For the second time within a week, a piece of pre-season analysis suggests the Texas Longhorns have what it takes to emerge as the top college football team in the state under first-year coach Tom Herman.
The Longhorns received the No. 21 spot in a preseason Top 25 ranking of teams by The Sporting News, making them the only school from the Lone Star State to crack that list.
Texas, a 5-7 team last season, landed that spot despite coming off three consecutive losing seasons and a combined record of 16-21 under former coach Charlie Strong. Those struggles led to Herman’s hiring in November after posting a combined 22-4 record in two seasons at Houston.
Herman’s first season in Austin will be one in which it is difficult to identify the top team in the state after a disappointing 2016 season in which the Lone Star State’s 12 FBS programs combined to post a 65-85 record and no team from Texas earned a spot in The Associated Press’ final postseason poll. It marked the state’s first shutout in 49 years in the final AP rankings.
Heading into the 2017 season, it is hard to project whether any of the state’s teams will land a spot in either of the major preseason rankings when the AP poll and the coaches poll are released in August.
In a set of projected win totals for 43 FBS schools released May 31 by Bovada Sports Book, the top four totals for teams based in the Lone Star State were assigned to Texas (7.5), TCU (7), Texas A&M (7) and Texas Tech (5.5). Multiple schools from the state, including Baylor and Houston, did not receive projections.
But that feedback, combined with the Sporting News poll, suggests expectations are on the rise for Texas under Herman. The Longhorns feature multiple returning starters on both sides of the ball, led by quarterback Shane Buechele, and the Sporting News predicts that Herman “will make an instant impact on the program in Year 1.”
But its ranking still placed Texas fifth among Big 12 schools, behind No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Kansas State and No. 20 West Virginia. Oklahoma was the lone Big 12 team to crack a Top 10 headed by No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Southern California, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Clemson.