To open a pivotal third season, Charlie Strong‘s Texas Longhorns face three opponents who won 10 or more games a year ago, including one CFP semifinalist. And that’s just in the first five games.
In a near perfect world, Texas would take two out of three games against Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. In reality, the Longhorns probably would settle for a single win and move into a more workable patch of the schedule.
Indeed, the narrative of this season, good or bad, could be determined by the halfway point of the schedule.
We’re breaking down all 12 opponents, divided into four separate phases of the schedule:
The Home Stretch — the final three games of the season. Texas vs. West Virginia (Nov. 12), at Kansas (Nov. 19) and vs. TCU the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 25).
THE TOSSUPS: Three winnable (and losable) games
Game 9: At Texas Tech
By this point of the season, Texas will have already faced a slew of top quarterbacks, including Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire, Cal’s Davis Webb, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Bayor’s Seth Russell.
But the best passer they’ll see all year just might be Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, who torched Texas last Thanksgiving for 442 total yards (372 passing) and two touchdowns that helped overcome Chris Warren III’s 276-yard night.
This is another swing game for Texas, and it could very well go to the team whose defense has made greater strides since last year’s shootout.
Texas Tech, at a glance
2015: 7-6, 4-5 in the Big 12 (tied for 5th). Lost to LSU in the Texas Bowl, 56-27.
Triplets: QB Patrick Mahomes (364-573-4,653, 36/15 in 2015), who was the country’s fourth leading passer last year and who has given up baseball to focus on football; RB Justin Stockton (61-367-5), a blazing speedster who takes over for the departed DeAndre Washington; and WR Devin Lauderdale (43-639-4), who played in only 11 games last year and was suspended for the bowl game. He takes over for Jakeem Grant, who finished his career as Texas Tech’s all-time receiving leader.
Last time: Texas Tech, 48-45 (2015)
The last five Texas-Texas Tech matchups:
2015 — Texas Tech 48, Texas 45 (Austin)
2014 — Texas 34, Texas Tech 13 (Lubbock)
2013 — Texas 41 Texas Tech 16 (Austin)
2012 — Texas 31, Texas Tech 22 (Lubbock)
2011 — Texas 52, Texas Tech 20 (Austin)
Last year: Texas lost a close one, 48-45, but Thanksgiving night 2015 may go down as Chris Warren III‘s coming out party as a Longhorn. In his first career start, Warren rushed for 276 yards — a school record for a freshman. His night was highlighted by a 91-yard touchdown run that was the fourth longest run in school history and the longest ever by a freshman. In an offensive shootout, Warren’s fourth score of the night brought Texas to within three with 2:06 left, but the Red Raiders recovered the onside kick and ran out the game.
Our 2015 coverage: Our game story (“Red Raiders’ win knocks Longhorns from bowl contention”); Kirk Bohls’ column on Warren’s big night (“Texas, Warren are in rush to put the past behind”); five key plays; and an expanded boxscore.
Next game on the schedule: West Virginia