The Texas Longhorns narrowly avoided a huge upset last Saturday night against the Wyoming Cowboys, winning the game 31-10. Texas, of course, was coming off one of its biggest wins in years, defeating the always highly-talented Alabama Crimson Tide on their own home turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium, no less.
For the longest time, whenever the Texas football program would secure a significant win, they would soon falter shortly after, losing to a team they shouldn't have in some sort of an upset. It would go from “Texas is back!” to “Texas is back down again.” Many wondered how they would respond after their win over Alabama, where they controlled the game for most of it and looked far superior to the Nick Saban-led team. Wyoming was next up and did a great job making Longhorns' fans anxious for at least three quarters.
Coming into the game, it should have been clear that the Wyoming football team was no pushover. In Week 1, they took down one of Texas' Big 12 foes, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Red Raiders entered the season as a team that could cause some noise and make some upsets within the Big 12 Conference. Then came Wyoming into Lubbock, TX and upset them 35-33. So, entering Saturday's contest against the Cowboys had all the makings of an upset game for the Longhorns. But should there be concerns for Texas football moving forward? Here are some to think about.
2. Inconsistency from Quinn Ewers
If you want Quinn Ewers to play his best football, put Alabama on the schedule. Even last year before he got injured, Ewers was playing some of his best football in that game, where most thought Texas may not have lost the game had he not gotten injured. Ewers looked great again in this year's Alabama game, where he threw for 349 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. That doesn't happen too often against Alabama's defenses.
But against Wyoming, Ewers looked wildly inconsistent. He threw for only 131 yards and two touchdowns, making a number of errant throws, yet somehow escaping without any interceptions. Texas is likely to face better offenses as they progress through the rest of their Big 12 schedule. Granted, Texas has quite the defense this season, but if the Longhorns keep finding themselves in three-and-out situations, unable to convert, they could easily put that defense in bad predicaments. Therefore, Texas could find themselves in potential shootouts, especially against their bitter rival, Oklahoma, who has been lighting up the scoreboard as of late, albeit against softer opponents.
Texas wants to go out with a Big 12 title, making the playoffs. This is the most talented team they've had that is definitely built to do all of that. But their most important position of play has to be at quarterback with Ewers. Maybe it was an Alabama hangover, but whatever the reason, Ewers will need to clean it up as the season continues to progress. Speaking of Alabama hangover…
1. Overcoming the Alabama victory hangover
For many teams, beating Alabama is the epitome of their seasons. That's easy to understand. Most years, anytime you're facing Alabama on the schedule, you're more than likely facing the best team in the country, and by beating them, it can essentially feel like winning the national championship. But for Texas, that cannot be the case.
Again, this Texas football team was built specifically to beat Alabama. But if you can beat a team like Alabama, you can just about beat anybody. All the weapons are there for Texas, even the defense now, which has continued to improve every year under head coach Steve Sarkisian. But beating Alabama can be a blessing and a curse.
Just look at how elated Sarkisian and Texas were after beating Alabama two weeks ago. They celebrated like they had won the national championship, with cigars and everything. It definitely felt like Texas had never been there before. So it really shouldn't be surprising that Texas looked flat the very next week against Wyoming. Thankfully for the Longhorns, their talent and depth overcame the rest of their shortcomings and outdueled the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points.
“We had a lot of sore backs from people patting us on the back congratulating us,“ Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said, per The Associated Press via ESPN. “It’s human nature to get distracted by that and you lose sight of what’s right in front of you.”
This was just one game, though. Texas will have to prove that they can overcome this hangover the rest of the season, where they'll be fighting through grit and grind not to shout ‘Texas is back!” There are too many lofty aspirations for this Texas football team to let one game determine their whole season. This might be the biggest challenge the Longhorns face the rest of the season, not the teams on their schedule.