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NCAA Football Rankings 2012: Puts Texas In Top 5

After a two-year downswing ended Mack Brown's record-setting run of 10 win seasons, optimism is growing around the Texas football program headed into the 2012 season.

The Longhorns could be set to return to their spot atop the college football world, at least according to early preseason rankings from

Texas should finally be back to being Texas again because of a wee bit of an improvement on offense. The defense will be its same old dominant self after very, very quietly finishing 11th in the nation. The secondary is loaded, the line is fantastic, and there are four-and-five-star athletes across the board, but it's the offense that'll make the big difference. Assuming David Ash really and truly is the main man at quarterback, the offense will be more consistent and should have a stronger running game to rely on. Yes, this is the year when Texas gets back on track, but it still might not be enough to get back in the national title chase.

While the early non-conference schedule is questionable at best (Wyoming, New Mexico, at Ole Miss), Texas won't have to wait long to see how they stand nationally, as they open Big 12 play at defending champion Oklahoma State, then host West Virginia in the school's first game in the conference before heading to Dallas with their annual showdown with Oklahoma.

The Sooners, in case you were wondering, start the season as the No. 2 team in the country, according to Scout.

For all the latest news and notes on Texas football, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas storystream as well as Burnt Orange Nation and Barking Carnival.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.