AUSTIN (KXAN) — The eyes of the country will be upon Austin on Saturday as college football’s marquee matchup this week takes place inside DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

The Texas Longhorns take on the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at 11 a.m. in a game between a program trying to regain its identity as a national power and another that has been at the top for years.

Both squads are coming off Week 1 blowout victories over opponents from Group of 5 conferences — the Tide beat up on Utah State 55-0 and the Longhorns took care of Louisiana-Monroe 52-10 — and for as long as the programs have been playing college football, this is only the 10th time they’ve played each other.

The last time they squared off, the 2010 BCS National Championship game, went the way of Alabama. Since then, the programs have gone in different directions. The Crimson Tide, led by head coach Nick Saban, has won five national championships and the Longhorns have had five losing seasons.

The Crimson Tide comes into the game a 20.5-point favorite on the road, and it’s the first time the Longhorns have been that big of a home underdog since 2014 when Baylor came to town. Texas was a 14-point underdog that day and lost to the Bears 28-7.

It won’t be long before this is a conference game, depending on how the Southeastern Conference decides to set up schedules when Texas and Oklahoma join in 2025. Until then, the two schools get to face off in one of the country’s biggest nonconference matchups this year and next year in Tuscaloosa.

Both teams have Heisman Trophy candidates — Alabama just has them on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Bryce Young, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, is basically everybody’s pick to repeat as the winner, but if any defensive player in the country could get it, it’s game-wrecking linebacker Will Anderson.

If the Longhorns want to shock the college football landscape by taking down the mighty Crimson Tide, they’ll need their Heisman hopeful Bijan Robinson to have a big game. Robinson’s national buzz comes after he was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Associated Press and named to every award watch list he was eligible for, essentially. He rushed for 1,127 yards in 10 games last year and is the key to keeping Anderson and the swarming Alabama defense off redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers.

A look at the opponent: No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

There’s a reason for the saying, “We want ‘Bama.” Everyone wants to take down the best, and ‘Bama has consistently been one of the best programs over the past 10 years. This year isn’t different.

Young is the focal point of the offense that Sarkisian helped build during his time as an Alabama assistant coach and offensive coordinator. However, Young has an arsenal at his disposal, and while it’s tough to tell how good players are in blowouts, Young threw five touchdowns to three different players and finished the Utah State game completing 18 of 28 passes for 195 yards. He also had five carries for 100 yards and a score, adding to what Texas needed to prepare for.

Jermaine Burton, Traeshon Holden and Jase McClellan all caught touchdown passes for the Crimson Tide against the Aggies and will all be in the mix for Young to go to during the game.

On defense, Anderson was last year’s Bronko Nagurski award winner and led the country with 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss. He leads a defense that is as physical as it is smart, and if the Tide can get Ewers off his spot early and moving around in the pocket, Alabama’s coverage team may have an advantage. On the second play of the game against Louisiana-Monroe, Ewers was flushed from the pocket and ended up throwing an interception in his first college start. Going up against a defense that has the potential to be historically good this season in his second start isn’t exactly ideal.

The national attention the game is getting

ESPN sent its College GameDay crew to the LBJ Lawn to broadcast live Saturday morning and it’s the featured game for Fox Sports’ “Big Noon Saturday,” broadcast. Even though the Longhorns aren’t ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, it’s still nationally relevant simply because of the brand Texas has built. That, and of course, most people think Alabama is the best team in the country and so far they’ve looked the part.

Anytime two big-time college football teams meet in an early-season nonconference game, it’s going to generate national buzz. Given the connection Sarkisian has with Alabama and Saban, doing two stints with them as an assistant in 2016 and 2019-2020, and Texas’ push to become consistently relevant on the national stage, people are paying attention to this game.