Rice Owls at Texas Longhorns betting preview: Odds, analysis and more

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FILE - Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) looks to pass against Washington during the second half of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game in San Antonio, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. Texas wraps spring practice Saturday with the Longhorns' annual scrimmage, allowing the first real look at the biggest quarterback battle in the Big 12 between Ewers, early-enrolled freshman Arch Manning of the famed football family, and second-year reserve Maalik Murphy, a top recruit who spent his freshman season of 2022 on the sidelines. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns will begin their final campaign in the Big 12 on Saturday against the Rice Owls from Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. 

Texas is coming off an 8-5 season that was defined by a dominating 49-0 victory over Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout and a series of near misses that kept the Longhorns from reaching greater heights. Those near misses included a 20-19 loss to Alabama, a 37-34 overtime loss to Texas Tech and losses to Oklahoma State, TCU and Washington all by seven points or less. It’s safe to say the Longhorns were a handful of plays away from a double-digit win season.

There are great expectations for Texas this season and that’s why FanDuel Sportsbook has the Longhorns as a +100 even money favorite to win the Big XII. They are ahead of rival Oklahoma (+430), Kansas State (+500), who won the conference last year, and TCU (+2100), who made the College Football Playoff final last year. 

One of the reasons the expectations at Texas are so high is the play of quarterback Quinn Ewers. The redshirt sophomore threw for 2,177 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, despite missing three games. He enters the 2023 season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Ewers is currently at +1200 to win the Heisman, tied with Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis with the third-best odds on the board.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends (from FanDuel Sportsbook)

Rice Owls at Texas Longhorns

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)

Point Spread: Texas -35.5

Over/Under:  59.5 

Preview: Texas leads the overall series 74-21-1 and has won 15 straight and 43 out of the past 44 games in the series. Rice’s last win over the Longhorns was in 1994. Texas has won the past 10 games against Rice by an average of 34.4 points. The Longhorns beat the Owls 59-0 in their most recent meeting in 2021.

This could be an early showcase for Ewers’ Heisman hopes and the Longhorns in general. Expect the starters to try to put up a lot of points in the first half before things slow down in the second half. With a road game against Alabama next week, the Longhorns want to win big and shake off some early-season rust but avoid any major injuries.

It’s a lot of points to take and it might be safer to take Texas in the first-half spread (-19.5) to take advantage of what should be a fast start from the Longhorns’ first team. 

Prediction: Texas 49, Rice 10 

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