The Texas Longhorns face a make-or-break season in 2012.
After reaching the BCS National Championship three years ago, the program hasn't been the same.
The Longhorns missed the bowl season altogether in 2010, and finished with Holiday Bowl win last season.
That's not exactly where fans are accustomed to seeing their program.
With a good amount of talent returning and one of the best recruiting classes in that nation arriving in the fall, it's time for the Longhorns to make a move in the Big XII this year.
Longhorn fans are excited for a turnaround season, and the excitement begins in these five games.
Although Ole Miss has been a bottom-feeder in the SEC lately, fans should salivate at the opportunity to prove themselves against the best conference in college football.
But this one is more than the SEC vs. Big XII.
This game is about getting the young Longhorn team prepared for more challenging games later in the season, namely Oklahoma and West Virginia.
The Rebels return 17 starters, ten on defense alone. Ole Miss changed up the coaching staff after several poor seasons and new head coach, Hugh Freeze, will make sure his team is not a push-over come August 15th.
The Longhorns struggled offensively over the last two seasons, and the early trip to visit SEC country should provide a solid measure of just how far the unit has come.
As if the game itself was not enough, tailgating in Oxford is some of the best in the country.
A win here, and the Longhorns set themselves up nicely heading into their bye week.
Go ahead and let a long sigh out Longhorn fans.
Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden are long gone.
However, a trip to Stillwater still isn't a cakewalk.
The Longhorns will head into their matchup with Oklahoma State the week after their bye week, a little extra time for the defense to get ready. The Cowboys will still sport a powerful offense, but the Longhorn's defense shouldn't be underestimated.
This should be the first real test for the 'Horns defense and it comes at a perfect time. The defense better be be able to hold their own against the Cowboys because a powerful West Virginia team comes to visit the next week.
Fans should be excited about the opportunity to avenge back-to-back double digit losses to the Cowboys, but the opportunity for the defense to prove itself is what really matters.
The Texas Longhorns have been one of the best teams in the Big XII for over a decade and they welcome new member, West Virginia, at home on October 6th.
It's a chance to give a "warm welcome" to the new guys.
But talking the talk and walking the walk could be two very different things. The Mountaineers are coming off a record setting 70-point performance in last year's Fed Ex Orange Bowl.
With the Longhorns' offense being far behind the Mountaineers', its quite obvious that the spotlight of the game will be the 'Horns defense vs. the Mountaineers offense.
The West Virginia matchup may be second to Oklahoma in terms of being the fan favorite, but it will be equally challenging for the young but talented Texas team.
It is an opportunity to notch an impressive win at home before heading to take on Oklahoma. That could be important if the Longhorns find themselves fighting for a BCS bowl invite late in the season.
The trip to Manhattan has been one of the toughest road trips for the Longhorns, even during the Colt McCoy era.
It won't be any easier in 2012.
Kansas State returns 8 starters on offense, including dark-horse Heisman candidate, Colin Klein. On the plus side, the Longhorns do have the entire season to improve before they take on the Wildcats.
The trip to Kansas State is the last game of the regular season, and it could be of more importance than winning in Manhattan if the 'Horns find themselves in the Big XII title picture.
While Longhorn fans had the pleasure of watching Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden enter the NFL draft, the same can't be said about Landry Jones.
Jones returns along with 14 other starters.
No matter who the Longhorns play, nothing gets the fans going like the Red River Rivalry.
Oklahoma has taken the last two games with a total of eight of the last twelve. If the Longhorns want a shot to take home the Big XII title, beating the Sooners is a must.
Taking home the bragging rights is just an extra bonus.