The hype train is about to start rolling for the Texas football program heading into the 2019 off-season. Where does that leave the Sooners?
The national implications for the Texas football program after this game-changing victory it claimed in the Allstate Sugar Bowl over the Georgia Bulldogs won’t be known until the 2019 regular season kicks off. There are some areas that will see the impact of the Sugar Bowl win for Texas football implemented in the next few months. Looming storylines like relentless off-season hype and speculation and some likely additional success on the recruiting trail are going to be two of the areas where Texas football will see the immediate impact of the Sugar Bowl upset.
This is the first major postseason victory for the Texas football program since knocking off the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, which capped a fantastic 2008 campaign that left a bad taste with this fan base. Many thought the Texas Longhorns deserved a shot in the BCS National Title Game in 2008, but that was a weird year through and through that would take a long time to revisit.
A positive note that Texas football fans shouldn’t overlook anytime soon was the success this team saw against its biggest conference rival in 2018 with the Oklahoma Sooners. If not for a big lapse in the second half of the Big 12 Championship Game, we could be looking at a Texas team that had the chance at knocking off the Sooners twice in one season.
Moreover, Texas didn’t even have a shot at pulling off a feat like that in more than a century. Oklahoma used to go back and forth with the Horns to claim the rights I Big 12 supremacy, but that all changed after the 2009 BCS National Championship Game. After that loss for the Horns to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Oklahoma for all intents and purposes ran the Big 12.
And, after the Sooners claimed the Big 12 Championship Game over the Horns this year, that program now has a stake in the last four conference titles. The real question as it pertains to the Horns, though, is a potential shift in the balance of power in the Big 12.
With some recently prominent contenders in the Big 12 falling off in 2018, the Red River Showdown looks to be moving back into the light of national relevance. Programs like the TCU Horned Frogs and Oklahoma State Cowboys could now be playing third and fourth fiddle to the Horns and Sooners in the Big 12 moving forward.
In all likelihood, the coaching faces of the Big 12 for the next few years at least will be Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and head Texas football coach Tom Herman. All Herman needs to overtake Riley is continue what he did in the first Red River meeting this year to some level of consistency in the coming seasons to have a shot at claiming the first Big 12 Title for the Horns in a long time.
The evidence that the Horns could be getting a leg up was displayed during the postseason. Oklahoma should be a contender in the Big 12 for a while, but it is going to lose its most valuable player by far next year to the MLB. Without Heisman winning quarterback Kyler Murray in the mix in Norman, OK, the Sooners could take a pretty big step back next year.
Meanwhile, Texas held its own against an SEC opponent that the Sooners lost to in the College Football Playoff last season. Georgia wasn’t the same team this year that it was last, but the evidence could be mounting from the bowl season that the Horns could even rise beyond the Sooners in the Big 12 not too far into the future, with its sophomore sensation quarterback Sam Ehlinger returning to lead the way in 2019 and possibly 2020.