Between now and the start of college football season, I’ll present you with 10 college football teams that have a realistic chance to win the national title this year. Today, the series continues with Texas.
Texas Longhorns (2013 schedule)
2012 record: 9-4
Alamo Bowl champions (defeated Oregon State 31-27)
Why they could win it all: Because they don’t have a lot of competition to overcome in the Big 12. Because they’ve spent the last few years flying under the radar with a bunch of youngsters who have finally matured and are more talented than you think. Because juggernauts in the SEC and Pac-12 will beat each other up and give an undefeated team from the country’s midsection a chance to play in the title game.
After a couple of seasons that were putrid by Texas standards, a lot of people will have their feet held to the fire in this program if they don’t succeed in 2013. Considering they have the talent to bring the program back to national relevancy, who’s to say they won’t go all the way this year?
You have a solid quarterback in David Ash, who threw for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012, and you have an offense that averaged 36 points per game a year ago. They have three solid rushers in Jonathan Gray (701 yards in 2012), Malcolm Brown (324 yards, but was injured a lot) and Joe Bergeron (567 yards, 16 touchdowns), and all three have at least one more year of eligibility after 2013. This could be one of the strongest offenses in the country for the next two years.
The defense wasn’t awesome last season — giving up 29 points per game isn’t exactly stifling — but thanks to a favorable schedule, they can probably get away with having a few holes this year. They’ll host Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which will both be tough tests for the Longhorns, and they’ll have to hit the road to play a tough TCU team, but other than that, they may have only one other test the rest of the year when Ole Miss comes to Austin on Sept. 14. This could be a big year for Texas.
Why they might not win it all: All of the reasons I listed above are dependent on one thing — Texas’ players not playing like they did the last two or three seasons. While they might be older, these are still the same kids that have had trouble winning to this point in their career, so we’re hoping they finally prove they’re winners, or else the program will continue to falter.
Some say head coach Mack Brown is past his prime, and the fanbase hasn’t been too thrilled with his production in the 2010s. What if that’s true? You can’t win a title with a coach who doesn’t quite seem to get it, so Brown needs to prove he’s still on the forefront of college football coaching.
Finally, will that schedule creep up on the Longhorns at any point? We don’t know how good Ole Miss will be this year, but what if they’re really good? This probably won’t be the kind of year where a 1-loss Texas squad can sneak into the national championship game, and perfection might be a little much to ask from a team that hasn’t even been dominant in a while.