Our staff takes on Saturday’s Texas-Cal matchup:
BRIAN DAVIS: It’s early, but Texas will sorely need this to be a W, not an L
Crazy as it sounds, Saturday’s Big 12 opener is much bigger than fans probably realize. When looking at the rest of the season, the Longhorns need this victory to help secure bowl eligibility. That wouldn’t be an issue if you could look and see more guaranteed victories. But they aren’t there. All that said, I’m not sold on Oklahoma State. The Pokes’ non-conference schedule left something to be desired. Joe Wickline will have his offensive line ready. Vance Bedford probably spent the week browbeating his defense. I expect a solid all-around effort from the Longhorns and a few more dazzling plays by Jerrod Heard. Give me Texas.
KIRK BOHLS: The jury’s still out on this year’s team
Joe Wickline’s lingering lawsuit and pending trial seems to be lasting just a little longer than the O.J. Simpson trial, but an even more significant case involves the Texas football team. The Longhorns made some compelling arguments that they are actually improving, but the jury is still out. Let’s see if 1-2 Texas can sustain the momentum from its 20-point fourth quarter and play a complete game on both sides of the ball for the first time this season. Win, and the season gets interesting. Lose, and what time is tipoff for Shaka Smart and the guys?
CEDRIC GOLDEN: A loss this week, and Texas might stumble to a 1-5 start
The Horns have to follow through. The Cal game was an almost. Oklahoma State has to be a win. The prospect of losing the next three games and starting 1-5 is very real. The Cowboys struggled in their opener at Central Michigan, but are no pushover as evidenced by the oddsmakers making them a field goal favorite over the defensively-challenged Longhorns. That Jerrod Heard performance we witnessed against Cal? He must provide similar thrills and play cleaner on his own end of the field, meaning no interceptions and no fumbles. If that happens, and if the defense gets a couple of stops when it matters, Texas will have win No. 2.
RYAN AUTULLO: It looks like anger has turned into apathy over Horns
Some 15,000 seats are expected to be unoccupied for Saturday’s game, which figures to be the only nationally-ranked opponent to visit Royal-Memorial Stadium this season. Too many losses and too low morale are the culprits. Interim athletic director Mike Perrin inherits the problem, but only Charlie Strong’s team can clean it up. No amount of creative marketing or ticket promotions can take the place of consistent winning. It appears anger has turned into apathy in Austin.