By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — With one thumping win over Alabama, Texas rejoined the conversation about national championship contenders.
Their ranking reflects that. Texas jumped from No. 11 to No. 4 in the AP Top 25, their highest position since finishing the 2009 season at No. 2. The challenge now is to stay there and keep people talking, even if the Longhorns don’t really want to talk about Alabama any more.
“We see it every year … Teams have one good win and then get upset,” Longhorns senior cornerback Ryan Watts said. “Every team is going to try to come and ruin our parade, especially Wyoming.”
The Cowboys (2-0) are next up on Saturday in the final nonconference game for Texas (2-0) before the Longhorns start their final season in the Big 12. Texas joins the Southeastern Conference next year.
“I feel like just telling everybody, ‘Forget about (Alabama),'” Texas receiver Xavier Worthy said. “Our main goal wasn’t to beat ‘Bama for the season. Our main goal is obviously championship.”
No championships will be settled until much later. For now, Wyoming got Texas’ attention in Austin when the Cowboys rallied to beat Texas Tech in overtime in their season opener behind a gritty performance from quarterback Andrew Peasley, who passed for three touchdowns in the win.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian wants the Longhorns to move past the Alabama win this week, but still carry the bounce of confidence they earned in Tuscaloosa.
“I think one of the mistakes I can make is trying to beat them down and then knock the confidence out of them,” Sarkisian said. “I’ve spent two and a half years trying to instill confidence into them, so I want to be mindful of that.”
Texas hit the deep passes against Alabama that were misfires in the first game against Rice. Quinn Ewers had scoring throws of 44 yards to Worthy and 39 yards to Adonai Mitchell. Texas loves to dial up four to five deep attempts per game and hitting even just one or two can stretch a defense. Wyoming hasn’t surrendered a touchdown pass of 40 yards or longer in 10 games.
Texas sacked Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe five times and kept him under constant pressure. Freshman linebacker Anthony Hill Jr., and sophomore edge rusher Ethan Burke have combined for four sacks this season. Hill had two against Alabama. Wyoming’s top pass rusher, defensive end DeVonne Harris, had eight sacks last season but is still looking for his first of 2023.
KEEPING IT CLEAN
After giving up two sacks in the first game against Rice, Texas protected Ewers against Alabama. He was not sacked while passing for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Ewers is also making good decisions with the ball. Dating to last season, Ewers has thrown 184 passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in school history. He is still 120 attempts shy of Sam Ehlinger for the Texas record.
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl has seen his share of Texas teams over his long career. Bohl, 65, was an assistant at Rice from 1989-1993 when the schools were in the old Southwest Conference, and at Nebraska from 1995-2002, when the Cornhuskers and Longhorns met in the Big 12.
“A lot of years coaching against them,” Bohl said. “This is the best Texas football team I’ve seen.”
The Cowboys have 22 players from the Lone Star State. Texas has Wyoming transfer wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, who sat out last season with a knee injury. He caught 44 passes for the Cowboys in 2021. He has one catch for Texas this season
Wyoming ranks just 95th nationally in total offense at 346 yards per game, but the Cowboys are perfect in scoring when they get inside their opponent’s 25-yard line with six touchdowns and a field goal.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll