Tuesday marks the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings as the No. 7 Texas Longhorns remain hopeful of making the program’s first appearance in the playoffs since its inception in 2014 sitting at 7-1 and tied for first place in the Big 12 standings.
Monday marked Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian demonstrating the verbal and mental aptitude necessary to nod towards coachspeak while simultaneously using the bully pulpit of his weekly press conference to make his case for the Longhorns.
“It just seems pretty early to me,” Sarkisian started before pivoting into his pitch, which began with invoking his favorite word for this year’s team — versatile — while pointing out Saturday’s 35-6 win over BYU without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good football team and I think that we’re a very versatile team. I think the fact that we started our backup quarterback against a 5-2 team and won 35-6 and we get another opportunity this weekend to play with our backup quarterback,” said Sarkisian. “Not every team out there has had to endure some of the things that we’ve had to and if they had to play with their backup, how would they play? But I think it speaks to the type of team that we have.”
Of course, the 13 members of the College Football Playoff committee weigh factors like head-to-head results and strength of schedule over injury considerations, and Sarkisian believes Texas has the best head-to-head result of the season so far, the 34-24 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa during Week Two.
“I’d argue we have the best win in the country right now — the fact that we go into Tuscaloosa, Alabama and beat a team that was 52-1 in the previous 53 games of us going in there,” said Sarkisian.
Now ranked No. 8, the Crimson Tide have held up the value of that victory for the Longhorns by winning the last six games, including five in conference play, two of which came against ranked opponents, the then-No. 10 Rebels and the then-No. 19 Volunteers.
The three home wins afforded Sarkisian an opportunity to take a little dig against his program’s future conference.
“I hear so much about how how tough the SEC is, but I haven’t seen any of those teams go into Alabama and win either, so I feel pretty good about our team,” said Sarkisian.
Regardless of any shade thrown at future conference opponents, the key to the drill, as Sarkisian might say, is all about what Texas can control — continuing to win games.
“I think over time this whole thing will play itself out, so we’ve got to focus on what we need to do Saturday and play our best football,” said Sarkisian.
With No. 25 Kansas State coming to Austin on Saturday, that means the biggest remaining challenge of the regular season looms in the coming days.