Your Underdog Longhorns: Mack Brown’s History and Success as the Long Shot

Mack Brown's win percentage as an underdog is nearly double the average. (Photo Credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

"Why did I think I could? Because I knew I could. I knew the more people tell me I can't do something, I'm gonna make sure I can." - Case McCoy on defeating OU

“Underdog” is not a title this team shies away from. Though Mack Brown and the Longhorns don't often play with the odds stacked against them, their history and record shows they’re more than comfortable with it.

In the 15 seasons, 205 games Brown has coached, the Longhorns have been underdogs only 38 times. That’s a .185 underdog percentage, which means the Longhorns were favored 81.5 percent of the time since Brown took the reins as head coach.

This year has been a little different. The game tonight in San Antonio will mark the fourth time this season a Texas opponent is favored to win. But before you write off the Longhorns, let’s take a closer look at how Brown and Texas have fared as underdogs.

In the 38 games Brown’s Longhorns have been underdogs, they’ve gone 16-22, which is a .421 win percentage. Of course, this is a far cry from Brown’s .771 win percentage as head coach for the Longhorns. But, since the Longhorns were underdogs, one would expect this to be the case.

How does Brown’s win percentage as an underdog stack up? According to Phil Steeles’ College Football Blog, the underdog wins, on average, 24 percent of the time. So, by that we can devise that Brown’s .421 win percentage obliterates the average.

Even when taking spread into account, Brown’s record remains astounding.

2023 Texas Longhorns Football Season Tickets

When the Longhorns are underdogs, the average spread is 6.3 points per game. In these instances, according to Phil Steeles’ College Football Blog, the underdog wins only 31 percent of the time. Again, Brown’s .421 win percentage reigns supreme.

The “Underdog” Longhorns

Favored Underdog Record Win% Avg. Win% Bowl Games Win%
167 38 16-22 .421 .240 3-2 .600

Oregon is the favorite to win by two touchdowns, which marks the third time this season the Longhorns have been underdogs by 13 points or more. The other two came against Oklahoma and Baylor. Before this season, Brown’s Longhorns were underdogs by 10 points or more only five times. And before the Longhorns’ upset over Oklahoma, Brown went 0-5 in those games. Though this may be disconcerting, keep in mind teams that are underdogs by 10 points or more only win 11 percent of the time. So, Brown’s .142 win percentage in those instances is still above average.

Bowl games are where Brown has always shined, and nothing has changed. In bowl games, Brown’s Longhorns have gone 3-2 as underdogs, an amazing .600 win percentage. This includes last season's win over Oregon State, where the Beavers were favored to win by three points.

It's also clear that Brown's success carried over from his days at North Carolina, where he went 11-11, a .500 win percentage, as an underdog since the 1991 season. He also went 1-0 as underdog in bowl games. Again, it's not a position Brown has dealt with on a weekly basis, but his success as an underdog speaks for itself.

With all the injuries, media bombardments, coaching carousels, and drama –  combined with quarterback Case McCoy famously reveling in the name “underdog” – one would be hard pressed to find a more fitting way for this team to go out than as underdogs.

Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: