The only cure for a loss is a win. The fans, media, talking heads, and even ESPN passer byers with little-to-no knowledge of college football will continue to rake Mack Brown over the coals until the Longhorns increase their win count.
Following this past week’s loss in Provo, one would suspect the Longhorns to be hyped, prepared and eager for their upcoming game against Ole Miss. This made me wonder, how have the Horns historically fared in games following a loss? I ask this not as a way to prognosticate this weekend’s game, but as a mere fan and journalist obsessed with history.
In the Mack Brown era, the Longhorns have followed 26 losses (assuming those losses were preceded by wins) with 16 wins and 10 losses. This makes for a .615 win percentage in such situations. This is not a bad percentage by any stretch of the imagination. However, when considering Brown’s .774 win percentage at Texas, this number seems far less impressive. NOTE: The caveat, and ironic thing, being that Brown’s astonishing win percentage at UT (.774) makes it unfair to compare Brown even to himself.
But it’s modern history that’s even more telling of the Longhorns’ struggles following a loss.
In four of the last five seasons, Texas followed its first defeat of the season with another strike in the loss column. In addition, five of the last six losses were preceded by another loss, each to a ranked opponent. This makes five back-to-back defeats in three seasons at Texas. Just last season, the Horns’ four losses came in the form of two separate back-to-back defeats. The Longhorns lost those games by an average of 30 points.
The average margin of defeat for the second game of a back-to-back loss is 16.1. This is nearly two points higher than the average margin of defeat for all other losses, 14.2.
Against ranked opponents, the Longhorns have fared even worse. In games against ranked opponents following a loss, the Horns are 4-10 in the Mack Brown era (an apt stat considering Ole Miss’ current AP ranking of 25).
Despite the grim history, there are some positives. For instance, Texas has yet to lose two non-conference games in the same season post Mackovic. Also, Brown’s win percentage in such games (.615) is hardly anything to scoff at. In fact, a gambling man would gladly take such odds at the craps table.
Brown has delivered the moon while fans want the sun, and he has been unjustly criticized. However, it’s difficult to ignore Texas’ recent struggles in games similar to the one they face Saturday.
There’s no doubting the enormity of Saturday’s game at DKR. Not only is Texas trying to calm a legion of vocal fans and justify all of their preseason hype, but this game pits the Horns against a ranked SEC opponent. If the Longhorns come out victorious, the recent struggles of back-to-back losses will be but footnote, and the Longhorns will enter conference play with some major momentum.