Texas No. 4, OU No. 1 In Preseason Coaches Poll

Texas will open the 2003 season ranked No. 4 in the preseason coaches poll (ESPN/USA TODAY) released this weekend, checking in behind the last three teams to win the national championship.

As expected, Oklahoma is the coaches' choice for the top spot followed by last year’s national champ Ohio State. Miami is listed at No. 3.

Other Big 12 schools listed in the initial poll are No. 5 Kansas State and No. 24 Oklahoma State. Colorado received enough votes to tally a No. 28 ranking while Texas A&M is not far behind at No. 30. Conspicuously missing are the Nebraska Cornhuskers (No. 32 preseason), who are coming off their worst season in 40 years at 7-7.

The Aggies, arguably, have the toughest preseason schedule with a trip to No. 10 Virginia Tech and a home game against No. 11 Pitt. But no team opens conference play with the killer slate that Texas has, facing a pair of Top 5 teams in successive weeks. The Horns host KSU on Oct. 4, the last team to win in Austin (October 1999), before facing a Sooner team that head coach Bob Stoops said earlier this week should be his best team yet. When the sun sets on Oct. 11, Texas could either be No. 1 in the country or 0-2 in the conference.

The Horns and Sooners both face a couple of highly competitive, non-conference foes before the annual Hate Fest on Oct. 11. If the cards play out, this could be a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup. (The last time it happened in this series was that 15-15 tie, played in a monsoon, in 1984).

Arkansas visits Austin (Sept. 13) in what should be a tougher game than most Orangebloods expect. Texas will win, but the defending SEC West co-champs boast a bruising offensive line, plus a ball control offense that likes to surprise you with the long ball (just ask LSU). Tulane visits Sept. 20, a team that rebounded from its 49-0 drubbing to Texas to qualify for a bowl game.

The Sooners, meanwhile, travel to Tuscaloosa to face an Alabama team that desperately needs a signature win to show its reeling program is not on life support. (Did you know that fifth year 'Bama seniors have been through four coaches?) The Sooners host rebuilding UCLA as well as quirky Fresno State.

Players report this Wednesday, with practices slated to begin at 3 p.m., Thursday at Denius Field. (The schedule was moved back a day when Texas’ season-opener against New Mexico State was switched from Saturday, August 30, to Sunday, Act. 31 (a 6 p.m. Fox Sports national telecast).

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