Texas, Ole Miss football programs going in vastly different directions


Lawrence Peart

Alex Okafor tries to get past an Ole Miss offensive lineman in Texas' last game, a 66-31 win in Oxford. The Longhorns had five sacks and forced three turnovers in the victory but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz estimated that they missed 11 tackles in the game, costing them 120 yards.

Christian Corona

The last time Texas played Texas A&M, the Longhorns came out on top. The Aggies have since gone to the SEC and taken the college football world by storm, elevating their program to a place where they can rightfully claim Lone Star State supremacy. 

But now that they’re in the SEC, they can’t prove it on the field. Ole Miss is another SEC squad who fell to Texas the last time it faced the Longhorns, also on its own turf. But the Rebels get the chance Texas A&M doesn’t – to prove that they have passed the Longhorns up on their way to newfound national relevance. 

They won’t waste that opportunity.

Since Texas trounced them by five touchdowns in Oxford last September, the Rebels gave Alabama a better game than Notre Dame did in the national title game, nearly knocked off Texas A&M, beat Mississippi State for the first time since 2008 and won a bowl game for the first time since 2009. 

And if you thought Mack Brown was a good recruiter, wait until you hear what Hugh Freeze did. After winning seven games in his first year at Ole Miss, he signed the fifth-best recruiting class in the country last year, according to ESPN. 

It was a group that included the nation’s best wide receiver prospect (Laquon Treadwell), best offensive lineman prospect (Laremy Tunsil) and best prospect at any position (defensive end Robert Nkemdiche).

Since trouncing Ole Miss by five touchdowns in Oxford last September, on the other hand, the Longhorns were blown out by Oklahoma for the second straight season, extended their losing streak to Kansas State to five games, fired one coach (Manny Diaz) and saw another accused for paying players while at another school (Larry Porter).

There is no better time for the Rebels to come to Austin, with Texas breaking in a new defensive coordinator and coming off a brutal defeat against BYU when it allowed a school-record 550 
rushing yards. 

“It was just unacceptable,” head coach Mack Brown said. “When you lose at Texas, it’s bad. When you lose like that, it’s really bad.”

Texas has been losing like that a lot lately. That embarrassing effort in Provo led to Diaz’s dismissal and marked the 10th time since 2010 the Longhorns lost a game by at least 12 points. They suffered 11 such defeats in the previous 12 years under Brown.  

An offensive line that has started more combined games than any other in the country suddenly has trouble run blocking. A defense promising problems leading to allowing more yards in school history last year still can’t tackle. A head coach 16 wins away from becoming the all-time wins leader at one of the most storied college football programs in America may be on the hot seat. 

And a team with a 35-point home loss almost exactly a year ago still fresh on its mind is on its way to Austin right now.