From Thinking Texas Football, the best 2015 preview covering Texas, its opponents and the Big 12 ever...excerpted on this blog. Available on Smashwords (compatible to all e-formats), Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. The reviews have been extremely positive - go to your preferred vendor and see for yourself. Dive in.
A front-loaded schedule facing six consecutive likely bowl teams in rapid succession does few favors for an inexperienced Longhorn defense and an offense still seeking reliable quarterback play, a functioning OL and proven game breakers at the skill positions. There will be no bye weeks for retrenchment or reorganization.
The fat part of the win expectancy probability bell curve for the season's first six games sits somewhere between 2-4 and 4-2. We'll find out a great deal about this team and coaching staff early. Perhaps sooner than we'd like. While Longhorn fans certainly understand that the QB job is fungible, there are a number of positions which could see new faces once early performances under the bright lights are fully assessed. Don't be surprised if the Longhorn team that faces Notre Dame in South Bend has a half dozen new starting faces against Kansas State. After a much-needed two week bye before Kansas State in late October, Texas plays four straight winnable games before the last part of the schedule adopts a more leisurely pace with extra days rest before Texas Tech and Baylor.
Separating the first four ranked games in difficulty is nearly impossible, but the early opponents that face Texas may have a natural advantage while Texas works out QB, OL and defensive kinks. Baylor is a terrible match-up, but we're holding out hope that Texas will be a better team in December than September. While brutal road match-ups against Notre Dame, TCU and Baylor and the neutral rivalry game against Oklahoma will be considered the defining moments of the Longhorn season, the long term prospects for the Strong regime may be better presaged by Longhorn performances against California, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech at home and a late road trip to West Virginia. If the Longhorns can't go 5-0 or 4-1 in these middle tier match-ups, the season will get ugly. Shawn Watson's head will be demanded, recruiting will get shaky and AD Steve Patterson will continue to paddle alone to Aloof Island to look for fan nickels with a metal detector.
While Baylor may very well be the most dangerous (and best) team on the schedule, the Fighting Irish and Horned Frogs will have a unique early opportunity to exploit an inexperienced Longhorn defense and shaky Texas QB situation. The Oklahoma game will have its own strange dynamic as it always does. It's worth noting that while the toughest games are largely on the road, the soulless marketing infomercial that is now DKR game day hasn't exactly become a hornet's nest for opponents, conveying Texas insurmountable game day advantages. We have entered an era where the blighted hamlet of Waco may sport a better home field advantage for its team than the Longhorns.
If you like that tiny taste, buy the preview. Then buy a dozen more for your family & friends.
As for the analysis, what do y'all think? Where do we have it wrong? Who will be a tougher match-up than expected? Who will be easier? How tough is the Longhorn schedule?