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Texas ranks No. 14 in preseason SP+ projections

The Longhorns ranked No. 29 heading into the bowl game

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Utah vs Texas Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns are expected to improve from an 8-5 season that featured a No. 29 ranking following the regular season, as the preseason SP+ rankings from ESPN’s Bill Connelly slot the Horns as the No. 14 team nationally.

Connelly’s rankings use returning production, recent recruiting, and recent history to form the preseason projections for the tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of efficiency.

Texas received the biggest boost from its returning production, which jumped from No. 121 nationally before last season to No. 21 this year. Returning production accounts for more than 50 percent of the preseason rankings.

Texas also finished with a top-10 recruiting class for the third straight season, so the Longhorns clearly have the talent to compete with any program in the country, especially with the heralded 2018 class set to enter their third season on campus.

On offense, SP+ ranks Texas No. 7 nationally after head coach Tom Herman’s attack ranked No. 11 heading into the bowl game, the highest offensive ranking for Texas in SP+ since finishing at No. 10 in 2012.

Chris Ash’s first defense with the Longhorns ranks No. 42, up from No. 77 before the bowl games because 82 percent of the unit’s production from 2019 will return.