4 Reasons Why Texas Is Guaranteed To Win The Big 12 This Season

The Texas Longhorns fell well short of the storied program's expectations in the Charlie Strong era, but he did lay the foundation for a breakthrough season, which we believe will be this season. Led by new head coach Tom Herman, quarterback Shane Buechele and a roster full of young talent, the sky appears to be the limit for this Texas team - making them the dark horse in the Big 12 race. Here are four reasons why they'll win the conference this year:

1) Shane Buechele becoming a star

Shane Buechele is going to be Texas' starting quarterback next season, no matter what Herman refuses to say. He was dynamite early in the season but fell apart late, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions in the last three games of the year (all losses). Some of that can be blamed on him being a true freshman, but the Longhorns can't afford him to have any kind of a drop off. Luckily, it looks like that won't happen.

Now that Tom Herman is in town, Buechele is expected to take another (big) leap forward by becoming more consistent in his decision-making. If Herman can get him to play like some of his other pupils (J.T. Barrett, Greg Ward), the Texas offense will shine.

2) Improved defense

Last year, the Longhorns ranked 93rd in total defense and 90th in points allowed per game. Opponents routinely gashed them with ease - seven teams scored over 30 points on them, including four who scored over 40. 

Herman is bringing defensive coordinator Todd Orlando with him from Houston, who is known for his aggressive, blitzing style of defense. It worked for the Cougars last year, who ranked 14th in total defense. Texas is counting on seeing similar success this year, and that will be greatly helped by the improvement of Malik Jefferson.

As a true freshman in 2015, Jefferson showed all the indicators of a star, racking up 61 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks despite being limited with injuries. However, he wasn't nearly as effective as a sophomore and had minimal impact week in and week out. All indications out of Austin are that he's ready to lead this defense and fulfill his potential.

3) Favorable schedule

The Longhorns do have a big road game at USC in the third week of the season, but other than that, they don't have to hit the road for their most important games. Oklahoma State has to come to Austin, and Oklahoma looks more beatable with a first-year head coach. Texas does face Baylor and TCU on the road in back-to-back weeks, but both programs are rebuilding. The schedule certainly sets up well for a big season from the Longhorns.

4) Tom Herman Effect

Herman brings a winning mentality and a proven track record to Austin while also re-invigorating the program with his energy and competitiveness. He has only been a head coach for two years, but immediately turned Houston into a national power, going 13-1 in his first year and knocking off teams like Louisville, Memphis and Florida State. His 22-4 career record reminds us of his mentor, Urban Meyer, and he has shown he knows how to get the most out of his players immediately.

With a more talented roster than he's ever had to work with, the Longhorns should be in for big things in 2017.

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Related Topics: Tom Herman, Texas Longhorns Football, Big 12 Football, NCAA Football, Shane Buechele