Tom Herman relishes the spotlight.
The bigger the game, the better his teams seem to perform.
The Texas coach’s success against top-25 opponents as the head coach at Houston has been well documented. 6-0 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and 3-0 against teams ranked in the top 10.
However, Herman has been a dragon slayer for much longer than the past two years.
If you add in his time as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State, he’s 15-2 against the AP top 25, and 6-1 against the top 10.
In that same stretch of time the Texas Longhorns are 8-17 against teams within the top 25, and 3-7 against teams in the top 10.
Its obvious that Herman has something that Texas has desperately missed over the past five seasons, but what exactly is it?
When you dive into Herman’s performance against ranked opponents, you’ll find that Herman’s teams not only win big games, they dominate them. The average margin of victory is 14.7 points and the Cougars averaged 38 points per game in such instances. Those stats scream confidence. Herman’s teams have always started fast, and dominated the end of games.
Can Herman instill the same type of confidence in the Texas Longhorns on Saturday when they roll into the Los Angeles Coliseum?
In order for Texas to pull off a colossal upset on Saturday, they’re going to have to keep from beating themselves. That means keep the penalties at a minimum and not turning the ball over. While those things are obvious to the casual Longhorns fan, they are direct byproducts of confidence. A team with confidence tends to be more disciplined and sure of themselves on the field. By comparison, in Herman’s 6-0 record against the Top 25 as a head coach, his teams committed only two turnovers and averaged just four penalties.
If Texas takes after Houston in that aspect, the ‘Horns should be in good shape, but it will be an uphill battle.
“We’re the underdogs,” Herman said. “They’ve been doing this awhile at Southern Cal. They had a great season last year, their quarterback is as good as there is in the country, their skill-position players are all over the place and as good as there are in the country, the coaching staff and their schemes are as good as there is in the country.”
So the question then becomes, does Texas think it can beat USC on Saturday? The answers may determine the outcome.