Is this the Longhorns' year?

David Ash is one of several experienced players returning for Texas this season. Cal Sport Media via AP Images

From May 20-31, Insider's college football experts will examine the national championship chances of the 10 teams with the best odds to win the BCS title this season, according to Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections.

Today, Carter Strickland takes a look at the path the Texas Longhorns could take to the national championship game and the factors that could trip them up along the way.

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the minds of some, Mack Brown has spent all the useful currency he's accrued over the years with the Longhorns faithful. He has, in recent years, been forced into a new role: trading on the future.

And the picture the Texas coach has painted and continually pointed toward is supposed to come into better focus in 2013. That's the year Brown asked everyone to look toward while simultaneously asking them to avert their eyes from 2010 or 2011 or even the nine-win season of 2012.

"All the energy and work that we put into the last two years are going to start showing results," Brown boldly declared on a recent 2013 promotional video for the program.

"You want to get back to being one of the top football programs in the country, where we deserve to be and where our fans deserve to be,'' Brown said, apparently believing Texas' presence in the the top five was an inalienable right bestowed upon the program sometime after the battle of San Jacinto.

Given Texas' run through the first decade of this century, it's hard to fault that logic. Brown and Texas were fixtures on the national stage. The Longhorns still remain the last non-SEC program to win a BCS title game (2005). Ten-plus wins were expected, not raucously celebrated, because Brown had made more possible.

It's difficult to taste caviar and then have to marvel about the cracker upon which it rested. But that is the empty, and rather hungry feeling Texas fans have been left with for the past three seasons.

That is until now, according to Brown.