Did you know that flashing the “Horns Down” is a 15-yard penalty? Well, sometimes.
Except when it isn’t.
Last year, I spent most of the article talking about Texas not being back (again), because, well, they’ve been in about the same spot over and over again for the last 40 years, with the exception of a couple of seasons in the late 2000s. Seriously, I looked it up:
They haven’t won the Big 12 since 2009, and have won just three conference titles in 22 years. Since 1980 (39 seasons), Texas has seven conference titles, and one of those was given to them by the NCAA after the team that actually finished in first place was hit with sanctions (1994).
That’s uh... not really that impressive for a “football school.”
Know what else isn’t impressive for a football school?
How about losing to Kansas in 2016, giving David Beaty one of his three wins versus a P5 program? Or how about beating those same lowly Jayhawks by just a touchdown in 2018? Or what about last year, needing a desperation scoring drive with just 71 seconds left in the game to knock off the Jayhawks by two points?
So while yes, the all-time series record favors Texas 16-3, and two of those KU victories came before 1940, it is interesting that three of the last four matchups have been extremely competitive. The best part is, Kansas even won one of those, adding Charlie Strong’s name to a list that includes Howard Schnellenberger, Rick Neuheisel, Dan Hawkins, Bill Callahan, Ron Prince, Dan McCarney, and most recently, Steve Addazio, formerly of Boston College.
I’ll take, “Coaches who got fired (or quote-unquote “retired”) after losing to KU, Alex.”
That is in contrast to KU’s series with Oklahoma, which is an actual elite program that knows how to take care of business.
But once again, I have digressed.
Ok, I’m done.
Texas @ Kansas
Sat., Nov. 7, 2020, Time TBD
Lawrence, KS: World War I Veterans Memorial Stadium
About the Texas Offense
Texas returns 66% of its offensive production from last season. Back for 2020 is QB Sam Ehlinger, as well as RBs Keontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson, who combined for 1,502 rushing yards last year at a combined 5.6 ypc pace. However, you should note that Ehlinger led the Longhorns in rush attempts in 2019, and finished as the second-leading rusher on the team. Texas will be looking for playmakers at the WR position after the departures of Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson.
About the Texas Defense
Defensively, it looks even better for the Longhorns, as they return 82% of their defensive production from 2019, a top-20 mark in college football. UT will be deep and experienced at every position, and probably shouldn’t give up 48 points to teams like Kansas this year. Keep your eyes on LB Joseph Assai, who led the Longhorns in tackles, TFLs, and sacks last season.
It seems like every year Texas starts the season in the top-20, and every year they finish unranked after going somewhere between 8-5 and 5-7. (What I wouldn’t give to go 5-7 again regularly.)
Anyway, this year, with their returning production and (as usual) highly regarded recruiting class, per preseason S&P+ projections released back in February, Texas is ranked #14 out of 130 teams, good for 2nd in the Big 12 behind you-know-who.
For reference, Kansas comes into the season ranked #113 by that same metric.
Considering all of the returning talent, the usual high level of recruiting, and that fact that Tom Herman is set to begin his fourth year at the helm of the program (aka, coaching stability), Texas actually appears to be legit this year. Despite UT’s well-document struggles with our plucky Jayhawks, this looks to be a bad matchup for Kansas.
However, this is a November meeting, so it shouldn’t matter as much that Kansas is breaking in a ton of new starters on both sides of the ball, including a quarterback and an entire secondary. The Jayhawks will have had two months of game experience running Brent Dearmon’s offense, and that offense was scary good against Texas in his very first time calling plays at the D1 level.
That said, Texas should be eyeing a run at its first conference title since 2009 (lol), and I don’t think the Jayhawks will be quite ready to compete at that level. Crazy things have happened, of course, but like I’ve been saying all summer, I wouldn’t bet on it. Texas 44, Kansas 24.