Rice vs. Texas Odds, Pick, Prediction: Why the Longhorns Are The Play As Large Favorites in Week 3
Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: Bijan Robinson.
- Texas plays host to Rice, looking to respond to a bad loss the week prior.
- The Longhorns are making a switch at quarterback, opting to start Casey Thompson over Hudson Card.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the matchup and delivers his pick for bettors below.
Rice vs. Texas Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Welcome to this week’s episode of “Is Texas Back?” To review, two weeks ago, Texas was back. On last week’s episode: not so much.
The Longhorns will return to the Lone Star State for what can only be described as a one-sided rivalry with Rice.
The two Texas schools have faced off 95 times since 1914. The Longhorns are 73-21-1 in the series, and Rice has won only two games against Texas since 1960, having dropped 14 straight.
Will Texas continue to flex its muscles over the Owls or can Rice put up a fight?
The Owls are in their fourth season under Mike Bloomgren and have yet to produce a winning season. Rice is 7-25 since Bloomgren took over, including an 0-2 start this season.
Rice actually held a 10-7 lead at halftime against Arkansas before being outscored 31-7 in the second half. Last week the Owls lost 44-7 to Houston in another rivalry game.
Bloomgren gets his team to play disciplined and not give away free yards. Rice has led the country with the fewest penalty yards per game in each of the last two seasons.
After starting Wiley Green at quarterback in the opener against Arkansas, Rice elected to start Nebraska transfer Luke McCaffrey against Houston. Both quarterbacks really struggled. McCaffrey went just 9 of 19 for 86 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions against Houston.
Bloomgren announced he is sticking with McCaffrey as the starter against Texas. Bloomgren was the offensive coordinator at Stanford when Luke’s older brother Christian was the star there. McCaffrey struggled as a passer in his two seasons at Nebraska but gives the Owls an added element with his ability to run.
The top three running backs from last season all return in Khalan Griffin, Juma Otoviano and Ari Broussard. They combined for 531 yards but had zero touchdowns last season.
Rice had just one rushing touchdown all season last year and it was from tight end/swiss army knife Jordan Myers. The Owls averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and ranked 113th in Rushing Success rate last year.
All five offensive lineman are back for the Owls, and they will look to continue improving in the run game as that remains their game plan, despite the lack of success on the ground.
The Rice defense did a really good job last season, finishing 12th in scoring defense and 23rd in total defense.
Eight of the top nine tacklers from last year and 79% of the TARP on defense return for the Owls, the second most in Conference USA.
The defensive line was really good last year and should be good again this season with the return of Elijah Garcia, De’Braylon Carrol and Trey Schuman.
Rice’s linebacker unit is the only area that really suffered a loss on defense with leading tackler Blaze Alldredge transferring to Missouri. Antonio Montero and Treshawn Chamberlain are still an excellent duo, and freshman Myron Morrison has looked great through the first two games.
Through two games the defense has shown signs but been inconsistent. The defense looked great through the first half against Arkansas and held the pass in check, but it eventually got burnt on the ground in the second half.
Against Houston, it slowed the run but got beat through the air.
The Longhorns have once again dominated the offseason headlines per usual. They fired head coach Tom Herman and hired Steve Sarkisian from Alabama.
They had a long quarterback battle to replace the iconic Sam Ehlinger. Oh, and right before the season they announced they were bouncing from the Big 12 to head to the SEC.
Sarkisian’s tenure got off to a terrific start with a dominant 38-18 performance over a ranked Louisiana team. Unfortunately the celebration was short-lived and quickly followed with Arkansas giving the Longhorns a “Welcome to the SEC” beatdown, 40-21.
After a long quarterback battle between two highly-touted recruits, Hudson Card eventually won the starting job and got the nod against Louisiana. Card looked solid against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but after a disappointing game against Arkansas, Sarkisian announced Casey Thompson will start against Rice.
Thompson opened a lot of eyes last December, taking over for an injured Ehlinger in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado. He looked nearly perfect, going 8 of 10 for 170 yards and four touchdowns in an electric performance.
Against Arkansas last week, the Longhorns went three-and-out on five of the first seven drives under Card and managed just seven points with him at quarterback. When Thompson came in late, Texas scored 14 points in his two drives, putting together 75-yard touchdown drives on both series.
Taking the pressure off Thompson will be superstar running back Bijan Robinson. The No. 1-rated running back recruit in the 2020 class racked up 703 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman, going for 355 yards and four touchdowns on just 19 carries, plus another 88 yards and two touchdowns receiving in the last two games of the year.
Robinson has already tallied 249 total yards and three touchdowns this season, and his ability to take over a game should help calm the nerves for Thompson making his first career start.
Sarkisian loves to utilize his tight ends and send his receivers in motion to get them the ball in the middle of the field. Receivers Joshua Moore and Jordan Wittington should lead the way in the passing game, along with tight end Cade Brewer.
In order to sure up the defense, Sark hired Pete Kwiatkowski, who had served as the Washington defensive coordinator since 2014. He likes to run a defense with multiple looks, constantly switching up the schemes.
Last season the Longhorns strength was the front seven. It ranked 32nd in Rushing Success Rate and 22nd in Havoc. They lose Havoc machine Joseph Ossai but bring back defensive lineman Ta’Quan Graham and Keondre Coburn to create pressure up front.
A big part of Kwaitkowski’s systems is dialing up pressure from the linebacker and safety spot as well. DeMarvion Overshown was second on the team in tackles for loss last year, and he should continue to bring the heat this year.
Josh Thompson and D’Shawn Jamison are both solid cornerbacks, but the secondary needs to better against the pass after ranking 99th last season.
Texas was also horrific at tackling last season, ranking 114th according to Pro Football Focus, and a lot of those missed tackles came from the secondary. So far in a small sample size, the Longhorns rank 52nd in tackling, so expect that to continue to be a point of emphasis.
Rice vs. Texas Matchup Analysis
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Rice Offense vs. Texas Defense
Texas Offense vs. Rice Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Rice vs. Texas Betting Pick
Texas has dominated Rice in this Lone Star State “rivalry.” It has won 14 straight meetings, and Rice has not won in Austin since 1963. Texas is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings
Rice is just 13-23-1 against the spread vs. Power Five schools since 2005, and 8-15 ATS when on the road. McCaffrey has thrown just four touchdowns and nine interceptions in his career with just two big-time throws and 10 turnover-worthy plays.
The strength of the Texas defense is stopping the run and creating pressure which will force McCaffrey into mistakes and allow a Longhorns defense that was second in the Big 12 in takeaways to capitalize on them.
Thompson has looked much better at quarterback in his limited sample size, and he gives the Longhorns an explosive element in the passing game to pair with Robinson’s breakaway ability in the backfield.
After a disappointing loss to Arkansas, look for the Longhorns to want to return home and flex their muscles a bit here. With another home game against Texas Tech on deck, there is no look ahead spot, and I expect Sarkisian and Texas to want to make a statement on Saturday. Lay the -26 with the Longhorns and play it up to -28.