The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 19: Texas

Coach: Mack Brown (141-39, 15th season; 227-108-1)

2011 record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12 Conference, sixth in the league)


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Look back: The past two seasons have been very un-Texas-like for the Longhorns football program and Mack Brown. Departures in the coaching ranks along with injuries and lack of talent, saw the program drop from 13-1 in 2009 to 5-7 in 2010. Last season, Texas started out the season with four straight victories before losing back-to-back games against top 10 opponents in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The team rebounded with blowout wins over Kansas and Texas Tech before a rash of injuries set the team back and the Longhorns lost their next three out of four games. Texas wrapped up the season with a 21-10 win over California in the Holiday Bowl, the programs eighth postseason victory in its last 10 tries.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 2/9

Defensive starters lost/returning: 4/7

Key losses: RB Fozzy Whittaker, C David Snow, LB Emmanuel Acho, S Blake Gideon, LB Keenan Robinson

Top returnees: QB Case McCoy, QB David Ash, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Carrington Byndom, CB Quandre Diggs

Strengths: Texas finished third in the Big 12 in rushing last season thanks, in part, to the play of running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. The duo combined for more than 1,200 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. Brown, Bergeron and freshman Johnathan Gray could give Texas a powerful rushing trio going into 2012. … The top four receivers from last year’s squad are back, led by receivers Mike Davis and Jordan Shipley. Both combined for 1,213 yards and four touchdowns for the Longhorns last season and should give whomever starts at quarterback, a target to throw at. … The defensive line is as good as it’s been in quite some time. Ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat combined for 15 sacks and 20 tackles for loss and will be responsible for getting to the quarterback.

Weaknesses: Starting quarterback has been a real concern for Mack Brown and his coaching staff. After having the fortune of having stability in the position for so long, the Longhorns continue to search for the right guy behind center. David Ash and Case McCoy will compete for the starting position in the fall. Both are almost identical in numbers last season – Ash completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,068 yards and four touchdowns while McCoy completed 61 percent of his throws for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. Both struggled with turnovers, combining for 12 interceptions. Ash played better late in the season, winning Holiday Bowl MVP honors and could have a leg up on McCoy this fall. … The defense losses four starters including linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson. Both were the top two tacklers on this team last year. Jordan Hicks will be called upon to fill their losses both statistically and a leadership role.

Outlook: With 16 returning starters, it’s not hard to see why many believe that the Longhorns could be back to familiar form this season. Although, finding a starting quarterback will be key if Texas wants to continue its climb back to the top of the national championship landscape. Both Ash and McCoy have the talent, whether they can pull it together will be crucial. Defense carried this team the past two seasons and look for it to do the same again this year. The schedule features early winnable games before facing a tough stretch of Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. If the Longhorns can survive somewhat intact, they could win nine or ten games.

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 Wyoming

Sept. 8 New Mexico

Sept. 15 at Ole Miss

Sept. 29 at Oklahoma State

Oct. 6 West Virginia

Oct. 13 vs. Oklahoma

Oct. 20 Baylor