It has taken longer than expected, but Texas really is back now. In 2016, the famous meme took hold but last year in 2018, in Tom Herman’s second year, Texas broke through with a 10-win season and a Sugar Bowl win over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Longhorns suffered a defeat to the Mountaineers last year but following the collapse by West Virginia, Texas earned a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game.
GET TO KNOW THE ENEMY
Where are they from?: Austin, TX
#BRAND Slogan: #HookEmHorns #HookEm (Everyone else just uses #HornsDown)
Famous Alumni: Matthew McConaughey, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Roger Clemons
Conference: Big 12
THE HEAD COACH
Tom Herman, who has the task of being the guy taking over for Charlie Strong instead of being the guy following Mack Brown. Herman is entering his third year at Texas, following two great years at Houston. Herman went 22-4 at Houston then took over an underachieving Texas Longhorns squad. In two years with Texas, Herman has gone 17-10, including a 10-4 campaign last year that culminated in a 28-21 win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl.
SCOUTIN’ THE LONGHORNS
Texas started out the 2018 season with another loss to lowly Maryland Terrapins, this time a 34-29 opening day loss when the Longhorns were ranked #23. The loss got the attention of the team because they then reeled off a 6-game winning streak. Texas traveled to Southern California and took out the #22 Trojans 37-14 and then the #17 TCU Horned Frogs 31-16 in back to back weeks. Texas even beat #7 Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry (Shootout). The win propelled the Longhorns into the Top 10. Back to back losses to Oklahoma State and West Virginia served as speed bump prior to the Longhorns finishing 2nd in the Big 12 and making the Big 12 Championship Game where Oklahoma avenged their regular season loss. The Longhorns finished the season 10-4 with a win against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Who did they lose?
Receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who helped torch the Mountaineers during the Mountaineers 42-41 come-from-behind victory in Austin last year, took his talents to the NFL. Ehlinger will also be without leading rusher Tre Watson, who rushed for over 700 yards last season.
Defensively, the Longhorns lose 9 starters on defense, including their entire defensive line and linebacking corp. Leading tackler Gary Johnson (90 tackles) and Charles Omenihu (9.5 sacks) are both gone.
Who do they return?
It starts with Ehlinger, who is very good. He was voted Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and that award is absolutely warranted. Ehlinger threw for 3,292 yards and 25 touchdowns while running for 482 yards and 16 touchdowns. Runningbacks Keontay Ingram and freshman Jordan Whittingham will need to take some of the load off of Ehlinger or he will continue to take too much punishment and miss games. At receiver, Collin Johnson is back and he presents just as much of a problem as Lil’Jordan Humphrey being 6’-6”.
Why should West Virginia be worried?
Texas is very, very good. The team won 10 games last season and Herman seems to have them headed back towards college football upper tier programs. In his two years, Herman has signed consecutive Top 3 ranked recruiting classes. This season, Herman has the Big 12 Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year in Sam Ehlinger and a guy who can transform games with both his arms and his legs. Ehlinger is a gamer and if he is healthy, he is the one of the best in the Big 12.
Why should West Virginia not be worried?
Texas has to replace a lot of talent on defense. The Mountaineers have shown that they can play with Texas throughout their time in the Big 12. When this game comes around, the Mountaineers could be 3-1 or 4-0 and sometimes that is enough for a team to believe they can overachieve.