Austin (KXAN) – In their last year in the Big 12, Texas is ‘Embracing the Hate,’ according to head football coach Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns are set to join the SEC next fall and have a future conference foe on the docket this week.

The Longhorns opened the season with a 37-10 win over Rice at home, but now travel to perennial power Alabama for a ranked battle. Texas went toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide a season ago in Austin, falling in the final seconds 20-19.

“I’m not big on moral victories,” said Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian on what his team learned from the 2022 game against Alabama. “But I do think for some of the guys on our team it was like okay, continue to believe what we’re doing. It’s going to work.”

Texas will enter Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday in Tuscaloosa as a 7.5 point underdog, according to DraftKings. Alabama is quite used to being the favorite, something Steve Sarkisian knows awfully well.

The Longhorns head coach came to Austin after being the Alabama offensive coordinator under Nick Saban for two years. The long-tenured coach of the Crimson Tide has had immense success, including with Sarkisian.

“I think as a head coach, you think ‘Man if I could ever have the longevity that he’d have, I’d sure love to have that style of consistency,'” said Sarkisian on Saban. “And I think it all goes back to him. He knows exactly who he is.”

In last year’s battle, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that forced him to miss three games. Now a season later and healthy, Ewers’ head coach sees the growth in his sophomore gunslinger.

“I think there is just a level of confidence in Quinn that’s different,” said Sarkisian. “A year ago, he’s making his second career start [against Alabama] and probably still learning the offense quite frankly…To me the biggest thing showed up Saturday was just the maturity, the way he rebounded coming out of halftime.”

The actual game Saturday will have as much talk and fanfare as any this season. Two of the biggest brands in the sport clashing in a historic venue can distract a team from the game itself, but Texas continues to preach focusing on themselves.

“We can’t get caught up thinking we’re going to play all 17 teams that Coach Saban has had the last 17 years,” said Sarkisian. “We’re playing the 2023 Alabama football team which is very good…It’s going to be a great environment for college football.”

Tune in to KXAN on Wednesday, September 6 at 9:00 p.m. for a special preview of the Texas – Alabama game as Roger Wallace will host ‘Southeastern Showdown’.