AUSTIN (KXAN) — “We have to leave the fear here in Austin.”

No. 11 Texas hits the road to take on No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, and against a Crimson Tide program with a 99-6 record at home since 2008, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said there’s simply no room to be intimidated by the atmosphere at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Longhorns take on the Tide

No. 11 Texas vs. No. 3 Alabama, 6 p.m., Saturday

The first team he coached at Texas in 2021 was not ready for any hostile environment, he said. They were pounded 40-21 by the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, and with all due respect to the Razorbacks — they aren’t ‘Bama.

However, this year’s team is much different than it was two years ago.

“We were not ready for that environment. We just weren’t. I can say that honestly and be OK with saying that,” Sarkisian said. “Two years later, I feel a lot more comfortable with us going into a hostile environment. We have a lot of veteran leadership, guys who have been in those arenas and a bunch of young, hungry players who won’t be phased by it because that’s why they came here.”

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Even with those types of players, ones that Sarkisian said had been specifically recruited because of how much they won in high school, history certainly isn’t on the Longhorns’ side. Since 2008, the second year in Nick Saban’s coaching tenure, the Crimson Tide boasts a 99-6 record at home. Former assistants of Saban during the same time period, which of course includes Sarkisian, have won twice in 31 tries against their former boss.

The Longhorns nearly pulled off a big upset at home last season in a 20-19 loss, but doing something like that on the road in front of people who don’t like the color of the shirt you’re wearing is much more difficult. That’s OK, Sarkisian said. He loves big games early in the season.

“Quite frankly, that’s one of the beauties of playing games like this early in the season. I commend whoever scheduled Texas vs. Alabama,” Sarkisian said. “It gives you a sense early in the season, some offseason motivation, but also when we’re playing one of the best teams in the country, where are our holes and where are our strengths and what we can fix to get ready for conference play.”

One thing against Rice that Sarkisian wasn’t pleased with was that the offensive line didn’t have a dominant performance. The running game didn’t really find a rhythm and quarterback Quinn Ewers was sacked three times, so Sarkisian said the coaching staff made sure that was addressed during practice this week.

“It was pretty intense this week,” Sarkisian said with a wry smile. “If the game is anything like practice, we’ll be OK.”