No. 5 Texas Longhorns (0-0 SU 0-0 ATS) vs. Rice Owls (0-0 SU 0-0 ATS), Week 1 College Football, Reliant Stadium Houston, TX 3:30 PM EST Saturday September 4, 2010 on ESPN and ESPN3
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas -28.5 / Rice +28.5
Texas takes on Rice this Saturday in the opening game for each team. Many of the top 25 teams in the nation begin the season playing cream puffs and while Rice may not be in that category since they play in the legit conference USA they were only 2-10 last season and in their last game of the season they lost 73-14.
Texas lost in the National Championship game last season and while QB Colt McCoy and WR Jordan Shipley are now in the NFL the Longhorns are still stacked and are a threat to get back to the BCS title game.
This game is being held at Reliant Stadium, which is in Houston and while Rice is located in Houston they will likely not have the home field advantage in this game, as the Lone Star State is all about the Longhorns.
The Owls need to forget about last season and get back to playing like they did in 2008 when they won 10 games. Last season Rice ranked dead last in the Conference USA on both offense and defense. Rice has a few transfers from other schools that will have to play well against Texas for them not to get blown out. Former RB Sam McGuffie from Michigan, QB Taylor Cook from Miami, and QB Nick Fanuzzi of Alabama will have to step up for the Owls against a Texas squad that is heavily favored.
Nick Fanuzzi is the returning starter at QB, but last season the Owls only ranked 115th in offensive efficiency and Cook may start under center for the Texas game.
With Colt McCoy gone Garrett Gilbert takes over as the starter and even though he has a ton of talent he did not look good subbing for an injured McCoy in the National Championship game last season going only 15/40 for 186 yards and 2 TD’s and 4 INT’s. Gilbert is a big QB with a big arm and if he is given time to throw he will torch the Rice secondary.
The Rice secondary will have to have solid coverage against WR’s Malcolm Williams and John Chiles, who are Gilbert’s top 2 targets.
The Longhorns have a slew of RB’s and they have 4 guys that can kill an opposing defense. However, whoever runs the ball should rack up a lot of yards against a weak Rice run defense. Foshwhitt “Fozzy” Whittaker was once a highly touted recruit, who has been derailed by injuries and is now healthy. Tre’ Newton was the leading rusher last season for the Longhorns (552 yards 6 TD), redshirt freshman Chris Whaley, and Vondrell McGee will also get carries, as Texas is loaded at the RB position.
The Owls gave up an average of 43 points per game and while they do have the solid players of DL Scott Solomon, FS Travis Bradshaw, and LB Justin Hill there are many holes on the Rice defense and they will give up a lot of points against Texas.
Last season the Longhorns’ D led the nation in run defense, finished 3rd in total defense, and 12th in scoring defense and they should be strong again. OLB’s Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho will get into the Rice backfield on a regular basis and even when Fanuzzi or Moore is given time to pass he will be facing one of the best secondaries in the nation. Don’t look for the Owls to pick up many yards in the game on the ground or in the air.
Basically the Owls do not match up well with the Longhorns in any facet of the game. Their defense simply does not have the talent to stop Texas and their offense will be hard pressed to pick up yards.
Jason’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Who will cover the big spread is anybody’s guess. I feel that the betting value here is with the UNDER.