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The 2008 Team's Place in Texas History

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As disappointing as this season's outcome was when you consider the whys regarding our not appearing in the Big 12 Championship Game, which therefore cost us an appearance in the National Championship Game, Longhorn fans will always look back on this year's squad as an overachieving group. And overachieving groups are always remembered more fondly than equally strong teams that underachieved relative to their perceived talent and preseason expectations.

But regardless of preseason expectations, 2008 Texas was a truly great football team. I've discussed the limitations of my ratings before, but a real quick refresher before diving into them again.

  1. Blowouts are probably given too much weight. This is one that I wasn't too sure of before this season, but the 2008 results further convinced me this is the case. I am looking into tweaks that can be made to the system, but the system already utilized diminishing returns for large margins. Some work remains to be done.
  2. A team's historical strength is affected by their schedule. I have a hard time seeing a way to limit the effect of this factor, as it is at least partially a good thing.
  3. When comparing across seasons, small differences in two squads' ratings aren't definitive. We can't have confidence that a team rated 90.50 was better than a team rated 90.40, that isn't possible. The ratings are simply best guesses and should be viewed that way. Certainly we can be fairly sure that a team rated 97.50 is better than that 90.40 team.
All-Time Texas Football Teams
Rank Year Rating NSch TxRk
1 2005 100.39 76.03 45
2 2008 95.75 81.82 19
3 1977 95.32 76.06 44
4 1947 94.46 81.89 17
5 1961 94.24 77.45 36
6 1963 93.60 79.56 29
7 1972 92.81 86.72 3
8 1970 92.78 82.18 15
9 1975 91.74 81.82 18
10 1969 90.99 73.32 60

I included the normalized schedule rating as well as the schedule's rank for all Texas teams on the right side of the table. The blowout situation causes 1977 to be higher than we would otherwise consider them, something that also keeps the 2008 team's rating a little lower than it could be. But the bottom line is that this year's team, one that most expected to lose 3 games when it was all said and done, is rated as the second best team in Texas history. Other than the 2005 squad, the rest of the Top 10 is fairly tightly packed, of course, but this was undoubtedly a fantastic football team. In the interest of full disclosure, this year's team is rated behind Oklahoma, but like I said, blowout wins have a bigger impact on the ratings than I would like. As noted above, 1977 Texas shouldn't be as high as it is in this list in my opinion.

What about the individual units? As previously discussed in the comments on Scipio's Ohio State offense preview, the offense and defense numbers below can be affected by differences in the pace at which different teams played. A team that plays more quickly will have an accordingly higher offense and lower defense number. The power number, though, should be pace-neutral as the effects cancel each other out. Also, a strong defense helps the offense and vice versa, so keep that in mind.

All-Time Texas Football Offenses
Rank Year Rating YrRk
1 2005 108.58 1
2 1941 106.57 1
3 1970 101.72 1
4 1975 99.45 1
5 1977 95.03 4
6 1969 94.21 3
7 1947 93.79 3
8 2008 93.57 4
9 1914 93.22 4
10 1968 93.00 2

Not many surprises here, as we've got the great 2005 team, the powerful 1941 team, the first three years of the wishbone, and a hanful of other good offenses from Texas history.

All-Time Texas Football Defenses
Rank Year Rating YrRk
1 1978 96.07 2
2 1979 95.53 2
3 1972 92.64 4
4 1963 90.95 2
5 2008 90.48 4
6 1983 89.13 3
7 1929 89.07 1
8 1961 88.89 6
9 2005 88.69 6
10 1977 88.11 9

Not very many surprises here, either, although the loft #5 ranking for this year's defense will raise some eyebrows. The last table it the total power number, indicating the strongest teams in Texas history in terms of predicting future matchups.

All-Time Texas Football Power Ratings
Rank Year Rating YrRk
1 2005 103.06 1
2 1941 98.39 1
3 2008 96.12 4
4 1970 96.08 1
5 1977 93.61 1
6 1975 93.08 5
7 1961 92.60 3
8 1969 92.14 2
9 1947 91.87 3
10 1972 90.67 5

So 1977, 2005, and 2008 are the only three squads that appear in both the Offense and Defense Top 10s, indicating that they were the three strongest balanced squads in school history according to this model. Obviously the 2005 team is the clear leader.