Texas’ inaugural SEC schedule is about as docile as can be
While the 2024 Longhorns have a couple of doozies in store for them, their schedule in its entirety is not nearly as intimidating as what SEC fanboys had us all bracing ourselves for.
As a Southeastern school, Texas will only face eight league games instead of the Big 12’s nine; of those eight, just half of them finished 2023 with winning records (Oklahoma, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas A&M), and half of those went 7-6 (Kentucky and Texas A&M). To make matters even better, Texas will only have to face one of the four in enemy territory (Texas A&M). I don’t care how tough the SEC allegedly is, I just know that Washington would kill to have that forgiving of a conference slate.
While the Longhorns have a whopping two universally tough conference games amongst their four against winning programs, the Huskies have four amongst eight -- yes, you read that right.
Washington has to face eight programs coming off positive seasons in their first year of Big Ten play, with the tougher half consisting of games against Michigan (15-0 national champ), Iowa (10-win Big Ten runner-up, has to go to the objectively brutal Kinnick Stadium), Penn State (tougher 10-win bunch than Iowa, Beaver Stadium is also ruthless), and Oregon (12-win rival/Pac-12 runner-up, Autzen Stadium is a frightening scene as well).
All of this goes without even mentioning the other factors that serve as massive disadvantages for the Huskies, such as them having to play an extra conference opponent — which has been statistically proven to make running the table exponentially harder — and them losing virtually all of the personnel that led them to the CFP, including pieces as large as quarterback Michael Penix Jr., wide receiver Rome Odunze and head coach Kalen DeBoer.
Looking over at the SMU Mustangs, they actually have about as comfortable of a conference schedule as Power Five newbies could ask for, with their league play appearing quite similar to that of the Longhorns: eight games, only half are against winning teams (Duke, Louisville, Boston College, Florida State), one of which went 7-6 (Boston College). Beyond that, another one of the four, similarly to Washington, lost its spectacular head coach-quarterback duo (Duke).
It’s not all daisies and roses for the Mustangs, though, as we can’t forget the basic fact that an “easy” Power Five schedule is nonetheless a Power Five schedule, still being tough for a bunch that is new to the level.
Not only that, but they also have the great misfortune of facing both representatives from last year’s ACC title game, with one of them, Louisville, having home-field advantage. And no, while FSU has lost a lot of its 2023 playmakers, the Seminoles haven’t stooped to the level of someone like Duke, as they’ve locked down head coach Mike Norvell and kept their competitive edge stronger with offseason acquisitions like quarterback transfer D.J. Uiagalelei.
That just leaves the fourth and final ACC power to circle on SMU’s schedule, the Boston College Eagles. While they entered their bowl game 6-6 before barely finishing the year with a winning record, the team they beat and by how much is undeniably important, as it was the Mustangs themselves by a two-possession margin of 23-14. Even with QB Preston Stone out, that definitely harmed SMU’s confidence entering its already-daunting future.
Simply put, next season’s Texas Longhorns have the best of both worlds; they have crucial personnel returning to a manageable schedule (unlike Washington) and have been adequately battle-tested for the jump in their competition’s size (unlike SMU). By that definition, they are unquestionably the relocating conference champs with the strongest odds to win their new league in 2024.