Big 12: Texas
You mean Texas actually has to play the 2018 season? It’s not given a free pass into the College Football Playoff after getting to the Big 12 Championship and whacking around a demoralized Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl?
After so many disappointing seasons for one of college football’s superpower programs, Longhorn fans get a free pass when it comes their excitement. Texas isn’t just relevant again, it’s on the ascension under Tom Herman into national title-good status.
The recruiting has improved, the defensive identity is there in a conference that’s all about the offensive firepower, and with that win over Georgia – along with the victory over Oklahoma – the big performances aren’t just possible now, they’re expected.
That means the hope is for nothing less than a Big 12 Championship this season and a trip to the College Football Playoff. Part One is doable. Part Two is going to be a fight.
If the Longhorns win the Big 12 title and end the Oklahoma run of championships, that’s a big step forward. It takes a lot of luck and a ton of breaks to get into the CFP, and it takes everything coming together at once. That’s a problem for a team that has to make wholesale changes on the defensive front, cornerback, and with the O line needing some work, too.
Texas is going to be good enough to beat anyone on the schedule, but it has to take care of LSU at home, has to go on the road to face West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Baylor – the last three of those are improved, and the Mountaineers are going to be dangerous – and, of course, there’s the date with Oklahoma. All of that comes before a Big 12 title game.
And that’s the point. Would another 10-4 season be enough? Will Longhorn fans be disappointed with 12-2 and no College Football Playoff appearance?
Set the bar at winning the Big 12 title. Do that, and it’s a great season no matter what else happens, but getting a shot at the national title is always going to be the goal at Texas.
Also in the same high expectation boat is …