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From Steve Sarkisian's debut to a West Virginia tiebreaker: A deeper dive into Texas' 2021 schedule

Texas defensive lineman Alfred Collins, left, celebrates his interception against Colorado during last season's Alamo Bowl victory at the Alamodome. The Longhorns will open their 2021 season Sept. 4 at home against Louisiana.

The dates and venues have officially been booked for Steve Sarkisian's first #AllGasNoBrakes tour at Texas.

The Big 12 revealed its schools' 2021 conference schedules Thursday. Texas will kick off its season with a home game Sept. 4 against Louisiana. 

UT will remain in the state for nine of its 12 games. Six of those will be played at Royal-Memorial Stadium. UT will hit the road for battles in Arkansas, Iowa and West Virginia.

The 2021 season will be the first for the Longhorns under Sarkisian, who became the 31st head coach in school history in January. He's the 15th coach to lead Texas since 1920. Twelve of his 14 predecessors during that span posted a winning record in their debut season.

Here is a look at UT's schedule:

Sept. 4: Louisiana

Four years ago, Maryland stunned Texas in Tom Herman's debut game. Texas will look to avoid a similar result in Sarkisian's debut.

The Longhorns didn't schedule a cupcake, though. Louisiana went 10-1 last season, and its only blemish was a three-point loss to FBS darling Coastal Carolina. In the final Associated Press poll, Louisiana was ranked 15th (Texas checked in at No. 19). The Ragin' Cajuns also beat Iowa State in 2020, something Texas couldn't do.

Sept. 11: at Arkansas

Longtime Texas and Arkansas fans will enjoy this Southwest Conference reunion. But even though this will be the 79th meeting in the series, there isn't a lot of recent history between these schools. They have played each other only five times since 1992. The Longhorns last played in Fayetteville in 2004.

Arkansas went 3-7 in 2020. The Razorbacks last posted a winning record in 2016.

Sept. 18: Rice

Texas has won its last 14 games against the Owls. Rice has stayed within 20 points in four of those contests. This time, Texas will host a Rice team that won just two of the five games played on its pandemic-challenged schedule.

Sept. 25: Texas Tech

Since 2003, Texas has won 15 of its 18 games against Tech. The Longhorns are riding a three-game winning streak in this series. That streak was extended by a 63-56 win in overtime last year.

Texas Tech has finished its last five seasons without a winning record. The Red Raiders' last appearance in a bowl game came in 2017.

Oct. 2: at TCU

Will Sarkisian be added to Gary Patterson's hit list of Texas coaches? Patterson has led TCU since the 2001 season. During that time, he went 1-2 against Mack Brown's Texas teams, 3-0 against Charlie Strong's and 3-1 against Herman's.

TCU went 6-4 last season. One of those wins came at the expense of Texas.

Oct. 9: Oklahoma (Dallas)

Only two of UT's last five coaches — John Mackovic in 1992 and Brown in 1998 — were victorious in their Red River Rivalry debuts. Can Sarkisian join that club?

The Big 12's six-time defending champion, Oklahoma has beaten Texas at least once in each of the past five seasons. Last year's battle wasn't decided until a fourth overtime, though. That 53-45 game was the second four-overtime marathon ever played in the Big 12.

Oct. 16: Oklahoma State

Expect a close one. Last season, Texas needed overtime but earned a 41-34 win in Stillwater. That was the fourth straight year this game has been decided by one score. The teams have split those four games.

Oklahoma State was the AP poll's No. 6 team when it was upset by Texas last year. That turned out to be the first of three losses in a five-game span for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State finished with an 8-3 record and a No. 20 ranking.

Oct. 30: at Baylor

Texas will be looking for its third win in its last four trips to Waco but will see a different Bears quarterback this year. Charlie Brewer, who led Baylor in passing in its past four meetings with Texas, has left for Utah as a graduate transfer.

Baylor is the only current Big 12 school that Sarkisian has faced as a head coach. The 2011 Bears, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, scored a 67-56 win over Sarkisian's Washington Huskies in that year's Alamo Bowl.

Nov. 6: at Iowa State

The past two years, this game has been decided by a kick. Two years ago, Iowa State's Connor Assalley booted a 36-yard field goal on the final play of a 23-21 Cyclones win in Ames. Last November, Cameron Dicker just missed a 58-yard kick on the final play that would have forced overtime. The 23-20 loss essentially eliminated Texas from Big 12 contention.

The Big 12's runner-up in 2020, Iowa State expects to return plenty of talent this fall. One of the starters coming back is Brock Purdy, who is already arguably the greatest quarterback in school history.

Nov. 13: Kansas

Due to coronavirus issues, the Longhorns and Jayhawks didn't meet last season for the first time since 2010. Had they played, UT would have been a heavy favorite against a Kansas team that went 0-9 and lost its games by an average of 30.2 points.

One interesting subplot to this year's meeting: Dallas Skyline wide receiver Quaydarius Davis is the Jayhawks' highest-rated recruit since at least 2000. A four-star talent in the 2021 signing class, Davis was once committed to Texas before he switched his pledge to USC.

Nov. 20: at West Virginia

Fun fact: Texas has a winning record in its all-time series with every team currently in the Big 12 except for West Virginia. The Longhorns and Mountaineers have split their 10 games.

Last year's 17-13 conquest gave Texas a two-game winning streak in the series. In its second season under Neal Brown, West Virginia went 6-4. The Mountaineers were undefeated at home in 2020.

Nov. 27: Kansas State

If you prefer seeing teams rack up yards with ground-and-pound attacks, circle this one on your calendar. In UT's 69-31 rout of Kansas State last season, Bijan Robinson ran for 172 yards on just nine carries while Roschon Johnson rushed for 139 yards. Not to be outdone, Kansas State's Deuce Vaughn compiled 125 rushing yards. Those three running backs — all of whom will be back in 2021 — combined for eight touchdown runs in that game.

Kansas State went 4-6 in 2020. The Wildcats, though, have handed Oklahoma two of its three conference losses over the past two seasons.