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The Mack Brown era in Austin is over, after 16 seasons, 158 wins, two Big 12 championships and one national title. Texas also posted a run of nine straight seasons of at least 10 wins, but over recent seasons the Longhorns had gone stale, settling for berths in the Holiday and Alamo bowls.

Texas actually fought through a slew of injuries last season to get within a win of the Big 12 title, but Baylor had other plans. Now it's up to Charlie Strong, who went 37-16 in four seasons at Louisville, to revive this program, and fortunately for him a lot of the ingredients are already in place. It may just be a matter of an attitude adjustment to return the 'Horns to championship-contention status.

Texas Odds to Win Big 12: 15/2 at Bovada
Texas Odds to Win College Football Championship: 66/1 at Bovada
Texas Regular Season Win Total: 7.5 at Bovada

Texas started 1-2 last year, with losses to BYU and Ole Miss by a combined 40 points. But the Longhorns woke up and won their first six Big 12 games, beating the likes of Kansas State and Oklahoma. Texas then lost at home to Oklahoma State, beat Texas Tech, but with the conference title on the line lost at Baylor. The banged-up Longhorns then also lost the Alamo Bowl to Oregon State to finish 8-5 SU, just 6-7 ATS.

Over the last four seasons under Coach Brown Texas went 30-21 SU, just 22-29 ATS.

This year Coach Strong inherits 15 starters, so the cupboard isn't exactly bare. Seven starters are back on offense, including QB David Ash and a pair of top-notch running backs, but they'll have to replace three starters along the offensive line. And eight starters return on what has a chance to be one of the best defenses in the country.

This year's schedule includes an early-season rematch at home with BYU, then a meeting with UCLA in Arlington. Texas later hosts Baylor and TCU, and plays at Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. And there's always the Red River Shootout with Oklahoma in Dallas.

With a new coaching regime comes new systems, and a learning curve. But if the Longhorns can respond quickly, sweep their home games, beat the Sooners and pick up and least a couple wins on the road, they could win the Big 12. Is that asking too much?

Big 12 Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5

Oklahoma 2/3
Baylor 11/4
Texas 15/2
Kansas State 10/1
Oklahoma State 10/1
TCU 14/1
Texas Tech 20/1
West Virginia 66/1
Iowa State 100/1
Kansas 100/1

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The Texas Longhorns had another disappointing year in 2012, going just 9-4 SU and 6-7 ATS. Texas continues to bring in top recruiting classes each year, but for three straight seasons the team hasn’t played up to its potential. Will this be the year that Texas gets back to being an elite football program?

Odds to Win Big 12: +295 at 5Dimes
Regular Season Win Total: 9.5 at Bovada

In nine seasons from 2001 to 2009, the Texas Longhorns were one of the most consistent programs in the country, never failing to win at least 10 games. But over the last three seasons, Texas has failed to reach the 10-win mark and is 20-16 SU in regular season play. The Longhorns were just 5-4 SU and 3-6 ATS in Big 12 play last season.

This has to be the year that Texas gets back on track. The team returns 10 starters on an offense that played well last season, finishing 24th in the nation in scoring with 36.1 points per game. After years of entering the season amidst a quarterback controversy, David Ash enters the 2013 season as the clear-cut starter after passing for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. The team is installing a spread attack this season, and with so much returning talent and speed this should only mean more production on offense.

Texas’ defense was a disappointment last year, especially against the run. The Longhorns allowed 192 yards per game on the ground last season and were torched for 10 rushing touchdowns against over their last three games of the year. Loaded with front seven talent that grades out to be NFL-caliber someday, the lack of production on this side of the ball doesn’t make sense. Whether the issue is attitude based or scheme based, it must be resolved if Texas hopes to slow down the explosive offenses it will face in the Big 12.

On paper, no team in the conference is more talented than Texas. But potential and talent only go so far, and at some point the Longhorns need to stop making excuses and start competing for conference titles again.

Big 12 Conference Odds at 5Dimes as of August 9

Oklahoma State +260
Texas +295
Oklahoma +390
TCU +395
Baylor +1500
Kansas State +1600
Texas Tech +2500
West Virginia +2500
Iowa State +4500
Kansas +10000

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