The real challenge lies ahead for Texas football


Assad Malik/The Daily Texan

Redshirt freshman quarterback, Quinn Ewers, attempts a pass during the Orange and White spring football game on April 23, 2022. The game showcased the talents of Ewers and sophomore quarterback Hudson Card as they competed for the starting position this fall.

Christina Huang, Double Coverage editor

Leave no doubt.

That’s what Matthew McConaughey had to say about Texas’ historic 49-0 win over Oklahoma last weekend. 

And while Texas was undoubtedly the better team at the Cotton Bowl for a full four quarters on Saturday, there’s still questions about how it will fare against stronger opponents. Last Saturday’s stifling win over rival Oklahoma energized the Texas players and fans alike, but the heftier challenges that this season presents are yet to come.

Texas has not played a ranked team since its 20-19 loss to now No. 3 and previously No.1 Alabama last month. 

Right now, the other ranked Big 12 teams besides Texas are Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas and TCU. Texas plays all four of those teams in a brutal four game stretch starting Oct. 22 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Three out of the four games are away games, making those ranked wins just a little more difficult to achieve. 

The Longhorns looked great on Saturday, with starting quarterback Quinn Ewers making his return and slinging touchdowns to multiple receivers. And while Ewers’ talent is undeniable, it’s also important to note that Oklahoma currently has the worst defense in the Big 12. Ewers clearly showed his ability to successfully make difficult throws, but he faced minor resistance from the Oklahoma defenders. 

While Iowa State is far from a ranked team, Texas’ real challenge begins this weekend. The Cyclones have the top defense in the conference, holding their opponents to an average 13.7 points per game. The Longhorns score an average of 38.8 points per game. 

Currently, the Longhorns average 4.37 points per drive with Ewers on the field. No. 2 Ohio State, with projected Heisman candidate C.J. Stroud at the helm, leads the nation with 4.13 points per drive. But for the sake of transparency, many of Ewers’ current stats compared to those of other starting quarterbacks seem inflated. 

Texas’ average of 4.37 points per drive is impressive, but Ewers has only participated in 19 drives so far. For reference on how few that amount is, Ohio State had seven scoring drives against Michigan State last Saturday. Stroud has started every single game for Ohio State this season. 

This weekend is Ewers’ first true test in his return as the starter. If he can successfully lead Texas past a notoriously tough defense, then the team should have much more confidence as it heads into a month’s worth of ranked matchups. 

Although Texas’ schedule up to this point only had one ranked team on it, that doesn’t mean the team isn’t good enough for the Big 12 title game. It just means that Texas’ opportunities to prove that it belongs in the conference championship matchup are coming up later in the season. 

“We’re focused on the next game,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Because that’s what we’re being judged off of.”