The Longhorns’ Success Following a Bye Week
The bye week can be a welcomed break or a pre-determined excuse for lousy play. If a team wins the game after a bye week, it’s because they were well rested. If a team loses, it’s because they were rusty. Well, if precedent has any say in the matter, the Longhorns should be well rested tonight.
In the Mack Brown-era, the Longhorns have gone 13-1 in games following a bye week. That’s a .929 win percentage in such games, a big hike from Brown’s still-stellar .771 win percentage at Texas.
Furthermore, the Longhorns have outscored their opponents by a whopping 21.8 points per game directly following a bye week.
Though the bye week is, more times than not, early in the season, eight of the 14 games following a bye week came against conference foes; the Longhorns’ record is an unscathed 8-0 in these games. In fact, each of the last four years (years the Longhorns struggled compared to Brown’s previous seasons) the Longhorns played exclusively conference games after a bye week and outscored their opponents by an average of 20.4 ppg.
The last time the Longhorns lost after a week of rest came against Arkansas in 2003. Chance Mock, who was relegated to two-minute drill specialist later that year, started over Vince Young in the post-Chris Simms quarterback duel, and Texas lost 38-28.
A bye week is a common, nearly-annual occurrence for all college football teams (I say “nearly-annual” because in 2006 and 2007 the Longhorns did not have a bye week as teams began scheduling 12 games per year instead of 11, and the NCAA schedule had not yet evolved in concurrence with this practice). Though a bye week is precedent, playing on a Thursday that isn’t Thanksgiving is not (that is unless you are Boise State). Tonight marks the first time in the Mack Brown-era that Texas plays on a Thursday night that does not fall on Thanksgiving.
The only time Texas played a non-Saturday, non-rivalry game was the first game of the 2003 season, where the Longhorns beat common non-conference foe New Mexico State 66-7. However, if you add rivalry games (Texas A&M and TCU) to the mix, the Longhorns are 10-5 in games that fall on a Thursday in the Mack Brown-era, with a 10-4 record against A&M.