Five games that will shape the Texas football season

·3 min read

Steve Sarkisian begins a crucial second season as head coach at Texas. And while some consider the team a year away from conference title contention, winning this season could do wonders for program trajectory.

A number of games have significant bearing on how this season will unfold. Some games figure to be physical slugfests, while others could be track meets.

In recent years, Texas hasn’t had any trouble playing up to elite competition. The Longhorns built early leads against the top three Big 12 teams last season. Often times, Texas has been caught off guard by lesser teams.

Last year, Texas famously dropped a home game to Kansas. They aim try to avoid that fate this season.

Here are the five games that will determine what kind of season Texas has, in sequential order.

at Texas Tech Red Raiders

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The Longhorns’ first road game is a trip to Lubbock this year. Texas fans are familiar with how rowdy the atmosphere can be at Jones AT&T Stadium. Knowing of their rival’s move to the SEC should further rile up an already intimidating crowd. How the Steve Sarkisian’s young team responds will shed light on what to expect the rest of the year. Texas Tech is the true beginning of the season for Quinn Ewers and the 2022 football team.

at Oklahoma Sooners (Dallas)

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The Red River Shootout always has significant implications on a Texas football season. This year’s game could determine a number of things, including who has the upper hand in the series going forward. For this season, a win makes a bid for a Big 12 title appearance significantly easier for Texas. If the Longhorns can get past the Sooners with a win, they could be set up for a strong finish.

Iowa State Cyclones

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Texas has had difficulty beating the Cyclones in recent years. And though the game will be at home, the Iowa State defense could present challenges for a young Quinn Ewers. Texas has dropped three straight against Matt Campbell’s squad. They will need to protect the football to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.

TCU Horned Frogs

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I expect the Longhorns to face adversity in back-to-back road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Both games could easily be losses for Texas. Adrian Martinez seems to be a significant upgrade over Will Howard for Kansas State, who returns multiple key contributors. The TCU game will say a great deal about the Texas culture. If the group is bought in to Sarkisian’s vision, Texas could earn a resounding victory over TCU.

Baylor Bears

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Texas ends the regular season with a home game against Baylor. The matchup could become a de facto playoff game for a Big 12 championship berth. Texas lost a narrow game at Baylor last year. They may need to win this game for any real shot at the conference championship game.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire