Texas Football Breakdown: Scouting Week 8 at Houston

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2023 college football season is fast approaching, and the hype for Texas football in Year Three of the Steve Sarkisian era is high. The Longhorns bring back 17 starters from a 2022 squad that won eight games and had flashes of greatness. Those flashes must become more consistent if the Horns want to leave their mark during their final season in the Big 12.

In July, Texas was selected atop the Big 12 Media Preseason Poll for the first time since 2009. The Horns received 41 of 63 first-place votes, ahead of Kansas State’s 14 and the four received by Oklahoma and Texas Tech. This solidified Texas as the program to beat in the Big 12 this fall.

The Longhorns first took the field for fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The hype for Texas football and the 2023 season has grown with every passing practice. It would be apropos to take a game-by-game look at the Longhorns’ 2023 opponents, diving into every aspect of what Texas will face this fall.

Take a look at the first six Texas games I previewed earlier this month:

Texas does not have to travel too far for their Week Eight road matchup against Houston. The 150-mile journey east provides a terrific opportunity for the Horns to put on a show in the fertile recruiting grounds of the greater Houston area. According to ESPN’s matchup predictor, the Horns have an 87.7 percent chance of beating the Cougars.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2023 Houston Cougars and their matchup against Texas.

Breaking down how Texas football matches up against Houston.


Head coach Dana Holgorsen and the Houston Cougars are a confident bunch as they make their transition from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 12. The Cougars are 20-7 over the last two seasons, finishing the 2021 season ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll.

Many believe Houston will struggle in their transition to the Big 12. The Cougars were picked 12th in the Preseason Media Poll. Despite this being Houston’s first season in the Big 12, Coach Holgorsen is no stranger to the conference. Holgorsen has spent 17 of the last 23 years coaching in the Big 12, including an eight-year run as the head coach of West Virginia. He held a 4-3 record against the Longhorns during his time in Morgantown.

Because of the low expectations, the Cougars will play with house money all season. Nothing would be more sweet for Houston than a win over Texas during this Big 12 transition season. Let’s get into the matchups.


Houston returns 77 percent of their offensive production from a season ago. This is good news for an offense that averaged 36.1 points and over 300 passing yards per game. The spread passing attack Coach Holgorsen has brought to Houston has been a smashing success.

The Cougars had an impossible off-season task of replacing four-year starting quarterback Clayton Tune. Tune racked up nearly 12,000 yards and over 100 touchdowns during his time at Houston. In comes Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith, a player Texas fans will remember from last year’s game in Lubbock. Smith brings a unique dual-threat ability and the means to push the ball down the field.

Sophomore receiver duo Matthew Golden and Sam Brown will look to fill the shoes of 2022 All-American Tank Dell. Golden and Brown have “take the top off the defense” speed, with Golden as the player likely to emerge as WR1. Joshua Cobbs transferred over from Wyoming and will be a solid red zone target.

Former West Virginia starter Tony Mathis will likely get the bulk of carries this fall. Mathis’ numbers don’t pop off the page, but he is a solid runner between the tackles and will help steady a Houston rushing attack that finished the 2022 season ranked 76th nationally in yards per game.

The Texas defense matches up well with Houston. The returners from last year’s team will be eager to get another chance against Donovan Smith. Smith will have to do a lot of improvising in this game. Besides two-time All-AAC left tackle Patrick Paul, the Cougars offensive line does not have many known commodities.


The Houston defense struggled mightily in 2022. They finished outside the top 100 in scoring, yards per play, third-down conversation percentage, and total defense. They gave up 279 yards per game through the air, good for 122nd nationally. The defense went through a lot of turnover this offseason, which should be good for a unit that struggled so much.

Nelson Ceaser will be the leader off the edge after tallying four sacks and 10 TFL last season. Oklahoma transfer David Ugwoegbu should also have a significant presence off the edge. On the inside, Chidozie Nwankwo returns as the starting nose tackle and will be supplemented by potential breakout sophomore Anthony Holmes.

The backend may once again be a problem for the Cougars. Houston loses their top four cornerbacks from a season ago. Transfers Brian George and Adari Haulcy have been added to the fold, but Houston has to hope there was a lot of in-house development this offseason.

The Cougars’ defense is susceptible from all angles. I expect Texas to look to get the ball in their athletes’ hands on the edge. Two-time captain Hasaan Hypolite is a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker, but one player alone will not be able to stop the team speed of Texas. This game is where gadget packages featuring guys like Keilan Robinson, DeAndre Moore, and Ryan Niblett could break out.


Houston will be ready for this matchup, and a potential night game against Coach Holgorsen under the lights of TDECU Stadium is a bit eerie. That said, Houston does not have the talent to keep up with this Texas team. Clayton Tune and Tank Dell are not walking out of that tunnel. Coming off a bye, Texas will be focused and ready to begin the second half of its season with a bang. – Texas 41 Houston 20

Projecting Texas' Week 1 two-deep depth chart. dark. Next