The Texas Longhorns are gearing up for a big showdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night. Here is a preview:
THE OPENING KICKOFF
• The University of Texas continues its 131st season of football on Saturday when the Longhorns face No. 4/3 Alabama for the 11th all-time meeting.
• Texas will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the second time in series history and first time since the first-ever game between the programs in 1902.
• Last week, Texas (1-0) topped Rice at home, 37-10, in the 97th meeting between the two programs.
• Alabama (1-0) heads into Saturday's game after defeating Middle Tennessee State at home, 56-7.
• Texas will play on the road at an AP Top-5 opponent for the first time since 2017 (USC).
• The Longhorns are 9-12 all-time in true road games versus AP Top-5 opponents.
• UT is 96-83-4 all-time in AP Top-25 matchups.
• Texas currently boasts 937 all-time wins, the fifth-most in college football history. UT holds an all-time record of 937-390-33 (.701).
Series History vs. Alabama
• Texas holds a 7-2-1 advantage over Alabama in the all-time series and will face the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1902.
• Texas and Alabama will play just the fifth regular-season game in series history. The last three games took place in Austin (1915, 1922, 2022), with the first-ever meeting taking place in Alabama in 1902.
• Texas (No. 11) and Alabama (No. 4) will meet as AP ranked opponents for the first time since the 2010 BCS Championship game and the seventh time overall. UT holds a 4-1-1 mark in the previous six games.
• The Longhorns and Crimson Tide will meet in consecutive years for the first time in series history.
• Of the 10 previous games between the Horns and Tide, six were held in the Lone Star State with Texas holding a 4-1-1 advantage.
Crimson Tide Scouting Report
• Nick Saban is in his 17th season as head coach of the Crimson Tide, having won six national championships and eight Southeast Conference titles.
• The Crimson Tide returned 11 starters and 48 letterwinners from the 2022 team that went 11-2 (6-2 SEC) and defeated Kansas State in the AllState Sugar Bowl, 45-20.
• Alabama's offense returns five starters, including three offensive linemen and two wide receivers: center Seth McLaughlin, guard Darrian Dalcourt and right tackle JC Latham and wide receivers Jermaine Burton (40 catches, 677 yards) and Ja'Corey Books (39 catches, 674 yards).
• On defense, six starters return in a group that includes linebacker Dallas Turner, defensive backs Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold, defensive linemen Jaheim Oatis and Tim Smith and defensive end Justin Eboigbe, who missed the 2022 season due to injury.
• The special teams is led by fifth-year kicker Will Reichard, while punter James Burnip and long snapper Kneeland Hibbett return for their third seasons.
• Four Alabama players earned first-team Preseason All-SEC honors from the conference's media members: OL JC Latham, LB Dallas Turner, DB Kool-Aid McKinstry and PK Will Reichard.
A Texas Win Would ...
• Be Texas' 938th victory all-time, the fifth-winningest program in college football history.
• Give Steve Sarkisian his 61st victory as a head coach and 15th at Texas in his 108th career game as a head coach.
• Improve Texas' record against Alabama to 8-2-1 all-time.
• Improve the Longhorns' recorded against current SEC programs to 192-94-9.
Third season of Sarkisian Era
• Texas Football Head Coach Steve Sarkisian enters his third season at the helm of the Longhorns and his 10th season as a head coach overall.
• Last season, the Texas offense ranked 24th in the nation and third in the Big 12 Conference with 34.5 points per game, the fourth-straight top-25 scoring output for a Sarkisian-led offense.
• The offensive showing also marked the eighth top-25 scoring offense in Sarkisian's career.
• Marked the seventh time a Sarkisian offense averaged at least 34 points per game.
• Bijan Robinson rushed for 1,580 yards in 2022 marking the 11th consecutive year a Sarkisian offense has had a 1,000-yard rusher.
Texas Football x ESPN's College GameDay
• For the fourth time in the last three seasons, Texas will be appearing on ESPN's College GameDay as the pregame show airs from Tuscaloosa, Ala. this Saturday.
• The show will air live from Tuscaloosa for three hours from 8-11 a.m. CT previewing Texas' showdown with Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium (6:00 p.m. CT/ABC).
• Including seven visits to the Red River Rivalry and four neutral site appearances, it will mark the 21st time the GameDay set and its show will be a prominent fixture at a Texas game. The last time was last season's tightly contested 17-10 defeat to No. 4 TCU on Nov. 12.
• This weekend's appearance will be the Longhorns' third true road game as a featured team and first since 2008, when the Longhorns played Texas Tech in Lubbock.
• Texas is 10-10 all-time when the Horns are one of the teams in College GameDay's featured matchup, highlighted by a 5-4 mark when the show comes to the Forty Acres.
• Four players made their first career starts for Texas in the Longhorns' 37-10 season-opening victory over Rice. That group was made up of running back CJ Baxter, wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, offensive lineman DJ Campbell and defensive back Jalen Catalon.
• CJ Baxter became the first Longhorn true freshman running back to start the season opener since Ricky Williams in 1995.
• In all, 23 players made their Longhorn debuts against Rice. Baxter, Catalon and Mitchell suited up in the Burnt Orange for the first time in their careers and were joined by EDGE Tausili Akana, DB BJ Allen Jr., DL Trill Carter, WR Johntay Cook II, OL Trevor Goosby, LB Anthony Hill Jr., DB Gavin Holmes, LB Liona Lefau, LB Tannahill Love, DB Jelani McDonald, DL Sydir Mitchell, WR DeAndre Moore Jr., DB Malik Muhammad, QB Maalik Murphy, WR Isaiah Neyor, WR Ryan Niblett, P Ryan Sanborn, DB Derek Williams Jr., RB Quintrevion Wisner and RB Ky Woods.
• In the season-opener against Rice, Texas picked up where it left off last season, scoring on the final drive of the first half, courtesy of a 49-yard field goal by Bert Auburn, while holding Rice scoreless on their final drive.
• Last season, Texas had a scoring attempt in nine of its final 13 drives of the half, scoring touchdowns before heading into the locker room in six of the last 10 games: Missed FG; Missed FG; FG; TD; TD; TD; TD; punt; TD; punt; TD, half, punt). The Longhorns' opponents scored just four times (WVU, TCU, Baylor, Washington) on their final drive of the half with the other nine games being five punts, three interceptions and a missed FG.
• Texas forced a Rice three-and-out to open the second half of the season-opener, then put together an 8-play, 62-yard scoring drive capped off by an Adonai Mitchell 9-yard touchdown reception.
• In 2022, the Longhorns held 12 of 13 opponents scoreless on their initial drives of the second half with the Horns scoring six times (five TDs and one FG) in the 13 games.
Stopping the Run
• Texas limited Rice to 27 rushing yards in the Horns season-opening 37-10 victory.
• The total marked the fewest rushing yards allowed by the Longhorns since 2018 (-5 vs. USC).
• It marked the fourth time in the last two seasons that Texas has limited their opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards.
Defense Takes Center Stage
• Texas allowed only 176 yards of offense in the victory against Rice, the fewest yards allowed by a Longhorn defense since 2017 (171, San Jose State.
• Rice had just 114 yards during their first 10 drives, adding 62 yards on their final drive of the game.
• Junior WR Xavier Worthy is one of the premier wide receivers in the Big 12 and the nation.
• For his career, Worthy has hauled in 129 receptions for 1,831 yards and 21 touchdowns.
• His 21 receiving touchdowns are tops among returning Power 5 wide receivers and second among all FBS receivers (Zakhari Franklin, who leads with 37, is entering his first season with Ole Miss after four seasons at UTSA).
• He ranks third in UT history in touchdown receptions and is just one of four Longhorns to haul in at least 20 touchdown catches.
• The Fresno, Calif. native has caught a pass in all 26 games he has played, the eighth-longest streak in program history, and his 129 career receptions are the 11th-most for a Longhorn, 23 behind B.J. Johnson (2000-03) for 10th all-time.
Quinn in Command
• Sophomore Quinn Ewers opened the 2023 campaign completing 19-of-30 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for another score in the victory over Rice.
• The four touchdowns accounted for matched his career high, established last season against Oklahoma.
• Ewers extended his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 146, the fourth-longest streak in program history, trailing Major Applewhite by 10 passes for third and 16 behind Sam Ehlinger for second.
• The Southlake, Texas native passed and rushed for a score in the same game for the first time in his career, while he threw for at least three touchdowns for the third time.
Sanders is a Sensation
• Junior TE Ja'Tavion Sanders kicked off the 2023 season hauling in two passes for 44 yards against Rice, including a 44-yard touchdown reception in which he caught at the Rice 36-yard line and outsprinted the Owl defenders to the endzone.
• The 44-yard reception was the longest of his career and was the sixth touchdown of his career, the seventh-most ever for a Texas tight end.
• Senior LB Jaylan Ford emerged as one of the top defenders in the nation in 2022, earning All-American honors from the Associated Press and first-team All-Big 12 accolades from the league's coaches and the AP.
• He opened the 2023 season right where he left off last season, registering five tackles (one solo) and intercepting one pass.
• The interception was the fifth of his career, tying him for fourth all-time among Texas linebackers.
• Ford has seven takeaways in his last eight games, including all five of his interceptions.
• Super senior DL T'Vondre Sweat has become a force in the middle of the Texas line.
• For his career, he has totaled 88 tackles (31 solo) with 10 tackles for loss and three sacks in 49 career games played.
• Against Rice in the 2023 season opener, he matched his career high with five tackles (two solo) with half a tackle for loss.
• It marked the 14th time in his career that he has registered at least three tackles with six of those occurring in the last 12 games.