AUSTIN, Texas — As recently as two years ago, Texas played in the BCS championship game, falling to Alabama, 37-31.

But in the wake of an abysmal 5-7 season in 2010, the Longhorns are looking to re-establish themselves as a dominant team.

No. 24 Texas, which whipped Rice, 34-9, in the season opener, knows that today's game against BYU will provide a good barometer of how far it's come since last year.

"It's a big test," said linebacker Emmanuel Acho. "You like to have that kind of test early on in the season so you can see where you are as a team. If you don't challenge yourself early on, you might have a false sense of hope, a false sense of reality. It's going to be a big game, going to be a big test for us. But after that game we'll kind of know where we stand a little bit."

Texas would like to build momentum as it prepares for Big 12 play in two weeks.

"Any game we play that's nonconference is definitely a big game for us because it's a chance for us to play against teams that we usually don't get to play against and make a point for our conference," said linebacker Keenan Robinson. "We're representing for the Big 12 right now, and as a team, we want to come out and win against any opponent, but definitely a team like BYU … They're a team that, since I've been here and been around, we haven't got a chance to play, so I'm very excited. It's a new opponent that's on the schedule this year, and I definitely can't wait to play this team (that's) going to try to run the ball. But at the same time they're an air-raid passing team and they have big guys outside, receivers that can make big plays on the field. We're going to have to be fundamentally sound in the running game and the pass game and step it up from last year."

Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert is impressed with BYU's defensive toughness.

"We're going to have our hands full," he said. "We're going to have to be very sharp, go into it with a good plan. I think everyone knows that they're going to be a very good defense who's going to be very physical. So we're looking forward to the challenge."

COMING HOME: BYU has seven players on its roster that hail from Texas: Ross Apo (Arlington), Teu Kautai (Arlington), Cody Monsen (Brownwood), Manaaki Vaitai (Euless), Brandon Ogletree (McKinney), McKay Jacobson (Southlake), and Michael Yeck (Keller).

"I'm excited to go home," Jacobson said. "Any time you go back home, it's not right where I grew up, but going down there and having a chance to compete against those guys will be a lot of fun."

"Growing up as a kid, our games were packed," Apo said the atmosphere in the Lone Star State. "I had a high school game with 46,000 fans that came. It's a big deal and there's going to be a hundred of thousand people at this game. It's going to be crazy."

WARY OF GADGET PLAYS: Because Bryan Harsin, who is in his first season as Texas' offensive coordinator, previously coached at Boise State, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said his defense needs to be ready for some trickery.

"There were a few (trick plays) already in their game against Rice and there will be a few against us," Mendenhall said. "When they're going to come and what they are, I don't know. But sound assignment football is the best way to combat it."

EARLY SUCCESS FOR 'HORNS: Texas has won 35 of its last 39 games in August and September under Brown. The Longhorns' only losses came to UCLA in 2010, Kansas State in 2007, Ohio State in 2006, and Arkansas in 2003. Overall, Texas has won 42 of their last 48 contests in August and September.

email: jeffc@desnews.com