Inside Texas forecasts defining games for Texas and its rivals

We’re going to find out what Texas is made of early in the season. The Longhorns face arguably college football’s most physical team in the Michigan Wolverines in their second game of the year.

Inside Texas’ Paul Wadlington and Ian Boyd discussed what we can glean from the early matchup. According to Wadlington, Michigan is one of the few teams with potential to impose its will against Texas. He delved into that assertion on Inside Texas Football’s “Deep Dive.”

“One of the quotes from (head coach) Sherrone Moore’s first press conference (was), ‘we will continue to attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. And I promise you, we will smash.’ … There won’t be many teams constructed that would be able to potentially do this to Texas, but if there is a team that could line up and grind down The University of Texas, that team might be Michigan.”

Ian Boyd has the same feel for how Michigan is going to attack Texas.

“They’re just going to come out and smack Texas in the mouth. And so we’re going to find out … is this Texas offensive line as good as we think it is, has (right guard) DJ Campbell made a leap, is (left guard) Hayden Conner ready to play at that level every week on the inside, and then can Texas hold up at defensive tackle without (T’Vondre) Sweat and (Byron) Murphy?”

If the Texas defense is as good as it purports to be, Boyd reasons that it should fare well due to the straightforward nature of the game plan. It’s no secret that Michigan wants to play “smashmouth” football. If the Longhorns struggle defensively, it could mean the team is in for a long season.

Offensively, Wadlington mentions that although Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian usually beats teams with scheme rather than tempo, this could be the week to speed up the game offensively. Michigan, who is built with imposing size, isn’t accustomed to seeing teams that effectively run tempo. The Longhorns could build an advantage with that strategy.

Across the Red River, Wadlington identifies Tennessee and Auburn as games where we will learn the most about Oklahoma prior to the annual shootout in the Cotton Bowl. Tennessee, whose pass rush ranked eighth nationally last season with 41 sacks, could view the Sooners’ offensive line, which replaces five starters, as vulnerable to pass rush. Wadlington adds that Auburn could have the Oklahoma game circled because of the Sooners’ inexperience at quarterback.

What is for sure is the Sooners will be more battle tested than last year when they play Texas. That will be a positive for an Oklahoma team with experience to gain. The downside is that Texas will likely be able to see more weaknesses exposed than it did in Oklahoma’s matchups with Arkansas State, SMU, Tulsa, Cincinnati and Iowa State prior to last year’s game.

As for the Longhorns’ other rival, we’ll know a lot more about the Texas A&M Aggies perhaps than any other opponent after having 11 games worth of game film. The Aggies’ “early indicator” game, however, comes in Week 1 when they face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish bring a similar style of physicality to what Michigan does at the line of scrimmage.

Certainly, both Texas and its rivals could see a significant transformation over the course of the season. In particular, both Oklahoma and Texas A&M could be much better at the end of the season for similar reasons.

The Sooners likely won’t be inexperienced at quarterback and offensive line by the end of the year. It’s why I predicted them to upset Alabama late in the year. The Aggies should be more comfortable in their new offensive system when they face the Longhorns.

Despite the changes that could transpire over the season, we’ll have an early indication of what the three teams are made of before the midway point of the 2024 season. Texas will face Michigan on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff on Sept. 7 in Ann Arbor.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire