Opening Day Preview

The Longhorns are set to kick off their 2010 season against Rice on September 4th in Houston’s Reliant Stadium.  This is the 9th time Rice has taken the field against Texas in the Mack Brown era.  The lopsided match up has seen Texas outscore Rice 373-95 in the last 8 contests.  Additionally, Texas hasn’t lost to Rice since 1994.  This year should be no different as Texas reloads its arsenal with a bevy of young talent on both sides of the ball.

The Owls stumbled to a 2-10 finish in 2009.  Their inexperienced offense was coupled with a disastrous defense that gave up an NCAA-worst 43.1 points per game.  Returning for the Owls in 2010 is QB Nick Fanuzzi operating out of the spread offense.  Fanuzzi will be looking for his #1 target, C-USA All Freshman TE Vance McDonald.  Though their offense should improve after a year that saw them post a meager 18.3 points per game, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when Texas inevitably keeps them out of the end zone for most of the day.  On the other side of the ball, look for the Longhorns to exploit Rice’s defensive woes en route to an opening day blowout.

The contest will be the first of two early-season warm up games for Texas before heading to Lubbock for their annual rivalry game against Texas Tech.  Luckily for Texas fans, we get a chance to see what super-soph Garrett Gilbert can do against what essentially amounts to a JV squad.

Author’s prediction: 56-10, Texas

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Texas got what it wanted

We may not know the details and motives until Tuesday, but Texas wouldn’t have stayed in the Big 12 if it didn’t believe in what commissioner was selling: more money.

There’s plenty of secondary pluses for the Longhorns — and the rest of the conference:

* They don’t walk into a brutal conference schedule where they may have to play Oklahoma, USC, Oregon and any other yearly upstarts to get into the BCS. Now, with Nebraska gone, the road to the BCS (and perhaps the title game) hinges on the Horns’ annual date with Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.
* Big 12 fans don’t have to stow away any more cash to travel to away games. With Colorado out of the league, the travel just got simpler for everyone, even if one of the top game day destinations, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, is off the schedule.
* Texas can work toward beginning its own network. Its financial fate — if it chooses to make a network — would depend on its own execution, rather than the rest of the conference’s.
* Though the Big 12 Championship may cease to exist, with 10 members, the Big 12 could switch to a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule like the Pac-10.
* Almost a century of rivalries continue across the Big 12 North and South.

We’ll know more tomorrow when Texas officials and Beebe answer questions, but Oklahoma also released a statement Monday evening.

“The decision to stay in the Big 12 represents a consensus position which resulted from a collaborative effort with our colleagues in the conference. We value the strong working relationship that has been reaffirmed during this process among the conference members. We intend to work very hard to make the conference as lasting and dynamic as possible. We appreciate the respect and interest that has been shown to OU during this process.”

Texas A&M officials also broadcasted their plans to stay.

But for Texas, the influence of money can’t be underestimated. It made the decision that best benefited Texas. Beebe convinced them, and in the process, helped salvage his own reputation as well.

Beebe had come — somewhat unfairly, in my opinion — under intense criticism. With what seems like a last-second, miracle save, that will likely come to an end.

And thanks to him, the Big 12 won’t.

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