July is around the corner, leaving us a month away from the beginning of fall camps, and two months from the start of the season. With the 2014 season arriving in the not-too-distant future, it’s time for us to break down every Big 12 team’s complete schedule.
We continue this series on Wednesday with the Texas Longhorns:
Aug. 30: North Texas (9-4)
Sept. 6: BYU (8-5)
Sept. 13: UCLA (10-3) (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
Big 12 home games
Oct. 4: Baylor
Oct. 18: Iowa State
Nov. 8: West Virginia
Nov. 27: TCU
Big 12 road games
Sept. 27: Kansas
Oct. 11: Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl in Dallas)
Oct. 25: Kansas State
Nov. 1: Texas Tech
Nov. 15: Oklahoma State
Gut-check time: The annual midseason bowl game. When Texas and Oklahoma face off on Oct. 11, you can throw out their respective season records and trajectories. They don't really matter. All that matters is Texas is in possession of The Golden Hat and the Sooners want it back. This year's Red River Showdown will likely feature a top-5 Oklahoma team with playoff aspirations and a thirst for revenge. It's absolutely gut-check time for David Ash, who has one TD and five turnovers in his two career games against OU.
Trap game: By definition, a trap game is a potential upset you don't see coming. They don't get much more "trappy" than last year's Texas-BYU game in Provo, when the Cougars put up 40 points and 550 rushing yards and the Longhorns lost the game, Ash, Daje Johnson and, a day later, their defensive coordinator. So yeah, Texas players aren't going to be sleeping on Taysom Hill and BYU this time around. This is a real trap, too, because a loss by any margin could snowball into a 2-4 start to the season.
Snoozer: In 2012, Texas had a close call at Kansas and a snoozer at home against Iowa State. Last season, it was a close call at Iowa State and a snoozer at home against Kansas. So unless West Virginia's season has completely fallen apart by the time they visit Austin in November, the safe bet here is that the Iowa State game is a win for Texas and a forgettable one. Considering it's the first post-Red River game, that's probably a good thing for the Longhorns.
Telltale stretch: Sept. 13-Oct. 11. In the span of a month, Texas will likely have three games against top-10 opponents, with two of those games coming in sold-out neutral sites with crazy atmospheres. If Texas gets past BYU and enters its UCLA-Baylor-Oklahoma stretch unscathed, it sets up a gigantic stage for new coach Charlie Strong to send a message. Winning two of three would get a lot of folks excited about the program's future. Winning all three would put Texas right in the middle of the playoff hunt. An O-fer would make a clear statement that Texas has some rebuilding to do.
Final analysis: Notice how we didn't even mention the second half of the schedule? That's because, after Oklahoma, it's all downhill (or uphill?) from there. Once Texas begins its Big 12 slate, it does not have a bye week until Nov. 22. That's eight consecutive weeks of conference games. It's going to be one long, brutal run for these Longhorns, one that will test the resolve of its players and its new coaching staff. There are no cupcakes along the way like Strong's Louisville teams faced in the Big East and American Athletic Conference. Still, these Longhorns overcame a brutal start in 2013 to win their first six Big 12 games, and this team has just as much veteran talent and leadership. How they respond to those three huge games, no matter the result, will dictate how this seemingly unfriendly schedule plays out.