2012 Texas Longhorns College Football Expert Predictions, Picks, Vegas Odds and Schedule – Texas College Football Preview: Just a few years ago, the Texas Longhorns were the most consistent program in college football. However, a sudden and dramatic decline the last two years has knocked Mack Brown’s bunch from the ranks of the elite. It was so bad two years ago that last season’s 8-5 mark was a step in the right direction. Still, this a program that is used to rebuilding, and any season that doesn’t involve the Longhorns contending for a conference title and a BCS bowl is ultimately a failure in the eyes of the Texas fan base. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, getting back to the top in a reshuffled Big 12 is going to be easier said than done.

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It’s easy to pinpoint where the trouble began for Texas. After quarterback Vince Young led the Longhorns to multiple BCS bowls and a national title, Colt McCoy took the reins and continued the success. National High School Player of the Year Garrett Gilbert was supposed to be the next in line, and after nearly leading a comeback as true freshman when he was forced into emergency duty in the BCS title game, Gilbert seemed up to the task. However, he struggled as a full-time starter the next season and eventually transferred to SMU. Texas has been looking for a QB to lead the offense ever since.

This season, the burden will fall on David Ash to lead the Longhorns back into the national spotlight. He has plenty of speed at receiver, and he did improve toward the end of last season, Perhaps more importantly, he is the unquestioned starter entering this season and has been practicing exclusively with the first team. Ash will probably never be a playmaker like Young or McCoy, but he doesn’t have to be for Texas to be successful. The Longhorns are loaded at running back, and four starters are back on the offensive line. With Malcolm Brown and company pounding away on the ground, Ash can get away with being a game manager. If he can avoid turnovers and hit a big play down the field every now and then, the Texas offense will be just fine.

A power running game also plays right into the real strength of this team – the defense. After ranking second in the Big 12 last year in points allowed, this year’s unit could be even better. On the front line, defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat rush the passer as well as any duo in the country. The secondary features two excellent corners in Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs and a hard-hitting playmaker at safety in Kenny Vaccaro. A stout pass defense is a must in the pass-happy conference like the Big 12, and the Longhorns certainly have the personnel to keep any offense in check. If the offense can improve at all, the defense might be able to do the rest.

The X-factor for this year’s team could be the second-ranked recruiting class brought in by Brown. A five-star defensive tackle in Malcom Brown is among several players that will add size and strength to the middle of the defensive front. The new additions will also add much-needed depth for a front line that got worn down late in games at times last season. On the offensive side of the ball, five-star running back Johnathan Gray will only add to Texas’ talented backfield, and Cayleb Jones and Kendall Sanders should quickly become useful weapons for Ash in the passing game.

Looking at the schedule, a three-game stretch in the middle of the year will likely decide the season for the Longhorns. A road game against Oklahoma State is followed by home games against West Virginia and Oklahoma. All three teams have high-powered offenses, last season, the Cowboys and Sooners simply overwhelmed Texas. Newcomer to the Big 12 TCU could be a tough matchup at the end of the season, but when it comes down to it, the danger zone for the Longhorns is the three-game gauntlet starting in late September and ending in the middle of October.

At the end of the day, Texas might be in the wrong conference for their current roster. Even a great defense like the one the Longhorns have assembled can look bad against the high-powered spread attacks of the Big 12, especially when the Texas offense can’t stay on the field. An improved Ash and an excellent ground game should help the Longhorns’ offense rebound rather dramatically this season, but this still isn’t a group that is going to be able to put up a ton of points on a consistent basis. That isn’t going to get it done in the Big 12. Texas is heading in the right direction, but Brown’s bunch is taking baby steps.

Prediction: 9-3, Third Place in Big 12

Preseason 2012 Texas Longhorns NCAA Football Odds:
Odds to Win 2012 BCS Championship: +2800
Odds to Win 2012 Big 12 Champonship: +300
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2012 Texas Longhorns College Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 1 Wyoming TBA —
Sat, Sep 8 New Mexico TBA —
Sat, Sep 15 at Mississippi 9:15 pm —
Sat, Sep 29 at (3) Oklahoma State TBA —
Sat, Oct 6 (17) West Virginia TBA —
Sat, Oct 13 at (16) Oklahoma TBA —
Sat, Oct 20 (13) Baylor TBA —
Sat, Oct 27 at Kansas TBA —
Sat, Nov 3 at Texas Tech TBA —
Sat, Nov 10 Iowa State TBA —
Sat, Nov 24 (14) TCU TBA —
Sat, Dec 1 at (15) Kansas State TBA —

Check out NSAwins.com’s official 2012 Big 12 Football Predictions and Odds article.

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