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College football 2019: Are the Texas Longhorns really back?

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger leaps into the end zone to score against Oklahoma on Oct. 6, 2018.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger leaps into the end zone to score against Oklahoma on Oct. 6.
(Nick Wagner / Associated Press)

J. Brady McCollough examines the 25 biggest storylines in college football heading into the season. The fourth installment looks at the Longhorns’ resurgence.

We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of one of the all-time “what if” moments that helped shape college football’s modern history, and nobody knows that better than the Texas Longhorns.

In the 2010 BCS national championship game played at the Rose Bowl, No. 2 Texas faced No. 1 Alabama. Mack Brown and Nick Saban both were going for their second national title, with Saban gunning for his first with the Crimson Tide.

And then, less than four minutes into the game with Texas driving deep into Alabama territory, quarterback Colt McCoy kept the ball and took a lick that he later said was no different than hundreds of other hits he’d taken. As it turned out, this hit injured McCoy’s throwing shoulder, taking him out of the game.

Alabama went on to win 37-21 and both programs would never be the same.

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The Crimson Tide have won five national championships under Saban .

J. Brady McCollough examines the 25 biggest storylines in college football heading into the season. The third installment looks at the season’s biggest games.

With McCoy gone for good, Texas went 5-7 the next year, and Brown could not get the Longhorns to double-digit wins again before unceremoniously retiring after 2013. His replacement, Charlie Strong, flopped with an unthinkable three straight losing seasons .

But Texas appears to have recovered after two seasons with Tom Herman, the former Ohio State offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer who became a hot commodity on the coaching market by winning big at Houston.

Last year the Longhorns completed their first 10-win season since 2009 thanks to a win in the Sugar Bowl over a Georgia team that had bigger goals than a New Year’s Six bowl appearance. But can we actually say with confidence that Texas is … back?

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Let’s hope. College football is better when Bevo is happy and well fed, and goodness, Texas has suffered enough since McCoy’s heartbreaking injury in Pasadena.

Herman comes off a bit maniacal, but a harder edge is what the program was missing with laid-back personalities in Brown and Strong.

The buzz is that Texas practices are now taxing, physical affairs that are more aligned with what legendary coach Darrell K Royal demanded back in the program’s glory days.

And, for the first time since McCoy, Texas has a quarterback in Sam Ehlinger with the moxie and toughness to win big games.

Texas hosts Louisiana State on Sept. 7 in what is sure to be the highest-profile game of the first two weekends. Win that one, and the Longhorns will deserve all the attention they get.


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