It’s that time again for your favorite annual series, where we come up with dream and nightmare scenarios for every Big 12 team for the upcoming season. Reality will fall somewhere in the middle. But imagine a season in which every possible domino fell into place. And likewise, if all that could go wrong, well, did.
We continue the series today with Texas:
Shane Buechele and Texas’ dominant run game shine in a 20-point win over Notre Dame to get the nation’s attention and get the dream season rolling. The Longhorns enter Red River at 4-0 after surviving a close game at Oklahoma State thanks to a special-teams error by the Cowboys.
Charlie Strong’s defense takes care of the Sooners once again. Malik Jefferson sacks Baker Mayfield 10 times in a 35-point win. A 6-0 Texas team encounters its first setback with a road loss at Kansas State -- because Texas never wins in Manhattan -- but rallies with a school-record 730 total yards of offense in a win over Baylor.
Wins over Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas send a 10-1 Texas team to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff standings, and the Horns get a de facto Big 12 title game at home against No. 6 TCU. D'Onta Foreman and Chris Warren both surpass 1,500 rushing yards on the year in a 50-7 blowout of the Horned Frogs. Charlie Strong signs a 10-year extension moments after accepting the Big 12 title trophy, and Texas grabs the No. 4 seed in the CFP.
Jefferson beats out Deshaun Watson and Leonard Fournette for the Heisman Trophy after a 30-sack season. The Horns come up just short against No. 1 Alabama in the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl semifinal but still sign the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. Texas A&M goes 5-7 and does not make a coaching change.
The Irish come to Austin and stomp Texas even worse than they did a year ago in a 48-3 win. Strong demotes first-year OC Sterlin Gilbert, benches Buechele and takes over offensive play-calling duties. Texas survives against UTEP and then gets picked apart by Davis Webb and Cal on the road in a 20-point loss.
Texas’ big-money boosters are furious and force Strong out after a loss to Oklahoma State and a 1-3 start. Interim coach Vance Bedford settles everyone down with his wit and humor and Texas nearly defeats Oklahoma in Dallas. The Longhorns do manage to defeat Iowa State, West Virginia and Kansas to save face and finish 4-8. Texas A&M goes 9-3 and the Sooners win the national championship.
The coaching search starts off promising but rapidly falls apart. Nick Saban finally agrees to take the Texas job, but then backs out a day later after Alabama offers him a lifetime contract and $10 million a year. Tom Herman turns down Texas and becomes the new head coach at Baylor. Urban Meyer, Kevin Sumlin, Will Muschamp, Bryan Harsin and Todd Graham all leverage interest from Texas into raises from their current schools.
The search drags on for two months before Texas settles on Bret Bielema. Furious that their school has been embarrassed one too many times, Texas boosters seize control of the athletic department and attempt to void their Big 12 grant of rights so that Texas can become an FBS Independent.