The Texas Longhorns are headed to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide on Saturday night, in a rematch of last year’s 20-19 thriller.
Following that narrow defeat a season ago, the Longhorns appeared to pick up some confidence after taking the Tide to the wire. However, Steve Sarkisian’s squad isn’t going into this weekend looking for moral victories.
Sark feels that his team has improved since last year and is viewing the game against Alabama as a “benchmark” to see just how much better they’ve gotten since 2022.
“We’ve made a lot of strides, and we’ve come a long way. I think last year’s game served as a good benchmark. And I think it helped us,” Sarkisian told media on Thursday. “Helped instill some confidence in some players on our team of what they were capable of. We’re gonna go in here Saturday night, and the goal is they get our best shot. And I’m assuming we’re going to get their best shot. And what does that look like, you know?”
While it’s hard to have any definitive answers about the Longhorns following a 37-10 win over Rice, the outcome of Saturday’s game will give Sarkisian and company a better idea of where they stand among the nation’s top teams.
“We’re going to come out of the game, and in the postgame press conference in the next couple of days, we’ll see where we think we’re good enough and where we were maybe not quite,” Sarkisian said. “And that might not be personnel. That might be scheme, that might be unforced errors. What does that look like? What does that look like in all three phases?”
Obviously, a win would be a clear sign that Texas is heading in the right direction, but even just playing well at Alabama as a 7.5-point underdog would be a positive. After all, the Tide are 67-2 at home over the last 10 years.
“There’s no question we wanna go win this ballgame. We’re putting forth every ounce of effort that we have to try to go do it, like we do every week. But in the end, I think both teams are going to walk out of this stadium with a real firm understanding, ‘OK, this is where we’re at. And then this is what we need to do to continue to develop our team for the next 10 regular season games and trying to go win a conference championship,’” Sarkisian said. “And quite frankly that’s one of the beauties of playing these games like this early in the season.”
Alabama and Texas are set for a 6:00 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPN, with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler on the call from the booth.