Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Texas is 9–1, but they’re far from locked into a championship season

Lorianne Willett

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has led his program from a five win team to two wins away from an 11–1 regular season record and a Big 12 championship. 

Sitting at 9–1 on the season with a road game at Iowa State and a home game against Texas Tech still to be played, the Longhorns are in their best position since 2009, back when they ended up reaching the National Championship game.

But this Texas team has many more flaws than that of Mack Brown’s 2009 team. Despite the elite rushing defense, the Texas team of 2009 gave up just under 13 points per game through 10 games, going undefeated and topping Texas’ current team by over five points per game on defense. 

But the 2023 Longhorn defense is the strength of the team, so it’s easy to overlook the offense and how it compares.The 2009 team averaged almost 42 points per game in their first matchups, most notably scoring 41 points against a top 15 Oklahoma State team. The current Longhorns have yet to eclipse 40 points all year. 

Analysts were not coming into 2023 expecting the Longhorns to match the pedigree of their last championship-level squad, but it’s clear that they are still not on the level of championship contenders. While teams like Florida State are expected to walk into their conference championship game unscathed, Texas still has a tough road ahead to even win the Big 12 championship.

Texas will face Iowa State in Ames, Iowa for likely its last matchup against the Cyclones for the foreseeable future. As a part of a farewell tour that Texas is playing in, the teams they play know the game means more, as shown from a quote by Iowa State offensive guard Jarrod Hufford.

“It’s definitely going to be one heck of a farewell present,” Hufford said. “I don’t really think they know what’s going to be coming for them.”

Apart from No. 5 Washington heading to No. 11 Oregon State this weekend, Texas has the lowest favored matchup of any Top 8 team in Week 12, according to ESPN. The Longhorns sit at a great spot, but now is the time for Sarkisian, sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers and the rest of the defense to step up.

The Longhorns started the season extremely well, winning its first five games with a win in Tuscaloosa against the then-No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide. It hasn’t been smooth since, however. After a close loss to Oklahoma, Texas has struggled in its four other wins. Three of the four were decided by one score, with the BYU game being the only comfortable matchup. What’s plagued the Longhorns, and what can very easily cost them a trip to the College Football Playoff, has been closing out games.

Against Houston, Texas had scored 21 points to Houston’s zero in the first 18 minutes of the game. Very quickly, though, the Longhorns had lost comfort. Houston added two touchdowns before the end of the half and was within the Texas red zone with a chance to tie the game near the end of the fourth quarter. Thanks to some heroics, and luck from the refs, Texas got the win.

Two weeks later, though, it got much worse. Despite leading 27-7 in the third quarter, the Longhorns only won by three points in overtime versus Kansas State, a game they could’ve very easily lost. The next week, leading 26-6 by the end of the third quarter, Texas only beat TCU by three points, again. That’s three games, two unranked, where Texas crumbled in the fourth quarter and nearly lost the game. 

Texas still somewhat controls its destiny. With wins over Iowa State, Texas Tech and a Big 12 championship, they would undeniably be seen as a top five team in the nation. But it’s growing harder and harder to imagine that Texas can keep winning games like this, especially without the help of star sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks. Not only must they win down the stretch, but they have to be winning consistently enough to show CFP voters that they deserve a spot.

No matter what, the 2023 season and the program are in a huge season of success, but when you have as big of expectations as this team has, not winning a Big 12 championship at this point in the season would be a big let down for a team as talented as the one Texas boasts.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.