Daniel Seahorn (1-1)
It can’t be overstated how critical of a game this is for Texas. The Longhorns need momentum and confidence as they head into a brutal portion of their schedule, and a second consecutive loss to the Trojans could be the start of a downward spiral.
Last year in this matchup, the Longhorns came up just short on the road in a hostile environment with a freshman quarterback at the helm. This year the script could be flipped with USC heading into Austin with freshman JT Daniels making his third career start and coming off a tough outing against Stanford. Todd Orlando and his defensive staff need to make sure they don’t allow the former five-star signal caller get comfortable early, needing to get his head swimming with some disguised coverages and pressures.
The Texas offense SHOULD be able to move the ball on the ground against the Trojans, as they have not fared well so far this year in that department. Not having Keaontay Ingram this week stings because there is a chance he could have been set up for a nice night at the office. Tre Watson and Daniel Young will have to carry the mail on Saturday and help give the offense some balance and open up the play-action shots down the field to LJ Humphrey and Collin Johnson. Most importantly, Sam Ehlinger will need to take care of the football and not give the Trojans extra chances to win. There is no Sam Darnold or Ronald Jones on the other sideline this year, but that doesn’t mean the Trojans don’t have talent on the roster.
This is a game that both programs desperately need, with both having less than stellar starts to the year. Texas comes in favored, but I don’t have the highest level of confidence predicting it in their favor, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if they get up for this game and pull off a victory. This is a coin flip for me, but until proven otherwise I can’t call it for Texas. They will have to show me they can come Saturday.
Prediction: USC 28, Texas 24
Jameson McCausland (1-1)
Texas needs this game badly. The Longhorns can not afford to fall at home to USC or they could be staring a 1-5 record to start the season right in the face. The forecast in Austin calls for rain most of the night, so this may be an ugly defensive battle. Fortunately, this likely plays into the Longhorns favor.
JT Daniels is beat up and it doesn’t help that he hasn’t set the world on fire in his first two starts, anyway. Texas bullied the USC offensive line a season ago, the same line that returned 4 of 5 starters this season.
I think Texas wins this game with strong defense and a few key plays from Sam Ehlinger, who quietly had a good game against Tulsa.
Prediction: Texas 21, USC 17
Aaron Carrara (1-1)
Both Texas and USC are in the middle of an identity crisis. And through two games I would have to say that both teams look bad. However, Texas showed us something during game 3 last season, when they took 4th ranked USC to double overtime in Los Angeles. Can Texas get up for this one? USC’s defense will likely cause fits for an improving Texas offensive line and quarterback Sam Ehlinger, but the Longhorns will return the favor to true freshman Trojan quarterback JT Daniels. Texas needs Ehlinger to limit passing mistakes, and with Keaontay Ingram out, running back Tre Watson and the running back corps need to have success on the ground.
Texas and Tom Herman are feeling the pressure to win, and I think the Longhorns squeak this one out at home.
Prediction: Texas 31, USC 27
Harrison Wier (1-1)
Football is an unpredictable game. So unpredictable, in fact, that last weekend Texas paid the Tulsa Golden Hurricane $1.1 million to squeak by with a 7-point victory. Fortunately, this week should be a little easier to predict.
It is no secret that both USC and Texas are going through adversity. USC is on the brink of what appears to be a rebuild year, and Texas is trying desperately to keep its fans from hitting the panic button. In order to do that, Texas will have to effectively move the ball on offense and get to the quarterback on defense — two things that have not been accomplished thus far in 2018 by the Longhorns.
Unfortunately, I don’t see that changing on Saturday. The Texas defense does not look like the unit from last year and the offense does not have a consistent point of attack — and when it does — the personnel or play-calling is often shifted away from what’s working.
Although USC is also having an extremely down year thus far, I just don’t see the Longhorns putting it all together on Saturday. As Daniel iterated, I have to see it before I believe it. And I don’t think Texas is ready to show and tell just yet.
Prediction: USC 27, Texas 17
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