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Thursday, May 16, 2013
Question of the Week: Scariest UT games

By HornsNation staff

AUSTIN, Texas -- There was a time when Texas would strike fear in future foes rather than have its fans be stricken with it when studying the schedule.

But times, personnel, records, well, let’s just wrap it up by saying a lot, has changed at Texas. These days, instead of having all those gimme games, worry and dread often accompany games way beyond the Red River Rivalry.

Of course, Texas coach Mack Brown has done his best to assuage those fears by continually pointing to 2013 as the year when Texas gets back to being Texas. Then again, an increasingly skeptical fan base probably needs more words to help cease its cuticle chomping. But there won’t be anything but words until Aug. 31. Words and, well, fear.

It is that fear HornsNation is ready to pounce upon with this week’s question of the week: Which team on Texas’ 2013 schedule should fans worry about most and why?

BYU

Kyle Van Noy
Facing the BYU defense, led by star LB Kyle Van Noy, is something Texas should be very worried about.
By the second game of the season, after what will be a rout in the first, Texas might be flying high. The offense will probably appear to be clicking. The numbers will be astronomical. And, quite possibly, everyone will have forgotten the issues of Manny Diaz’s 2012 defense and in favor of reveling in the stats that defense produced against New Mexico State.

Any state of euphoria should be short lived, as in a lifespan of seconds. BYU is next. The Cougars, 2-1 in three meeting with Texas, will possess the best defense Texas faces in 2013. Last season the Cougars finished No. 3 overall in total defense. To put that in perspective, Texas only played one defense in the top 20 in 2012, TCU. The Horned Frogs held the Longhorns to 13 points. And that game was at home.

Sure there have been personnel changes. BYU lost three of its front four, including Ezekiel Ansah. But the Cougars have two impact junior college transfers, Marques Johnson and Kalolo Utu, ready to step in as well as Tuni Kanuch, who is returning from his mission. So the line is not as depleted as it would appear.

As for the back seven, well, BYU still has do-it-all linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The senior had 13 sacks last year and finished second nationally in forced fumbles as well as fourth in tackles for loss. Both safeties are back. Jordan Johnson is back at corner. And, to top it all off, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall makes it a point to emphasize defense over offense.

Given that Texas will just be in its second game of a new offensive scheme and is on the road, a place where it has not performed all that well of late, BYU appears to be one of the higher hurdles the Longhorns will have to clear in 2013. -- Carter Strickland

Kansas State

Oh, so you thought those annual trips to Dallas the past three years have been scary, Longhorns fans?

I’ll see you that scary and raise you this horror: The last time Texas defeated Kansas State – granted, the two teams didn’t play every season in the past -- was when this year’s freshmen were in third grade.

Don’t you get nap time in third grade?

The Wildcats have beat the Longhorns by an average score of 36.8-22.8 over their five-game winning streak. So circle that game on Sept. 21 against the fighting Bill Snyders as the game that should scare Texas fans the most.

Yeah, but KSU lost Collin Klein, Chris Harper and Arthur Brown.

They’ve also still got Snyder at head coach, John Hubert at running back and signed Jake Waters, the No. 3 junior college QB in the country.

KSU has Texas’ number. Two of those wins came with UT ranked No. 7 and No. 4. The Longhorns will likely be the higher-ranked team if they can take care of business prior to this meeting.

Get this victory and exhale a big sigh of relief three weeks before you take that annual trip to Dallas. -- William Wilkerson

Oklahoma

BYU and Kansas State are both good answers, and it’s worth noting that in two of the past three years, Texas had already suffered one loss going into the Red River Rivalry.

But we all know this showdown in the Cotton Bowl is the great measuring stick of Texas football. It’s the real test of whether a Longhorns team’s strength is fact or fluke. I don’t need to tell you that, you already know.

The variable this year? I really don’t know how good these 2013 Sooners will be. Look at what they have on paper and what they’ve lost and it’s hard to convince yourself they’re not in for a down year.

In the Bob Stoops era, Oklahoma has seasons with eight wins or less only three times. Texas swept those matchups in 1999, 2005 and 2009 by a combined score of 99-53.

The point is, if OU is weaker than usual this fall, Texas absolutely needs to pounce.

But 63-21 and 55-17 makes you wonder if that’s really possible. Texas has whiffed so badly in these last two Red River games that it’s hard to say the Longhorns can win big this year and maintain a straight face.

Nobody needs to tell Texas fans they ought to worry about the Oklahoma game. But I will say this: Even if Oklahoma stumbles into the Oct. 12 shootout with losses to Notre Dame and TCU, you should worry just as much as usual -- maybe more. -- Max Olson