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Game Preview: #12 Texas Longhorns vs. Rice Owls

Photo: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

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Following the loss to the LSU Tigers last weekend, the #12 Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0) travel to NRG Stadium in Houston to face the Rice Owls (0-2, 0-0).  The Longhorns look to get back in the win-column against their former Southwest Conference foes, who have lost to Army and Wake Forest in consecutive weeks to start the season.

What:  Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Rice Owls (0-2, 0-0 C-USA)
When:  Saturday, September 14, 2019
Time:  7:00 PM CST
Venue:  NRG Stadium
Location: Houston, TX
Television: CBS
The Line: Texas -32

Last Meeting Between the Two Schools:  Texas defeated Rice 42-28 (September 12, 2015 – Austin, TX)
All-Time Series Record:   Texas leads Rice 72-21-1

The Coaches

Rice Owls

Head Coach:  Mike Bloomgren
Head Coaching Experience: 2nd year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Rice:  2
Career Record:  2-13
Career Record at Rice:  2-13

Texas Longhorns

Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  3
Career Record:  40-15
Career Record at Texas:  18-11

Playing in an NFL Stadium since 2017

The Longhorns have played games in 5 different NFL Stadiums since 2017, and Saturday’s game against the Owls marks the second time Texas will play at NRG Stadium in that span.  Texas defeated Missouri in the Texas Bowl in 2017  in Tom Herman’s first season as head coach and have a 2-3 record in Pro Stadiums since 2017.

Focus, Resolve

After the loss to LSU in a match-up of Top-10 ranked teams, all eyes are on the Longhorns and how they respond.  Texas played a tale of two halves last week, only scoring seven points in the first half and failing to put points on the board with two opportunities inside the Tigers’ five yard line. The Longhorns scored on every possession in the second half against LSU, and fought back to within a touchdown.  If Texas comes out flat against the Owls, the Rice offense and quarterback Tom Stewart could put some early points on the board and hang around. The Longhorns must get back on track early and show they have the resolve to bounce back after an emotional letdown the week before. With Big 12 play looming, it’s a necessity.

Let Them Play

The expectation is for Texas to handle the Owls, and if that happens, expect some of the younger, inexperienced players to see playing time. Depth at many positions is a concern on both sides of the ball, particularly at quarterback. If Ehlinger and Texas build a nice lead, backup quarterback Casey Thompson should get some much-needed playing time. Keeping Ehlinger healthy throughout the season will always be a concern, and Thompson needs as much opportunity as possible.

Rice Rushing Offense vs. Texas Defense

Rice’s offense is run-centric, which means the Texas defensive line will be tested most of the night.  Rice doesn’t throw often, and the Texas cornerbacks and safeties shouldn’t be too busy on Saturday, but they need to be prepared regardless. Rice tailback Nahshon Ellerbe ripped off a 54-yard touchdown against Army, and the Owls will be looking for big plays against the Longhorns.  The Texas defense gave up 45 points to LSU the week before and the secondary played less-than impressive. On Saturday against the Owls, this is an opportunity for Todd Orlando’s crew to bounce back and gain some confidence with a solid defensive performance.

Run Roschon, Run

Starting running back Keaontay Ingram has 107 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries this season.  With running back depth being nonexistent due to injury, Roschon Johnson’s move to tailback has proven to be worthwhile.  Johnson has played backup to Ingram in two games to start the season, carrying 14 times for 58 yards.  Tom Herman and Tim Beck have taken notice of Johnson’s tenacity as a ball carrier, and look for Johnson to add to his stats against the Owls.  Rice allows 216 rushing yards per game, and Texas could have one, perhaps two, 100+ yard rushers in the contest.  Look for Johnson to have a big game on the ground.

 

 

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Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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