After Herman’s first year on the job the Longhorns had finished with four consecutive seasons of six losses or more, but he won the Texas Bowl and followed it up with an outstanding recruiting class.
Fast forward to year two and Herman’s boys are sitting at 9-3, ranked No. 9 in the latest AP Poll and will play in the Big 12 Title Game for the first time since 2009.
Texas has had a roller coaster journey this year leading up to week 14. The Longhorns second-straight season-opening loss to Maryland raised some eyebrows, but Texas responded with six-straight wins, including Herman’s first over rival Oklahoma. The Longhorns lost back-to-back nail-biters to the Cowboys and the Mountaineers, but the team once again showed resilience and closed out the season on a three-game win streak. That’s a feat Texas never got to experience under Charlie Strong.
Now Texas has a ton of momentum heading into the Conference Championship and its’ first rematch against Oklahoma since 1903. This will be the first time since 2008 that both teams will face each other ranked in the Top-10. The Longhorns are 3-2 in Big 12 Championship Games.
Herman has gone 9-3 in his second season as coach at Houston and Texas, with a chance to win a couple more games before the year is over. His players are starting to play with confidence after becoming more familiar with the system and culture Herman has established.
True sophomore signal-caller Sam Ehlinger has blossomed into a natural leader and has come alive during the Longhorns three-game win streak, passing for 603 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He also been productive with his legs this season and has 376 yards on the ground to go along with 11 rushing scores.
The Longhorns rushing attack is No. 7 in the Big 12 in yards per game. Still, running backs Keaontay Ingram and Tre Watson have been a solid one-two punch combo in the Longhorns’ backfield and combined for 1,332 yards and six touchdowns.
Besides Iowa State and TCU, Texas is the only other team that plays decent defense in a league packed with high-flying offenses. The unit has allowed 20.8 points per game in the team’s nine wins this season. The front seven has been a stingy bunch and No. 2 in the Big 12 at stopping the run. They are tied for third in the conference at generating sacks.
Herman and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley are two of the brightest young coaches in the game and have split their only two head-to-head meetings. Saturday’s game will be a fun one to watch. Expect these rivals to pull out all the offensive fireworks and may resemble a NCAA Basketball final score once the smoke clears. I can hear Longhorn poster boy Matthew McConaughey right now yelling “Hook em Horns!”
Herman has done a great job rebuilding the program back to where it should be and that’s playing for championships. With another top-notch recruiting class on the way Texas will soon be extending its’ stay with College Football’s upper-echelon. If Herman can bring a Big 12 Title back to Austin, no doubt he should be considered for Big 12 Coach of The Year.