Since the final whistle of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, the Texas Longhorns had become somewhat of a meme within college football. Despite having advantages in money, facilities, recruiting, and even its own tv network, the program was the biggest underachiever in the entire sport for over a decade. “Texas is back” became a term used to mock the Longhorns for consistently falling well short of expectations.
But now, they actually are back. For real!
Texas just pulverized Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game, capturing the league title before it departs to the SEC next season. Picked as the preseason favorite to win the conference back in July, the Longhorns actually lived up to its lofty expectations for the first time since 2009. With a mix of a few close calls and a few blowouts victories, UT cruised to an 11-1 regular season campaign in 2023. And the team could’ve gone undefeated had it not been for Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel firing ff the go-ahead touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in Red River.
Everything mostly clicked for the Longhorns as Quinn Ewers served as the perfect leader at quarterback, skill guys like Jonathon Brooks, Xavier Worthy, and Adonai Mitchell put up excellent numbers, and T’Vondre Sweat emerged as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. And as a bonus, they managed to avoid any inklings of a QB controversy involving hyped freshman Arch Manning. This culminated in them shellacking Okie State at Jerry World on Saturday, and are on the doorstep of a potential College Football Playoff bid.
And it actually appears that the good vibes will carry with them when jumping to the SEC. Reports began circulating on Saturday that Ewers will in fact return in 2024, ensuring the Longhorns will have a Heisman Trophy contender steering the ship in the nation’s toughest conference. Steve Sarkisian and staff are recruiting among the sport’s elite and have an NIL operation that few programs can rival.
UT will be faced with immediate tough challenges in 2024, as it’ll face the likes of Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in conference along with an early-season showdown at Michigan. However, what we saw from Texas this season actually looks like it can be sustainable, and there’s a good chance that they can kick the door down and make immediate noise in the SEC.