Head coach: Tom Herman (third year)
Last year’s record: 10-4 (7-3 Big 12), Sugar Bowl win against Georgia, 28-21
Final AP ranking: No. 9
Recruiting ranking: No. 3 (2 5-stars, 15 4-stars, 9 3-stars)
First game: Aug. 31 against Louisiana Tech (Futures available on BetAmerica)
O/U win total: 9.5
The end of the Mack Brown era and Charlie Strong’s three-year tenure as head coach left the Texas football program in disarray. But in just his second year as the Longhorns leader, Tom Herman transformed Texas back into an elite program with a 10-4 season and Sugar Bowl win over Georgia to close out the 2018 season.
Last year left plenty of hope heading into 2019. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger (25 passing touchdowns, 16 rushing) is back with several key targets on offense but will miss leading receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who moved on to the NFL. Collin Johnson (68 catches, 985 yards) opted to stay one more year in Texas, however, which should help maintain some of the Longhorns’ success.
Texas also lost running back Tre Watson (786 yards, six touchdowns) and will need Keaontay Ingram (708 yards, five touchdowns) to carry the load. Top ESPN 300 athlete Jordan Whittington could make an impact in the run game as well, but much of the offense’s success will be determined by how well the Longhorns recoup the line, which lost three starters in the offseason.
The most pressing concern for Texas is its defense, which will need to replace nine starters, including linebackers Gary Johnson (90 total tackles, 6.5 sacks) and Anthony Wheeler (87 tackles, four sacks), defensive back P.J. Locke III (77 tackles, three passes defended), cornerback Kris Boyd (16 passes defended) and defensive lineman Charles Omenihu (9.5 sacks).
Junior college transfer Caleb Johnson may find himself starting at linebacker in the fall, while early enrollees De’Gabriel Floyd and Marcus Tillman Jr. could see time at the position as well.
Back-to-back top recruiting classes will certainly help Texas rebuild, but a lack of experience could be costly for the team, especially considering the foes the Longhorns are set to compete with early on.
Win total: Under 9.5 (-130), Over 9.5 (+105)
Texas will take on LSU in the second game of the season, plus face conference road games at West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Baylor. The Longhorns also play Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 12. With so much uncertainty on defense, the likelihood is Texas will struggle to achieve even a nine-win season. Go with the under on win total.
LSU at Texas, Sept. 7
LSU finished the season ranked No. 6 in the final AP poll. The Tigers also bring in the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation. With eight starters returning on offense and seven on defense, look for the Tigers to have more figured out to begin the season. LSU will win and cover the -2.5 spread.
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