetings between the two teams. Maybe new K-State head coach Chris Klieman can start a winning streak of his own?
If so, it will likely start next year. Klieman and his staff are retooling across the board and probably won’t put up much of a fight in Austin this year.
Week 12 — Nov. 16 at Iowa State (Ames, Iowa)
This showdown at Jack Trice Stadium could play a pivotal role in determining the participants in the Big 12 title game. The Cyclones are always a tough out at home, and they should be hitting their stride this late in the year.
Texas handled ISU easily last season in a 24-10 win. The Horns shut down the Cyclones in the process, limiting the ISU offense to a measly 210 total yards for the game. Another effort like that from the UT defense will probably earn the Horns a W.
Week 13 — Nov. 23 at Baylor (Waco, Texas)
Catching Baylor in the second of back-to-back road games looks like a nasty scheduling quirk for Texas. The Bears are improving rapidly under head coach Matt Rhule and will have a chance at revenge after nearly pulling off an upset last season in Austin.
The good news for the Longhorns is that BU will have just played Oklahoma the week before. As such, the Bears might not be able to give the visitors their best shot.
Week 14 — Nov. 29 vs. Texas Tech (Austin, Texas)
UT’s regular season comes to a close on Black Friday with a visit from Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have sprung an upset in this spot before, handing the Horns a disappointing 27-23 loss in 2017. Don’t expect the same this time around with Tech in rebuild mode under new head coach Matt Wells.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.