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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Schedule analysis: Texas Longhorns

By David Ubben

Time for more schedule analysis, as promised. Here's a look at our next team in line: The Longhorns of Austin.

Nonconference (with 2010 records):
Home Big 12 games:
Away Big 12 games:
Gut-check game: at Iowa State. Regardless of what happens in nonconference play, the real show begins for Texas in conference. Iowa State will be a team that's competitive in the Big 12 this year, and should give a good indication of where Texas will be for the remainder of conference play. The Cyclones walked out of Austin with the first win there in program history last year, and if Texas loses in Ames next year, you can probably expect another long year for the Longhorns. If they win by double digits, chalk that up as evidence that Texas may be back.

Noncon challenge: Brigham Young. Texas' only two wins at home last season were over Wyoming and Florida Atlantic, but if the Horns want to prove they're back, knocking off the Cougars in their second game would be a huge step. BYU brings back Jake Heaps, a sophomore quarterback who started the season's final 10 games, improving rapidly as the season progressed. He won five of his final six games to bring the team to 7-6 from its 2-5 start, and broke Heisman winner Ty Detmer's record at BYU for freshman touchdown passes. That improvement should continue this year and provide a tough, tough test for Texas' young secondary.

Snoozer: Rice. The Owls won four games a year ago, and in Houston, let Texas rack up its second highest point total of the season in a 34-17 win. Texas will be better this year. Rice might be too, but not good enough to in Austin.

Chance to impress: Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. Texas came within a couple bounces of knocking off the eventual Big 12 champs last year. A Landry Jones fumble deep in Texas territory bounced out of bounds, and with a chance to get the ball back and tie the game, Aaron Williams muffed a punt. With a few recent exceptions, this is always a tough win no matter how much better one team is than the other, and Texas could definitely put an end to all the jokes if it knocked off Oklahoma in its second conference game.

Underrated closer: at Baylor. The Longhorns won't be closing the year with Texas A&M, and as much flack as this game has caught as the warmup for Bedlam later that night, it's easy to forget how compelling last year's matchup was. The Bears, who slipped to No. 25 the week before the game, erased a 19-10 deficit to knock off the Longhorns for the first time since 1997. Joke away, but this could be a great game.

Analysis: Texas is one of the six Big 12 teams with a 4-4-1 home-away set up thanks to a neutral site game, but the Longhorns have a very odd set up. After Red River, Texas comes home for a three-game home stretch in three weeks, one of the longest of any team in the Big 12. However, after that, the season will come to a very, very difficult close that could possibly leave a tough taste in Texas fans' mouths if the team doesn't have itself together midway through the year.

The Longhorns travel to Missouri, Texas A&M and Baylor in the final four weeks of the season -- all very losable games -- sandwiched around a game in Austin against Kansas State, who infamously has proved it has Texas' number, for whatever reason. That was never more evident than last year, when the Wildcats handed out the worst beating of any team against Texas, racing to a 39-0 lead in a 39-14 win, while throwing four passes the entire game and picking off Garrett Gilbert five times.

Will Texas' season end triumphantly with an impressive run away from home, or will the memories of early wins be erased by road losses to good teams?

Click here for more Big 12 schedule analysis.