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Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian understands that his program has a chance for a defining moment on Saturday when the Longhorns welcome Nick Saban and No. 1 Alabama to Austin, Texas.
He also understands that it is just one game – a non-conference game for now – and will ultimately have no impact on the goal he has set for this year.
“I think one of the mistakes people make is (saying) this is the game that’s going to define our program,” Sarkisian said on Monday, according to AL.com. “It might. It might not. I’m not concerned about it. I’m concerned with the way we play the game. I said it all along, my goal is to be in Dallas Dec. 3 (for the Big 12 title game). This game has no impact on that.”
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Sarkisian knows Alabama well, spending three seasons under Saban as an assistant coach. As he attempts to turn around the Texas program in his second year as head coach, Sarkisian is focused on playing ‘good football,’ not that Texas will be squaring off against the Alabama juggernaut.
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“You can get caught up in being worried about Alabama,” Sarkisian said. “You can get caught up worrying about GameDay being here. You can get caught up with Fox being here. You can get caught up in stuff that really is irrelevant to our ability to play good football. We need to be enamored with us. Focused on us.”
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Sarkisian has pulled a major upset against his former team before, beating No. 3 USC in 2009 as the head coach of the Washington Huskies.
“Very similar scenario in that I had worked for Pete Carrol for seven years and had a great deal of respect for what he did,” Sarkisian said when asked about the 2009 upset. “And what we were able to do in our time there. I think it was buying into the idea of what the game plan was, where we needed to be from a physique standpoint.”
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Texas hammered UL Monroe in Week 1, with Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers throwing for 225 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in a 52-10 win.
However, Alabama is an entirely different animal, shutting out a good Utah State team 55-0 in Week 1. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young threw for five touchdowns while accounting for 295 yards of offense with six touchdowns.
It is the first time the two schools have played each other since the 2010 national championship game.