ARLINGTON, Texas — The last time Texas was the Big 12 frontrunner coming into the season, Colt McCoy was the quarterback, Mack Brown was the coach and the Obama Administration had just began.
In 2023, that changes. Texas was selected as the top team in the preseason Big 12 poll. In fact, the Longhorns are the overwhelming favorites — listed at even money to win the Big 12, per Caesars SportsBook. That trails only Georgia among all Power Five teams in conference title odds.
“This team is different,” Sarkisian said. “They have a different look in their eye. They look different on the hoof. They interact with one another differently. I’ve used the adage, I feel like this team is on a mission because that’s the approach they have every day that they show up in the facility.”
The Longhorns have not won the conference since Colt McCoy’s shoulder injury in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. A 2018 Big 12 title game loss to Oklahoma is as close as Texas has come to sniffing the league crown.
Seven Big 12 teams have been to the conference title game more recently than the ‘Horns. Five other teams – more than half of the returning Big 12 – have won conference championships more recently than the University of Texas.
The 2023 season ranks as one final chance before moving onto the SEC in 2024. It paints a unique bullseye on the Longhorns, especially as in-state foes like Baylor, Texas Tech and Houston play Texas for the final time.
“I mean I think there’s always a target on our back,” Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers said. “But we also put a target on our opponents. It’s kind of like John Wick. He’s being hunted, but at the same time, he’s hunting them as well.”
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