There is always hype surrounding Texas football and this year is no different. In fact, the spring odds were so hyped on the Longhorns that 5Dimes Sportsbook had them as the second-best team in the Big 12, at least according to their +4000 National Championship odds and 8.5-win over/under. That seems like a bit of a stretch coming off a 7-6 campaign, but this team battled in every Game, from the losses to USC and Oklahoma, to the bowl win against Missouri. There’s also a reason for hope with it being Tom Herman’s second season in charge.
Herman has a lot of work to do, but he still has his top two quarterbacks to work with between Sam Ehlinger (56.5%, 10 TDs, 7 INTs) and Shane Buechele (65.8%, 6 TDs, 4 INTs). It’s expected those two will split time again this season even if both are healthy, but it’s worth noting Ehlinger is the one listed with Heisman odds at +4500. Ehlinger’s mobility is a big part of that as he led the team in rushing last year, albeit with only 368 yards. That running Game has to improve, although there isn’t a set back to lead the group. Daniel Young (325 yards) is expected to lead in carries with a slew of others expected to see time including Cal transfer Tre Watson. Herman brought in offensive line coach Herb Hand (from Auburn) to transform the group and the experience is there to work with. Wide receiver should be set with all of the same guys led by Collin Johnson (725 yards) and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. This group will need to build on its consistency after averaging less than 30 points per Game despite scoring 40 points Four different times.
The defense lost a few key guys and can’t fall off too much from last season’s 21.7 points allowed per Game. Some big names are gone (Poona Ford), but there’s always incoming talent for Texas and that starts on the line where the Longhorns will remain loaded under Todd Orlando. Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager are set for big years on the ends, while linebacker is a bit less known. Gary Johnson got a lot of buzz in the spring even though he missed time due to a groin injury. The secondary should be fine, built around experience led by cornerback Kris Boyd and safety P.J. Locke. Those two will have bigger roles, but Boyd may end up being the best corner in the conference.
The Longhorns had their first winning record since 2014 last season and to better that number, will need to win early Games. That includes being favored by 10 points against Maryland as well as home tilts against USC and TCU. If Texas can leave those with three wins, it’ll be in good shape. To contend for the Big 12 title, the Longhorns will either have to beat Oklahoma at the beginning of October or win in Stillwater at the end of October. There are still spots where Texas can slip up, whether that’s at KSU or home against WVU. With the Big 12 being a toss up, it’s as good of year as any for the Longhorns to make a jump into national relevance again. They’ll just need to figure out their quarterback and not take a step back defensively. That all should lead to seven wins at a minimum, with a decent chance for a couple more wins if Ehlinger or Buechele provides some consistency.
2018 Texas Longhorns Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Maryland (FedEx Field, LAndover)
Sept. 8 vs. Tulsa
Sept. 15 vs. USC
Sept. 22 vs. TCU
Sept. 29 at Kansas State
Oct. 6 vs. Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas)
Oct. 13 vs. Baylor
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 3 vs. West Virginia
Nov. 10 at Texas Tech
Nov. 17 vs. Iowa State
Nov. 23 at Kansas