The Texas Longhorns look to build momentum Saturday night with an eye on a spot in the Top 25 when they host Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener for both teams in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns went 5-7 last year in coach Steve Sarkisian's first season, missing missed a bowl game for the first time since 2016. Last month, Texas was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Conference preseason poll behind Oklahoma, defending league champion Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Texas returns two of the nation's top offensive players in running back Bijan Robinson and wide receiver Xavier Worthy, both of whom are preseason All-Americans.
The Longhorns drew attention in the offseason when they signed 5-star quarterback Quinn Ewers, a Texas native who played all of two snaps (both handoffs) last year as a true freshman at Ohio State. Ewers was named the starter last week over Hudson Card, who played in eight games and started twice in 2021.
While Texas is more than a five-touchdown favorite over ULM, there are plenty of things for the Longhorns to decide before they host top-ranked Alabama next week.
"I don't think they're worried about what's down the road," Sarkisian said Monday. "I honestly think our guys are excited to play football against another team, another helmet, another scheme, and enjoy doing it."
The Warhawks head to Austin for just the second meeting ever against Texas with heightened expectations as well. UL Monroe went 4-8 in the Sun Belt Conference in 2021 and lost its final five games but should improve in coach Terry Bowden's second year in northeast Louisiana.
UL Monroe was ranked seventh (last) in the West Division in the Sun Belt preseason poll.
"We expect to have a winning season, we expect to go to a bowl," Bowden said. "You don't always get what you want, you don't always get what you need, but you almost always get what you expect."
The offense is led by wideout Boogie Knight, whose 588 receiving yards on 45 catches paced the squad in 2021 and garnered him a spot on the All-Sun Belt preseason second team. Chandler Rogers won a preseason quarterback battle with Jiya Wright to lead the UL Monroe attack in the opener.
--Field Level Media