History has shown that when Texas is coming off a bye week, it wins.
In head coach Mack Brown’s tenure on the 40 Acres, the Longhorns have gone 18-4 (.818) following their bye weeks. Texas A&M proved to be the Longhorns’ Achilles’ heel after weeks off, defeating Texas in 1999 (20-16), 2006 (12-7) and 2007 (38-30). Arkansas beat Texas at Darell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in 2003, 38-28, after a bye week as well.
Last season Texas had two bye weeks, winning after each of them. The Longhorns had two weeks to prepare for a 37-14 win over Iowa State and a 43-0 trouncing of Kansas, two of the Longhorns’ best overall team performances.
Brown hasn’t just had success after regular season bye weeks. Since 1998, Texas is 27-8 (.771) when the team has had one or more weeks to prepare. The Longhorns are 9-4 (.692) in the postseason under Brown, who went 8-2-1 after a bye week at North Carolina.
In last season’s victory over the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa quarterbacks David Ash and Case McCoy combined to throw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Jaxon Shipley caught 6 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown as the Longhorns cruised to a win over an Iowa State team that later defeated Oklahoma State at home, a loss that kept the Cowboys out of the national championship.
Against the Jayhawks at DKR last season, the Longhorns rushed for 441 yards and 5 touchdowns. Running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron combined for 255 of those yards and four touchdowns. The defense held Kansas to 46 total yards in one of the most dominant performances Texas has put on in the past few seasons.
Before the Longhorns’ last national title game appearance three seasons ago, they faced Colorado coming off a bye week in early October. Texas came away with a 37-14 victory, but struggled for a good part of the game against the Buffaloes, trailing 14-10 at halftime. The Longhorns eventually pulled away behind quarterback Colt McCoy’s 265 yards passing and receiver Jordan Shipley’s 147 yards receiving. The defense held Colorado to just 127 total yards.
Four years earlier, during Texas’ first national title run of the century, the Longhorns visited Missouri, defeating the Tigers, 51-20, after the team’s week off. Quarterback Vince Young passed for 236 yards and two scores and rushed for 108 yards and another touchdown. The Longhorns outgained the Tigers 585-330.
It’s no doubt the Longhorns perform well with a week of rest, however this Oklahoma State team might be the best post-bye week team Texas has faced in recent memory. The Cowboys — who are also coming off a bye week — average 687 yards of offense per game. The extra time off allowed Texas to go back and fix some fundamental issues.
“We’ve been able to go back and look at every missed tackle, every big play, and say, ‘Why?’ Mack Brown said at his weekly press conference.
Factor in the rabid atmosphere Saturday night in Stillwater, and the Longhorns are looking at their toughest test yet.