This Saturday the No. 10 ranked Texas Longhorns will get the 2019 season underway with a home game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium and will be televised on the Longhorn Network.
Oddsmakers have Texas listed as a 20.5-point home favorite, which is the same line that we saw when this number first game out. The total opened up at 55 and while still can be had, some books do have it listed at 54.5.
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Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview: LA Tech vs Texas
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-5 season, which they capped off with an impressive 31-14 win over Hawaii in their bowl game. That win over the Rainbow Warriors improved La Tech to a perfect 5-0 in bowl games under current head coach Skip Holtz.
In his first year with the team (2013) the Bulldogs went just 4-8. They haven’t had a losing season since. Louisiana Tech will try to keep the streak alive in 2019 with just 11 returning starters (6 offense, 5 defense). The good news is they do get back senior quarterback J’Mar Smith, who has started 27 games over the last 3 years.
The key for the Bulldogs will be getting the offense back on track. That starts with more production out of the running game. Last year La Tech only averaged 130 ypg and 3.8 yards/carry. Both low marks of the Holtz era.
When Texas finished up the 2009 season at 13-1 after a loss to Alabama (only Nick Saban’s third season with Alabama) in the BCS Championship, no one could have predicted what would come next. The very next year the Longhorns went 5-7 and three years later Mack Brown was shown the door. Three straight losing seasons would follow under Charlie Strong.
Then came the hire of Tom Herman in 2017. His first year he got Texas to 7-6 (4 losses by 5-points or less). Last year the Longhorns finished 10-4, losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. After 8 straight seasons of mediocracy, Texas finally got back to double-digit wins.
Now comes the hard part for Herman. He’s got to get this team to take another step and not just be a contender in the Big 12, but have this team in the hunt for a national championship. Taking that step in 2019 will not be easy, as the Longhorns return just 8 starters (5 offense, 3 defense). However, Herman has done a tremendous job recruiting elite talent since arriving in Austin.
Free NCAAF Pick & Vegas Betting Predictions: Louisiana Tech +20.5
I would have to lean towards taking the points with the Bulldogs in this one. I just think this is too many points for an inexperienced Texas team to be laying. Sure the Longhorns get back a stud QB in Sam Ehlinger, but they lose their top rusher, top pass catcher and 3 of 4 starters on the offensive line. It’s not much better on the defense, where only 3 starters are back.
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The depth at running back is a major concern for Texas right now. The only two scholarship backs that are cleared to play in Week 1 are sophomore Keaontay Ingram and true freshman Jordan Whittingham. Both of which are coming off of injuries.
I also want to take a moment and point out just how fortunate Texas was to win 10-games last year. The Longhorns had 6 wins by a touchdown or less. While I like the direction that Herman is taking this team (he’s bringing in the talent for them to become elite), I just think they are a year or two away from being that team so many are expecting this year.
This is also a team that has lost the opener each of the last two years. They were a 17-point home favorite against Maryland in 2017 and lost 41-51. Last year they were a 13-point road favorite and lost 29-34. Texas is just 3-7 as a home favorite under Herman.
On the flip side of this, Louisiana Tech is a team that has had a lot of success as a road dog under Holtz. In the last 5 years the Bulldogs are 14-4-1 ATS when getting points on the road. Last year they were 4-1-1, which included a cover at LSU as a 20-point dog. Give me the Bulldogs +20.5!