There's a standard of success when coming to Texas for football. For the Longhorns, that standard has fallen flat since the second quarter of the 2009 national championship game in Pasadena, Calif.
Steve Sarkisian is looking to be the right head coach to bring Texas back to relevance for the next decade on the Forty Acres. The Horns haven't won a Big 12 title since 2009. Outside of a Sugar Bowl appearance against Georgia in January of 2019, most of the bowl games have been quiet as well.
Texas has the roster and recruits to make what could feel like a rebuild more of a tune-up. Tom Herman went 32-18 with four bowl wins along the way. Will Sark be able to take Texas to the College Football Playoff Year 1.
Based on the Sporting News preseason rankings, they'll be lucky to make a New Year's Six Bowl.
Sporting News' Bill Bender recently ranked his preseason top 25 for the upcoming season. Texas missed out of the top 10 but still will kick off the season still in a great location overall at No. 13.
The Steve Sarkisian era in Austin begins. The Longhorns' offense averaged 42.7 points per game last season, but Sam Ehlinger is gone. Casey Thompson and Hudson Card are battling for the starting job, and that should extend into fall camp. Running back Bijan Robinson and a talented group of receivers return, but as usual the questions are on the defensive side. What can Sarkisian do to improve that side of the ball? Texas lost three games by a total of 13 points last season. That's the difference in the Big 12 race, which will be tight with Oklahoma and Iowa State. - Bill Bender
The biggest storyline will take place under center. Thompson, who spent the past two seasons backing up Ehlinger, went 7-of-10 for 180 yards and four touchdown passes in the Alamo Bowl victory over Colorado.
Card, a former five-star and Lake Travis native does provide more in the run game as a dual-threat option. Sarkisian elected not to name a quarterback following spring practice, meaning the battle should be underway for at least the first several games this fall.
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Betting analysts are expecting a big campaign from Robinson, who might enter 2021 as the hottest running back in the country. Following his back-to-back 170-plus yard outings to close out the season, odds are in his favor to be a front-runner for the Heisman.
The Tucson, Ariz. native rushed for 703 in nine games last season — 523 of which came in the final four games. Those numbers should double with a full season at hand and an expanded role in Sarkisian's offense.
Texas enters Bender's rankings as the No. 3 Big 12 program. Oklahoma currently is sitting at No. 4 to begin the season while Iowa State will start at No. 9, respectively. Last season, both of Texas' losses came to the two opponents.
Both schools are expected to once again contend for the Big 12 title once again. Offensively, the Sooners will be returning Spencer Rattler, a front-runner for the Heisman and potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
For the Cyclones, quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar all will return.
Of the other seven programs, only Oklahoma State finished with a top 25 ranking. They will start the new campaign as the No. 17 program behind Spencer Sanders and Brennan Presley.
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