SAN ANTONIO – We are now just five days away from the New Year’s Eve showdown that will feature two teams who both will be looking for a strong postseason finish. The end of the regular season did not end favorably for the Texas Longhorns, nor the No. 11 Utah Utes, but both teams get one more chance to prove themselves under the bright lights in San Antonio next Tuesday.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for when you watch Texas on New Year’s Eve. The Longhorns seek what would arguably be their most impressive win of the season.
1. Orlando and Beck
For the first time since 2017, a year after head coach Tom Herman took over the team; the Texas Longhorns will play a game without Todd Orlando and Tim Beck serving as the coordinators on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, this is no surprise, as Texas’ 35 points per game allowed this year didn’t exactly come anywhere near meeting the standards for this program.
Beck will remain on the sideline as the quarterback’s coach, but he will no longer serve as the coordinator. Herman was deemed in charge of play-calling, but the team’s struggle to execute game plans devised by Beck and himself forced Herman to make a slight change. Let us see if the team plays with a little extra energy after these major shifts.
2. Texas the Team with More to Prove
While Utah certainly would not like to come out flat against the Longhorns and get upset on national television, Texas is the team with more to prove in this game. They were last year against Georgia, and the same applies this year. After a roller-coaster of a season, a win over a team that nearly could’ve made the College Football Playoff will make the conclusion of the 2019 season a little easier to swallow, especially for the graduating seniors. Another up-and-down year has left the Longhorns and their fans disappointed, but they can shift the narrative with a win on Tuesday.
3. It’s Been Awhile
One problem that many people have with the Bowl Game Schedule, especially diehard fans who love to watch football every Saturday, is the wait between the end of the regular season and the bowl games. Come Tuesday; it will be roughly a month since either of these teams have stepped foot on the field for a game. Expect to see some rust, but both of these teams have something to prove in this game, so I don’t imagine that rust lasting past the first few drives.
4. Close to Home
It is a bonus when a team doesn’t have to step on a plane for a road game or a neutral field. While the Utes will travel down to San Antonio from Utah, the Alamodome is not even a two-hour drive from where the Texas Longhorns play their home games. Anticipate a loud, burnt orange-colored crowd on Tuesday. The Texas faithful travels well, so expect this one to feel like a home game for the underdog Longhorns.
5. Calm the Storm
After a rocky season and a difficult last month for the Texas Longhorns, they have a chance on Tuesday to beat a solid Utah team and potentially go into the offseason with some confidence. With the disappointment of a regular season, a win against one of the country’s better teams would help make the spring and summer a little smoother for the Longhorns. It will also assure their strong new class of recruits that they made the right decision by choosing the University of Texas. While I don’t anticipate Sam Ehlinger telling the country that Texas is “back,” if they win this game, there are plenty of guys in that locker room who know how much a win in this game would mean to the program.
The Utes will come into the game as a 7-point favorite (Bovada) over the ‘Horns. Yet, something tells me that fuels the fire a little more for Herman and the players. Right now, it is the Texas Longhorns against the world. Unless you’re a Texas fan, you probably want to see the Longhorns lose. That is what comes with being a part of the Texas Football program. Expect the guys in burnt orange to come out with a collective chip on their shoulder, as they look to win their third consecutive bowl game in as many appearances against a tough team from Utah.