HOUSTON – Outside of the rare occasion in which it faced a defensively challenged opponent last year, Texas did not have an offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard every week. The 13th-ranked Longhorns are much better in that regard early this season thanks to a red-hot start from junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and will try to continue flexing their offensive muscle Saturday when they meet former Southwest Conference rival Rice at NRG Stadium in Houston.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Texas -32.
Texas scored more than 40 points three times in 2018 - each time against an opponent who finished in the bottom half in the country in scoring defense - resulting in an offense that ranked fifth in the Big 12 at 31.1 points per game. The Longhorns have bumped that average up more than 10 points behind a pair of four-touchdown efforts through the air from Ehlinger, who played only three quarters in a 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech before passing for a career-high 401 yards in a thrilling 45-38 loss at home to No. 5 LSU. A similar performance could be in store this weekend against the Owls, who gave up 513 yards of total offense last week in a 41-21 loss at home to Wake Forest. Rice hasn't shown much ability to move the ball well in 2019 either, ranking 120th in FBS in total offense (282 yards per game).
ABOUT TEXAS (1-1)
Devin Duvernay has been one of the most productive receivers in the Big 12 thus far, leading the conference in catches (21) and ranking second in receiving yards (209) after setting career highs with 12 receptions, 154 yards and two scores against LSU. Sophomore Brennan Eagles is tied with Duvernay for second place in the league with three receiving touchdowns and also finished with 116 yards versus the Tigers, marking the 16th time in school history the Longhorns had a pair of 100-yard receivers. Coach Tom Herman told reporters Monday that he expects B.J. Foster to miss several weeks with a "significant" hamstring injury; the sophomore nickel cornerback ranks second on the team in tackles (15) and is the only Texas player with multiple sacks.
ABOUT RICE (0-2)
The Owls announced early Tuesday that freshman quarterback Wiley Green would not start versus the Longhorns after he suffered a hit to the head against Wake Forest that resulted in him leaving the field on a backboard and a trip to the hospital. "He's been evaluated by our doctors and all the imaging and testing has come back negative. Obviously, a lot of prayers were answered on that one. Besides the soreness in his neck, he's doing much better," coach Mike Bloomgren said at his press conference Tuesday. Tom Stewart, who threw for 14 touchdowns versus two interceptions last season at Harvard, finished the game in place of Green and passed for 185 yards and a score.
1. Ehlinger has thrown 31 touchdowns versus three interceptions over his last 15 contests.
2. Rice hasn't scored 30 points in 14 consecutive games.
3. The Longhorns have won 13 straight in the series and are 41-1 against the Owls, although the schools have not met since 2015.
PREDICTION: Texas 45, Rice 10