It’s a good sign for a show when games mean the most; when the stage is bigger. The big shows and the biggest brands seize this kind of moment more often than most. Sure, Texas benefited from being last, but in terms of sheer significance from a football standpoint, they didn’t play much with Steve Sarkisian who really mattered a lot.
Losing can tend to have that effect, so last season was almost entirely scarred in that regard. Alabama’s No. 1 was a great atmosphere and the kind of blue-blooded matchup that’s great for college football, but as Sark said before the 20-19 loss in Texas: “I’ve always said my goal is to be in Dallas. in December. 3. This game has no impact on that, right?”
Well, this next one absolutely will, and that’s the most notable of a few reasons why Saturday night’s No. 18 Texas with No. 4 TCU is set to be the most significant showdown of the Sarkisian era.
Sitting 6-3 and 4-2 in the Big 12, Texas clearly has a few spots to their name. But for all intents and purposes, Sark has the Longhorns right where they want to be – in control of their own conference destiny. Courtesy of Oklahoma’s recent setbacks, the recipe for Texas is now as simple and clear as can be – win and enter.
“We have more work to do and I think our guys recognize that,” Sark said. “They’re hungry. It’s always nice when you get a win like that and then there’s a top five team walking into their own stadium on a Saturday night that’s number one in their league to get their attention quickly. It didn’t take long. too much for them to recognize and flip the switch and move on to the next one.”
As it stands, even with the two conference papers, Texas is in the driver’s seat on its way to Arlington. Disturb the undefeated Horned Frogs and you’re that much closer to a potential rematch with TCU, who will almost certainly compete for a conference crown. But if Texas lose, well then, in addition to their last two games becoming complete wins, the Longhorns would need some luck with Oklahoma State slipping at least one more time against Iowa State, Oklahoma or West Virginia.
Simply put, Texas could see their primary season goal slip out of control on Saturday, or the Longhorns could overcome the most significant remaining hurdle on their way to that goal.
For any single Sark-era game, the stakes have never been higher.
And that doesn’t even begin to touch everything that involves this game.
A win would mark Texas’ first home win over a top-five program since 1999, and the first top-ten victory under Sark.
“The idea that we have the opportunity to do something like that, I think, as a competitor, naturally instills a little more motivation there,” Sark said.
On hand to potentially watch it all unfold will be an absolutely loaded roster of recruits, including a collection of some of Texas’ top targets that are nearing the end of some major recruits. And to help set the stage for it all, ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Austin for the second time this season.
“We are a brand,” Sark said. “We’re a national brand, we’re a global brand, and part of the reason you come to the University of Texas is the opportunity to play these kinds of games and have that exposure.”
So, the stage is set. All eyes will be on Austin for a showdown that will significantly alter a season’s prospects for Texas and TCU, for better or worse.
The Horned Frogs are approaching their first College Football playoff appearance. Loses to the Longhorns and it all disappears in an instant.
Texas want to be back? Well, this is the kind of game they have to start winning to get there.