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 three final games of the season
Game 12: TCU
Hearing complaints from fans who would rather spend holidays at home with their families than at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Texas moved this game off of Thanksgiving and bumped it back one day.
Whether the Horns avoid Turkey Day in the future remains to be seen, but attendance has typically been good on the holiday — 94,299 in 2015 (a 48-45 loss to Texas Tech); 96,496 in 2014 (a 48-10 loss to TCU); and 100,668 in 2013 (a 41-16 win over Texas Tech).
The Horned Frogs, despite losing their splendid quarterback-receiver combination of Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, should be good again. They’re picked to finish second in the Big 12, behind Oklahoma.
TCU, at a glance
2015: 11-2, 7-2 in the Big 12 (tied for 2nd). Beat Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, 47-41. Started the season ranked No. 2, and finished it ranked No. 7.
Triplets: QB Kenny Hill, who transferred to TCU after falling out of favor at Texas A&M, where he replaced Johnny Manziel in 2014. He cooled down after a record-breaking 511-yard debut; RB Kyle Hicks (55-262-3 in 2015), who played in all 13 games last year and looks to be the guy to replace Aaron Green, who rushed for 1,272 yards last year; and WR KaVontae Turpin (45-649-8), who was a freshman All-American last year after dazzling despite the presence of NFL first-rounder Josh Doctson.
Last time: TCU, 50-7 (2015)
The last five Texas-TCU matchups:
2015 — TCU 50, Texas 7 (Fort Worth)
2014 — TCU 48, Texas 10 (Austin)
2013 — Texas 30, TCU 7 (Fort Worth)
2012 — TCU 20, Texas 13 (Austin)
2011 — Texas 34, TCU 13 (Austin)
Last year: After losing back-to-back games at home in heartbreaking fashion — the blown extra point in the 45-44 loss to Cal, followed by a late punt snafu that set up Oklahoma State’s winning field goal in a 30-27 loss — Texas dropped to a sobering 1-4 after a blowout loss on the road. TCU’s 50-7 shellacking was nearly a blowout, but a late touchdown pass from Tyrone Swoopes to Lorenzo Joe helped avoid it. This one was all TCU; the Horned Frogs had 31 first downs to the Longhorns’ 20, outgained Texas 604-313, and scorched the Longhorns for 376 passing yards and 228 rushing yards. This was the game where freshman cornerback Kris Boyd turned to Twitter from the locker room during halftime, retweeting a Texas A&M fan’s post that essentially invited Texas players to transfer.
Our 2015 coverage: Our game story, with the appropriately-written headline (“Horns won the coin toss and it was downhill from there”); Kirk Bohls’ column (“Strong is losing games, but is he losing his players, too?“); Cedric Golden’s column (“It’s about to get worse after Cowtown Beatdown to the Frogs“); a sider on the Horned Frogs’ recent dominance in this series; five key plays; and an expanded boxscore.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story has been edited to correct 2011 as the year of Texas defeating TCU 34-13.