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5 bold predictions for Texas football in 2022: A Big 12 title for the Longhorns?

Texas is in position to win the Big 12 title after an offseason of changes throughout the conference.

After a rocky 5-7 inaugural season that was marked by off-the-field drama, Steve Sarkisian is looking for redemption in year two, and the 2022 Texas Longhorns are looking to build off of high preseason expectations, despite falling short of them last year.

Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming season...

1. Texas will win the Big 12

The Big 12 has no clear frontrunner after a wild offseason. Baylor, the reigning Big 12 champion, lost its 2021 breakout quarterback Gerry Bohanon to the transfer portal after he lost the starting job in the spring. TCU and Texas Tech both have new head coaches. Amidst all of the change, Texas has a wide-open opportunity to win the conference.

Year one of the Sarkisian era was a time for the new staff to identify the preexisting culture. Now, Sarkisian and his team have had a whole offseason to completely overhaul the program that they found. Texas can win the Big 12 because it is much closer to figuring out how to succeed with what it has, while many others schools are just beginning that process.

Sarkisian has brought in more of his own recruits. Of Texas’ 85 scholarship players, 57 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. He’s also maintained many veteran players who have bought into his culture of play. With a cohesive group identity coming together, Sarkisian finally has a solid unit that can work toward winning a conference title.

2. Bijan Robinson wins the Heisman

Junior running back Bijan Robinson is a preseason Heisman favorite, and he could become Texas’ first Heisman winner since Ricky Williams, who won it in 1998. Despite last year’s record, Robinson played exceptionally well as an individual. He had 1,127 yards in just 195 attempts and scored 11 touchdowns.

Now, Robinson has the chance to fare even better, thanks to an improved offensive line. Freshmen offensive tackles Kelvin Banks and Devon Campbell are both primed to make an early impact.

As of July, Sports Illustrated had Robinson with the fourth best odds to win the Heisman, behind C.J. Stroud (+250), Bryce Young (+350) and Caleb Williams (+900). Robinson, at +2000, is the most likely non-quarterback to win the coveted award.

3. Texas beats Oklahoma

This year, Texas has the best chance to beat Oklahoma that it has had in a while. The departure of Lincoln Riley and the subsequent losses of Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams forced OU into a rebuild of sorts. New head coach Brett Venables quickly reloaded the roster with the addition of former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

Oklahoma is still expected to perform well this season, despite the major changes. The Big 12 Preseason Media Poll has Oklahoma finishing second in the conference, just behind Baylor. Oklahoma also received 12 first-place votes. While Venables has been coaching for decades now, he’ll still be figuring things out in October as a first-time head coach.

4. UTSA upsets Texas

While the Alabama game may be the most exciting game on Texas’ non-conference slate, the UT-San Antonio matchup should not be overlooked. The Roadrunners may end up upsetting the Longhorns if they can keep last season’s momentum going.

UTSA finished with a 12-2 record and won the C-USA title after a 49-41 win over Western Kentucky. Head coach Jeff Traylor is steadily building a Group of Five powerhouse that can compete against just about anyone. UTSA opened its season last year with a win over Illinois. While Texas and Illinois may not be on the same page, UTSA proved that it can win against the bigger conferences. If Texas plays sloppily in September, then it is very possible for UTSA to pull off the upset at DKR.

5. Maalik Murphy will start at least once

Even though this summer’s quarterback battle has zeroed in on Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card, four-star freshman Maalik Murphy should not be ruled out. At one point, Murphy was the only quarterback in Texas’ 2022 class. But the addition of Ewers has not made Murphy any less ready to compete.

Murphy received offers from Texas A&M and Ohio State, among others. He has the talent to play at a high level, even if he gets overlooked. Murphy has even been compared to Cam Newton.

“You definitely see the talent,” Sarkisian said about Murphy this week.

As Murphy continues to develop his skills, he could find himself in the starting job if he continues to put in the work. The quarterback competition will only continue to improve his play.

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