In 2010, the Texas football team entered the season fresh off a BCS National Championship appearance, ranked fifth in the country. Led by quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who had an impressive showing against Alabama in the Rose Bowl, the Longhorns appeared primed for another title run. But Texas fell flat on its face, finishing with a 5-7 record and failing to play in a bowl game for the first time in the Mack Brown era. With the Longhorns getting blown out in two straight contests and Big 12 play looming, 2013 is beginning to feel a lot like 2010 — if not worse. Let’s take a look and see how the two teams compare to each other after their first three games.
The Longhorns opened up 2013 with a victory over unranked New Mexico State, a one-win team in 2012. Although the Longhorns wound up breaking out for 56 points to overcome a sluggish start, questions remained about the team’s lack of scoring in the first half. Those questions became realities for Texas in its second game, a 40-21 drubbing by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Last Saturday had a similar feel when the Longhorns blew a 23-17 halftime lead, allowing Ole Miss to score the game’s final 27 points in a 44-23 win. In a game that was the second-worst home loss in Brown’s tenure at Texas, the Longhorns managed 90 yards of total offense in the second half while the Rebels had four touchdowns in the same time frame.
The 2010 team opened its season in similar fashion, falling behind 3-0 to the Rice Owls before pulling ahead for a 34-17 victory. This underwhelming play continued through Texas’ next two games, although the Longhorns defeated the Wyoming Cowboys 34-7 and defeated an unranked Texas Tech team by 10. Neither of these were impressive showings — Texas failed to reach 35 points in any of its first three games for the first time since 1994, when the Longhorns were still members of the Southwestern Conference.
Where does this leave the 2013 Texas team? By almost all statistical counts, this year’s team has actually started worse than the 2010 squad that finished 5-7. After three games this year, the Longhorns are 1-2. They were 3-0 in 2010. While offense has been a little better this year, scoring 100 points compared to the 92 scored in the first three games in 2010, 56 of those came in the opener against New Mexico State. Things get uglier when you contrast the defenses. Texas has already yielded 91 points this season, the most given up by a Longhorn defense in its first three games since Mack Brown’s inaugural season in 1998. The 2010 team, on the other hand, only allowed 38 points through its first three games.
Of course, this comparison does not tell the whole story. Things unraveled quickly in 2010, beginning with a 34-12 home loss to unranked UCLA, Brown’s worst defeat at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas went on to lose seven of its last nine games and finished with the team’s first in-conference losing season in 13 years.
The 2013 Longhorns have fared worse than the 2010 team so far, and it’s realistic to say this year’s team could wind up the biggest disappointment in Texas football history. With a struggling offense and a defense on pace to give up a school record 5,896 yards, things are getting ugly on the 40 Acres.