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2021 Texas Longhorns college football preview: Is Texas Back? Is Sark?

The talent is still there for the Horns, but can a new voice and offense get them over the hump in a league they should dominate?

Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns reacts during the Texas Football Orange-White Spring Game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

For the program with one of the biggest budgets in all of college football, with as much history and tradition as anyone, the Texas Longhorns have consistently underachieved what should be their station in life.

Take away the shortened 10-game season last year, and the burnt orange have lost at least four games every season since 2009. Charlie Strong lost a bowl game his first season in 2014, and then missed the postseason completely his last two years. Tom Herman won four bowl games in four seasons, but went 1-3 against Oklahoma and lost at least one game each campaign that UT has no business losing.

Enter former Washington and USC head coach, and perhaps more importantly Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sark needed to rehabilitate himself after off-the-field personal challenges at ‘SC ended his time there after just 18 games. But he showed with the Crimson Tide he can still engineer an offense to compete at the highest levels of college football.

2020 Season Review

  • 7-3, 5-3 Big 12. Won Alamo Bowl 55-23 over Colorado
  • Fired Tom Herman anyway, despite a vote of confidence from AD Chris Del Conte

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 15
ESPN Returning Production: 61% overall (95th): 53% offense (104), 69% defense (72)
Returning Talent Index: 25th, 2nd in Big 12
Returning starters: 8/11 offense, 7/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Casey Thompson, Junior

It’ll be Thompson or sophomore Hudson Card most likely, but the Spring Game and experience tends to favor the Oklahoma City native with seven games played. He’s sat behind Sam Ehlinger for two seasons, but the playbook he learned is also out the window with new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

In mostly mop-up duty, he’s 20-29 career passing with six TD’s and no interceptions.

Offense (non-QB): RB Bijan Robinson, Sophomore

Averaged 8.2 yards per carry last year on 86 totes for four touchdowns, and showed versatility in the backfield with 15 catches for 196 yards and two scores as well. Those are outstanding numbers for a freshman, and former Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood should find a way to get him involved as offensive coordinator.

Defense: LB DeMarvion Overshown, Senior

The converted safety had 60 tackles, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two interceptions last season. He plays the Will due to his size, but with a strong havoc rate he’ll be asked to continue to trend upward in both coverage and attack.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 14th overall: 8th offense, 35th defense, 50th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 20th overall: 18th offense, 34th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +5000
To win Big 12: +600
Win total: 8 (Over +110, Under -139)

2020 Against The Spread: 4-6-0
2020 Point Total: Over 7-3-0

2021 Texas Schedule

Odds on selected games from DraftKings Sportsbook

2021 Texas Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 vs. Louisiana 4:30 p.m./Fox
Saturday, Sep. 11 at Arkansas 7:00 p.m./ESPN UT -4.5
Saturday, Sep. 18 vs. Rice 8:00 p.m./Longhorn Network
Saturday, Sep. 25 vs. Texas Tech TBA
Saturday, Oct. 2 at TCU TBA UT -2.5
Saturday, Oct. 9 vs. Oklahoma TBA/ESPN UT +9.5
Saturday, Oct. 16 vs. Oklahoma State TBA
Saturday, Oct. 23 BYE
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Baylor TBA
Saturday, Nov. 6 at Iowa State TBA
Saturday, Nov. 13 vs. Kansas Jayhawks TBA
Saturday, Nov. 20 at West Virginia TBA UT -2.5
Saturday. Nov. 27 vs. Kansas State 12:00 p.m./ESPN