Texas came into NRG Stadium with a clear sense of purpose, controlling the game from the opening kickoff, and punting only once in the first half to go up 31-0 over Rice by halftime. The star of the show was – unsurprisingly – Sam Ehlinger, who accounted for three touchdowns in the first two quarters.
The Longhorns were also dominant on defense, forcing every Rice offensive possession to end in punts. The second half would feature less scoring, as both teams had longer drives, and the game officially entered garbage time as the Longhorns started pulling the starters midway through the third quarter. Rice scored twice, and Texas was denied the shutout, but left Houston as decided victors, 48-13.
Key Plays Of The Game
3:21 1st [UT 1st & 10 at UT 47] – Up 7-0, Texas began to look to take some shots deep, and this one paid off big. Ehlinger dropped back and hit Jake Smith running down the middle of the field for the 53 yard touchdown. The play highlighted the Longhorns’ ability to pick big chunks of yardage, which they did with regularity.
12:11 1st [UT 4th & 3 at RICE 26] – Up two scores, Texas was marching down the field and looking to secure a comfortable lead. When the drive seemed to stall inside Rice territory, the Longhorns went for it on 4th down. Ehlinger handed it off to Keaontay Ingram, who found only a defensive back between himself and the endzone. A stiff arm from the sophomore was enough to get Ingram across the goal line.
2:00 2nd [RICE 3rd & 13 at RICE 8] – By the end of the 2nd quarter, Texas had this game well in hand, but Rice was looking to get points before halftime. The Longhorns defense held on third down, though, and put the Owls in the uncomfortable position of having to punt from inside their own redzone. Advantageous field position set Texas up to kick a field goal that extended their lead to over 30 points headed into half.
0:53 4th [UT at UT 2] – If you thought Texas was going to win this game big, but had Rice covering **clears throat**, this play really crushed your dreams. With just over a minute left in the game, and Rice having just scored to make the score 41-13, it seemed like most of the fireworks were over. D’Shawn Jamison didn’t think so, as he notched his second special teams score as a Longhorn with a BLANK kick return to make it 48-13.
Key Stats Of The Game
28 First Downs – Texas came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball in this one, and punted only once before halftime. At one point in the first half, they’d accumulated 12 first downs to Rice’s one, an indicator of just how well things went for the first team offense. Even when presented with long third down situations, Texas was able to pick up the yardage.
179 Yards Passing – Most of the offensive success had by the Owls didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter against the Texas reserves, so the 179 yards by Rice quarterback Tom Stewart should show you just how much Rice struggled to get yards all night long.
2.8 Yards Per Rush – The Longhorns were able to more or less contain Rice’s power rushing attack throughout the night, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. Texas has held up pretty well against the run all season, but forcing Rice into uncomfortable down-and-distance situations was key to their success.
85.2 Completion Percentage – Ehlinger had a great night, completing over 85 percent of his passes and throwing for 279 yards. Even though he only played part of the third quarter, the junior was dropping dimes all over the field against a Rice secondary that was supposed to be the strength of their squad.
Players Of The Game
QB Sam Ehlinger – 23/27, 279 yards, 3 TD, 5 carries, 27 yards
WR Jake Smith – 6 receptions, 75 yards, 2 TD
LB Juwan Mitchell – 5 tackles, 1 sack
Texas Is Back To Dominating Rice – And other teams they’re favored to beat by wide margins, as well. We don’t know what the rest of the season holds for the No. 12 Texas Longhorns, but they’re doing what good teams (especially good Texas teams) do – taking care of business. That’s a good place to be in as they jump into Big 12 play.
Texas Needs The Running Backs To Progress – Through three games, Ehlinger has carried the ball 32 times, and he’s on pace to finish with almost 140 rushing attempts, which is less than he had last year. That’s good for the prospects of his health, but the Longhorns need their running backs to get better throughout 2019 to help him out. 171 yards rushing against Rice is fine, but you’d like it to be closer to 200 if you’re a conference contender.
This Was A Bouce-Back Game For The Defense – Rice has a weaker offense than pretty much any other team faces on their schedule, especially with their starting quarterback out for the night. That being said, the Texas defense did exactly what they needed to do to get some confidence back after giving up over 500 yards last week. They’ll likely need that with Oklahoma State coming to Austin next week.