Practice has begun. The season opener is on the horizon. Football is back.
To preview Texas’ impending season, we’re spending part of August by asking 20 burning questions in 20 days.
Today’s question, which will be handled by Longhorns beat writer Brian Davis:
No. 19: Besides Oklahoma, what’s the biggest game on Texas’ schedule?
First, the top candidates.
You can make the case for as many as five games topping the bill for being the most important beyond Texas-OU on Oct. 11:
Texas-North Texas, Aug. 30: The opener. Sure, Texas will be expected to produce the easy W here. But because it’s the season opener, and because it’s the first game of the Charlie Strong era, and because the Longhorns will be minus a bunch of important players, and because it’ll be our first look at David Ash, it makes this an important one.
Texas-BYU, Sept. 6: Revenge game. This loss last year set the Longhorns up for future failures, a regime change and lots of question marks heading into 2014. Just being able to successfully tackle Taysom Hill may be a moral victory. It’s a home game against a team that is 3-1 all-time vs. Texas. And considering everyone’s expecting Texas to coast through the opener, this at least will be the first challenge.
Texas-UCLA: All eyes on Texas. The Bruins figure to be ranked in the Top 10 come Sept. 13 in Arlington. Prime time, at the Cowboys’ stadium. A win would be huge for the Longhorns and would give Strong, Ash and the program some national cred.
Texas-Kansas: Hello, Big 12. It should be a brief catch-your-breath week before the schedule gets very tough. Starting conference play on the right foot, and doing it on the road, could be a real shot in the arm for the month of October.
Texas-Baylor: Home sweet home. The Baylor game should be big enough — the Bears are the defending Big 12 champions, played in a BCS bowl, have a Heisman candidate throwing the ball and is 3-1 vs. Texas over the past four years. It’s a big one. Plus it falls the week before Texas-OU. Call this one the Steve Edmond Game.
DAVIS: TEXAS’ BIGGEST NON-OU GAME? UCLA.
“It’s very tempting to say BYU, simply because of what happened last season and how that game unfolded. But the UCLA game will be a bigger measuring stick of where Texas stands in the rebuilding process under Strong. The Bruins will start the year ranked seventh in the coaches poll, which puts a big target on head coach Jim Mora’s club from the get-go.
“Strong has talked at length about being a tough football team. The BYU game is about Longhorn pride. But if the defense can’t stop Hill, the unit will have a long night against UCLA’s Brett Hundley, a junior who has run or thrown for a touchdown in 27 college games. He’s ranked No. 3 in UCLA history in touchdowns (53) and total offense (7,914 yards).
“When you consider the stage (AT&T Stadium) and the prime-time national broadcast (7 p.m., Fox), a LOT of people are going to tune in to see where the Longhorns are at. It would be a terrible time for Texas to fall flat on its face.”
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