No. 12 Texas aims to bounce back vs. Rice

Field Level Media

September 11, 2019 at 12:42 am.

If Texas fans are still searching for validity that the Longhorns are “back” and among the best in the college game, the team certainly did more than pass the eye test last week against LSU.

But Texas won’t be settling for a moral victory that was accomplished when the Longhorns, then ranked No. 9, lost 45-38 to then-No. 6 LSU in a game that was even closer than the score indicates.

The Longhorns (1-1) will look to bounce back and continue to build momentum when they travel to play former Southwest Conference-rival Rice on Saturday in Houston’s NRG Stadium. The Owls are 0-2 after losing at Army to open the season and then again at home last week to Wake Forest.

The Longhorns fell to 12th in the AP Top 25 after the loss to LSU (which climbed to No. 4) but are the highest-ranked team in the poll with a loss.

Texas coach Tom Herman was asked Monday if there was any benefit gained by his team from the close loss to LSU. His answer, belying the “we-are-Texas-and-we-won’t-settle” mantra, touched all the correct chords.

“There are a lot of positive things we can glean from that game,” Herman said. “We will be a better team for having played that game, and I’m glad we did. But our goal is not to just belong — our goal is to win those things.”

Herman acknowledged that over the past decade or so, winning on a constant basis was not as common as Longhorns followers would like. But this team has higher expectations and the talent to achieve those goals.

“I get there is a bit of PTSD around here for the prior decade or so,” Herman said. “But I told our team, in three years we have come this far (spreading his hands wide from his waist to above his head), and we’ve got this far (holding his fingers apart up an inch) to go to be elite. That last bit is the hardest part, right? We’re getting there.”

Rice heads across town to the home of the Houston Texans after a 41-21 loss last Friday to Wake Forest.

The Owls were tied with the Demon Deacons after one quarter and down only 24-14 at halftime despite losing starting quarterback Wiley Green to a first-quarter head injury. In all, Rice showed signs of encouragement and improvement across the board despite the loss.

Green was released from the hospital late Friday night, and the school reported that post-injury testing came back negative. He’ll continue to be monitored by Rice’s medical staff.

Mike Bloomgren is in his second season as the Owls’ head coach, and his style of toughness and athleticism is starting to show though following a 2-11 season in 2018. The program is 3-24 since the beginning of the 2017 season and has not posted a winning record since 2014.

Bloomgren, much like Herman, is not interested in anything but wins and remains frustrated that the results for his team are not coming quicker.

“I almost hate hearing how much better we are than last year right now,” Bloomgren told reporters after the Wake Forest loss. “I want to win games. I want to feel what it’s like in the locker room. I want to be somebody who ‘should win.’ I want to work them harder than they ever have because I think they’re ready to do it. I want to find a way to win games.”

Saturday’s contest will mark the first time Texas and Rice have squared off since the Longhorns beat the Owls 42-28 in Austin in 2015. The game marks the 95th all-time meeting between the two former Southwest Conference rivals. Texas holds a 72-21-1 advantage and has won 13 straight against the Owls.