Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Steve Sarkisian, Texas football look ahead to the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma State

Lorianne Willett
Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian during the Longhorns’ game against TCU on Nov. 11, 2023.

For the first time in five years, Texas football has a chance to be the Big 12 champion.

After a 50-point thrashing of Texas Tech on Friday, the Longhorns secured a spot in the coveted Big 12 Championship but weren’t sure who they were going to play until Saturday.

After a tight back-and-forth game against the BYU Cougars on Saturday, Oklahoma State was able to secure a 40-34 victory and a shot at its first championship game since 2021, where Baylor defeated it 21-16.

“It’s kind of fitting that we’re playing Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game knowing we didn’t get an opportunity to play each other in the regular season,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “For us to be able to play in the Big 12 Championship game, it’s kind of fitting.”

Sarkisian and the rest of the team are playing in their first Big 12 championship, as no players remain from the 2018 runner-up squad. Texas lost the conference title in 2018, 39-27, after a Red River rematch against Oklahoma.

“(There’s) definitely excitement, but coach (Sarkisian) harps on the point of every week being a Big 12 Championship game,” junior offensive tackle Kelvin Banks said. “We kind of take that as a challenge, we’re definitely for the task at hand.”

Last week at home, the Longhorns showed up in all facets of the game. By the halfway point of the third quarter, the offense had amassed a 36-7 lead and the starters had left the game before the fourth quarter commenced.

Friday was senior night for Texas and 23 different seniors were honored for their dedication to the team over the last four or more seasons. Despite the game falling a day after Thanksgiving, Darrell K Royal Stadium was filled to the brim with 102,000 fans.

“It was awesome and we can’t thank our fans enough for their support all season long at DKR as well as on the road,” Sarkisian said. “That was a great night and a very cool send-off for our seniors.”

Looking forward to Saturday, Texas will face off against an Oklahoma State team that has won seven of its last eight matchups. The Cowboys feature one of the best players in the country in sophomore running back Ollie Gordon II, who leads the nation in both rushing and scrimmage yards.

“Ollie Gordon is a heck of a player,” Sarkisian said. “They have done a great job offensively of leaning into him. He really signifies who their team is, he really gets stronger as the game goes on.”

The Longhorns will have their hands full with Gordon and the rest of the Cowboys, but luckily for Sarkisian, the group is almost completely healthy. Apart from senior cornerback Ryan Watts being questionable for Saturday, the entire starting group is available.

The implications for the Longhorns could not be higher on Saturday. With a win, Texas would almost assuredly finish the regular season as a top-five team in the country, with a legitimate shot at clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff, a crowning Texas has never reached in the current four-team playoff era.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Sarkisian said when asked if he thought Texas was a college football playoff contender. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t think we’re a college football playoff contender.”

With the biggest game in fourteen years on the horizon, Sarkisian and the Texas players seemed calm about the prospect, but knew the importance of Saturday’s matchup.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Sarkisian said.  “We know the challenge that it is to A) make it to the game and then B) to ultimately win that game.”

Texas and Oklahoma State will kick off Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CT at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington.

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.