The football season is approaching fast, and Texas fans are getting excited. Counting today, there are 19 days until the start of the football season. To help celebrate, we’re counting down five things every day until the start of the season.
Charlie Strong is entering his third season in Austin this fall and things haven’t always been smooth. Strong made a bowl game his first year, but a losing season last year heated the seat. But a tremendous recruiting class and some key new coaching hires has pumped some enthusiasm into the program and Strong may be ready to turn the ship around.
But what are the biggest highlights of Strong’s coaching career? What are the best games he’s ever been apart of?
Here are five games Strong was either head coach or defensive coordinator to remember:
5. The 2010 Beef ‘O’Brady Bowl
Charlie Strong took over the Louisville Cardinals in 2010 and started to rebuild a program that had gone 4-8 and 5-7 the two previous seasons. He ended the 2010 with his first bowl win as a head coach, a 31-28 victory over Southern Mississippi. Louisville trailed 28-21 early in the fourth quarter but Jeremy Wright returned a kick 95 yards to tie the game and Chris Philpott hit a 36-yard field with 6:30 left to give the Cardinals lead for good. Louisville was out-gained 396 to 287 but still won.
4. 2013 Russell Athletics Bowl
Louisville defeated the University of Miami 36-9 and capped a 12-1 season that included a standout year by Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns in his final game for Louisville. Bridgewater was Strong’s signature player at Louisville and the coach left the with the quarterback, accepting the Texas job a few weeks later. This was Strong’s third bowl win and second in a row and capped his best season he’s had as a head coach.
3. Texas-Oklahoma, 2015
Boy, did Charlie need this one. After being demolished by the TCU the week before and being demolished by Notre Dame to start the season, it was looking pretty bleak leading up to this game. The athletic director who hired Strong was gone already. The offensive coordinators were changed and Texas had already made a quarterback switch. Something positive needed to happen or Charlie Strong might not have survived past this October tilt. Making matters worse was Oklahoma being really good last season and entering that game 4-0. But Texas jumped on the Sooners 14-0 and Texas never trailed in the game. This is the biggest win of the Strong era so far and no matter what happens moving forward, could be the biggest win he’ll ever have at Texas, given the circumstances. It was the highest ranked team Strong has beaten at Texas as Oklahoma entered the game No. 10 in the nation. The Sooners went on to play in the College Football playoffs a few months later.
2. The 2013 Sugar Bowl
The 2012 season was Charlie Strong’s breakout year as a head coach. He led Louisville to a complete comeback after the programs’ giant stumbles following the first Bobby Petrino era. Facing his former team, Florida, Strong’s squad led 24-10 at halftime and never trailed against the No.3-ranked Gators. Bridgewater threw two touchdowns and 266 yards while Jeremy Wright rushed for 103 yards. The Cardinals’ defense forced three turnovers in the game. This is Strong’s most significant bowl win as a head coach and one of the biggest bowl wins in Louisville football history.
1. The 2006 BCS National Championship Game
Strong was not the head coach. Urban Meyer was. But Strong’s Florida Gators defense in this game made him a future head coach somewhere. The Gators’ defense was incredible. Ohio State, undefeated all year and the heavy favorites to win the game, were blindsided by the Gator’s fast defense. Some people didn’t even think Florida deserved to be there as catcalls were made for an Ohio State-Michigan rematch. Ted Ginn returned a kickoff to give the Buckeyes a lead, but the only offensive touchdown the Gators would allow against a team with a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback was a 18-yard run by Antonio Pittman. It was a mismatch from the start. Derrick Harvey had three sacks in the 41-14 victory, and Heisman winner Troy Smith had just 35 yards passing. Ohio State had the ball less than 20 minutes. Ohio State (12-0 entering the game) had just 82 yards of offense.