College football officially began with Week 0 action on Aug. 26, signaling we’re exactly one week from the start of the 2023 Texas football season. Texas opens up its regular season slate at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Sep. 2 against the Rice Owls, with the kickoff time set for 2:30 p.m. CT.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns have high expectations heading into the regular season next weekend. Texas is ranked No. 11 in the preseason AP Poll, and the Longhorns were picked atop the Big 12 preseason media poll. This was the first time since 2009 that the Longhorns were picked to win the Big 12 in the preseason media poll.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach projects Texas football to make the Cotton Bowl this season
Those same high expectations were on display in ESPN’s final preseason bowl projection on Aug. 23. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach projected Texas to play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against the LSU Tigers on Dec. 29. Schlabach also picked Texas as his team to crash the New Years Six Bowl party this season.
"Coach Steve Sarkisian likes quarterback Quinn Ewers’ development, and the Longhorns bring back all five starting offensive linemen and a talented receiver corps. Of course, they’ll have to find a capable replacement for star tailback Bijan Robinson. The Longhorns’ Sept. 9 road trip to No. 4 Alabama will tell us a lot about their CFP chances."
Texas making the Cotton Bowl likely assumes the Longhorns also winning the Big 12 this season. The Big 12 champion will get a spot in the Peach, Fiesta, or Cotton Bowl this year if it doesn’t make the College Football Playoff since the Sugar Bowl is one of the Semifinal games.
Meanwhile, Kyle Bonagura wasn’t as high on the Longhorns in his postseason projections. Bonagura projected Texas to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Pop-Tarts Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Dec. 28.
Since Bonagura didn’t have any teams from the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff, this assumes Texas finishes third in the conference this season. The Pop-Tarts Bowl gets the third selection in bowl bids this year after the New Years Six/College Football Playoff and the Alamo Bowl.
It’s safe to say that these two ESPN writers/analysts have mixed feelings about the Longhorns heading into the season. Most projections have Texas at least in a New Years Six Bowl, if not at least making it to the Alamo Bowl as the second-place team in the Big 12.