Where will the 10 wins for Texas come from in 2024?

Texas and Texas A&M are both projected to need to reach double-digit regular-season wins in 2024 to hang around the rim in the 12-team CFP conversation.
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football / Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

Texas football is ranked to have one of the most difficult regular season schedules in all of college football in 2024.

After spending the last few decades in the Big 12, the Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners are entering the lion's den with the SEC in 2024. The question is now can Texas and/or Oklahoma contend for the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff in their inaugural seasons competing in the SEC?

SEC outlook for Texas football in 2024 gives Steve Sarkisian a realistic shot to return to the CFP again

Kelley Ford of KFordRatings posted their projection of how many wins each FBS teams needs "to be in conversation" for an at-large bid in the expanded 12-team CFP field for 2024.

According to this Kelley Ford graphic, Texas needs 10 wins (one more than Oklahoma, I might add) to apparently be in the conversation for an at-large bid to return to the CFP during the 2024-25 postseason.

It's pointed out here by Ford that reaching 10 wins doesn't ensure a CFP spot for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns. What it does do is keep the Longhorns hanging around the rim for the Playoff and potentially in the running for an SEC title as well.

Sarkisian and the Longhorns made the program's first ever College Football Playoff appearance last fall by winning 11 games, including the Big 12 Championship over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I would imagine that with the boosted strength of schedule the Longhorns are expected to have with a marquee non-conference road game and the SEC slate, that 10 wins should easily be enough for Texas to be close to a Playoff berth this year.

That said, where would the wins come from for the Longhorns this fall to reach double-digit victories during the regular season?

To find that answer, I've broken down the Longhorns schedule into groups by which matchups are more favorable than others for Sarkisian's squad during the regular season in 2024. The schedule is essentially split into different groups or bins determining which games should realistically be chalked up as easy wins all the way up to potential likely losses in marquee national contests this fall.

Wins that should be a lock for Texas football in 2024

Aug. 31: vs. Colorado State

Sep. 14: vs. UTSA

Sep. 21: vs. UL-Monroe

Oct. 26: @ Vanderbilt

These four games from the Longhorns regular season slate should all be expected double-digit wins against either a bottom-tier opponent from the SEC or from the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Texas is favored by over five touchdowns (-36.5, per FanDuel) in the regular season opener in less than two months at home against the Colorado State Rams. The other games in this category for locks for the Longhorns in 2024 could have similar pregame betting spreads to the betting line for the opener against CSU on Aug. 31.

Likely wins for 2024

Sep. 28: vs. Mississippi State

Nov. 9: vs. Florida

Nov. 16: @ Arkansas

These three contests in the SEC could all be difficult matchups in their own right for the Longhorns this upcoming season. As it stands now, though, the Longhorns should be favored by at least one touchdown in each of these three contests.

Florida is probably the most talented team in this group that Sarkisian's squad faces, when compared to Mississippi State's and Arkansas's rosters for 2024. Why I feel that Florida should be categorized as a "likely win" for the Longhorns in 2024 is that the Gators have to travel to Austin and Texas is coming off a bye week and should be very well-prepared for that game.

Tough games where Texas should be favored

Oct. 12: vs. Oklahoma (neutral site)

Nov. 23: vs. Kentucky

Of the final five games that remain listed here for Texas's regular season, I think that the late-November matchup at home against Kentucky will probably be the most manageable. That said, this could be considered a potential trap game since Kentucky is slated between matchups against rivals Arkansas on Nov. 16 and Texas A&M on Nov. 30.

The Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma is also usually a very close game, regardless of which team has the better roster or is having the better start to their season at the time when the rivalry matchup is played in early-to-mid October.

While most sports media outlets and national analysts are projecting Texas to be the higher-ranked team than Oklahoma entering the upcoming season in 2024, that probably won't mean much entering Red River on Oct. 12 in Dallas.

Marquee games that could go either way

Sep. 7: @ Michigan

Oct. 19: vs. Georgia

Nov. 30: @ Texas A&M

These three marquee games are the trio of which that I feel are the most difficult on the Longhorns schedule. Sarkisian and the Longhorns having to travel all the way up to Ann Arbor for a marquee matchup against the defending National Champion Michigan is slated for Week 2. That game should have Playoff implications as early in the season as early September.

The Texas-Georgia matchup in Austin in mid-October speaks for itself in terms of how important this SEC matchup will be in determining the pecking order for the race for the conference crown in December.

Last is the return of the Texas-Texas A&M matchup in College Station in late-November. Texas A&M has surely been preparing for this matchup since new head coach Mike Elko was first hired to replace Jimbo Fisher late last year. And the fact that it will be played in College Station only makes it that much rowdier of an atmosphere and a difficult place for the Longhorns to play for this renewed rivalry game.


The race for the SEC crown will partly be determined by how Texas fares in their handful of games against expected top-25 teams and potential Playoff contenders in the fall. A non-conference win against Michigan could also give the Longhorns that anchor to their Playoff resume like the win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa by double-digits did for Sarkisian and Co. to get into the Playoff field last year.

Kelley Ford rates Texas as having tied for the 17th-toughest strength of schedule based on their metrics for the 12-team Playoff and who could get in the conversation for the expanded field in 2024.

If Texas comes out of the first half of the regular season with six wins and momentum on their side entering the critical back half of conference play in the SEC, that's the key to staying in the Playoff conversation for the Longhorns this season. Texas can afford a loss or two in conference play this year and still get in the Playoff thanks to the boosted strength of schedule compared to year's past.

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