April 17, 2024

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian took an opportunity with the first College Football Playoff rankings on the horizon to make a case for his Longhorns on Monday.

“I’ve shied away from this,” Sarkisian said when asked about his thoughts on the rankings being unveiled Tuesday night. “I’d argue we have the best win in the country right now. The fact that we go into Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and beat a team that was 52-1 in the previous 53 games of us going in there…

“I hear so much about how tough the SEC is, but I haven’t seen any of those teams go in Alabama and win, either, so I feel pretty good about our team.”

Texas is No. 7 in the AP poll and 7-1 on the season with a 34-30 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma as its only blemish.

The Longhorns are coming off a 35-6 win over BYU on Saturday despite losing starting quarterback Quinn Ewers two weeks ago to a shoulder injury. Redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy was 16-of-25 for 170 yards and two touchdowns with one interception against the Cougars.

“We’re a very versatile team,” Sarkisian said, highlighting the defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown, and the special teams after Xavier Worthy returned a punt for a touchdown on Saturday. “I think the fact that we started our backup quarterback against a 5-2 team and won 35-6 and we get another opportunity this weekend to play with our backup quarterback … you know, not every team out there has had to endure some of the things that we’ve had to. If they had to play with their backup, how would they play? But I think it speaks to the type of team that we have.”

Sarkisian said No. 25 Kansas State, which is heading to Austin this weekend to face Texas, is an example of the depth of the Big 12. The Wildcats are 7-2 with two road losses to Missouri and Oklahoma State by a combined 11 points, have won their past two games over TCU and Houston by a combined score of 82-3 and rank in the top 15 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

“As the league is starting to bear itself out, we’re starting to find out that I think our league is probably a little stronger than people gave it credit for in early September,” Sarkisian said. “And there’s a lot of teams playing really good football, and maybe some of these other leagues aren’t quite as strong as people were giving them credit for at the start of the year. … Our league is tough. You’ve got to make sure that your team is ready to play because as we’re finding out there’s a lot of teams that have an opportunity to compete for a conference championship in November.”

Sarkisian said Ewers is still week-to-week and that Murphy will start again this weekend. After Kansas State, the Longhorns have consecutive road games at TCU and Iowa State before returning home to face Texas Tech on Nov. 24.

“Over time this whole thing will play itself out,” Sarkisian said of the playoff race. “So we’ve got to focus on what we need to do Saturday and play our best football.”

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