Texas coach Steve Sarkisian knows the college football world is focused on the Longhorns at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, as two of the sport’s biggest brands face off for just the 10th time in history.
But Sarsian also cautions against getting the teams distracted by all the attention.
The Longhorns are 19-point underdogs at Caesars Sportsbook and have a According to ESPN Stats & Data, they could be closing in on their longest home win streak since the 1978 FBS/FCS split.
Still, it’s a chance to see how Sarkisian’s development stacks up against his former boss, Nick Saban.
“You know it’s a game?” Sarkisian said Monday. “It’s an opportunity for us to do what we love. I think it’s one of the biggest mistakes people make.” [thinking] This will be the game that defines our program.
“Maybe not, maybe not. I’m not that worried about it. I’m just concerned about the way we play the game.”
Sarsian said his goal is to play for a Big 12 championship. Despite the Crimson Tide’s future SEC opponent, Saturday’s matchup is a non-conference game for now, and Sarkisian said he’s focused on what he can control.
“With all that said, my goal is to be in Dallas on Dec. 3,” he said. “This game has no bearing on that… I want to play really well. I want our guys to play our style of football, our brand of football and do it the way I know we can do it.
Sarcian, who spent three seasons as an assistant at Alabama, was asked how Saturday’s game against Saban compared to former boss Pete Carroll in 2009, when Sarcian’s Washington team was then-No. 3 USC 16-13.
“Very similar situation,” Sarkisian said. “I worked for Pete Carroll for seven years and I had a lot of respect for what he did and what we were able to do when we were there. I think he was buying into the idea of what the game plan was and where we needed to do it. Be it from a psychological standpoint.
Sarkisian knows the psychology required of a dominant Alabama program and laughs at how tough he was for Saban, even though he remembers Lane Kiffin suffering a major injury.
“I’ve had a really good time Lene. I don’t mind saying that,” laughed Sarkisian. “Lene was a good friend of mine. There are a couple that I remember very well. I was looking down in the press box and there were a lot of them. [wild gestures] going on.
“I get it too. I think we’ve got that figured out. But that’s part of it.” [Saban] He’s yelling at you, maybe you haven’t lived up to his expectations or standards. And if you’re someone like me, that’s what ultimately drives you.
Texas will face Alabama for the first time since the 2009 season and the 2010 national championship game. This will be their first regular season matchup since 1922, and Texas is 7-1-1 all-time against the Tide, the best winning percentage (.833) among teams they have played at least five times.
Sarsian He said he wasn’t sure where he was in the 2010 championship game, but he echoed a recurring refrain from Longhorn fans — one that will be analyzed a bit this week: what would have happened if not for former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. He was hurt in the fifth in a 37-21 loss.
“I think we all wish Colt was in the game, what would have happened?” he said.