It’s only Week Three of the college football season, but the stage is already set for Texas’ biggest game of the season.
The Longhorns are preparing to face No. 22 USC this Saturday — the same program that Texas suffered a heartbreaking double overtime loss to nearly one year ago. And Texas head coach Tom Herman knows that his team will have an uphill battle this weekend.
“This is a very, very talented, talented USC team,” Herman said. “They have got a young quarterback that can really, really throw the football and they did lose the top-five pick in Sam Darnold and a really, really talented running back. But it’s USC, they’re going to reload and they have got talent all over the field.”
When these two historically talented programs fought for the national title in 2006, a 12–0 record for either team didn’t warrant any shock factor from fans. Now, as the Trojans and Longhorns collide once again, one of the two teams will jog into the locker room after the game with an unflattering 1–2 record.
As of now, there’s no certainty of which Texas team the home fans will see this Saturday. In a win over Tulsa, the Longhorns started with an interception on the first play from scrimmage and then a 21-0 lead at the half, only to watch the Golden Hurricane chip away at their chances of victory in the fourth quarter.
Herman attributed the change of energy at halftime to his locker room message to the players. Before the game began, it was simple — go out, have fun. But whenever the Longhorns returned to the field with what seemed like an insurmountable lead, Herman instructed the athletes to play aggressive and not let up, nearly leading to a comeback by Tulsa.
Going forward, though, Herman remains confident that the night and day performances won’t affect them moving forward because the team is only focused on the matchup directly in front of them.
“They’re 12 one-game seasons,” Herman said. “I don’t think there will be any need for motivation next week or the week after or the week after that. These guys, they understand what our schedule is like, but they also understand that in order to make a difference, we’ve got to be excited every single week and handle it on a week-by-week basis.”
Historically, Texas and USC have met six times, but according to the Trojan athletics program, USC remains unbeaten against the Longhorns. As a result of the vacated 2005 season, USC claims that the series record between the two is 5–0, which does not include the loss to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
“I’m not a historian, but if that’s what’s on the paper, that’s what’s on the paper,” Omenihu said. “The final score, we won that game, right? Okay, Texas got the dub and the national championship.”
While the Texas and USC athletes taking the field on Saturday weren’t involved during the two programs’ dominance during the early 2000s, last year’s near-upset thriller is still fresh for the Longhorns that were on the losing end.
Texas’ senior tight end Andrew Beck, who missed all of last season due to an injury, will get his first chance to face the Trojans this weekend after having to watch his teammates fall in overtime during the last meeting.
“That’s one of those games,” Beck said. “Watching from the sidelines, especially in a boot, I was like ‘I’d give a lot of things to run out on the field right now.’”
Beck and the rest of the Texas athletes will have their chance on the field this Saturday as the rematch against the Trojans begins at 7 p.m. from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.