A look at the 2012 schedule for the Longhorns...
The 2012 college football season is less than three months away and with every passing day the anticipation grows among Longhorn Nation. Despite nearly a quarter of a year left before kick-off, it\'s never too early to give some first impressions of the schedule and upcoming season.
While an 8-5 record last season didn\'t sit well with many UT fans, it served as a nice jumping-off point for what many hope is a breakout season in 2012 for this young Longhorn team. Can the Longhorns return to dominance in the post-Colt era? Let’s see what 2012 has in store for Texas.
Week 1 (9/1/12) – vs. Wyoming
The Longhorns kick off the 2012 season against a team that has been on somewhat of a hot streak lately. The Cowboys of Wyoming have made two bowl games in the last three years despite their long history of ineptitude.
Most offenses take a little longer to gel than their defenses early in the season, which bodes extremely well for the Longhorns. Wyoming dual-threat quarterback Brett Smith is projected to have a breakout season, however it will probably take him a couple of weeks to fully settle in. If he Longhorns contain Smith, they should win easily in front of packed house in Austin, setting the tone for the rest of the season.
Wyoming has a smooth three game non-conference schedule after this game, so look for a win here to seem bigger for Texas than it really reflects if the Cowboys start streaking.
Week 2 (9/8/12) – vs. New Mexico
This team was arguably one of the worst in the entire NCAA last season. The Lobos only recorded one win, and managed to score the least amount of points of any team in college football.
Whoever is behind center for the Longhorns needs to put up big numbers, and fast, in order to instill confidence within Longhorn Nation that he’s the right man for the job. In the second half the game needs to turn into the \"Malcolm Brown Show.\"
This one will be a blowout. With that being said, Texas needs to use this opportunity to work some kinks out before conference play begins.
Week 3 (9/15/12) – at Ole Miss
What should the Longhorns expect from a game against a team with a new coach, bottom-dwelling defense, and an unknown offense?
Even though it’s an away game, if the Longhorns are not 3-0 after this stretch it would be a minor (major if you ask a \'Horns fan) tragedy. This young Rebels team is out to prove that last year was an anomaly, so if any team is able to surprise the Longhorns in non-conference play, it’s these guys.
Like New Mexico, this team has a terrible offense, and the Longhorns should be able to stifle them enough for a big win.
Week 5 (9/29/12) – at Oklahoma State
Can the Cowboys reload after bolstering one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems of all-time?
I expect Brandon Weeden’s replacement, freshman Wes Hunt, to play like any young, inexperienced quarterback would in a game of this magnitude. The Cowboys will aim to duplicate Justin Blackmon’s production by a committee of wideouts. One man alone cannot make up for his talents.
Overlooked pieces that the Cowboys need to address are the holes in the offensive line. Apply pressure to the new 18-year-old gun slinger, and Texas should be able to open up conference play with a \"W\" and start 4-0 again.
Week 6 (10/6/12) – vs. West Virginia
Could this be the game that determines the Big 12 champion?
That very well could be said for a few other Big 12 match-ups in 2012, but the top offense and the top defense will almost surely be on display in this game.
West Virginia’s spread offense will undoubtedly put up points, and no matter what the defense throws at them, it’ll be a high-scoring game. Two keys to victory for the Longhorns are: (1) keeping pace with the Mountaineers scoring, and (2) effectively pounding the \"rock\" in order to keep quarterback Geno Smith off the field.
This needs to be the game where Malcolm Brown breaks out and becomes one of the most feared running backs in the nation. Of all the tough match-ups on the Mountaineers’ 2012 schedule, this is their only one away from home.
Week 7 (10/13/12) – vs. Oklahoma
Even if the Longhorns win against West Virginia, I expect the Sooners to be favored in this matchup.
In Texas’ favor, Landry Jones played atrociously after his top receiving threat Ryan Broyles went down last season, so he could struggle with developing a new go-to receiver early on. This is wishful thinking however, because by this time in the season, it’s hard not to expect the Sooner offense to be running on all cylinders. Jones\' is likely to be an early Heisman favorite. Add an insane O-line, plus a healthy Dominique Whaley, and this could equal Texas’ toughest challenge yet.
The Sooner defense has underperformed relevant to expectations in recent years. If the \'Horns offense manages to start clicking by this game, look for them to try to exploit the OU D in Dallas. Texas will try to keep Jones off the field with a nice dose of Malcolm Brown and new addition Johnathan Gray (who else is excited to see this guy tote the rock?).
The more polished talent belongs to the Sooners in this matchup, but don’t think this edition of the Red River Rivalry will be anything close to the blowout last year’s game brought.
Week 8 (10/20/12) – vs. Baylor
You’d think that with the season the Bears had last year, expectations would be high for Baylor. But with the loss of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, pundits are not expecting much from this squad.
The Bears actually may like flying under the radar in 2012, especially Griffin’s replacement Nick Florence. He has almost a full year of experience under his belt from when RGIII went down early on in his career, and is brimming with confidence that he can pick up where Griffin left off. Add in a multitude of returning starters on defense and this team could surprise.
Despite the Bears looking better than expected, this Longhorns team will not allow themselves to lose to the team out of Waco three years in a row, and will be looking to put the nail in the coffin early on.
Week 9 (10/27/12) – at Kansas
I just don’t get excited seeing Charlie Weis’ name anymore as a head coach, and neither does the majority of America. He could prove me wrong, but Dave Campo is the more interesting pickup considering his long time away from college football. His task at hand is to revamp the Jayhawks atrocious defense from last year that allowed Texas to put up 43 points on them in an embarrassing shutout.
\'Horns fans should expect a similar outcome this year. As for the Jayhawks\' new coaching tandem, Kansas fans shouldn\'t start counting their Big 12 title rings just yet. Texas will keep them at the bottom of the Big 12 for now. At least the Jayhawks got to the national championship game in basketball.
Week 10 (11/3/12) – at Texas Tech
It hasn’t been the best first two years for Tuberville’s tenure in Lubbock. An identity on offense is the key for this team that has built some of their best squads around that side of the ball. With Seth Doege and most of his weapons returning, this could very well be a breakout year for them.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they will face a stout Longhorn defense at the end of a brutal stretch in the heart of their schedule. This includes four straight games against Oklahoma, West Virginia, at TCU and at Kansas State. The Big 12 schedulers were definitely not kind to this squad and they could very well be on a four game losing streak by the time this matchup comes around. Not even 19 returning starters could withstand that kind of an onslaught.
Look for this to be another formidable offense for Texas to put up with by this time of year, but for the Red Raiders to be too gassed, and frustrated, to put up too much of a fight.
Week 11 (11/10/12) – vs. Iowa State
Texas would like to put a good whooping on this team to instill some confidence heading into the bye week, before facing the Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving.
Despite Iowa State’s lack of talent and pedigree, this is a matchup that every single team in the conference should have circled on their calendar for one reason: their upset over Oklahoma State last year. Thankfully, Texas gets the Cyclones at home, ending any chance of an OSU-esque upset.
Last year the Longhorns easily handled this squad. The Cyclones will need a perfect game from all areas in order to knock of Texas. However, with a huge question mark at quarterback, expect the Longhorns to beat them handily despite the Cyclones\' hunger for another upset.
Week 13 (11/24/12) – vs. TCU
With the conference realignment carousel taking effect this season, the Longhorns now have a rival coming to town late in the year, who has actually had a strong history of winning in recent years.
The Horned Frogs are anxious to prove that they deserve to get some BCS love, and by this time of the year, they could very well be in contention for another prestigious bowl berth, or even a conference championship.
The one concern: their secondary. TCU has fielded some of the strongest defenses in the nation the past few years. An early match-up with West Virginia should provide enough insight into the strength of this year\'s D.
If the Horned Frogs can slow down the Texas rushing attack, either David Ash or Case McCoy will have to step up and play big. Austin will be rocking this day, and with two weeks of preparation, I don’t see how the Longhorns can’t squeak out a victory in this first shot at a new rivalry.
Week 14 (12/01/12) – at Kansas State
Aside from grinder Colin Klein, this team is an enigma. Despite their generous record last year and the gaudy numbers Klein put up, their offense was terribly inconsistent. They somehow managed to pull out ugly victory after ugly victory, which is why their record in 2012 could end up much differently.
While on the subject of their offense, their line is an item of huge concern as they lose some pivotal starters. The Texas defense needs to apply pressure early and often. With a team hungry for redemption after last year\'s loss, and a rocking home crowd, the Longhorns should finish off the 2012 season with a victory at home.
Wrapping It Up
With the additions of highly competitive teams in West Virginia and TCU, the battle for the Big 12 crown will get even tougher in 2012.
No schedule in this conference should be deemed favorable when looking at how much talent there is from top to bottom. The talent is there for the Longhorns to return to prominence, but this schedule only proves that a tough road is definitely ahead.
Get Primed for 2012 >> 2012 Pre-Season College Football Rankings – Top 25
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