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A Texas football cheat sheet that will make you the toast of 2024 New Year's parties

Amid a crowd of other spectators, a woman in a black sweater with a black and orange scarf stands next to another woman in an orange UT-Austin sweater. They are both yelling and holding up their right hands in fists with their index and pinky fingers extended in the Hook 'Em hand signal.
Renee Dominguez
Abby Rodriguez (left) and Monica Jackson cheer for UT Austin football players as they board buses leaving Wednesday for the Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans.

The third-ranked Texas Longhorns will be in New Orleans on Monday for a Sugar Bowl matchup that could send the 'Horns back to college football’s national championship game for the first time in 15 years.

The level of success enjoyed by the team since then has often been frustrating, disappointing and, well, whatever other words you or your loved ones might’ve used to describe their performance.

Monday’s game against the second-ranked Washington Huskies gives the Longhorns another opportunity to prove true the phrase that’s become a running joke over the last decade: Texas is back.

With New Year’s festivities and game watch parties soon approaching, here are a few things to know that might help break the ice ahead of the ball dropping (or being kicked off).

Texas' first time in the College Football Playoff

The last time Texas was in contention for the championship at the end of the regular season, only the top two teams would play in the final game.

College football now decides its champion using a four-team playoff, meaning the winner of the Longhorns-Huskies game will become Sugar Bowl champions and advance to this year's championship game in Houston.

A victory for Texas would advance them to face either the Michigan Wolverines, a team the 'Horns have played only once, or the Alabama Crimson Tide, a team that already suffered defeat against the Longhorns in September.

Competing in the playoff is a new experience for Texas and its faithful, but it’s also the last time this iteration will be in play. The field of teams that will qualify for the playoff balloons from four up to 12 next year, meaning the chances of the Longhorns making a return trip to the playoff next season are already (mathematically) higher.

Suggested prompts to use at a party that’ll really make you seem plugged in:

  • What about Florida State? Ya think they should’ve made the playoff?
  • (Incredulous) I can’t believe Alabama got in again! Even after losing to Texas!

Bye, bye, Big 12! Say hello to the SEC!

Texas will be the only playoff team representing the Big 12 in what could turn out to be the team’s last game as a member of the conference.

After 28 years, the Longhorns are headed next season to compete in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which boasts other universities such as Georgia, Florida and longtime intrastate rival Texas A&M. The ‘Horns will be accompanied in the move by another rival, the University of Oklahoma.

Their transition is part of a broader movement in college football consolidating once-regional sports associations into mega-conferences.

The two biggest conferences will be the SEC and the Big 10, a name no longer befitting the conference that will claim 18 universities next season stretching from Washington state to New Jersey.

Sample prompts:

  • Did you hear how loudly the Texas crowd was booing the Big 12 commissioner?
  • I can't imagine how expensive tickets will be for next year's home game against Georgia!

3 Longhorns to know

Offense: Adonai Mitchell. The junior wide receiver from Missouri City has exactly the kind of championship pedigree this inexperienced Texas team will need in tough moments. Mitchell transferred to Austin after winning back-to-back national championships at Georgia.

Defense: T'Vondre Sweat. The senior defensive lineman from Huntsville is a standout on a defense that's been one of the very best in the nation this season. Sweat was the winner this year of the Outland Trophy, awarded annually to college football's best interior lineman.

Special Teams: Bert Auburn. The junior kicker from Flower Mound was the second-highest scoring player in all of college football this season. Auburn made school history this year, setting the single-season record for consecutive field goals made.

Kickoff on Monday is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.

Jerry Quijano is the local All Things Considered anchor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.
Jimmy is the assistant program director, but still reports on business and sports every now and then. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @maasdinero.
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