The Longhorns hit the road for the first time this season with a date in Oxford, Miss., against Ole Miss.
Joe Bergeron and the Texas running backs will face a small Ole Miss defense Saturday night.
The Rebels are coming off a woeful 2-10 season, but a new head coach and a new face at quarterback have things looking a lot better than people expected for Ole Miss in 2012.
Meanwhile, Texas has looked good, but not great, in two wins over Mountain West teams to start the year. Will the Longhorns be able to build off those wins and return to Austin with a road win against an SEC team?
Here's how the Hookem.com staff thinks tomorrow night's game will unfold.
Texas is a better offensive and defensive team than Ole Miss. The only way the Longhorns trip up is turnovers, which could happen. After all, it's a night game on the road, the Ole Miss defense is fast and appears opportunistic and their offense favors the ball-controlled short passing game. The Texas defense should have enough horses to corral the Ole Miss running game and give them enough trouble up front, particularly when they drop back to pass. That puts the game on the shoulder of the Texas offense. If the Horns can score 30, Texas should win by 10 or more. If the Horns can't, then this will be a tight contest to the final whistle. Look for Texas to try to score early against the Rebels and make the home team play catch up. But will the strategy work? I think Texas still has some work ahead of itself on offense.
Texas 30, Ole Miss 17
The vibe I got this week from being around the team was that the players and coaches really do respect Ole Miss. The Rebels have already equalled their win total from last season and Bo Wallace appears to be running the offense efficiently. But as much respect as the Longhorns have for Hugh Freeze's ball club, this is the type of game where the Longhorns can make a statement. Go on the road and dominate the line of scrimmage against a team from a conference that prides itself on being a line-of-scrimmage league and the makeover the program has undergone gets further validated. Pressure Wallace and force him and the Ole Miss offense to make mistakes and the defense validates itself as one of the best in the country. Everyone expected Texas to assert itself as a dominant team through the first two games, but I liked the vibe I got from this team this week and it felt like a team that's tired of talking about possibly being good. It's ready to show it's good, and I think they do it on Saturday.
Texas 31, Ole Miss 17
Texas will have to get off to a fast start on both offense and defense vs. Ole Miss. This will be their first real test of the season and the first taste of an away game for some of the young talent. Look for Daje Johnson and Malcolm Brown to bring some excitement to a sometimes stagnant Texas offense. Kenny Vaccaro will get his wish because there will be plenty of excitement in this game. Lets hope the rest of his defensive teammates feel the excitement because they are going to have to play with that if they are going to win. Texas will need the special teams to make some of plays as well for Texas to win.
Texas 24, Ole Miss 17
While I do believe Ole Miss is an improved team, and certainly at the quarterback position, I think the Rebels offensive tackles could struggle against the Texas defensive ends and blitz packages. I believe this is a game in which Texas will play with a sense of urgency and intensity not seen yet this season, and will play their best game as a team. I look for the return game to be big on Saturday, and special teams in general. Texas moves on with a win, setting up the game in two weeks that will likely determine what type of season the Longhorns will enjoy - in Stillwater.
Texas 34, Ole Miss 20.
There's no doubt the Longhorns defense will be tested on Saturday, as Ole Miss comes into the game averaging just over 550 yards per game offensively and Bo Wallace has completed 76.7 percent of his passes. But lets throw all of that out the window, as Texas' D is a different animal, even if they haven't fully shown it yet. This is the type of game where Manny Diaz's talented group can go out and prove they're one of the best in the nation and I expect them to do that. I also expect Texas to establish the run game early and use it to open the passing game. It won't be s 45-0 blowout, but it won't be an ugly low scoring affair either.
Texas, 38, Ole Miss 16
Without question this game will be won in the trenches. The only chance Ole Miss has to win Saturday night is to keep Bo Wallace out of the turf and to not be pushed around by the Texas offensive line. The biggest threat to the Longhorns will be turnovers and a hostile environment. If David Ash can take care of the ball and the defense doesn't get flustered by the crowd, Texas' superior talent on both sides of the ball should prevail. Ole Miss has looked good so far this year, but it's been against very weak competition. I think the Texas defense plays for the full 60 minutes for the first time this year, and we begin to see how truly dangerous Texas' rushing game is in Oxford Saturday night.
Texas 31, Ole Miss 10