There’s already a quarterback controversy in Austin. The Arkansas Razorbacks welcomed the Longhorns into the SEC with a 40-21 loss, and while Texas isn’t currently a part of the conference, it was quite the eye-opener. At this point, it’s clear just how much better the SEC is compared to any other league in college football. Texas is a top-five team in the Big 12 but looked lost against a bottom-tier SEC school.
Anyway, Texas will bench freshman quarterback Hudson Card for junior quarterback Casey Thompson. Thompson has been with Texas since he was a freshman and will finally get his chance to lead the program against Rice. How will this go?
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
- Opening Lines: Texas -25; O/U 53
- Current ATS Line: Texas -26.5
- Current Over/Under: 53.5
- Location: DKR Texas-Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021
- Start Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
- Television: LHN
- Last Meeting: Texas defeated Rice 48-13 in 2019 under former head coach Tom Herman
Texas took on a ranked opponent in Louisiana and won 38-18. Freshman quarterback Hudson Card showed legitimate promise by going 14-for-21 with 224 yards passing and two scores.
However, Card looked lost against Arkansas, and the Longhorns’ offense never got going. Card went 8-of-15 for 61 yards and posted a QBR of just 14.9. His replacement, Casey Thompson, went 5-of-8 with a QBR of 98.6. That’s why Thompson will get the start on Saturday against Rice.
Obviously, Thompson’s numbers will be just fine for a matchup with an 0-2 Rice. Card could’ve performed against Rice, too. It’s a bit unfair for the freshman because when Thompson inevitably performs well against this Rice team, critics will praise him and agree that he should remain the QB1. And while it might be true, this game won’t prove anything.
Rice has allowed an average of 41 points thus far. I expect a similarly high-scoring performance from Texas. Rice found a little offense against Arkansas but struggled to find much success against Houston.
- The Longhorns are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. CUSA.
- The under is 4-0 in the Longhorns’ last 4 home games.
- The over is 7-1 in the Longhorns’ last 8 games as a favorite of 10.5 points or more.
*Line movement analysis based on the DonBest Las Vegas betting market ticker*
With the announcement that Thompson will take over for Card at quarterback, the line has shifted nearly two points from -25 to -26.5. The total has jumped just .5 points from 53 to 53.5.
It’s hard to evaluate Casey Thompson and what he brings to the table. However, Rice is an average defense that has struggled against the run and has struggled to rush the passer. However, Rice’s first two losses were more their offense’s fault than their defense’s.
Luke McCaffrey, the former Nebraska quarterback that could never make it, leads the Owls. There is a reason why he had to transfer out and play somewhere else. In two games this season, McCaffrey has thrown one touchdown and three interceptions with just 161 passing yards. Good luck beating Power 5 teams with those numbers.
Texas will get a heavy dosage of the run early from Rice because their passing game simply isn’t working. They’re averaging just 103.5 yards per game on the ground and only 260 yards per game on offense. Rice will struggle to score thanks to Texas’ strong secondary.
Texas has struggled to defend the run this season, and that’s why I expect Rice to feature their ground game. Texas has allowed 204.5 yards per game to opposing rushers this season. If Rice can gain some yardage on the ground, that will open things up. However, Rice’s run blocking isn’t great, and that kind of cancels everything out. Texas has much bigger bodies up front.
With Thompson making the first start of his career, Texas should explode for points and keep Rice off the board. It’s a high number, but Texas should cover. We might even get to see Card back in action around the fourth quarter.
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