Two days after Christmas, the Mizzou football team will face the Texas Longhorns for the Texas Bowl in Houston and it’s been a while since Texas was dominant. The Longhorns went 25-2 in 2008-2009, but since have only had three winning seasons in the last eight, including the last five years of 8-5, 6-7, 5-7, 5-7 and this year’s 6-6.
First year head coach Tom Herman is the third Longhorn head coach in those five campaigns. In those same years, Missouri has gone 12-2, 11-3, 5-7, 4-8 and 7-5 this season.
That comparison is rather unremarkable, unless you remember former Texas AD DeLoss Dodds’ comments in February 2013, when he told the Austin Statesman-American, “We’re going to have good years again. Our bad years are not that bad. Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years. But we’ve created a standard.”
Despite having more resources and money that any Big 12 program (selfishness that caused Mizzou, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Colorado to leave the conference), Texas is trying to catch up with Oklahoma and TCU in the conference, let alone Mizzou in recent conference championship games. Herman does seem to be the guy to lead them back to the top.
While Texas has a recruiting stranglehold on it’s home state, Mizzou has gotten many of its key historical players from Texas. Chase Daniel, Danario Alexander, Ziggy Hood, Shawn Weatherspoon, Jaquies Smith and Michael Egnew all came from Mizzou’s recruiting efforts in Texas. Getting an opportunity to show Texas kids that they can compete with the Longhorns would help Mizzou’s efforts considerably.
This year, the Texas offense was 57th overall and 61st in scoring. But during the season, freshman Sam Ehlinger made a difference. When he replaced sophomore Shane Buechele, the Longhorn offense was more effective. In 131 attempts, Buechele threw six touchdown passes and four interceptions. In 147 attempts, Ehlinger had 10 TD’s and seven picks. Buechele started their next-to-last game, and Ehlinger started a season finale loss to Texas Tech. But we also have to keep in mind that this isn’t the Texas of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams or Jamaal Charles. Ehlinger…the quarterback…led them in rushing with 368 yards this season. Their second leading running back, Chris Warren III, who was moved to tight end, left the team after the regular season and will transfer.
The Longhorn defense was 43rd this season, but their 21.7 points per game allowed were 31st in the nation. Perhaps their best defender, defensive back DeShon Elliott, has entered the draft and won’t play in the Texas Bowl. Elliott led the Longhorns with six interceptions and was second with a sack and a half. Their best offensive lineman, Connor Williams, has also decided to leave college football and won’t play in the bowl game, either.
This extra practice time will be great for Barry Odom and Mizzou. The less-than-stellar Tigers defense will get a chance to clean up some problems and go against a longhorn offense that scored 39 touchdowns in twelve games. Texas was 95th in the country running the ball, and that should be a good matchup for a Tiger defense that improved as it went along…but still finished 97th AGAINST the run in the country.
While the Texas offense scored 39 touchdowns, Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock passed for 43 himself, and Mizzou made it to the end zone 58 times. Mizzou was tenth in the country in scoring, averaging 39.3 per game.
This sets up as an entertaining game. In his first season at the helm of the Longhorns, Herman should get a ton of mileage out of his extra practice time. Herman is a dynamic offensive mind and will eventually return Texas to it’s explosive ways.
It’ll be a home game for the Longhorns in Houston, but it’s an opportunity to again prove Dodds wrong. He was right for about 100 years, but a Mizzou uptick and a Texas regression has put these teams on a level playing field. Each will be playing in their first bowl game since the 2014 season. The matchup is a good one. It’s good for Mizzou to be bowling again.
More: Miklasz – In Choosing Alabama Over Ohio State, the CFP Committee Absolutely Got It Right