Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Taking 'em one game at a time: A tour of Texas' 2021 schedule, from Louisiana to K-State

Texas will play nine of its 12 games inside the state this season, including six at Royal-Memorial Stadium, road games at TCU and Baylor and the annual Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns will hit the road for games at Arkansas, Iowa State and West Virginia.

Here is a tour of Texas' schedule:

Sept. 4: vs. Louisiana

Mack Brown won his first game at Texas. So did Charlie Strong. But we're only a few years removed from Tom Herman's shocking debut loss to Maryland at home in 2017. How will the Longhorns fare in Steve Sarkisian's first game?

Louisiana is coming off a historic 10-1 season in which it returned to the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 1943. The Ragin' Cajuns beat an Iowa State team that later took out Texas in Austin, and their lone blemish was a three-point loss to Coastal Carolina.

This will be only the third time since 2000 that Texas will open with a ranked opponent. The Horns lost 38-3 at No. 11 Notre Dame in 2015 but then upset the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish in double-overtime the next year in Austin.

About the Ragin' Cajuns: Louisiana returns 19 starters (10 on offense, nine on defense). QB Levi Lewis (2,274 yards, 19 TDs) is back to lead the offense that lost RB Elijah Mitchell, who was drafted by the 49ers. The defense is led by an experienced line all-Southland Conference selection Zi'Yon Hill and four offensive linemen started 10 or more games.

FYI: Ranked 23rd (AP and coaches). The Ragin' Cajuns ranked 21st in the country last year in rushing, averaging 213 yards per game.

Texas and Oklahoma friends cheer at the start of the 2019 Red River Showdown game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. That's the last time the team's annual rivalry game has been played in front of a crowd. This year's game will be played Oct. 9.

Sept. 11: at Arkansas

Longtime Texas and Arkansas fans will enjoy this Southwest Conference reunion. But even though this will be the 79th meeting in the series, there isn't a lot of recent history between these schools. They have played each other only five times since 1992. The Longhorns last played in Fayetteville in 2004.

Arkansas went 3-7 in 2020. The Razorbacks last posted a winning record in 2016.

About the Razorbacks: Arkansas is 6-14 in its last 20 games at D.W.R. Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks ranked outside the national top 50 in scoring, offense and defense, ranking 78th in running the ball, 86th in scoring, 106th in total defense, 92nd against the run and 102nd against the pass.

FYI: Arkansas' offensive coordinator is Kendal Briles, in his second season after having run the offenses at Florida Atlantic, Houston and Florida State since leaving Baylor after 2016.

Sept. 18: vs. Rice

Texas has won its last 14 games against the Owls. Rice has stayed within 20 points in four of those contests. This time, Texas will host a Rice team that won just two of the five games played on its pandemic-challenged schedule.

About the Owls: Rice is breaking in a new quarterback — Luke McCaffrey (Ed's son, and Christian's brother), formerly of Nebraska and Louisville — but he'll have last year's leading rusher and pass-catcher to work with. Ten starters return on defense.

FYI: Owls coach Mike Bloomgren is 7-23 since taking over three years ago.

Bohls, Golden: Texas has lots of question marks, but also lots to work with

Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough, right, led the Ducks to last year's Pac-12 championship, but has transferred to Texas Tech, where he'll direct the Red Raiders' offense that features all-conference wide receiver Erik Ezukanma.

Sept. 25: vs. Texas Tech

Since 2003, Texas has won 15 of its 18 games against Tech. The Longhorns are riding a three-game winning streak in this series. That streak was extended by a 63-56 win in overtime last year. Texas Tech has finished its last five seasons without a winning record. The Red Raiders' last appearance in a bowl game came in 2017.

About the Red Raiders: QB Tyler Shough is the one to watch; the transfer from Oregon was a four-star recruit out of Arizona and led the Ducks to last year's Pac-12 championship. He completed 65% of his passes. He has all-Big 12 WR Erik Ezukanma to throw to and all-Big 12 center Dawson Deaton snapping him the ball.

FYI: Tech's new offensive coordinator is Sonny Cumbie, the former Red Raiders quarterback and Tech assistant who had been TCU's OC and QBs coach since 2014.

Oct. 2: at TCU

Will Sarkisian be added to Gary Patterson's hit list of Texas coaches? Patterson has led TCU since the 2001 season. During that time, he went 1-2 against Mack Brown's Texas teams, 3-0 against Charlie Strong's and 3-1 against Herman's.

TCU went 6-4 last season. One of those wins came at the expense of Texas.

About the Horned Frogs: Was that 6-4 season a blip on the screen? TCU hopes so. QB Max Duggan is back, and that's a good start. WR Quentin Johnston, a former Longhorns pledge, could have a breakout season and the defense has two preseason all-conference first-teamers in DE Ochaun Mathis (nine sacks last year) and CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson.

FYI: TCU won five of its last six games last year, but the Texas Bowl matchup with Arkansas was canceled. The Frogs haven't finished ranked in the Top 25 in four years.

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler looks for room to run as Texas defenders Ta'Quon Graham, left, and D'Shawn Jamison pursue during last year's game at the Cotton Bowl. Rattler is widely considered one of the favorites for this year's Heisman Trophy.

Oct. 9: vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)

Only two of Texas' last five coaches — John Mackovic in 1992 and Brown in 1998 — were victorious in their Red River Rivalry debuts. Can Sarkisian join that club?

The Big 12's six-time defending champion, Oklahoma has beaten Texas at least once in each of the past five seasons. Last year's battle wasn't decided until a fourth overtime, though. That 53-45 game was the second four-overtime marathon ever played in the Big 12.

Bohls: OU is No. 1 on my AP preseason ballot — here's why

About the Sooners: Ranked No. 2 (AP). QB Spencer Rattler (3,031 yards, 28 TDs) is a Heisman favorite and has WR Marvin Mims (37-610-9) to throw to, and besides the usual talent, three transfers (Tennessee RB Eric Gray, Tennessee LT Wanya Morris and Arkansas WR Mike Woods) could play big roles. Strong D-line, strong linebackers, but there are questions in the secondary.

FYI: Ranked No. 2 (AP). Ten defensive starters are back.

More: Our annual Big 12 of the Big 12 — the league's 12 top players

Oct. 16: vs. Oklahoma State

Expect a close one. Last season, Texas needed overtime but earned a 41-34 win in Stillwater. That was the fourth straight year this game has been decided by one score. The teams have split those four games.

Oklahoma State was the AP poll's No. 6 team when it was upset by Texas last year. That turned out to be the first of three losses in a five-game span for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State finished with an 8-3 record, and a 37-34 Cheez-It-Bowl win over Miami.

About the Cowboys: QB Spencer Sanders returns for another season, and Chuba Hubbard is now in the NFL but the running game should be fine. Defense is the strength of the team; the Cowboys allowed only 23.5 points a game and return nine starters on that side of the ball, including LB Malcolm Rodriguez (7 forced fumbles) and a pair of veteran safeties. What about the offense? OSU committed 16 turnovers and gave up 26 sacks.

FYI: Ranked 22nd (coaches). Head coach Mike Gundy is in his 17th season in Stillwater, where he's gone 137-67.

Oct. 30: at Baylor

Texas will be looking for its third win in its last four trips to Waco but will see a different Bears quarterback this year. Charlie Brewer, who led Baylor in passing in its past four meetings with Texas, has left for Utah as a graduate transfer.

Baylor is the only current Big 12 school that Sarkisian has faced as a head coach. The 2011 Bears, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, scored a 67-56 win over Sarkisian's Washington Huskies in that year's Alamo Bowl.

About the Bears: Replacing Brewer will be Gerry Bohanon, a former four-star QB out of Arkansas. He'll be asked to do what Baylor had so many problems with last year — scoring points. The Bears averaged only 23.3 points per game. The defense should help the offense; 10 starters on that side of the ball are back including preseason All-Big 12 selections LB Terrel Bernard and DB Jalen Pitre.

FYI: Second-year head coach Dave Aranda, who won a national championship in 2019 as LSU's defensive coordinator, snagged former LSU nose tackle Siaki Ika (6-4, 355) by way of the transfer portal.

Iowa State running back Breece Hall, the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the year, led the country in rushing last season. The Cyclones also boast last year's Big 12 defensive player of the year, linebacker Mike Rose.

Nov. 6: at Iowa State

The past two years, this game has been decided by a kick. In 2019, Iowa State's Connor Assalley booted a 36-yard field goal on the final play of a 23-21 Cyclones win in Ames. Last November, Cameron Dicker just missed a 58-yard kick on the final play that would have forced overtime. The 23-20 loss essentially eliminated Texas from Big 12 contention.

The Big 12's runner-up in 2020, Iowa State returns plenty of talent this fall. One of the starters coming back is Brock Purdy, who is already arguably the greatest quarterback in school history.

About the Cyclones: Coming off a big 9-3 season that ended with a Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon. RB Breece Hall (1,572 yard, 21 TDs) led the country in rushing and is a preseason All-American along with TE Charlie Kolar (44-591-7). LB Mike Rose was the Big 12 defensive player of the year.

FYI: Ranked No. 7 (AP and coaches). There are eight preseason All-Big 12 first-teamers on the roster, with nine returning starters on offense and 10 on defense.

Nov. 13: vs. Kansas

The Jayhawks, who were picked to finish last in the Big 12 in this summer's preseason media poll, have never won a game in Austin. In 2019, they lost at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Texas kicker Cameron Dicker's last-second 33-yard field goal, but in their previous eight trips, they lost by at least 14 points.

Kansas has a new head coach: Lance Leipold, a six-time Division III national championship coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater who then turned things around at Buffalo (10-4, 8-5 and 6-1 in his final three seasons there) before getting hired in Lawrence.

About the Jayhawks: Maybe it was the coaching change, maybe it was the 0-9 season, but there were two notable departures — WR Andrew Parchment (Florida State) and CB Karon Prunty (South Carolina) both transferred. WR Kwamie Lassiter II had 43 catches last year. The Jayhawks lost each game last year by an average of 30.2 points.

FYI: Six Buffalo players followed Leipold to Lawrence, including OL Mike Novitzky, who was an All-MAC center. Due to coronavirus issues, the Longhorns and Jayhawks didn't meet last season for the first time since 2010.

Nov. 20: at West Virginia

Fun fact: Texas has a winning record in its all-time series with every team currently in the Big 12 — except for West Virginia. The Longhorns and Mountaineers have split their 10 games.

Last year's 17-13 conquest gave Texas a two-game winning streak in the series. In its second season under Neal Brown, West Virginia went 6-4. The Mountaineers were undefeated at home in 2020.

About the Mountaineers: West Virginia was the Big 12's best defense last year, leading the league in points allowed, yards allowed and passing defense. DL Dante Stills (12 sacks, 75 tackles, 28.5 TFL in three years) leads eight returning starters on that side of the ball, which took a hit with transfers Tykee Smith (S, Georgia) and Dreshun Miller (CB, Auburn). RB Leddie Brown was a 1,000-yard rusher.

FYI: After two seasons, Brown is an even 11-11 in Morgantown. The Mountaineers also get Iowa State and Oklahoma State at home.

Nov. 27: vs. Kansas State

If you prefer seeing teams rack up yards with ground-and-pound attacks, circle this one on your calendar. In UT's 69-31 rout of Kansas State last season, Bijan Robinson ran for 172 yards on just nine carries while Roschon Johnson rushed for 139. Not to be outdone, Kansas State's Deuce Vaughn rushed for 125 yards. Those three running backs — all of whom are back this season — combined for eight touchdown runs in that game.

Kansas State went 4-6 in 2020. The Wildcats, though, have handed Oklahoma two of its three conference losses over the past two seasons.

About the Wildcats: Literally every starter is back on offense from last season, including Vaughn (1,076 yards, 9 TDs). K-State started out 4-1 last season, including the upset over OU, but finished 0-5. QB Skylar Thompson returns from injury and probably will be used with Will Howard in a two-QB system.

FYI: Memo to Texas — avoid punting in this one. WR Phillip Brooks, who's 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, returned three punts for touchdowns last season.